The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1519) Lieutenant Richard Farley Bulkeley MC, 3rd Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.231
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Physical description 16:9
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
Date made 19 August 2018
Access Open
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copy provided for personal non-commercial use

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Michael Kelly, the story for this day was on (1519) Lieutenant Richard Farley Bulkeley MC, 3rd Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

1519 Lieutenant Richard Farley Bulkeley MC, 3rd Battalion, AIF
KIA 17th August 1916
Story delivered 19 August 2018

Today we remember and pay tribute to Lieutenant Richard Farley Bulkeley MC.

Richard Bulkeley was born in 1889 at Wallerawang, New South Wales, the son of Richard and Mary Bulkeley.

He attended the King’s School at Parramatta and served in the school’s cadets. In 1907 he passed the University of Sydney junior public examination and the following year, began tertiary studies in surveying.

After completing his studies, he went to Orange in New South Wales, where he served a three-year surveying apprenticeship. He was finalising his apprenticeship when the First World War began and went on to successfully complete the licenced surveyor examination in September.

Bulkeley enlisted at Liverpool Camp on 30 December 1914 and was allotted to the 3rd reinforcements to the 3rd Battalion. Following his initial training, he embarked from Sydney in February 1915 aboard the transport ship Seang Choon, bound for Egypt.

The stop in Egypt was brief. Shortly after he was taken on strength of the 3rd Battalion, his unit sailed for Lemnos in preparation for the Gallipoli campaign.

On 25 April, Bulkeley and several comrades had a deck view of the British landings at Helles and soon witnessed the sights and sounds of the Australian landings.

As a member of a hold party, unloading stores and ammunition from his transport ship, Bulkeley twice went into the beach during the day. He was unloading wounded as they came out to the ship later that evening. He was sent ashore to join the battalion several days later.

After the chaos of the landings, the Australians established their front line. On 19 May, Bulkeley was in the front line when a massed Ottoman counter-attack was launched. The attack was stopped with heavy Ottoman casualties.

Bulkeley’s next major action was the battle of Lone Pine. The fighting was intense and during the attack he was shot in the hand and evacuated to Egypt.

He had recovered by late October and in early November was sent back to Gallipoli. He arrived back at his battalion towards the end of the month and was immediately promoted to lance corporal. He was promoted to corporal two weeks later.

After being withdrawn from Gallipoli, the 3rd Battalion returned to Egypt by the end of December. At the end of January 1916 Bulkeley was commissioned with the rank of second lieutenant.

The 3rd Battalion sailed for France at the end of March, arriving at Marseilles in early April. Later that month Bulkeley was sent to officers’ school of instruction.

He returned to the battalion in mid-June after successfully completing the course.

The battalion was sent south in July and on the 23rd was involved in the attack on Poziere. The following day Bulkeley would be awarded a Military Cross:

… for great gallantry in pushing forward ahead of our position into the village and capturing 13 prisoners. The information gained by him was most valuable. He inspired his men with utmost confidence and showed high personal bravery in in digging out men who were buried, under heavy shell fire.

General Sir William Birdwood wrote to Bulkeley on 17 August:

Dear Bulkeley, This is just a line to congratulate you very heartily upon the Military Cross, which you so thoroughly well-deserved for your gallantry and great bravery… during the attack on Pozieres.

Sadly, Bulkeley would never receive the letter. The same day Birdwood put pen to paper, the 3rd Battalion was in the front line near Mouquet Farm and consolidating recent gains.

Bulkeley, who had been conducting a survey of the battalion lines, found that the left flank was not in the trench lines it was meant to be. He also identified an artillery barrage set for that evening would likely hit the left flank and duly informed his commanding officer.
With phone lines cut due to heavy German shelling on all communication trenches, runners were sent back to brigade headquarters in an attempt to stop the barrage. The journey took around two hours, but by then it was too late.

Bulkeley was out on the left flank conducting further surveying of the positions and was about to make his report when a number of shells from the barrage landed in the battalion positions. Bulkeley and several other men were killed instantly. The death of a very popular officer was a bitter blow for the battalion.

His body was carried out from the front line and he was laid to rest in Courcelette British Cemetery.

He was 27 years old.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among more than 60,000 Australians who died while serving in the First World War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Lieutenant Richard Farley Bulkeley, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Michael Kelly
Historian, Military History Section

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