The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (4445) Lance Corporal Carlyle Edward Hely, 17th Battalion, First World War.

Place Oceania: German New Guinea, Bismarck Archipelago, New Pomerania
Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.243
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 31 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 Copyright restrictions apply. Only personal, non-commercial, research and study use permitted. Permission of copyright holder required for any commercial use and/or reproduction.

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 Troy Clayton, the story for this day was on (4445) Lance Corporal Carlyle Edward Hely, 17th Battalion, First World War.

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Speech transcript

4445 Lance Corporal Carlyle Edward Hely, 17th Battalion
KIA 31 August 1918
Story delivered 31 August 2018

Today we remember and pay tribute to Lance Corporal Carlyle Edward Hely.

Carlyle Edward Hely was born in Sydney in 1887, the oldest son of Edward and Rosanna Hely. His grandfather had run away with the circus as a young man, and settled in Wagga Wagga, and Carlyle’s family retained connections to the country town. His father served as a policeman in Sydney for a number of years, later working for the Eveleigh railway works. Carlyle spent at least part of his childhood in Wagga, and was educated at the Christian Brothers’ school there. He went on to work as a packer, and had served for several years with the citizens militia.

Carlyle Hely enlisted for active service as soon as it was possible to do so after the declaration of war in August 1914. He became one of the 1,000-strong infantry force of the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force, and was sent to German colonies in New Guinea and New Britain. The force captured and took control of the colonies, remaining there for some time. After returning to Australia, Carlyle was discharged in March 1915.

Keen to continue to do his bit, Hely immediately enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force after receiving his discharge from the Naval and Military Expeditionary Force. For unknown reasons he remained in Australia for a little over 12 months, finally leaving for active service overseas with reinforcements to the 17th Battalion in April 1916. He was first sent to Egypt, where the AIF was finishing a process of expansion and training, and from there quickly moved on to England. Hely joined his battalion on the Western Front in August 1916, shortly after it had been involved in fierce fighting around the French village of Pozieres.

The 17th Battalion spent the bitterly cold winter of 1916 and 1917 rotating in and out of the front line on the Somme. As winter closed in, Hely began to have problems with his feet, and by late November had to be evacuated to England, suffering from trench feet. He remained there for the winter, returning to his battalion in June 1917. He continued to experience problems with his health, and would spend a short period of time with his battalion before being evacuated to England to recover from a number of illnesses and also gassings.

In July 1918, Hely, having been promoted to lance corporal, was once again gassed, and had to spend a week out of the line. Less than a month later, his battalion was advancing on Peronne when they were ordered to attack Mont St Quentin, a high point between their position and the French town. The battalion crossed the Somme River and attacked, advancing despite heavy pockets of machine-gun fire. Pushing a salient into German lines, the 17th Battalion found itself surrounded on three sides for a time, and sustained heavy casualties among some of its companies. They eventually prevailed, and the battalion’s commanding officer later wrote, “the operation called from the men their best powers of endurance and determination [and] proved that their work was up to the best standard of our corps.” The operation of the 2nd Australian Division as a whole is regarded as one of the finest achievements of the AIF.

Lance Corporal Carlyle Hely did not survive to hear the positive reports of the battle. The exact manner of his death on 31 August 1918 is not recorded. His body was recovered, and he was initially buried in an isolated grave, some seven kilometres north west of Peronne. His body was recovered after the war, and reinterred in the Hem Farm Military Cemetery, where it lies today under the words, “he gave his life for the honour of Australia”. Carlyle Hely was 31 years old.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among almost 62,000 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 Lance Corporal Carlyle Edward Hely, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

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