The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Lieutenant Alex George Gilpin, 4th Imperial Contingent, Victoria, Boer War.

Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.255
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 12 September 2018
Access Open
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945
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 Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on Lieutenant Alex George Gilpin, 4th Imperial Contingent, Victoria, Boer War.

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Speech transcript

Lieutenant Alex George Gilpin, 4th Imperial Contingent, Victoria
KIA 20 August 1900

Story delivered 12 September 2018

Today we remember and pay tribute to Lieutenant Alexander George Gilpin.

Alexander Gilpin was born on the 20th of August 1873, the second son of John Alexander Gilpin and his first wife, Dorothea. Alex was born in Sandhurst, Victoria, and when he was six years old his family moved to Ballarat. His father had extensive mining interests in Bendigo and Ballarat, and Alex was educated at Ballarat College. When he was 15 years old his mother died; the following year his father remarried and later had more children. Alex went on to work at a bank before becoming a stock and sharebroker. He also maintained a strong interest in the military, gaining a commission in the local battalion of the Citizens’ Militia, along with his older brother Tom.

In April 1900, Alex Gilpin and Tom enlisted for service with the 4th Imperial Victorian Contingent for service in the Boer War. They left Australia later that month, arriving in South Africa at a time when the British were conducting a counter-offensive against the previously successful Boer mounted troops. The brothers later separated, and did not serve closely together.

In August 1900 Lieutenant Gilpin wrote a letter home to wish his father a happy birthday. He noted: “we have got into the fighting in real earnest now … we went at full gallop across the open under a very hot fire, and all the troops in the rear gave us a great cheer. The bullets were raining all round us. We took the position, and the Boers retired to the next ridge. We only had one man shot, poor fellow.” From that point Gilpin’s troops were kept for important scouting details.

The day after writing his letter, Lieutenant Gilpin and his men had retired to the Boer village of Ottoshoop. A New Zealand surgeon there at the same time described the village as smelling “terribly of dead horse all over the place … we are almost unable to graze our horses here at all, and it seems much harder to hold this town than the place we were halted at further on.” That evening the garrison in Ottoshoop came under heavy enemy fire. The New Zealand surgeon was not far away when Lieutenant Gilpin was shot. He wrote, “Gilpin … was killed by a bullet through his lung and heart. He did not live many minutes, and was dead when I got to him.”

Alex Gilpin is buried in the Zeerust Cemetery. He had been killed on his 27th birthday. His brother, Lieutenant Tom Gilpin, was welcomed home the following year, although his return was “tinged with regret for the loss of … [his] brother”. His father reportedly “felt the loss of his son keenly, but often declared that he was proud to know that his son died in defence of the empire.” Alex was not his only son to die in war; Alex’s half-brother Anthony would be killed in action during the landing on Gallipoli in 1915.

Alexander Gilpin’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among 605 Australians who lost their lives in the Boer War.

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

Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Lieutenant Alex George Gilpin, 4th Imperial Contingent, Victoria, Boer War. (video)