The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (7020) Private James Alphonsus Morrissy, 9th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.263
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 20 September 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 Sharon Bown, the story for this day was on (7020) Private James Alphonsus Morrissy, 9th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

7020 Private James Alphonsus Morrissy, 9th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF
KIA 20 September 1917
Story delivered 20 September 2018

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private James Alphonsus Morrissy.

James Morrissy was born in 1894 in Yangan, Queensland, the eldest son of James and Ellen Morrissy. His family moved to nearby Deuchar to begin dairy farming when he was quite young, and Jim, as he was known, attended Deuchar State School. Once he had left school, he worked as a labourer on the family farm. He was also a member of the Allora Rifle Club.

In October 1916, Morrissy enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force at Maryborough. A month later, he embarked from Brisbane on board the transport ship Kyarra, bound for England. Arriving in Plymouth at the end of January 1917, he trained at the army camps on the Salisbury Plain for about six months. With so many men housed in close quarters, disease was common. While he was at the camps, Morrissy contracted mumps, and spent three weeks in hospital recovering.

In July 1917, Morrissy sailed to France, and in August he joined his unit, the 9th Australian Infantry Battalion. During August, the battalion continued training behind the front line. Training included route marches, rifle firing practice, and carrying out drills in the use of gas and protection from it. There was also a sports day for all the battalions of the 3rd Brigade, during which the 9th Battalion emerged victorious.

In September, Morrissy and the 9th Battalion moved north to the Franco–Belgian border. British commanders were preparing to launch a major offensive into Flanders. Fighting eastwards from the Belgian town of Ypres, the British sought to regain the high ground from the Germans.

On 20 September, Australian involvement in this offensive began with the battle of Menin Road. During the fighting, James Morrissy was killed in action. He was 23 years old, and had been on the Western Front for just over six weeks.

In the confusion of the fighting, his body was not found. His name is inscribed on the Menin Gate Memorial, among the names of 6,000 Australians who were killed in Belgium and have no known grave.

In Australia, James Morrissy was survived by his parents and his four younger brothers, Michael, John, Thomas, and Hubert. Other men in his extended family also enlisted in the AIF. His uncle, Private Patrick Morrisey, served in France with the 25th Battalion, was wounded in the chest, and returned to Australia in 1916. His cousin, Private Richard Bowman, served with the 34th Battalion in France until he was severely wounded. He had both legs amputated and returned to Australia in 1919.

Private James Alphonsus Morrissy 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 Private James Alphonsus Morrissy, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Thomas Rogers
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (7020) Private James Alphonsus Morrissy, 9th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)