The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1971) Private George Alexander Loader, 38th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.292
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 October 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 Troy Clayton, the story for this day was on (1971) Private George Alexander Loader, 38th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

1971 Private George Alexander Loader, 38th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF
KIA 28 August 1918
Story delivered 19 October 2018

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private George Alexander Loader.

George Loader was born on 5 March 1888 to Henry and Christina Loader of Miners Rest, a suburb on the rural fringe of Ballarat, Victoria. Henry Loader was a successful farmer, well known and respected in the Ballarat shire, with a large family. When he died in 1911 after a long and painful illness, his wife and children remained in the family home and continued their strong involvement in the local farming community.

George Loader had enjoyed steady work as a farmhand before enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force on 17 March 1916. He was allotted to the 2nd Reinforcements to the 38th Infantry Battalion, and after a period of training, embarked from Melbourne on the troopship Orontes on the 16th of August 1916, bound for England.

After further training in England, Private Loader joined the 38th Battalion in November 1916 as it went to France. The battalion moved into the trenches of the Western Front for the first time on 1 December, during a particularly bitter European winter.

Later in the month, Loader was admitted to hospital with mumps, but returned to his unit in January 1917. In March he presented with vomiting and was diagnosed with gastritis, but again recovered quickly and returned to his unit shortly after.

The 38th Battalion fought in its first major battle at Messines, in Belgium, on 7 June. The initial assault was preceded by the detonation of 19 huge mines under the German front line – which caused an estimated 10,000 German casualties. British, Australian, and New Zealand infantry advanced behind a carefully co-ordinated artillery bombardment and took their objectives within the first hours of the battle.

Loader was wounded during the operation, with a gunshot wound to his right arm. He want sent to England and admitted to Graylingwell War Hospital, where he recuperated and rested.

Loader rejoined his unit in late October, after it had suffered heavy casualties in the battles of Broodseinde Ridge and Passchendaele. Belgium was to be the focus of the 38th Battalion's activities for the following months, and it was in Belgium that Loader was again wounded in action on 3 December 1917, this time suffering from a gunshot wound to the right foot. Again he was sent to England to recover.

He rejoined his unit in late March 1918, in time to be rushed south to France to meet the German Army's Spring Offensive. During this time the battalion continued to play an active role in the 3rd Division’s advance along the Somme Valley, and was involved in an ill-conceived attack that failed to capture the village of Proyart on 10 August.

About 3 pm on 28 August, Private George Loader’s company entered the village of Curlu and immediately encountered strong opposition, which was “only subdued by determined effort”. The company suffered a number of casualties as a result of this action. Among the dead was Private George Loader. He was 30 years old.

He was buried nearby in the Curlu French Military Cemetary, and was later reinterred in the Hem Farm Military Cemetery just north of the River Somme.

His grave bears the following epitaph, requested by his mother:

Nearer my God to thee
My sun gone down
In my dreams I be
Nearer my God to be

George Loader’s 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 Private George Alexander Loader, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Duncan Beard
Editor, Military History Section

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