The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2886) Private Vere Nelson Harvey, 18th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Place Europe: France, Nord Pas de Calais, Nord, Lille, Bois-Grenier, Brewery Orchard Cemetery
Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.333
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 29 November 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
Description

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 (2886) Private Vere Nelson Harvey, 18th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

2886 Private Vere Nelson Harvey, 18th Battalion, AIF
KIA 3 July 1916
Story delivered 29 November 2018

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Vere Nelson Harvey.

Vere Harvey was born on the 3rd of September 1892 to Edmund and Georgina Harvey of New South Wales. He was born on a property called “Myall Grove” in Nevertire. His father went on to become a grazier and property owner on the Macquarie River. Vere was initially schooled at home before attending the Manly Church of England Grammar School. He went on to work as a grazier, owning a property near Cobar called Koonaburra Station with his brother Arthur.

In July 1915 Vere and Arthur enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force together. They were accepted for active service and entered camp to begin training. Less than a week later Arthur fell ill. Over the next three weeks his condition worsened, and on 21 August 1915 the 21 year old died of broncho-pneumonia and an associated heart condition.

Vere Harvey continued in his training and was posted to the 18th Battalion. He left Australia for active service overseas on board the troopship Euripides on 2 November 1915. He was first sent to Egypt, where he spent what was probably a very worrying two weeks in hospital with pneumonia, before making a full recovery and rejoining his battalion training in the desert.

Private Harvey had two close mates, Privates Dick Wilkins and Harry Bestwick, from his district who had enlisted at the same time. The three made a solemn promise to each other that if one were killed, at least one of the others would write home to say what had happened. In March 1916 the three were sent to France to fight on the Western Front.

Harvey was particularly interested in machine-guns, and had been trying for some time to transfer to a machine-gun company. In June he was successful, joining his battalion’s machine-gun section. Shortly after its arrival in France, the18th Battalion entered the front line in a quieter sector in order to gain valuable experience of battlefield conditions.

On 3 July 1916 Private Vere Harvey was in the front line near the French town of Bois Grenier, standing on the fire step of the trench looking out into no man’s land. As he turned to speak to his corporal, a bullet struck him near the back of his head under his steel helmet and killed him instantly.
It fell to Private Dick Wilkins to write to Vere’s father. He wrote,

Ever since we left Australia [Vere] and I have worked on fatigue together, on guard, sentry … ate meals from the same mess tin, slept in each other’s blankets, in fact, what was his was mine and mine was his, and now it’s ended. I feel the loss after nearly twelve months of constant friendship … He was always the same, straight, honest, cheerful, a heart as generous as it was true – a man’s manly man, a good mate. I cannot put in words how deeply he is missed by us … while I sincerely regret his death I feel proud to have had him for a mate, and I trust the knowledge of his manliness, steadfastness to duty, a clean life, and clean record with help soften the blow to his mother, his family, his many friends and yourself. I cabled home only a few days ago saying we three were well, and now I have written this. I must close as I cannot write any more … Dick.

Private Vere Harvey was buried in the Brewery Orchard Cemetery at Bois Grenier, where he lies today under the words “I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course”. Vere Harvey was 24 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 Private Vere Nelson Harvey, 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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