The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2349) Gunner Ernest August Knickel, Details Australian Field Artillery, First World War

Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.1
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 1 January 2019
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 Jana Johnson, the story for this day was on (2349) Gunner Ernest August Knickel, Details Australian Field Artillery, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

2349 Gunner Ernest August Knickel, Details Australian Field Artillery
DOD 24 July 1918
Story delivered 1 January 2019

Today we remember and pay tribute to Gunner Ernest August Knickel.

Ernest Knickel was born on 16 December 1890 in Queensland. His parents, Johannes and Frederike Knickel, were German immigrants who married in Australia and raised a large family near Rockhampton. Ernest’s father died when he was about 19 years old. He went on to work as a fencer and contractor in the district.

Ernest Knickel enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force within weeks of the outbreak of war in 1914. However, he was discharged a few weeks later and did not successfully re-enlist until January 1916. Known to his military comrades as “Dan”, Knickel began training with the light horse. He was a remarkably tall man, standing 6 feet 10 inches tall, and was reported in his local newspapers as the tallest Queenslander to enlist, although they conceded that there was “said to be a man at Broadmeadows (a Victorian), who can give Pte Knickel an inch, but with this exception Pte Knickel is probably the tallest soldier in the Australian Army.”

Knickel left Australia with reinforcements to the 5th Light Horse Regiment in April 1916. He did not remain with the light horse long, transferring to the artillery shortly after his arrival to England in May 1916. He continued training on Salisbury Plain for some months. Before he could cross the channel to France, Gunner Knickel fell ill and spent nearly a month in hospital in Bulford. Following his release, he joined the convalescent training company based in Bulford to complete his recovery.

Knickel proved very popular in Bulford Camp. A friend later explained, “He was the cook here, and if a man came in late he would always get him a feed. I never heard a man say a bad word against him.”
On 20 July 1917, Knickel was again admitted to hospital, this time in nearby Tidworth, with jaundice. Sister Baker of the Tidworth Military Hospital later wrote to Knickel’s parents to tell them what happened, writing, “So far as I can find out, he had had jaundice for about ten days before coming in, and had lately been getting much thinner. He walked in and only complained of some pain in his back and of generally feeling tired.” Four days later Knickel died suddenly and unexpectedly of kidney failure. Sister Baker wrote, “He just got very sleepy and never roused … he was with us so short a time … He was only four days in hospital altogether. Nothing could have been done for him more than was done, unless he had recognised what was the matter weeks before.”

Gunner Ernest Knickel was buried in Bulford Church Cemetery with full military honours. The New Zealand band played, and nearly eight Australians from the nearby camp attended.

Captain Robinson, Australian chaplain stationed at Bulford, wrote to Knickel’s family to say “At the grave, after the beautiful service provided by our church, the firing party fired three volleys, and then three buglers sounded the last post. Take comfort from this, knowing that he has done his duty and … look forward to a reunion on the other side of the grave.”

Ernest August Knickel was 28 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 Gunner Ernest August Knickel, 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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