The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (4182) Private Jerome Devos, 54th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.91
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 April 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 Gerard Pratt, the story for this day was on (4182) Private Jerome Devos, 54th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

4182 Private Jerome Devos, 54th Battalion, AIF
KIA 19 July 1916

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Jerome Devos.

Jerome Devos was born on 27 October 1885 in Bruges, Belgium, the son of Oscar and Esther Devos.

When the First World War began he was living in Australia, and working as a groom at the Hotel Steyn on the Corso at Manly in Sydney.

When he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 3 September 1915, he could not provide the address of his family back in Belgium as they had become displaced by the war. He instead asked for all correspondence to be directed to the Davis family, with whom he had been living in Manly, in the hope that they would be able to make contact with his friends in London, and eventually with his family in Belgium.

After enlisting, Devos began training with the reinforcements of the 1st Infantry Battalion. Leaving Australia too late to take part in the Gallipoli campaign, Devos instead sailed for Egypt, where he continued to train, first with the 1st Battalion, and later with the newly created 54th Battalion, to which he transferred in February. In March 1916 he was briefly hospitalised for heat stroke, likely brought about by the rigorous training in the hot desert conditions.

In June, he sailed with the 54th Battalion to France, and soon after landing travelled to northern France, near the border of his home country of Belgium.

Devos had his first taste of trench warfare on the Western Front on 14 July, when the 54th Battalion moved into the trenches near Fleurbaix. On 19 July, after a brief period of rest behind the lines, he participated in the Battle of Fromelles, Australia’s first major engagement on the Western Front.

Australian forces attacked the German front line trenches in a series of waves in an attempt to capture a bulge in the German lines known as the “Sugar Loaf”. The 54th Battalion commenced its attack at 5.50 pm and soon reached the German lines, but in the face of heavy German machine-gun fire was forced to withdraw.

Australian forces suffered terribly in this battle, losing over 5,500 men in a single day. Devos’s 54th Battalion lost about 65 per cent of its fighting strength.

Devos was last seen advancing across no-man’s-land with his mate Private George Clapperton before being shot down as he reached the thick German barbed wire defences.

He was 30 years old.

Originally reported as missing in action, it was not until August 1917, over a year after his death, that he was officially declared to have been killed in action at Fromelles.

With no known grave, today he is commemorated at the VC Corner Australian Cemetery and Memorial at Fromelles.

His name 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 Jerome Devos, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

David Sutton
Historian, Military History Section

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