The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1773) Lieutenant Robert Storrie Guthrie, 48th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.106
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 16 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 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 Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on (1773) Lieutenant Robert Storrie Guthrie, 48th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

1773 Lieutenant Robert Storrie Guthrie, 48th Battalion, AIF
KIA 12 October 1917

Today we remember and pay tribute to Lieutenant Robert Storrie Guthrie.

Robert Guthrie was born on 16 March 1893 to Senator Robert Storrie Guthrie and his wife Janet. Robert Guthrie senior was a seafaring man who became a leading figure in the seamen’s and waterside workers’ unions based in Port Adelaide in South Australia. Known as “Sailor Bob”, he went into parliament two years before his son Robert was born, serving nearly 30 years as a strong advocate for the shipping industry.

Robert Guthrie the younger was born in Port Adelaide and educated at the Coromandel Valley and Sturt Street schools. He worked for a number of companies, including the Castle Salt Company on the Yorke Peninsula and McGlew’s in Port Adelaide. By 1914 he was working as a bookkeeper at Lilydale Station near Peterborough in South Australia’s mid-north. Guthrie had long held an interest in military matters, was a private in the South Australian Scottish Infantry, and a lieutenant in the senior cadets.

Robert Guthrie enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in June 1915. He underwent a period of training in Australia which resulted in his being commissioned a second lieutenant in early 1916. He left Australia for active service overseas with reinforcements to the 27th Battalion the following April. He was sent to Egypt, but within a few weeks moved on to England where he undertook a training course to qualify as a grenade officer. Passing with the highest honours, he went on to serve as a training officer with the 12th Training Battalion on the Salisbury Plain for the remainder of the year.
In January 1917 Guthrie was promoted to lieutenant. He remained seconded to the training battalion for a further three and a half months before transferring to France to join the 48th Battalion in the field. The battalion had not long participated in the first Bullecourt battle.

Towards the end of the year the battalion became involved in the great offensive of that year, known as the Battle of Third Ypres, or simply Passchendaele. In the early hours of 12 October 1917 the 48th Battalion advanced to attack the village of Passchendaele. The men marched forward through boggy, muddy ground in the rain, reaching their jumping off positions only eight minutes before the attack was to begin. Shortly after the attack was launched it was clear that things were not going to plan. The battalion managed to advance, but sustained heavy casualties while trying to consolidate their new line. Faced by a series of determined German counter attacks, the battalion was forced to withdraw, with more than 350 men killed, wounded, or missing.

Among the missing was Lieutenant Robert Guthrie. It took some time to determine what had happened to him. In March 1918, some five months after he had gone missing, Driver Collins of the 48th Battalion reported that he had been on the Ypres –Menin Road the morning after the attack and met Guthrie leading a working party. On Collins’ return a couple of hours later he saw Guthrie’s body lying in a shell-hole near the road, clearly having been blown up. This evidence was given at a court of enquiry the following month, and it was determined that Lieutenant Robert Guthrie had been killed in action on 12 October 1917.

Robert Guthrie’s younger brother David, who was serving with the 10th Battalion, was also killed in action on the Western Front. He was killed the day before the court of inquiry that confirmed Robert’s death. The Guthrie family in Australia received the confirmation of these deaths within days of each other.

Robert Guthrie’s 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 Lieutenant Robert Storrie Guthrie, 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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