The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2127) Private Walter Sydney Emery, 2nd Infantry Battalion, AIF, and (561) Lance Corporal Robert Norman Emery, 24th Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.112
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 22 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
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 Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on (2127) Private Walter Sydney Emery, 2nd Infantry Battalion, AIF, and (561) Lance Corporal Robert Norman Emery, 24th Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

2127 Private Walter Sydney Emery, 2nd Infantry Battalion, AIF
KIA 8 August 1915
Photograph: HO6283
561 Lance Corporal Robert Norman Emery, 24th Infantry Battalion, AIF
KIA 29 November 1915
Photograph: HO6282

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Walter Sydney Emery, and Lance Corporal Robert Norman Emery.

Walter Sydney Emery was born in 1889 in the Melbourne suburb of Windsor, the second son of Walter and Elizabeth Emery. Two years later his brother, Robert Norman Emery was born at Prahran.

The Emery brothers attended Wesley College in Melbourne, where they served in the Cadet Corps.

Walter went on to work as a life insurance clerk at The Mutual Life and Citizens’ Assurance Company. He enlisted into the Australian Imperial Force in Liverpool, New South Wales, in May 1915, eventually joining the 6th Reinforcements of the 2nd Infantry Battalion.

Robert followed his older brother’s example early the following month, joining the 24th Battalion, which had been raised quickly from extra recruits from the Broadmeadows Camp near Melbourne.

The brothers soon set sail for Egypt, where they trained in the desert camps outside Cairo before departing for the Gallipoli Peninsula.

Walter Emery landed on Gallipoli on the 6th of August, the same day that his battalion led the charge in the Battle of Lone Pine. The operation was designed to divert Turkish forces from a major Allied offensive to the north at Hill 971. After three days of artillery fire on Turkish positions, at 5:30 pm of 6 August, Australian troops charged into no-man’s-land, the blinding setting sun at their backs. Still recovering from the heavy Allied bombardments, Turkish troops were not able to man their guns until the Australians were close to their positions. But upon reaching the enemy trenches the Australians found the Turkish troops well-defended and covered over by pine log roofs. Some troops took to removing the roof and assaulting the Turkish front-line trench, while the majority proceeded to attack the more exposed Turkish communication and supply trenches in the rear. Due to the fierce fighting of this first day and heavy Turkish counterattacks, Emery was brought in as reinforcements to support the engagement. On 8 August, the 26-year-old was killed.

Robert and his unit landed on Gallipoli in early September 1915 and entered the section of the front where his brother had just been killed. Lone Pine had become the scene of a grinding battle of attrition. Australian troops were occupying the front line trenches and withstanding constant sniper fire and Turkish shelling, but did not make large-scale attacks on enemy positions. The Turkish bombardments and sniper fire was so intense that battalions constantly rotated their time at the front: one day on, one day off. Robert Emery and the 24th Battalion spent 16 weeks swapping front line duties with the 23rd Battalion on a day to day basis. At the same time, the oncoming winter and increasingly cold and inhospitable conditions led to rampant disease. In the month of October alone, the 24th Battalion suffered 302 casualties, sick, wounded, or killed ¬– roughly a third of its total strength.

On 29 November, Robert Emery and the 24th Battalion continued the routine of relieving their comrades in the 23rd when they came under attack from a particularly heavy three and a half hour long bombardment of Turkish 12- and 8-inch calibre shells. His battalion suffered over 50 casualties in a single day.

In the ensuing chaos, Robert was reported as missing, but his body was soon discovered and he was reported as killed in action. He was 24 years old.

He was buried at the Brown’s Dip Cemetery on the Gallipoli Peninsula but was later moved to the Lone Pine Cemetery, where his remains lie today under the epitaph chosen by his grieving family: “Your spirit is ever with us”.

The details of Walter’s death, however, remain unknown. Originally reported as missing, believed wounded in action, in October 1915 his father enquired about the nature and extent of his son’s injuries. He was heartbroken to learn that his son, who he believed to have only been wounded, had died two months previously. It was not until March 1916 that a board of inquiry was able to establish that Walter Emery had been killed in action on 8 August 1915, one of 2,277 Australian casualties suffered in the Battle of Lone Pine.

With no known grave, today Walter Emery is listed on the Lone Pine Memorial, where the names of nearly 5,000 Australian and New Zealand troops are recorded. The remains of his brother, Robert, lay close by in the same cemetery.

Private Walter Sydney Emery and Lance Corporal Robert Norman Emery are 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 Walter Sydney Emery and Lance Corporal Robert Norman Emery, who gave their lives for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

David Sutton
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2127) Private Walter Sydney Emery, 2nd Infantry Battalion, AIF, and (561) Lance Corporal Robert Norman Emery, 24th Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)