The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (436) Corporal Herbert Thomas Joseph Sinclair, 9th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.122
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 2 May 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 Criag Berelle, the story for this day was on (436) Corporal Herbert Thomas Joseph Sinclair, 9th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

436 Corporal Herbert Thomas Joseph Sinclair, 9th Battalion, AIF
KIA 24 September 1915

Today we remember and pay tribute to Corporal Herbert Thomas Joseph Sinclair.

Herbert Sinclair, known as “Bert”, was born in 1895 to James and Annie Sinclair of Sydney. At some point he moved to Ipswich in Queensland, where his uncle Hugh was the manager of the Queensland Farmers’ Cooperative Company factory. There he worked as a carpenter.

Bert Sinclair was among the first to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force following the outbreak of war in 1914. He was posted to the 9th Battalion, and after a period of training in Australia left for active service overseas. On 25 April 1915 the 9th Battalion was part of the covering force for the landing at Anzac Cove, and was among the first to land under heavy rifle fire. The 9th Battalion’s war diary notes that the men “displayed great bravery and held on tenaciously” in the face of staunch enemy opposition to the landing.

Private Sinclair performed so well at the landing that three days later he was promoted to lance corporal. On 21 May he received a gunshot wound to the neck, and spent some weeks in Egypt recovering. He returned to his battalion on the peninsula in June, and three days later was shot in the shoulder. This second wound was less serious, and he recovered without an extended period of hospitalisation. Two weeks later he was promoted to corporal.

Sinclair had a number of close mates in his platoon, including Corporal Tom Scrivener, who had dugout near his own. Scrivener later wrote a letter describing what happened on 24 September, 1915:
Bert came round to my dugout to ask me the time, as he as in charge of a working party at 1 o’clock. He had just sat down, when all of a sudden a big shell burst in my dugout. It took us by surprise, and after the smoke, dust and fumes had cleared away, I found I was all right, and the old fellow that camps with me was all right too. I looked round, and there was Bert almost buried in dirt. He said to me, “Am I hit, Tom?” I looked and found he was hit – eight pellets in the back. We got the doctor and stretchers at once, and the old fellow – my mate – carried him out of the dugout in case any more shells would come that way.

As Corporal Sinclair was being carried out of the dugout he asked Tom, “Am I hit quite badly?” Scrivener replied that no, he was all right. That was the last thing Bert Sinclair heard. Shortly afterwards he lapsed into unconsciousness and died not long after.

That evening all the men of No. 7 Platoon of the 9th Battalion attended a brief burial service in Shell Green Cemetery. Scrivener had a cross erected for the man he described as “my pal ever since we joined”, and the 7th platoon did all they could to commemorate their friend appropriately. Tom Scrivener wrote to Bert’s parents to say “I might say he was a soldier, and feared nothing. Every man in the company liked him. It’s hard, but, still, he died fighting for liberty, King and country.”

Corporal Bert Sinclair was 20 years old.

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 Corporal Herbert Thomas Joseph Sinclair, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (436) Corporal Herbert Thomas Joseph Sinclair, 9th Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)