|Object type||Last Post film|
Australian War Memorial
|Place made||Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell|
|Date made||25 May 2019|
First World War, 1914-1918
Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
|Copying Provisions||Copy provided for personal non-commercial use|
The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2661) Private Robert George Henderson Proudfoot, 9th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War.
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 Denis Stockman, the story for this day was on (2661) Private Robert George Henderson Proudfoot, 9th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War.
2661 Private Robert George Henderson Proudfoot, 9th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF
KIA 21 August 1916
Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Robert George Henderson Proudfoot.
Robert Proudfoot was born in Perth, Scotland, on 24 March 1896, the son of George and Jane Proudfoot. Known as “Bob” to his friends and family, he attended the southern and central district schools in Perthshire, Scotland, before working as a linen lapper. In Scotland, he gained military experience in the Perthshire Black Watch volunteers. When he was 18 years old, he emigrated to Brisbane.
Proudfoot enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in May 1915 at the age of 19. As he was under 21 years of age, his mother gave her consent for him to serve overseas. After three months at Enoggera training camp near Brisbane, he embarked on the transport ship Kyarra in August 1915. He arrived on the island of Lemnos in mid-November, where he joined the 9th Australian Infantry Battalion. His unit had arrived on the island from Anzac Cove earlier in the month, as part of the British and allied evacuation from the Gallipoli peninsula.
At this time, the Australian Imperial Force took on an influx of recruits and effectively doubled in size. Each original battalion was split in half, with the remainder made up of new recruits such as Proudfoot. In this way, every unit had a core of soldiers with battle experience.
The 9th Battalion undertook training on Lemnos for the remainder of November and December, with the battalion diary noting the cold winter conditions. Proudfoot learnt how to use the Lewis Gun, a light machine-gun used to support infantry advances and to defend positions. In January, the unit sailed to Alexandria in Egypt, where they continued their training at Tel-el-Kebir camp until April 1916, when they sailed for France.
The unit’s first billets were in northern France, on the border with Belgium. It was here that Proudfoot and the new recruits first experienced warfare, when the Germans shelled the barns in which the battalion was billeted, killing 25 soldiers and wounding a further 50.
In August 1916, the unit entered its first Western Front action at Pozieres on the Somme River in France. The German lines there had been taken earlier in the month by the 2nd Division, and the commanders sought to consolidate these holdings. The 9th Battalion went into the front line on the 19th of August, and immediately came under heavy German artillery fire.
During this operation, on 21 August 1916, Proudfoot was in a front-line trench when a German shell landed near him and he was killed. He was 20 years old.
Two of his older brothers also served: Corporal George Proudfoot, who returned to Australia, and Corporal William Mason Proudfoot, MM, who was killed at Messines in June 1917.
Robert Proudfoot was buried at Serre Road Cemetery Number 2 in France, where his remains lie today alongside more than 7,000 Commonwealth soldiers from the First World War.
Private Robert Proudfoot 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 Private Robert George Henderson Proudfoot, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.
Historian, Military History Section
Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2661) Private Robert George Henderson Proudfoot, 9th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)