The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Second Lieutenant Hugh Vaughan Massie, 22nd Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.188
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 7 July 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 Jana Johnston, the story for this day was on Second Lieutenant Hugh Vaughan Massie, 22nd Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

Second Lieutenant Hugh Vaughan Massie, 22nd Battalion, AIF
DOW 8 March 1917

Today we remember and pay tribute to Second Lieutenant Hugh Vaughan Massie.

Hugh Massie was born in February 1893 near the town of Sale, Victoria, the son of Frank and Mary Massie. He had three sisters and three brothers, one of whom also fought in the First World War. As a young man, Hugh lived in Malvern, in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, where he undertook an apprenticeship as a baker.An active member of the Catholic community, he was involved with the new school established by brothers of the de la Salle order in Malvern.

In 1915, Hugh Massie enlisted in the 22nd Australian Infantry Battalion, which was made up mainly of soldiers from Victoria. Sailing from Melbourne on the Anchises, he trained in Egypt before landing on Gallipoli on 25 October 1915. By December, the British had decided to withdraw from the Gallipoli peninsula, and on 27 December, Massie returned to Egypt. Here, he and the other Australian and New Zealand troops undertook further training at camps near Cairo. In March 1916, Hugh and his battalion sailed to Marseilles in order to move to the Western Front.

In France, Massie showed promising abilities as a soldier. In August 1916, the 22nd Battalion was positioned in the Somme sector, near the village of Pozieres. Since July, the British and Commonwealth forces had been pushing towards the ridgeline north-east of the ruined village.
On the night of 4 August, Massie and the other men of his battalion climbed out of their trenches and into no-man’s-land. During that night and into the following day, the 22nd Battalion succeeded in taking all of their objectives, and then fought off a determined German counter-attack at dawn. For his services as a stretcher-bearer in the fighting, Massie was awarded the Military Medal.

As a result of his abilities, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant, and then selected for officer training in England, which he began in October. Successfully passing all components of the course, he returned to his battalion in France as second lieutenant.

That winter in northern France, the mud of autumn froze. The battalion diary gives a vivid description: “The land was gripped in an iron frost, and the shell-pitted region was no longer a sea, but a field of ice many feet thick … it was so cold that moistened hair froze as it was brushed, and bread had to be thawed at a fire before it was cut”.
In March 1917, the German troops in northern France began a carefully coordinated retreat to stronger lines around the village of Bullecourt. The Australian 6th Brigade, of which the 22nd Battalion was part, pushed northwards towards the French town of Bapaume, following the German retreat. Along the way, the Australians encountered a stiff resistance from German rearguard forces.

On the evening of 8 March 1917, Hugh Massie and two other men went into no-man’s land on patrol. They came upon a German bombing post and were all wounded, Massie was badly wounded. The other two men returned to the Australian trenches, found a stretcher, and returned to where they had left him, but he had been captured by the Germans. The Australians later received notice from the Germans that Hugh had died of his wounds that night, and had been buried at the German field hospital at Morchies. He was 24 years old.

In Melbourne, Hugh’s siblings had to wait until July of that year before they received official word of his death. Once his death was confirmed, the brothers at the de la Salle school held a memorial mass for Hugh. The family was to suffer more loss the next year, when Hugh’s older brother Lieutenant Frank Raymond Massie of the 12th Light Horse Regiment died of disease on 15 October 1918 at Damascus.

Hugh is now buried at Douchy-les-Ayette British Cemetery in France.

Second Lieutenant Hugh Vaughan Massie 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 Second Lieutenant Hugh Vaughan Massie, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Thomas Rogers
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Second Lieutenant Hugh Vaughan Massie, 22nd Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)