The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3228) Private Alexander Thomas Abassie, 6th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.199
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 18 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
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 Chris Widenbar, the story for this day was on (3228) Private Alexander Thomas Abassie, 6th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

3228 Private Alexander Thomas Abassie, 6th Battalion, AIF
DOW 23 July 1916

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Alexander Thomas Abassie.

Alexander Abassie was born on 21 July 1896 in Ballarat, Victoria, the eldest child of Elias Abassie, a Syrian migrant, and Sarah Jane Wallace. When Alexander was young his parents separated, and he moved to Melbourne with his mother and two sisters. His mother later re-married, and he grew up with several step-brothers and sisters. Abassie was educated at a number of schools across Melbourne and later worked as a labourer and lift attendant. Before the war, he gained valuable military experience by serving in the senior cadets and a local militia force.

Abassie enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 14 July 1915 and began training with reinforcements of the 6th Infantry Battalion. In November, he sailed from Melbourne aboard the transport ship Nestor. Being too late to serve on Gallipoli, he instead sailed for Egypt, where Australian forces were preparing for war in Palestine or on the Western Front. Abassie joined the 6th Battalion in early January 1916, and after a brief period in hospital, sailed for France and the war on the Western Front.

Shortly after arriving in Marseilles, Abassie and the 6th Battalion transferred to northern France, where they trained and rested behind the lies at St Omer and Bailleul. He had his first experience of front line service at Fleurbaix, near the French–Belgian border.

In a letter home, he wrote that life in the trenches was uncomfortable, and that the rats were as big as kittens. While he didn’t mind the intermittent rifle fire, when he came under German artillery shelling it was particularly difficult.

On 23 July 1916, Abassie and the 6th Battalion took part in the battle of Pozières, an attempt to re-capture a town lost to German forces. In this battle, which lasted several weeks, Australian forces suffered some 23,000 casualties, 6,800 of whom were killed.

On 23 July 1916, Abassie and his unit took part in the battle, supplying food, water and ammunition to Australian troops serving in the front-line trenches. This was dangerous work, and the men came under intermittent German machine-gun fire and artillery shelling.

At some point during the day Abassie received wounds so serious that he was taken to the Number 1 Australian Field Ambulance. He died soon after arrival.
He was 20 years old.
He was deeply mourned by his family and friends, who left a poem in a local newspaper:
He felt it was his duty,
To take a noble part:
There was no fear of danger,
In his brave and loyal heart.
He is buried in the Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension in France, where over 1,300 soldiers of the First World War now lie.

Private Alexander Thomas Abassie’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 Private Alexander Thomas Abassie, who gave his life 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 (3228) Private Alexander Thomas Abassie, 6th Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)