The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Second Lieutenant Charles Farry, 1st Battalion, AIFSecond Lieutenant Charles Farry, 1st Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.202
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 21 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 Copyright restrictions apply. Only personal, non-commercial, research and study use permitted. Permission of copyright holder required for any commercial use and/or reproduction.

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 Second Lieutenant Charles Farry, 1st Battalion, AIFSecond Lieutenant Charles Farry, 1st Battalion, AIF, First World War.

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Speech transcript

Second Lieutenant Charles Farry, 1st Battalion, AIF
KIA 4 October 1917

Today we remember and pay tribute to Second Lieutenant Charles Farry.

Charles Farry was born in 1886 in Ashfield, Sydney, the youngest child of John and Sarah Ann Farry. Charles’ father served as a police officer in the development phases of the New South Wales Police Force and was stationed in Rhylstone, near Mudgee. However, possibly due to a family tragedy involving his sister Elizabeth, Charles grew up in Tilba on the New South Wales south coast. He attended school in Tilba, and was taught by his eldest brother Michael. He later worked as a grocer.

Charles’ father died in 1898, when Charles was only 12; his mother died in 1909. At the time of his enlistment in the Australian Imperial Force in June 1915, Charles was engaged to be married, and listed his home address as Ashfield, Sydney. Three of Charles’ brothers, Henry, Gregory and Edward, also enlisted and served in the First World War.

After three months training at Liverpool, Charles embarked from Sydney aboard the transport ship Argyllshire, bound for the war on the Western Front. Before arriving in France, Charles spent time training in Egypt. He was popular with his comrades. One soldier described him as “smart in every way”. He joined the 1st Battalion of the 1st Brigade of the 1st Australian Division and in March 1916 sailed for France.

Soon after his arrival Charles was promoted to the rank of corporal. His first few months of the war, which he spent in the Somme region, exposed him to the terrifying and monotonous nature of trench warfare. He did not take part in any major engagement, but instead trained behind the lines or manned front-line trenches. While at the front, Charles’ battalion would experience German artillery, machine-gun and sniper fire. Occasionally they would participate in small scale raids on the German lines.

At 12:30 am on the night of 23 July, Charles and the 1st Battalion led the charge on the southern flank of the battle of Pozières. After a heavy artillery bombardment of the German lines, the Australian troops advanced across no man’s land and within half an hour successfully captured German trench positions. At dawn, they successfully saw off a heavy German counterattack.

During the battle, Charles was struck my German shrapnel in the lower back. He was hospitalised, returning to the front in November 1916, just in time for the bitterly wet and cold winter of that year. In November 1916, his unit commander noted the terrible conditions for the men.

Charles’ leadership skills continued to be recognised by his superiors. In late November he was promoted to the rank of sergeant, and in February 1917 he was selected to attend and train at an officer’s cadet course in Oxford. This training took him from the trenches for five months, and as a result he was promoted to the rank of 2nd lieutenant. He rejoined his battalion in the field in July.

In September, the battalion moved north from the Somme to the Ypres region of Belgium, where the focus of British operations had shifted in late 1917. In early October, the 1st Battalion moved from the Chateau Segard area to the front line near Broodseinde Ridge for their part in what would become known as the Third Battle of Passchendaele. In this battle, Australian troops formed the right flank of a wider joint British, New Zealand and Australian operation.

On the morning of 4 October, in extremely muddy conditions, Australian troops moved to their starting positions in anticipation of an attack on the German trenches. Their attack was planned to begin following a barrage on German lines by British artillery at 6 am. However, 25 minutes before this was due to occur, the Germans began shelling the waiting Australians. Due to the fact that the men were in a forward position and waiting to attack, all they could do was wait out the German barrage.

Charles was waiting in his trench with Major Philip Howell-Price when a German shell, probably a 5.9 inch howitzer, landed amongst them. Charles was killed instantly, one eye witness later describing him as having been “blown to bits”. He was 30 years old.

His name is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, along with over 54,000 Commonwealth Servicemen of the First World War who have no known grave.

Second Lieutenant Charles Farry 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 Charles Farry, 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 Second Lieutenant Charles Farry, 1st Battalion, AIFSecond Lieutenant Charles Farry, 1st Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)