The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (6302a) Private Karl Aanonsen, 4th Australian Machine Gun Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.213
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 1 August 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 Troy Clayton, the story for this day was on (6302a) Private Karl Aanonsen, 4th Australian Machine Gun Battalion, AIF, First World War.

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Speech transcript

6302a Private Karl Aanonsen, 4th Australian Machine Gun Battalion, AIF
Died of disease 14 November 1918

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Karl Aanonsen.

Karl Aanonsen was born in 1887, near Arendal in Norway, the son of Aanon and Emilie Aanonsen. He grew up in Norway and migrated to Australia when he was about 21 years of age. He worked as a linesman in the town of Dollar in Victoria, but also travelled around Australia.

In September 1916, Aanonsen was in Brisbane when he decided to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force. He had enlisted the previous year, but for reasons that are unclear, had not completed his training.

Aanonsen undertook initial training at Enoggera camp near Brisbane, before embarking on board the transport ship Kyarra in November. When the ship made a stop at Perth, Aanonsen disembarked and failed to re-embark. However, not long afterwards, he boarded another transport ship, the Berrima, and continued on to the war. Whether deliberate or accidental, his absence led him to spending the voyage in detention.

In February 1917, Aanonsen landed in England and completed his training at the army camps on the Salisbury Plain. In May, he proceeded overseas to the fighting on the Western Front, joining his unit, the 28th Australian Infantry Battalion, in France.

Aanonsen saw his first battle in October at Broodseinde, outside the town of Ypres, just over the border in Belgium. The 28th Battalion achieved its objectives, but came under heavy German artillery fire. Aanonsen was struck by shell fragments in his back and badly wounded.

He was evacuated to England to recuperate in hospital. In late November, he returned to the training camps on the Salisbury Plain. He spent the winter of 1917 and 1918 there, and began training with Vickers medium machine-guns. In the crowded camp conditions, Aanonsen became ill with influenza and spent a little over a week in hospital.

At the end of March 1918, German forces began what would be their final large-scale attack of the war, known as the German Spring Offensive. In response to this assault, Australian troops were concentrated around the important rail-hub city of Amiens in northern France. In April, Aanonsen reached the area and joined his new unit, the 4th Australian Machine Gun Battalion. At the village of Villers-Brettonuex, east of Amiens, his unit helped to stop the German advance. Aanonsen was slightly wounded, but he remained at duty.

With the 4th Machine Gun Battalion, Aanonsen participated in some of the decisive battles in the final allied offensive against German positions. In early July, the unit took part in a relatively small-scale battle at the French village of Hamel. During this battle, for the first time in Australian experience, low-flying aircraft dropped ammunition to the machine-gunners using parachutes.

On 4 November 1918, Aanonsen was admitted to a field hospital in France with influenza. The Armistice was signed on 11 November, but by then his condition was worsening, and had become pneumonia. On 14 November 1918, a few days after the end of hostilities, Karl Aanonsen died of pneumonia in hospital. He was 31 years old.

Aanonsen was buried in Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension in France, alongside more than 2,500 British Commonwealth and French First World War soldiers. He was survived by his parents, who still lived near Arendal in Norway.
Private Karl Aanonsen 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 Karl Aanonsen, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Thomas Rogers
Historian, Military History Section

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