The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (7315) Lance Corporal Robert Arthur Sloan, 13th Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.221
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 9 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 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 Troy Clayton, the story for this day was on (7315) Lance Corporal Robert Arthur Sloan, 13th Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

7315 Lance Corporal Robert Arthur Sloan, 13th Infantry Battalion, AIF
DOW 18 September 1918

Today we remember and pay tribute to Lance Corporal Robert Arthur Sloan.

Robert Sloan, known as “Bob” to his family and friends, was born in 1891, one of many children born to Robert and Janet Sloan on the family property of “Bayliss Glen” at Bungarby, New South Wales. Young Robert attended Bungarby Public School, and later worked as a labourer.

Robert Sloan enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 17 January 1917 at Queanbeyan, one of four Sloan brothers to sign up and serve in the war. Only two of the brothers would return home to Australia.

Robert Sloan joined the reinforcements for the 13th Australian Infantry Battalion, and trained for a month at Liverpool near Sydney before embarking for the war aboard the transport ship Wiltshire. He arrived in England on 11 April 1917, and after a further four months training, sailed for the war on the Western Front. He joined the 13th Australian Infantry Battalion in August 1917 in Belgium, and on the day of his arrival came under German artillery shelling, and witnessed fierce aeroplane dogfights in the skies above his trench.

On 2 May 1918, Sloan and the 13th Battalion took part in a minor operation on German trenches near Villers-Bretonneux. During this raid, the Australian troops came under heavy German machine-gun, sniper, and high explosive artillery fire. Sloan received a gunshot wound to his wrist, and his injuries were so severe that he was hospitalised for over a month.

He returned to his unit on 4 June. Just 16 days later, on 20 June 1918, Sloan’s brother Edward, serving with the 30th Infantry Battalion, died of wounds he sustained while fighting at Morlancourt. The historical record shows that Edward’s grave was visited by one of the Sloan brothers serving in the Great War, though it is unclear which of the remaining three brothers it was.

On 8 August 1918, Sloan and the 13th Battalion advanced on German positions at Morcourt, to the east of Corbie. As his battalion reached one of its objectives, it came under heavy fire from a German machine-gun position. Without hesitation, Sloan moved to a flanking position and charged at the German gun in full view of the enemy. He single-handedly took the entire German gun crew prisoner and captured the weapon. His commanding officer later wrote that he performed this action “with great dash and gallantry”, and that, “through his prompt and most courageous action his company was enabled to move forward and consolidate on its allotted objective.” His courage on this day saw him awarded the prestigious Military Medal, and he was promoted to the rank of lance corporal.

Sloan performed this action only ten kilometres away from the site where his brother Edward had died only weeks before.

On 18 September 1918, Sloan and the 13th Battalion attacked German positions at Le Verguier to the east of Péronne in northern France. In rainy and muddy conditions, the men of the battalion were waiting in their lines to advance into no man’s land when a German shell struck the line, wounding Sloan and killing nine others.

Sloan was badly wounded in his right arm, leg and abdomen, and was evacuated to a nearby casualty clearing station. His injuries were so severe that the medical staff were unable to operate on him, and he died of his wounds later that day.

He is buried at the Brie British Cemetery in France, where over 400 Commonwealth soldiers of the First World War now lie. His gravestone reads: “In loving memory of the dearly loved son of Mr and Mrs Sloan of NSW”.

He was 27 years old.

Lance Corporal Robert Sloan 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 Lance Corporal Robert Arthur Sloan, 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 (7315) Lance Corporal Robert Arthur Sloan, 13th Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)