The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3071) Private Claude Dewsnap, 8th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.232
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 20 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 Chirs Widenbar, the story for this day was on (3071) Private Claude Dewsnap, 8th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

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Speech transcript

3071 Private Claude Dewsnap, 8th Battalion, AIF
DOW 28 October 1917

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Claude Dewsnap.

Claude Dewsnap was born in 1892 in Maldon, Victoria, the youngest of nine children born to John and Mary Dewsnap. He attended a local state school and while there spent seven years serving in a cadets unit. After school he worked as a clerk in the Lands’ Department, and lived in the Melbourne suburb of Brighton. He was a popular member of the Melbourne Swimming Club and was engaged to Gladys Turner.

Around March 1915 Dewsnap attempted to sign up and fight in the war, but was rejected on dental grounds. On 7 July he attempted to enlist again, and this time was accepted. He began training with the reinforcements of the 24th Infantry Battalion, one of four Dewsnap brothers to serve for Australia in the First World War.

In November 1915 Dewsnap sailed from Melbourne for overseas service. He was too late to serve on Gallipoli, but was in Egypt for a period known as the doubling of the AIF, during which Australian units were reorganised and expanded in preparation for the war on the Western Front. He transferred to the 8th Battalion, which formed part of the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Australian Division.

In March 1916 Dewsnap sailed from Egypt for France. He was hospitalised in June with dental problems, rejoining his unit in late July as they were taking part in the heavy fighting at Pozières, near the Somme River.

On 18 August 1916, Dewsnap and the 8th Battalion participated in an attack on the German lines near Pozières. After an artillery bombardment of the German trenches, the troops jumped out of their trenches and in to no-man’s-land. As they attacked, the men came under heavy machine-gun fire that was so heavy that they were forced to withdraw and reform before making a renewed attack.

During this action, Dewsnap received a gunshot wound to the back of his left knee. He was sent to hospital in England for treatment and recovery, and did not rejoin his unit for nine months, when they were fighting in the Ypres sector of Belgium.

In August 1917, Dewsnap received the sad news that his oldest brother John, who had been reported as being missing in action since the fighting at Fromelles in July 1916, had officially been declared to have been killed in action.

The following month, on 20 September, Claude Dewsnap was once again wounded in action, this time he received a bullet wound to the scalp during heavy fighting at Menin Road in Belgium. Australian forces suffered over 5,000 casualties in this battle.

After a brief period in hospital, Dewsnap returned to his unit which was resting behind the lines near Ypres.
On 26 October 1917, the 8th Battalion was in the front line trenches near Westhoek in Belgium when it came under an intense German high explosive and shrapnel artillery barrage that lasted throughout the day and night.

During the attack, Dewsnap was struck in the head by a piece of shell that fractured his skull. Knocked unconscious, he was taken for medical treatment. Two days later, on 28 October, he died of his wounds at the Number 10 Casualty Clearing Station.

He was 25 years old. His family had lost two brothers in the war.

Today his remains lie buried at the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery in Belgium, where over 10,000 soldiers of the First World War now lie. His gravestone reads: “So deeply mourned so sadly missed”.

One of his fellow soldiers later described him as “always pleasant, and popular with the boys”, and his family wrote to local newspapers about how much they missed their “darling boy”.

Private Claude Dewsnap’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 Claude Dewsnap, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

David Sutton
Historian, Military History Section

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