The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Lieutenant Arthur Leslie Rush, 14th Machine Gun Company, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.244
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 September 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 Joanne Smedley, the story for this day was on Lieutenant Arthur Leslie Rush, 14th Machine Gun Company, AIF, First World War.

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Speech transcript

Lieutenant Arthur Leslie Rush, 14th Machine Gun Company, AIF
KIA 25 April 1918

Today we remember and pay tribute to Lieutenant Arthur Leslie Rush.

Arthur Rush was born in May 1888 in Bundanoon, New South Wales. Known as “Paddy” to his friends and family, he was one of nine children born to Jemima and Philip Rush. He grew up in Bundanoon and attended school in nearby Wingello. The family endured hardship when Rush’s father Philip died in 1907, and his older brother Harry died in a motorcycle accident in 1914. By 1915, Rush had married Eileen Lydia Williams and was working as an orchardist in Bundanoon.

Rush enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in August 1915. After a period of training in Australia, he embarked for the war on the transport ship Euripides, which left Sydney in early November. On arrival in Egypt, Rush trained at the Australian camp at Tel-el-Kebir and the School of Instruction at Zeitoun, where he learnt how to use a machine gun, and was transferred to the 14th Machine Gun Company. Rush then sailed with this company to France to join the major British offensive on the Western Front.

Arriving in France in late June 1916, the 14th Machine Gun Company saw its first action at the town of Fromelles. The Australian forces were to create a feint at this northern town to draw German forces away from the larger British offensive further south along the Somme. However, the Germans achieved a decisive defensive victory, and the battle was later described as the worst 24 hours in Australian military history, with over five thousand casualties, nearly 2,000 of whom had been killed.

The horrors of war were to continue. In August 1916, Rush was able to meet up with his youngest brother Lance Corporal Frederick Erskine Rush in the trenches at the front line. As they were talking, a German shell exploded nearby and wounded Frederick, who later died of his wounds. Rush wrote to his family back in Australia: the shock “must be far worse for you all so far away than for me & God knows it was a terrible shock to me”.

Rush had shown promise as a soldier, and was promoted to corporal in September, and sergeant in January 1917. In 1917, he spent several months training in France away from the front lines. This included preparing for gas attacks, and learning how to use the machine-gun for anti-aircraft purposes.

In late September 1917, British and Commonwealth forces launched a major offensive across northern France and into Belgium. The objective was to push the German forces out of Flanders, and one of the early engagements was at Polygon Wood in Belgium. Here, Rush stayed at his machine-gun post despite losing several crew members as casualties. He was able to help hold off a much larger counter-attacking German force. His commanding officer later praised Rush for “conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty”. Rush was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, and for his display of leadership, was promoted to the rank of lieutenant.

After the battle, he was evacuated to England with a severe infection in his hand. He returned to his unit at the end of December 1917. As the weather warmed up, the Germans were preparing for what was to be their last major offensive of the war, now known as the German Spring Offensive. In the Somme sector, German forces heavily bombarded the French town of Villers-Bretonneux in late April 1918, before capturing it with infantry.

On 25 April 1918, a British and Australian counter-attack successfully recaptured the town and stabilised the allied defences in this sector. During the fighting, Rush was making a reconnaissance of German gun positions when he came under heavy machine-gun fire and died instantly.

Arthur Rush is buried at Adelaide Cemetery in Villers-Bretonneux, one of nearly 1,000 Commonwealth soldiers buried there. He was survived in Australia by his mother and siblings, and his wife Lydia. He was 29 years old.

Three of Arthur Rush’s brothers also served in the AIF. In addition to Frederick, who died in 1916, his eldest brother Private Philip Charles Rush, who had served in the Boer War, and his younger brother Sapper John Herbert Rush both returned to Australia.
Lieutenant Arthur Leslie Rush 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 Lieutenant Arthur Leslie Rush, 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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