The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3461) Private Richard Henry Bone, 60th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF, First Wolrd War.

Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.248
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 5 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 Copy provided for personal non-commercial use

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 Sharon Bown, the story for this day was on (3461) Private Richard Henry Bone, 60th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF, First Wolrd War.

Speech transcript

3461 Private Richard Henry Bone, 60th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF
KIA 19 July 1916

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Richard Henry Bone.

Richard Bone was born to Henry and Emily Bone in 1894 in Eaglehawk, a former gold-mining town and suburb within greater Bendigo,Victoria.

Growing up, young Richard Bone attended Eaglehawk State School, and was heavily involved in the Eaglehawk Baptist Sunday School. While working as a grocer’s assistant, he also served in the Citizens Forces, reaching the rank of corporal.

Bone successfully enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in July 1915, three months before his 21st birthday. He had tried to enlist on a previous occasion, but had been rejected because of bad teeth.

Bone was allotted to reinforcements to 21st Battalion, and left Melbourne on the troopship Demosthenes on 19 December 1915, bound for Egypt. In the training camps outside Cairo, he was transferred to the 60th Battalion, which was raised as part of the expansion and reorganisation of the AIF. Half of its recruits were Gallipoli veterans from the 8th Battalion, and the other half were, like Bone, fresh reinforcements from Australia.

In June 1916, the 60th Battalion left the Middle East to join the fighting on the Western Front. Having only arrived in France on 28 June, the battalion became embroiled in its first major battle on the Western Front on 19 July, without the benefit of an introduction to the trenches in a quiet sector. The battle of Fromelles was a disaster for the battalion. In a single day, it was virtually wiped out, suffering over 750 casualties.

Among those listed missing was Private Bone. It wasn’t until August 1917 that a court of enquiry convened by the commanding officer of the 60th Battalion found that he had been killed in action.

Private Dumble reported that he and another of Bone’s friends had gone looking for him, and found men who said that they had been with him when he fell. Twice they searched no man’s land, but could find no trace of him.

He was 21 years old.

Over 5,500 Australians became casualties during the fighting at the battle of Fromelles. Almost 2,000 of were killed in action or died of wounds, and some 400 were captured. This is believed to be the greatest loss by a single division in 24 hours during the First World War.

Two years later, on 11 November 1918 when the guns of the Western Front finally ceased firing, Australian official war correspondent, Charles Bean, wandered over the battlefield of Fromelles and observed the grisly aftermath of the battle.

“We found the old No-Man’s-Land simply full of our dead,” he recorded, “the skulls and bones and torn uniforms were lying about everywhere.” Soon after the war these remains were gathered to construct VC Corner Cemetery, the only solely Australian war cemetery in France, and the only cemetery without headstones. There are no epitaphs to individual soldiers, simply a stone wall inscribed with the names of 1,299 Australians who died in battle nearby and who have no known graves.

Richard Bone’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 Richard Henry Bone, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Duncan Beard
Editor, Military History Section

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