The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2974) Private Federick James Sutton, 60th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.268
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 25 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 Troy Clayton, the story for this day was on (2974) Private Federick James Sutton, 60th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

2974 Private Federick James Sutton, 60th Battalion, AIF
KIA 26 September 1917

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Federick James Sutton.

Frederick Sutton was born in Williamtown, near Newcastle in New South Wales, on 27 March 1888, one of 11 children born to Frederick and Elizabeth Sutton. Frederick grew up in Bulahdelah, attended the local state school, and later worked as a labourer. By 1916, he was living in Goulbourn with his wife Christina.

Frederick Sutton enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 19 August 1916. He was one of three Sutton brothers to serve in the First World War. Thomas Sutton served in the 34th infantry Battalion, and Albert Sutton served in the 4th Field Artillery Brigade. Although they were all in different units, the Sutton brothers would participate in several major battles together throughout the war. When he enlisted, Frederick Sutton gave his name as Frederick Smith, and he was known by this name throughout his service. It is not known why he served under this pseudonym, but his brother in law speculated in a letter written after his death that he may have changed his name so as not to break his mother’s heart.

In November 1916, after a brief period of training, Sutton embarked from Sydney aboard the transport ship Afric for Europe. He arrived in England in January 1917, and after further training, transferred to France and the war on the Western Front in April.
Sutton joined C Company of the 60th Infantry Battalion, which formed part of the 15th Brigade of the 5th Australian Division.

On 15 May 1917, after having been at the front for a month, Sutton was in the trenches with his unit near Vraucourt, north of the River Somme, when the fatigue party he was serving in came under heavy German gas attack. Sutton was one of 23 men evacuated from the front suffering from gas injuries. He was hospitalised for nearly two months and did not rejoin his unit until July 1917, when they were north-east of Amiens.

Later that year, Sutton and his unit transferred to the Ypres sector of Belgium, where British and Dominion forces began to concentrate their attack.

On 26 September 1917, Sutton and the 60th Battalion took part in the successful but costly battle of Polygon Wood. Frederick’s brother Albert also participated in this battle, providing artillery fire for the Australian attack. Frederick Sutton and his unit formed part of the right flank of the Australian forces, which aimed to push forward 1.5 kilometres into the remains of a destroyed plantation.

The battle began at 5.50 am with an artillery barrage on German positions. Soon afterwards, infantry units climbed out of their trenches into no-man’s-land and began the assault. Australian units, advancing over a ten kilometre front, successfully reached all of their objectives and defended against German counter-attacks. The battle was, however, extremely costly: Australian forces suffered over 5,700 casualties killed, wounded and missing in a single day.

More than 650 Australians were killed, including Frederick Sutton, who was 29 years old.

In a further tragedy for the Sutton family, Frederick’s brother Albert would be killed weeks later by artillery fire near Zonnebecke.

Private Frederick James Sutton is buried in the Tyne Cot Cemetery in Belgium, where nearly 12,000 soldiers of the First World War now lie.

His 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 Federick James Sutton, 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 (2974) Private Federick James Sutton, 60th Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)