The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Lieutenant Norman John Browne MC, 13th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.271
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 28 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
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 Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on Lieutenant Norman John Browne MC, 13th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

Lieutenant Norman John Browne MC, 13th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF
DOW 22 March 1918

Today we remember and pay tribute to Lieutenant Norman John Browne.

Norman Browne was born in March 1889 in Albury, New South Wales, the son of William and Nellie Browne. As a young man, he worked in Albury as a labourer, where he was known as “Jack.

In September 1914, Browne was among the first to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force. He joined the 13th Australian Infantry Battalion, whose members were mainly drawn from his home state of New South Wales. After training in Australia, he embarked from Melbourne on the transport ship Ulysses in late December, bound for Egypt. Having completed further training at the Australian army camp in Egypt, in April the unit prepared to land on the Gallipoli peninsula. The men of the 13th Battalion landed on Gallipoli late in the afternoon of 25 April 1915.

Browne distinguished himself during the campaign on Gallipoli and was promoted first to corporal in May, then to sergeant in June. In August he was attached to brigade headquarters, but became ill soon afterwards. He was evacuated to the Australian hospital on the island of Mudros, where he spent a month in recovery. In December, Australian forces withdrew from the peninsula, and Browne and his battalion returned to Egypt. Browne was back in hospital in early 1916 with the mumps, and after recovering, continued training in Egypt.

In June 1916, the 13th Battalion embarked for Europe, sailing to Marseilles in southern France. The unit first saw action on the Western Front at the village of Pozieres in August. During the fighting, the Australians experienced heavier and longer artillery barrages than they had on Gallipoli, and almost half of the 13th Battalion became casualties.

Browne continued to distinguish himself on the battlefield, and received a commission as a second lieutenant. The 13th Battalion remained in the Somme sector for the remainder of 1916. In late November the unit was involved in the fighting at Guedecourt. Browne led his men through captured German trenches, killing an enemy sniper. For his exceptional service at Guedecourt, he was awarded the Military Cross, and promoted to the rank of lieutenant.

Over the winter of 1916 and 1917, Browne was sick once more, and spent time in hospital in Etaples, on the French coast. He returned to duty in February. In April 1917, he was wounded at the first battle of Bullecourt. After recovering in hospital in England for several months, he trained and rehabilitated at the army camps there. In August, he rejoined his unit, now in Belgium. During the Third Battle of Ypres, in September and October, the 13th Battalion was in a reserve position in the town.

In March 1918, German forces launched what was to be their last great Western Front offensive of the war, known as the Spring Offensive. Browne and the men of the men of the 13th Battalion were in billets at Neuve Église, south of Ypres in Belgium near the French border. On the morning of 22 March 1918, Browne was organising a tug-of-war match when a stray German shell landed amongst the group. He was severely wounded, and died shortly afterwards. He was 29 years old.

Jack Browne is buried at Westof Farm Cemetery in Belgium, alongside 130 other Commonwealth soldiers. In Australia, he was survived by his parents, his brother Charles, and his sisters Lillian and Nell. His grieving parents had the following epitaph inscribed on his headstone: “In sure and certain hope of a glorious resurrection”.

Lieutenant Norman John Browne is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, one of 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 Norman John Browne, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Thomas Rogers
Historian, Military History Section


  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Lieutenant Norman John Browne MC, 13th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)