The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (4244) Private Wilfred Campbell Bailey, 29th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.283
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 10 October 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 Chris Widenbar, the story for this day was on (4244) Private Wilfred Campbell Bailey, 29th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

4244 Private Wilfred Campbell Bailey, 29th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF
KIA 23 March 1917

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Wilfred Campbell Bailey.

Wilfred Bailey was born in 1888 in Tamworth, New South Wales, the son of Robert and Emily Bailey. He grew up in Tamworth and on leaving school, he became a farm labourer in the district.

In October 1916, Bailey enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force at Menangle Park camp near Sydney. When he enlisted, Australia was in the midst of a plebiscite about allowing conscription for overseas service. While the plebiscite was ultimately unsuccessful, the increased publicity of the campaigns for and against conscription might have influenced Bailey’s decision to enlist.

He joined the reinforcements for the 29th Australian Infantry Battalion and the following month left Australia on the transport ship Afric, bound for England. Arriving in early January, he undertook two months of training in England before sailing to France in mid-March.

During 1916, German forces had suffered heavy losses on the Somme sector of the Western Front in northern France. At the end of winter in 1917, the German forces in France made a deliberate withdrawal from their front lines to a strongly defended position called the Siegfried Line. Known as the Hindenburg Line to the British, this position allowed the Germans to shorten their line and concentrate their forces.

Discovering that the Germans had retreated, Australian and British forces moved forward and occupied several French towns and villages during March 1917. One of these was the small village of Beaumetz, which was held by men of the 29th Battalion when Bailey joined the unit in France.

During their withdrawal, the Germans made defensive stands at selected points. Early on the morning of 23 March 1917, German forces attacked Beaumetz and Bailey was killed in the fighting. He was 28 years old. He had been with his unit in the field for a single day.

Bailey was buried at Beaumetz Cross Roads Cemetery in France, alongside more than 250 soldiers of the First World War.

By a strange twist of fate, Bailey’s younger brother Corporal Vivian Robert Bailey was killed exactly a year later, on 23 March 1918.

Private Wilfred Campbell Bailey 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 Wilfred Campbell Bailey, 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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