The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Lance Corporal John Logan, 18th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.295
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 22 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
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 Sharon Bown, the story for this day was on Lance Corporal John Logan, 18th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

Lance Corporal John Logan, 18th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF
KIA 9 April 1918

Today we remember and pay tribute to Lance Corporal John Logan.

John Logan was born in 1889 in Ormiston, East Lothian, Scotland, the elder of the two sons of John and Elizabeth Logan. He attended Ormiston Public School and was a keen soccer player. He was the goalkeeper for the Ormiston Rangers Football Club, and also played for Ormiston Star Football Club. Logan worked as a miner. In about 1911, at the age of 22, he emigrated to Thirroul on the New South Wales south coast.

In December 1915, Logan enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and trained at the Liverpool army camp for three months. In March 1916, he embarked from Sydney on board the transport ship Star of England. Once in England, he undertook further training at the army camps on the Salisbury Plain. In September, he sailed for France to join his unit, the 18th Australian Infantry Battalion.

Logan and his unit rotated between the front line and the rear areas, alternating between holding the line and undertaking training and sport behind the line. At this time, the AIF was preparing for its first European winter. As it happened, the northern European winter of 1916 to 1917 was the coldest in living memory.

In January 1917, Logan was promoted to the rank of lance corporal. During the spring of 1917, it became apparent that the Germans had carried out a strategic withdrawal from their forward-most areas to a stronger position known as the Hindenburg Line. The 18th Battalion was involved in following up this retreat, and was involved in heavy fighting at Warlencourt in February. In May, the 18th Battalion was engaged in taking a key part of the Hindenburg Line at Bullecourt. Though this second attempt to take the ruined village was successful, the Australian divisions that were involved suffered heavy casualties.

Later in 1917, the 18th Battalion moved north to Belgium to take part in the campaign to recapture the high ground in Flanders. The battalion fought in two of the battles, collectively known as the third battle of Ypres: in September at Menin Road, and in October at Poelcappelle. Logan worked as a stretcher-bearer in the battalion, a dangerous role that involved moving wounded soldiers back to medical stations, often through areas of heavy fighting.

Logan’s unit, and the other men of the AIF, remained in a relatively quiet sector of the French–Belgian border during the winter of 1917–1918. The AIF had suffered enormous casualties during 1917, and spent this time recovering and training for the year ahead. As the weather warmed up and the ground hardened, the static trench fighting of the previous year became a war of movement.

In March 1918, the German army launched what would be its final major assault of the war, which became known as the German Spring Offensive. A key objective for the German forces in this attack was to capture the rail hub city of Amiens, in order to split the British forces in the north from their French allies in the south. British and Australian forces managed to halt the offensive in April at the town of Villers-Bretonneux, less than 30 kilometres from Amiens. Logan and the 18th Battalion were stationed at the town to help stop the German advance.

In the first week of April, the 18th Battalion was in the front line at Villers-Bretonneux, during which time the men were targeted by German artillery and machine-gun fire. At the end of the week, the unit was relieved, and the men moved to billets at the smaller village of Gentelles, behind the front lines. The battalion’s war diary noted that this village’s civilian population had evacuated in the face of the fighting, so there was plenty of straw for the men to sleep on, and the men had their first decent sleep for over a week.

At 6 am the next morning, 9 April 1918, the men were awoken by a German artillery barrage falling on the village of Gentelles. During the barrage, Logan was struck by shrapnel and killed instantly. He was 29 years old.

John Logan is buried in Hangard Communal Cemetery Extension in France, where over 550 Commonwealth soldiers of the First World War are buried or commemorated. His mother had his headstone inscribed with the epitaph “Until we meet again”.

In Australia, John was survived by his fiancée Subina Ethel Victoria Round. In Scotland, he was survived by his mother Elizabeth. She was struck a second blow in July that year when she received news that her other son, Private Peter Logan of the 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders, had also been killed in action on the Western Front.

Lance Corporal John Logan 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 Lance Corporal John Logan, 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 Lance Corporal John Logan, 18th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)