The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2777) Private Frank Colin Apperly, 58th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.302
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 29 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 , the story for this day was on (2777) Private Frank Colin Apperly, 58th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

2777 Private Frank Colin Apperly, 58th Battalion, AIF
KIA 19 July 1916

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Frank Colin Apperly.

Frank Apperly was born in 1896, the second youngest of six children born to Jessie and Henry Apperly of the Sydney suburb of Waverley. Apperly’s father passed away in 1908, and Apperly lived with his mother until he was 14 years old, when he left to go and work on a farm. At the time of his enlistment, he was living and working as a farmer in Victoria.

He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 2 July 1915 and began training with the reinforcements of the 6th Infantry Battalion. Frank Apperly was one of three brothers to serve for Australia in the First World War. His older brothers Cyril and George also served. Cyril was killed in action in Belgium in November 1917.

On 10 September 1915, Frank Apperly sailed from Melbourne for Egypt aboard the transport ship Star of Victoria. He arrived in Egypt too late to take part in the Gallipoli campaign, but was in Egypt for a period known as the “doubling of the AIF”, when units that had served on Gallipoli were reorganised and mixed with fresh troops. At this time, Apperly transferred from the 6th Battalion to the newly formed 58th Battalion, which formed part of the 15th Brigade of the 5th Australian Division.

Apperly was hospitalised twice while in Egypt, both times for foot related injuries likely caused by the tough training and marching exercises used to prepare the men for battle. In June 1916, Apperly and his unit sailed from Alexandria for Marseilles, and after arriving moved to a sector of the Western Front near Armentieres in northern France.
Once in France, Apperly was hospitalised with influenza. He rejoined his unit in the field on 16 July 1916, just days before they would take part in Australia’s first major engagement on the Western Front, the battle of Fromelles.

In this battle Australian troops of the 5th Division, in a joint attack with British forces, attacked a stretch of the German lines known as the Sugar Loaf. The attack commenced at 6 pm after a seven-hour artillery bombardment of the German trenches. This bombardment did not effectively damage German positions on the right wing of the Australian advance, and Apperly and the 15th Brigade came under heavy artillery and machine-gun fire as they attacked across no man’s land. The battle was a disaster for the Australian 5th Division, which suffered over 5,500 casualties in two days of fighting.

After the chaos and confusion of this bloody battle, Apperly was reported as missing in action. It was not until September 1917, well over a year after the event, that he was officially declared to have been killed in action on 19 July 1916. A report stated that an injured Australian soldier saw Apperly’s body in no man’s land near the Australian lines, likely cut down by German machine-gun fire. His body was never found. He was 20 years old.

Today his name is commemorated at VC Corner Australian Cemetery and Memorial near Fromelles in France, which lists over 1,100 Australians casualties of the Battle of Fromelles who have no known grave.

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 Frank Colin Apperly, 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 (2777) Private Frank Colin Apperly, 58th Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)