The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2866) Sapper Patrick Joseph Conlon, 5th Australian Divisional Signals Company, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.310
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 6 November 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 Copyright restrictions apply. Only personal, non-commercial, research and study use permitted. Permission of copyright holder required for any commercial use and/or reproduction.

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 (2866) Sapper Patrick Joseph Conlon, 5th Australian Divisional Signals Company, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

2866 Sapper Patrick Joseph Conlon, 5th Australian Divisional Signals Company
KIA 4 July 1918

Today we remember and pay tribute to Sapper Patrick Joseph Conlon.

Patrick Conlon was born in the Sydney suburb of Petersham in 1897, the son of Peter, a veteran of the Crimean War, and Caroline Conlon.

Patrick grew up in Petersham and attended Marist Brothers and St Benedicts before serving an 18 month apprenticeship with Wormald Brothers. When the First World War began, he was working as a sheet metal worker.

Patrick Conlon enlisted for service in the Australian Imperial Force on the 5th of August 1915. After his initial training, he was allotted to the 6th reinforcements to the 20th Battalion. On 2 November he embarked with other reinforcements at Sydney, on board the transport ship Euripides.

Conlon arrived in Egypt as the bulk of the Australian Imperial Force was returning from the Gallipoli peninsula.

By February 1916 the AIF had begun to expand to five divisions. Two divisions, the 4th and 5th would form in Egypt, and the 3rd in England. As a result of the expansion, Conlon was transferred to the newly raised 56th Battalion on the 16th of February.

Conlon sailed for France with the 56th Battalion in late June, landing at Marseilles at the end of the month. The battalion was sent to what was known as “the Nursery Sector” in northern France for its introduction to the rigours of trench warfare.

On the night of 19/20 July 1916 the 56th Battalion went into action for the first time at Fromelles. In the space of 12 hours, the 5th Division – of which Conlon’s battalion was part – would suffer 5,533 casualties. While the 56th Battalion suffered heavy casualties, Conlon came through unscathed.

Despite its lack of numbers, the 56th Battalion remained in the line for two months before being withdrawn to rest and refit. It was then sent south to the Somme where the men endured the winter of 1916 and 1917, which proved to be the worst winter in living memory.

Conlon was sent to attend a short course at wireless school in early February 1917. His skills must have impressed those running the course, as on the 1st of April he was transferred to the 5th Divisional Signals Company and re-mustered as a sapper. His role as part of a wireless section was to install power buzzer stations during offensive actions. The power buzzer stations would only be used if cable communications broke down.

Conlon was sent to England for two weeks of leave on 30 July, and duly returned to his unit in mid-August.

He next saw action during the Third Battle of Ypres in September at Polygon Wood.

The 5th Division spent the winter of 1917 and 1918 around Messines. At the end of February 1918, Conlon was sent to hospital after having his left foot accidentally crushed, presumably by a large piece of equipment. He was evacuated to the 53rd General Hospital at Boulogne for treatment and recovery, and did not return to his unit until mid-June.

On 4 July 1918 the battle of Hamel took place. The 5th Division provided the 15th Brigade for the battle, which included the Conlon’s 5th Divisional Signals Company.

Conlon was killed during the early phase of the battle at around 5 am. A witness later described how he “was killed by a piece of [high explosive] shell … whilst moving forward to establish a power buzzer station.” Conlon was hit in the head and face by shrapnel and killed instantly.

His body was buried near where he was killed, but was later reinterred in the Mericourt-L’Abbe Communal Cemetery. Patrick Conlon was 20 years old.

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 Sapper Patrick Joseph Conlon, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Michael Kelly
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2866) Sapper Patrick Joseph Conlon, 5th Australian Divisional Signals Company, First World War. (video)