The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2861) Private John Eric Gabrielson, 1st Australian Machine Gun Company, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.311
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 7 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 Craig Berelle, the story for this day was on (2861) Private John Eric Gabrielson, 1st Australian Machine Gun Company, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

2861 Private John Eric Gabrielson, 1st Australian Machine Gun Company
DOW 11 October 1917

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private John Eric Gabrielson.

John Gabrielson, known as “Eric”, was born on 19 March 1897, the third son of Thomas and Annie Gabrielson. His father had been born in Norway and had come to Australia in 1887 after more than a decade on the sea. Settling in Adelaide, he joined the fire brigade, and five years later married Annie. Eric was born at the Metropolitan Fire Station in Adelaide, but shortly after his arrival his father took a position as a prison guard at Yatala Prison. Eric grew up on the Stockade Reserve, attended Northfield and Nailsworth public schools and then North Adelaide and Adelaide high schools.

In 1912 Eric went to Little River, between Geelong and Melbourne where he lived with a widow and her children, where he was “treated as one of the family”, and worked as a labourer.

Eric Gabrielson enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in July 1915, putting his age up from 18 to 21 and a half in order to do so. He underwent a period of training in Australia before leaving for active service overseas with reinforcements to the 8th Battalion in September 1915.
= Gabrielson was first sent to Egypt, but fell sick not long after his arrival and probably did not spend any time on the Gallipoli peninsula. Following another period in hospital in February 1916, he continued training, and in April 1916 was sent to France to fight on the Western Front.

In August 1916, Private Gabrielson transferred to the 1st Australian Machine Gun Company, and attended a specialist machine-gun school. He remained with his company through the bitterly cold winter of 1916 and 1917, falling sick as the weather started to warm up in May 1917. For the next several months he spent little time with his unit, but was sick a number of times and was granted a period of leave to England. He returned to the 1st Machine Gun Company in late August 1917.

On 26 September 1917 the 1st Machine Gun Company acted in support of an Australian infantry attack on Polygon Wood in Belgium. They advanced close to the front line and got their guns into position by 1 am, but between 2 and 6.30 am they came under heavy German artillery fire, which caused a number of casualties.

One of those wounded was Private Gabrielson. He was taken from the battlefield with a penetrating wound to his back caused by a shell fragment. After more than two weeks’ treatment at a Canadian clearing station, and later the 12th Canadian Hospital, he died of his wounds and was buried in the nearby St Sever Cemetery.

Eric Gabrielson 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 Private John Eric Gabrielson, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

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