The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (VF397093) Corporal Gladys Amelia Gordon, Australian Women’s Army Service, Second World War.

Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.319
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 15 November 2019
Access Open
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945
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 Troy Clayton, the story for this day was on (VF397093) Corporal Gladys Amelia Gordon, Australian Women’s Army Service, Second World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

VF397093 Corporal Gladys Amelia Gordon, Australian Women’s Army Service
Died of Injuries 15 October 1945

Today we remember and pay tribute to Corporal Gladys Amelia Gordon.

Gladys Gordon was born on 18 March 1921 in Ararat, Victoria, to Robert and Lilian Gordon. One of three children, she grew up in Ararat and attended the local schools.

Her parents ran a local nursery known as Roseleigh, and by the time the Second World War began, Gladys was working as a florist. She also worked for long-time family friend and well known retailer of men’s clothing Mr W. J. Forster, mainly during the busy lead-up to Christmas.

Gladys Gordon enlisted for service in the army on the 29th of December 1942, joining the Australian Women’s Army Service. Her letters of reference provided by family friends and her local parish minister painted a picture of a bright and outgoing young lady who was responsible, hard-working, and eminently trustworthy.

The Australian Women’s Army Service had been raised in October 1941 and by 1947, when the AWAS was disbanded some 24,000 women had served in a wide variety of roles.

Gordon was sent to Number 4 AWAS Training Depot for her initial training. She was posted to the 2nd Signals Training Battalion at Ivanhoe in late January 1943; after this, she was posted to Number 1 Company, Fortress Signals in Sydney in mid-March. She was one of 3,600 women who would serve in the Australian Corps of Signals during the Second World War.

Gordon remained in Sydney for the next two years although she did travel back to Victoria to visit her family when leave allowed. By December 1944 she had been promoted to corporal.

Gordon was posted back to Victoria in early April 1945, initially to Land Headquarters in Melbourne; but on 26 April she was posted to the Army’s Military History Section.

A little over a week later, the war in Europe came to an end when Germany surrendered to the Allies. It would be a further three months until Japan ceased fighting, following the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by atomic bombs in early August.

Gordon would almost certainly have been part of the celebrations in Melbourne on 15 August when news of the Japanese surrender was announced. Melburnians, who had begun their celebrations the week before the announcement, flooded the streets of the city for a day of exuberant celebrations.

The next day, Victory in the Pacific day, was a much calmer affair, with some 200,000 people attending a ceremony at the Shrine of Remembrance. On 25 August 30,000 servicemen, servicewomen and defence workers marched through the city in a victory parade.

On 14 October, while on leave, Gordon was involved in a two vehicle collision in the suburb of Nunawading. She was severely injured and was transported to the 115th Military Hospital at Heidelberg.

Doctors suspected she had suffered a fracture at the base of her skull and “severe damage to and haemorrhage into the brain”. At 2 am on 15 October, Gladys Gordon died. She was laid to rest in Springvale War Cemetery the next day. She was 24 years old.

The investigation into her death held the following month concluded that she had not been at fault, but this would have provided little comfort to her grieving family.

Her name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, among almost 40,000 Australians who died while serving in the Second World War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Corporal Gladys Amelia Gordon, who gave her 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 (VF397093) Corporal Gladys Amelia Gordon, Australian Women’s Army Service, Second World War. (video)