|Object type||Last Post film|
Australian War Memorial
|Place made||Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell|
|Date made||16 November 2019|
First World War, 1914-1918
Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
|Copying Provisions||Copy provided for personal non-commercial use|
The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2369) Corporal Charles Leslie Tasman Hey, 24th Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War.
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 Jana Johnson, the story for this day was on (2369) Corporal Charles Leslie Tasman Hey, 24th Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War.
2369 Corporal Charles Leslie Tasman Hey, 24th Infantry Battalion, AIF
KIA 8 October 1917
Today we remember and pay tribute to Corporal Charles Leslie Tasman Hey.
Charles Leslie Tasman Hey, known to his friends and family as “Charlie”, was born in December 1892 in Tullah, on the west coast of Tasmania. He was the seventh of ten children born to Ann and George Hey. Attending school in Devonport, Charlie attained the rank of sergeant in the volunteer cadets. He then moved to Victoria where he followed his trade as a bootmaker.
Charlie joined the army in July 1915 and after training in Australia, joined the 24th Australian Infantry Battalion for further training in Egypt. From there, he and his battalion sailed to France in March 1916, and marched north to join the Allied forces on the Western Front. In August he was promoted to lance corporal, and in February 1917 to corporal.
Three of the Hey brothers served in the First World War. Charlie’s older brother Private George Hey joined the Australian Imperial Force in August 1914, and was wounded on Gallipoli. He was wounded more seriously later, at the Western Front, before returning to Australia. Another older brother, Private Ernest Victor Hey, joined the army after Charlie.
Charlie experienced many of the different aspects of fighting on the Western Front. In June 1916, he and a company of men took part in a night-time raid on German trenches south of Armentieres in France. The raid was a success, and the Australians took five German prisoners.
The 24th Battalion took part in one of the battles for control of Mouquet Farm in late August 1916. Australian and British troops fought for control of this ruined farmhouse well into September 1916, aiming to extend Allied control northwards from Pozieres to Thiepval in northern France.
Charlie’s battalion began their engagement on 22 August when Australian troops first took the farm, discovering an underground tunnel system held by large numbers of German reserve troops. As a result, they could not hold the farm, and Charlie and his battalion were relieved by the 15th Battalion in late August.
In the autumn months of 1916, the battalion spent time on labouring duties, working on roadworks and undertaking railway maintenance in northern France. During the winter of 1916 and 1917, there were heavy falls of snow and very cold weather, which took a toll on Charlie’s health. In March 1917, he was evacuated to England with a bad case of trench foot and frostbite on his toes. He recovered fully before returning to France at the end of July.
Throughout August, the 24th Battalion was stationed at Wardrecques in northern France, where the men maintained an exhausting training regime. This training was in preparation for the fighting that the commanders expected them to undertake. Days were devoted to fighting in forests, using grenades, and avoiding injury in gas attacks. At the end of September, Charlie and his comrades marched into the Ypres sector in Belgium.
At this time, the British commanders launched an offensive aimed at pushing the Germans out of Flanders altogether. Collectively the campaign is known as the Third Battle of Ypres. Along with other British and Imperial troops, Charlie and the 24th Battalion fought their way eastwards towards Passchendaele Ridge in support of this objective. They had initial successes at Menin Road and Polygon Wood, but at the cost of many casualties.
On the 4th of October, Charlie’s battalion was involved in the successful taking of the high ground at Broodseinde. That same day, the fine weather ended, and a heavy rain set in. Deep mud severely slowed the advance of the British and Imperial troops, supplies, and artillery. On the 8th of October, the 24th Battalion was stationed on Zonnebeke Ridge when they came under German artillery fire. Charlie was sitting in a trench speaking with two other soldiers when a shell hit them, killing all three instantly. He was 24 years old.
His brother Private Ernest Victor Hey was also fighting in the Third Battle of Ypres. He had been killed in action at Broodseinde four days earlier, less than two kilometres away from Charlie. Today, both brothers’ names are inscribed on the Menin Gate Memorial in Belgium, among 6,000 other Australians remembered there.
A year after their deaths, their grieving sister had the following poem printed in the Hobart Mercury:
Sadly a sister is thinking
Of her brothers so brave.
Who died Australian heroes,
And sleep in a hero’s grave.
They were far away when the summons came.
But they answered the bugle call
“I must go,” they said, “for the Empire’s sons
Together must stand or fall.”
Corporal Charles Leslie Tasman Hey is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among more than 60,000 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 Corporal Charles Leslie Tasman Hey, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.
Historian, Military History Section
Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2369) Corporal Charles Leslie Tasman Hey, 24th Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)