The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (50) Corporal Vivian Robert Bailey, 30th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.357
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 23 December 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
Description

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 Sharon Bown, the story for this day was on (50) Corporal Vivian Robert Bailey, 30th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

50 Corporal Vivian Robert Bailey, 30th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF
KIA 23 March 1918

Today we remember and pay tribute to Corporal Vivian Robert Bailey.

Vivian Robert Bailey was born to Robert and Emily Bailey in 1893 in Tamworth, New South Wales. After finishing school, he became a farm labourer in the Tamworth district.
In July 1915, Bailey enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in Newcastle, and then trained in Australia for several months. In early November, he embarked from Sydney on board the transport ship Beltana, arriving in Egypt in December. For the next six months, he trained at Tel-el-Kebir with the 30th Battalion as a driver. In this role, he worked with the horses of the small transport section that was part of battalion headquarters.

In June 1916, Bailey and his battalion sailed to France to join the British forces fighting on the Western Front. The 30th Battalion had its first experience of warfare in July at the disastrous battle of Fromelles in northern France. Within 24 hours more than a third of its men were killed, wounded, or missing. The 5th Division, of which the 30th Battalion was a member, was taken out of the front line and spent the rest of the year regrouping and training to return to its former strength.

During 1917, the battalion occupied the French town of Bapaume when the Germans retreated to a stronger defensive position along the Hindenburg Line. It also saw action at the second battle of Bullecourt and at Polygon Wood later in the year. At these battles, the battalion was in reserve, and Bailey’s role included moving material to the troops in the front line. Bailey showed leadership skills in his section, and was appointed lance corporal in early 1917, and in the middle of the year was promoted to corporal. His unit spent the winter of 1917 and 1918 in Flanders near the French village of Messines.

In spring 1918, the Germans launched what would be their final offensive of the war, known as the German Spring Offensive. The 30th Battalion was stationed behind the front line at Neuve Eglise in northern France, close to the Belgian border. Although the men of the 30th were not in the front line, they were still subjected to German artillery shelling. On 23 March 1918, Bailey and another member of his unit, Driver Leslie Day, were in a transport wagon that was hit by a German high velocity shell. Both men were killed. Bailey was 25 years old.

By a strange coincidence, his brother, Private Wilfred Campbell Bailey, had been killed in action in France on the same day the year before.

Vivian Bailey was buried in Westhof Farm Cemetery near Ypres in Belgium, alongside Driver Day and 129 other Commonwealth soldiers of the First World War. His mother chose the epitaph to be inscribed on his headstone: “To be fondly loved in life, never to be forgotten in death”. As overseas travel was not an option for most Australians in the early twentieth century, soldier’s parents had to be content with photographs of their sons’ graves, and small personal items that were returned to Australia.

In Australia, Bailey was survived by his mother Emily. She suffered further pain when the package containing his personal effects was lost. It was bound for Australia on the steam ship Barunga when that ship was torpedoed by a German submarine off the coast of Cornwall in July 1918.
= British destroyers were soon on the scene and managed to rescue all aboard, but the personal effects of Bailey, and about 5,000 other Australian soldiers who had died on the Western Front, were lost.

Corporal Vivian Robert Bailey 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 Corporal Vivian Robert Bailey, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Thomas Rogers
Historian, Military History Section