The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (130) Private Thomas Francis Lynch, 32nd Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2020.1.1.27
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 27 January 2020
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 Jennifer Surtees, the story for this day was on (130) Private Thomas Francis Lynch, 32nd Battalion, AIF, First World War.

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Speech transcript

130 Private Thomas Francis Lynch, 32nd Battalion, AIF
DOW 18 December 1916

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Thomas Francis Lynch.

Thomas Lynch was born around 1898 in Adelaide. The exact identity of his parents and their circumstances are unknown, but the records indicate that from infancy he was brought up by foster parents, Henry and Mary Lynch. Mary later wrote that she never told Thomas that he was adopted, and loved him like a son.

He grew up in central Adelaide and attended Christian Brothers’ College, and later worked as a boilermaker’s assistant at the Islington Workshops. He was described as “a favourite with all”.

Lynch enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 21 July 1915 and began training with the newly formed 32nd Infantry Battalion at Mitcham Camp outside Adelaide. At the time of his enlistment he was 17 years old, too young to join the armed forces, so he gave his age as 18 and provided a letter of consent from his mother in order to be allowed to serve.

In November 1915 he sailed with the 32nd Battalion from Adelaide to Egypt. He arrived as Australian troops were making their evacuation from Gallipoli, so he did not serve there, but instead began a period of training in preparation for the war on the Western Front in Europe.

In June 1916 he sailed to France, and by the end of that month began a brief period of resting and training behind the lines at Morbecque, near the French–Belgian border.
Lynch served in A Company of the 32nd Battalion, which formed part of the 8th Brigade of the 5th Australian Division. He entered the trenches for the first time on the 16th of July, less than a month after his arrival in France.

On 19 July 1916 he fought in the battle of Fromelles, the first major action in which Australian forces were involved on the Western Front. In this battle, Australian troops attacked across no man’s land in a series of waves. Lynch’s A Company formed part of the 32nd Battalion’s left flank. The troops encountered heavy German high explosive and shrapnel artillery, machine-gun fire, and barbed wire defences.

The men of the 32nd Battalion were able to reach the first line of German trenches, but found it difficult to consolidate their lines because of the heavy fire and muddy conditions. Over the night of 19/20 July, Australian and German forces fought in a series of deadly attacks and counter-attacks that would eventually cost over 5,500 Australian casualties.
Lynch received a gunshot wound to his thigh and was evacuated to hospital. He did not rejoin his unit until 15 August, when it were carrying out repair work on trenches and supply systems near Sailly-le-sec on the Somme River.
On 29 November 1916, he was again wounded while fighting in northern France, this time with gunshot wounds to his right arm and thigh. His injuries were so severe that he was evacuated to England, where he was taken to the 5th Southern General Hospital in Portsmouth.

At 2.30 in the morning on 18 December 1916, after nearly three weeks in hospital, he died of his wounds. He was 18 years old.

Today, his remains lie buried in the Milton Cemetery in Portsmouth, where over 400 Australian casualties of the First and Second World Wars now lie.

After receiving news of his death, Lynch’s stepmother spent a great deal of time trying to find out about the circumstances of his fate, and to obtain a picture of his grave in England. When she finally received a photo of his headstone, she wrote, “There is not one thing in this world this minute that I longed to have more than my dear boy’s photo … How I yearned to have that photo, no one knows … How will I ever thank those thoughtful people, home in England, enough for this kindness to us mothers in this far off land.”

Private Thomas Francis Lynch’s 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 Thomas Francis Lynch, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

David Sutton
Historian, Military History Section

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