The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (6234) Private Joseph Edward Baylis, 3rd Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2020.1.1.31
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 31 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 Greg Kimball, the story for this day was on (6234) Private Joseph Edward Baylis, 3rd Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

6234 Private Joseph Edward Baylis, 3rd Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF
KIA 6 October 1917

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Joseph Edward Baylis.

Joseph Baylis was born on 21 December 1879, the third son of Joseph Edward and Emma Baylis of the Sydney suburb of Newtown. Known to his family and friends as “Joe”, he worked as a labourer. Baylis married Bessie Margaret Sloyan in 1913, and the couple had two daughters.

In April 1916, Baylis enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. He chose to allot four-fifths of his pay to his wife and daughters, more than the required three-fifths. After several months of training in Australia, he embarked on the transport ship Euripides from Sydney in early September. While training for a boxing tournament on board ship, Baylis slipped and broke his left forearm, so when the ship docked in England, he went straight to hospital. By mid-November he had recovered and returned to training. In early February 1917, he sailed to the British military camp at Étaples on the French coast.

In France, Baylis joined his unit, the 3rd Australian Infantry Battalion, which was made up mainly of men from his home state of New South Wales. The unit was still in the grip of winter, and the field diary notes that snow and cold temperatures continued into March. Baylis and the men of the 3rd Battalion spent time at the front line and in reserve areas.

Based in the Somme sector in France, the unit undertook further training with rifles, grenades, and gas masks. In the first half of the year, German forces withdrew to the Hindenburg defensive line, and the 3rd Battalion engaged in mobile operations seeking to take advantage of this withdrawal.

By the beginning of August, 1917, the 3rd Battalion had moved north to the border of France and Belgium, and were preparing for a major offensive. British commanders hoped to push the Germans out of Flanders altogether. Fighting out of the Belgian town of Ypres, the Australian, British, and New Zealand troops advanced the front line further east. By early October, the 3rd Battalion was fighting to take the village of Passchendaele and the ridge of high ground behind it.

On 6 October 1917, during an assault on a German position, Baylis was struck by a shell and killed instantly. He was 38 years old.

Baylis was buried by his comrades where he fell, but during the fierce fighting, many of these graves were lost. He is now commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, alongside 6,000 other Australians who died in Flanders and who have no known grave.

In Australia, Baylis was survived by his wife Bessie, and his daughters Margaret and Irene. His grieving wife had the following poem printed in the paper:
I prayed and longed for the meeting
I thought so near at hand
But God wanted another soldier
With Him in the better land.

Four of Baylis’s brothers – Samuel, Walter, George and Bowman – also served in the First World War. All of them returned to Australia at the end of the war.
Private Joseph Edward Baylis 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 Private Joseph Edward Baylis, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Thomas Rogers
Historian, Military History Section

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