The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (6827) Private Horace John Towers, 29th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2020.1.1.72
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 12 March 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 Copy provided for personal non-commercial use

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 (6827) Private Horace John Towers, 29th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

6827 Private Horace John Towers, 29th Battalion, AIF
KIA 11 November 1918

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Horace John Towers.

Horace Towers was born in Cootamundra, New South Wales, the eldest son of John and Catherine Towers. Horace and his two brothers and three sisters grew up in Stockinbingal, near Cootamundra, where they attended the local public school. Horace went on to work in the local district as a farm labourer. Little else is known of his life before enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force, which he did in July 1916 at the age of 28.

Horace Towers underwent a period of training in Australia in preparation for being sent overseas. A few weeks after he had enlisted, one of his younger brothers, Frank, went to visit him. At some point during the visit, Frank contracted meningitis, and he died suddenly after being taken for medical treatment. It is not clear whether or not Horace was granted leave to attend his brother’s funeral.

Private Horace Towers left Australia for active service overseas on board the troopship Port Napier in November 1916. Although he was posted to reinforcements for the 14th Battalion at the time, shortly after his arrival in France he was transferred to the 29th Battalion.

The 29th Battalion had a relatively quiet time in the early months of 1917, missing the heavy fighting around Bullecourt. On 26 September 1917, the battalion took part in an attack at Polygon Wood, not far from the Belgian town of Ypres. Advancing behind a heavy curtain of shell-fire, the infantry took most of their objectives in short order, although the Australians suffered a considerable number of casualties in the process.

One of those wounded was Private Towers. He was evacuated with wounds to the face and head and eventually sent to hospital on the French coast. It took some weeks before he was well enough to return to his battalion, which he did in November 1917.

On 8 August the British opened their great offensive of 1918 with the battle of Amiens. The 29th Battalion took part in the advance that followed, rotating in and out of the line and steadily pushing the Germans back. Private Towers remained with his battalion in the field until the Australian Corps was withdrawn to a quiet sector to recuperate after hard weeks of fighting, and to reorganise in the face of high casualties. As part of this process, Private Towers was transferred to the 32nd Battalion.

A month after his transfer, Horace Towers caught the flu and was sent to hospital. His condition worsened into pneumonia, and he simply failed to recover. On 11 November 1918, a day on which so many were celebrating the Armistice, Private Horace John Towers died of broncho-pneumonia in hospital in Abbeville.

The local newspaper in Australia recorded that “it is sad to think that he should have fought so long and died on the very day the war was practically over.” Today Horace Towers lies in the Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension under the words “O sacred heart of Jesus, have mercy on our dear son. R.I.P”. He was 30 years old.

His 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 Horace John Towers, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

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