The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3131) Private James Price, 39th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2020.1.1.216
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 3 August 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 , the story for this day was on (3131) Private James Price, 39th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

3131 Private James Price, 39th Battalion, AIF
KIA 10 September 1918

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private James Price.
James Price was born on 23 August 1893, the son of William and Annie Price. James was one of the youngest children in a very large family, and probably spent his earliest years in Peechelba, near Wangaratta in Victoria. The family later moved to Lima South, near Benalla, where William became a pioneer in strawberry and raspberry growing. There James continued his education before becoming a farmer.

The Price family experienced their share of grief as James was growing up. In 1903 James’s brother William died of pneumonia at the age of 22. In 1912 his sister Alice suffered a sudden and unexpected fit of madness which brought on her suicide at the age of 24. Two years later, his brother Walter enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. Walter reached the Gallipoli peninsula in September 1915, and was killed by a sniper two months later.

James followed Walter into the AIF roughly a year after his brother was killed. He had tried to enlist at least once before but was turned down on medical grounds, which he had been able to fix with surgery. Before he left Lima South, the town held a social in his honour, during which Price was presented with a watch. Luke Evans, the man presenting the watch, said that “when the soldier looked at it, it would remind him of his friends at Lima … he felt sure Private Price would be a soldier to be proud of.”

Private James Price left Australia for active service overseas in February 1917 with reinforcements to the 39th Battalion. He was first sent to England where he continued training on Salisbury Plain, and did not reach his battalion on the battlefields of the Western Front until early October 1917.

Price joined his battalion days after it had participated in an attack near the Belgian village of Broodseinde. Within days the battalion was drawn into a disastrous attack at Passchendaele. Price, however, survived the experience and would remain with the battalion in Belgium for the next several months, rotating in and out of the front line.

In early 1918 the 39th Battalion was rushed south to help stop the German offensive near Amiens. Later in the year it played a part in driving the Germans back during the offensive that became known as the Hundred Days. Throughout all of this, Price remained with his battalion without wounds, punishment or particular praise. He took no leave and won no medals, but he returned to the front line again and again, for long defensive stints and short, often disastrous attacks.

In September 1918 the 39th Battalion were in the front line in France, not far from the village of Tincourt. In the early hours of the 9th of September the battalion advanced the front line around Hervilly Wood, consolidating their new position under occasional heavy shelling. They were relieved the following day. That same day, Private James Price was killed in action. No record remains of the manner of his death. He was buried in a small battlefield cemetery near where he fell, but after the war his grave was moved to the Cerisy-Gailly French National Cemetery on the Somme, where his remains lie today.

He was 25 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 James Price, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3131) Private James Price, 39th Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)