|Last Post film
Australian War Memorial
|Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
|29 September 2020
First World War, 1914-1918
Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
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The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3011) Private Albert Clarence Westbury, 50th Battalion, AIF, First Wolrd War.
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 (3011) Private Albert Clarence Westbury, 50th Battalion, AIF, First Wolrd War.Film order form
3011 Private Albert Clarence Westbury, 50th Battalion, AIF
KIA 26 September 1917
Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Albert Clarence Westbury.
Albert Westbury was born in Adelaide on 28 October 1898 to Albert and Ellen Westbury.
He worked as a confectioner in his hometown and was serving in the militia at the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. The 18-year-old Westbury enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 14 September 1916 and was assigned to the 50th Battalion. He underwent two months of training in Australia before he departed Adelaide on the troopship Afric on 6 November 1916.
Arriving in England, Westbury spent several months in hospital in early 1917, re-joining his battalion on 4 July. During July and August, the 50th Battalion was located at Ypres in Flanders, where the men spent time training and working in support trenches.
By September 1917, plans were in place to attack the German’s defensive position at Polygon Wood. Polygon Wood was an essential objective as part of allied attempts to take Passchendaele Ridge. By 1917 the wood itself had been reduced to burnt stumps, and the Germans had fortified the area with concrete blockhouses, barbed wire and an observation post on the high ground known as the Butte. This made Polygon Wood a place of danger for the advancing allied troops.
On 24 September the 50th Battalion moved to the front line and prepared for the impending attack. Two days later, in the early hours of 26 September, Albert Westbury was among the Australian troops to advance behind a creeping barrage across no man’s land. According to official war historian Charles Bean, the barrage was “the most perfect that ever protected Australian troops”.
Despite heavy enemy resistance, Australian soldiers secured the observation post and took Polygon Wood by the end of the day. The enemy launched numerous unsuccessful counter-attacks, causing the fighting to continue until early October. More than 20,000 allied casualties were sustained during the battle. Nineteen-year old Private Albert Clarence Westbury was killed in action in the original attack on 26 September 1917.
Westbury’s father made contact with Base Records hoping for information about Albert’s grave or personal effects. But Albert’s body was never recovered from the battlefield.
Today, Albert Westbury is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial as one of more than 950 Australians who were killed in the battle of Polygon Wood and who have no known grave. In 1919, Westbury’s father placed an in memoriam notice to his son in the Adelaide Chronicle:
“In loving memory of my son, Private A.C. Westbury who was killed in action on September 16th 1917. The war is really over, to some those words sound nice, but oh the sad hearts of those whose loved ones paid the price which can never be repaid.”
Albert Westbury’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 Albert Clarence Westbury, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.
Researcher, Australian War Memorial
Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3011) Private Albert Clarence Westbury, 50th Battalion, AIF, First Wolrd War. (video)