The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (557) Private John Thomas Green, 29th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Place Europe: France, Nord Pas de Calais, Nord, Lille, Bois-Grenier, Brewery Orchard Cemetery
Accession Number AWM2020.1.1.281
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 7 October 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
Description

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 Craig Berelle, the story for this day was on (557) Private John Thomas Green, 29th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

557 Private John Thomas Green, 29th Battalion, AIF
KIA 12 July 1916

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private John Thomas Green.

John Green, known as “Jack”, was born around 1894, the eldest son of John and Agnes Green of Shepparton, Victoria. He was probably educated at the Convent of Mercy School in Tatura. He went on to work as a clerk – at some point for the postal department, and later for the Immigration Bureau in Melbourne.

Jack Green enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force with his younger brother William in July 1915, shortly after William had turned 18. The brothers were posted to the 29th Battalion, and after a period of training in Australia, left for overseas service in November on board the troopship Ascanius. They were first sent to Egypt, where they continued training in the desert. Jack wrote home from Egypt to say “well, father and mother … don’t worry about us, we are in the best of health and are looked after well … The work we are doing is very interesting. Needless to say Will and I have a few blisters on our hands.”

Not long after writing this letter, Green was sent with his battalion to fight on the Western Front. He remained close to his brother, and also found a good mate in Private Ernest Green of Melbourne.

Ernest Green later wrote, “Jack … was my best pal. I never saw a more clean and good living lad in our battalion. He always said when others were doing things they should not, that he couldn’t do away from home what he would feel ashamed to do at home. I think it was a great motto, considering our great temptations both in Egypt and our short stay in France.”

On 10 July 1916 the 29th Battalion marched into the front line in at Bois Grenier. Ernest Green wrote, “I can’t forget his cheerfulness on what proved to be our last march to the trenches. I was marching just in front of him … he never grumbled unless for a good reason and was always so cheerful.”

Two days later, on 12 July 1916, Private Jack Green was sitting having tea at 11.30 pm when a high explosive shell passed through the sandbags on the parapet of his trench and killed him without warning. Ernest Green was shot in the arm a few hours later, and met a man wounded by the same shell blast in the dressing station. Green wrote, “He told me Jack and the boys were joking only a few minutes before he was taken. It came so suddenly and he suffered no pain.”

Jack’s parents were inundated with letters of condolence on the loss of their son. Friends from the Immigration Bureau wrote, “Those of us who came into personal contact with your son can hardly yet realise we shall never see him again … We sincerely hope that you will accept our humble efforts to mourn with you the loss of a good son and a gallant comrade, whose high principles and integrity will long remain in the memory of his fellow officers.”

His boss wrote, “Jack was a very fine lad, and I was really very sorry when he enlisted from here at his early age. He was a most reliable and promising young officer, very much liked.”

Ernest Green was devastated by the loss of his mate, who he said “was to me a brother … he has done his duty and I feel sure he is still happy and in a far better land.”

Jack’s good friend, Bhan Singh of the Hong Kong and Singapore Mountain Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery wrote, “I am very sorry to hear of the death of your son, and I sympathise with you very greatly. I will never find another friend like him, and I can promise you that I will avenge his death at the first opportunity.”

Jack Green’s body was taken from the front line and buried in nearby Brewery Orchard Cemetery at Bois Grenier, where he lies today under the words chosen by his grieving family: “Sacred to the memory of our darling son and brother, Jack our hero.” Jack Green was 20 years old.

Jack’s younger brother survived another nine months at war, but was killed in action in March 1917.

Jack Green’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 John Thomas Green, 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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