The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (5689) Private Robert Cedric Dorman, 4th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2020.1.1.285
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 11 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 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 Tristan Rallings, the story for this day was on (5689) Private Robert Cedric Dorman, 4th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

5689 Private Robert Cedric Dorman, 4th Battalion, AIF
DOW: 5 May 1917

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Robert Cedric Dorman.

Robert Cedric Dorman was born on 23 October 1897 in the Sydney suburb of Leichhardt. The second youngest of ten children born to Walter and Agnes Dorman, he was known as “Bob” to his family and friends. Dorman attended Petersham Public School, and later worked as a clerk and salesman at Kynock Ltd.

Dorman enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 21 January 1916, and soon began training with the reinforcements of the 4th Infantry Battalion, following in the footsteps of his older brother George, who also had served in the 4th Battalion. Private George Dorman was among the first troops to land on Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, and was seriously wounded in the arm a day later. His wounds were so severe that he was evacuated from Gallipoli, and later in 1915 he returned home to Australia.

After initial training, Dorman sailed from Sydney aboard the transport ship Kyarra in June 1916, and arrived in England for further training two months later. In September he transferred from England for the war on the Western Front. He joined his unit for the first time as they were training behind the lines at Busseboom to the west of Ypres in Belgium.

Dorman spent the next six months experiencing the hardships and horrors of trench warfare. The 4th Battalion cycled between facing German artillery, sniper and rifle fire in the front lines, and training and resting behind the lines. It spent the winter of 1916 to 1917, the coldest in living memory, serving in the Somme region of France. The field diary of his unit records that the men spent Christmas Day 1916 in the trenches, and that the weather on that day was rainy, windy and cold.

In early 1917, Dorman and the 4th Battalion pursued German forces withdrawing to a series of defences known as the Hindenburg Line: a series of well-defended positions designed to shorten the German trenches and allow for better defence against allied advances.

From 3 May 1917, Australian forces took part in the second battle of Bullecourt, with British and Australian forces taking part in bloody and desperate fighting to take and hold the ruined village north of the Somme River. The battle was a success, but came at the expense of more than 7,400 Australians killed, wounded and missing.

On 5 May, two days into the fighting, Dorman and the 4th Battalion moved up towards the front-line trenches to support the 2nd Battalion. As they moved through the support trenches they came under an extremely heavy German high explosive and shrapnel artillery barrage that caused many casualties.

Dorman received severe wounds to his arm and hip when a shell landed close to him as he moved up towards the front line. He was taken unconscious to a nearby dressing station but died shortly after.

He was 19 years old.

In the chaos of the battle that followed the exact location of his burial was never established, and he now has no known grave. His name is listed on the Australian National Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux in France, which commemorates more than 10,700 Australians of the First World War with no known grave.

Private Robert Cedric Dorman’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 Robert Cedric Dorman, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

David Sutton
Historian, Military History Section

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