The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (457) Sergeant George Lowbridge, 30th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2020.1.1.296
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 22 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

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 Sharon Bown, the story for this day was on (457) Sergeant George Lowbridge, 30th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

457 Sergeant George Lowbridge, 30th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF
KIA 22 October 1917

Today we remember and pay tribute to Sergeant George Lowbridge.

George Lowbridge was born in December 1895 in Newcastle, New South Wales, the son of Moses and Jane Ann Lowbridge. After attending Adamstown Public School, he became a bootmaker. He also spent four and a half years in the senior cadets.

In 1915, Lowbridge enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, joining the newly-raised 30th Australian Infantry Battalion. Because he was under 21 years of age, his parents had to sign a consent form for him to serve overseas.

After training for a short period in Australia, Lowbridge sailed from Sydney on the troop ship Beltana in November 1915, arriving in Egypt in December. He spent six months training in Egypt, before sailing for France in June 1916.

In a letter to his father, Lowbridge said that Marseilles was the loveliest sight that he had ever seen; he welcomed the rain and green grass of France after the heat of Egypt. He described how the people of the city of Lyon cheered the Australians as they entered the town on their way north. But he also noted the cost of war to the French. “Practically every second family is in mourning here,” he wrote, “and one cannot imagine what the war is until one sees the sad look on the faces of the people who came to see us off.”

Lowbridge and the 30th Battalion first saw action in July 1916 at Fromelles in northern France. The battalion was initially in a supporting role, but was drawn into the intense fighting. It was a shocking introduction to the Western Front, with the battalion losing more than a third of its strength in 48 hours of fighting.

In the sporadic fighting after this battle, Lowbridge held a strategic position for several days, despite suffering from a bad case of trench foot. For his gallant service in the operations around Fromelles, he was commended by General Birdwood, and promoted to the rank of corporal.
Lowbridge was evacuated to hospital in England for treatment of trench foot. He recovered well, and in March 1917 began training at the army camps on Salisbury Plain. At the beginning of July 1917, he returned to France and re-joined his unit at the front.

Australian troops were preparing to join the major British offensive in Belgium, aimed at pushing the Germans out of Flanders. Collectively, these battles would become known as the Third Battle of Ypres.

In late September, the offensive began with battles at Menin Road and Polygon Wood. The 30th Battalion was in a reserve role during these battles, helping to carry supplies to the front lines.

Lowbridge had been promoted to the rank of sergeant, and once again carried out his work diligently. Showing conspicuous bravery as the leader of intelligence-gathering patrols, he was recommended for the Military Medal.
On 22 October 1917, Lowbridge and his party came under a heavy German barrage. He and another soldier of his unit, Corporal David Price, were killed instantly. George Lowbridge was 21 years old.

Today, his remains lie buried in Aeroplane Cemetery, near the town of Ypres. His grieving mother had the following epitaph inscribed on the headstone: “Oh that we could have clasped his hand & soothed his parting hour”.
He was survived by his siblings Annie, Alfred and William; and into the 1930s his parents continued to place remembrance notices in the local newspaper on the anniversary of his death.

Sergeant George Lowbridge 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 Sergeant George Lowbridge, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Thomas Rogers
Historian, Military History Section
679 words

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