The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (6518) Corporal Samuel James Buckingham, 19th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2020.1.1.304
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 30 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 Troy Clayton, the story for this day was on (6518) Corporal Samuel James Buckingham, 19th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

6518 Corporal Samuel James Buckingham, 19th Battalion, AIF
DOW: 1 June 1918

Today we remember and pay tribute to Corporal Samuel James Buckingham.

Samuel James Buckingham was born in 1892, the third of four children born to James and Helen Buckingham of the Sydney suburb of Paddington. Buckingham attended school in Woollahra, and was a member of a cadets unit. After school he received training in farming, and worked as a commercial traveller. At the time of his enlistment he listed his address as Double Bay in Sydney, but he also had association with the town of Kyogle in northern New South Wales. He was known as “Snowy”, probably because of his white blonde hair.

Buckingham enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 20 November 1916, and began training with the reinforcements of the 19th Infantry Battalion. His two brothers also enlisted and served. His older brother William served in the 1st Battalion on the Western Front and was shot in the face and lost an arm while fighting near Bullecourt. His younger brother Clive served on Gallipoli and on the Western Front, where he was gassed and shot in the leg. Clive later served in a militia force for Australia in the Second World War.

Samuel Buckingham sailed from Australia for overseas service in February 1917, and continued his training in England. He distinguished himself throughout his military career, and rose from the rank of private to corporal. One of his fellow soldiers later described him as “a fine chap and very brave in the line”.

Buckingham was transferred to the war on the Western Front, joining the 19th Battalion for the first time while it was training behind the lines at Steenwerck in northern France, near the Belgian border.
Buckingham spent the following winter months resting and training behind the lines or manning front-line and support trenches.

On 8 April 1918, he received a gunshot wound to his right hand while he and his unit were serving near Hangard, south of the Somme River. He was taken out of the lines for treatment, and did not rejoin his unit for over a month, when it was improving trenches and dugouts in support trenches near Morlancourt.

Two weeks later, on 28 May 1918, Buckingham was part of a large party of men in his battalion sent forward to the front line area to assist in cleaning and improving the trenches. As they moved forward, they came under a heavy German gas artillery attack that affected over 60 of the men.

Buckingham was affected, but despite his injuries, insisted on staying with his unit at the front rather than moving behind the lines to receive treatment. Despite this, he was eventually ordered to a nearby casualty clearing station, and was later admitted to the Number 26 General Hospital at Etaples on the French coast, suffering from the effects of mustard gas.

On the night of 31 May, while Buckingham was recovering, the hospital he was in came under a bombing raid from German aircraft. During the attack, he was struck in the chest by a bomb fragment. He was taken to another ward of the hospital for treatment but died of his wounds.
He was 26 years old.

He is buried in the Etaples Military Cemetery, where over 11,500 casualties of the First World War now lie.
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 Corporal Samuel James Buckingham, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

David Sutton
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (6518) Corporal Samuel James Buckingham, 19th Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)