The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1319) Private William Polden, 16th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2020.1.1.327
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 November 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 Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on (1319) Private William Polden, 16th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

1319 Private William Polden, 16th Battalion, AIF
KIA 1 May 1915

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private William Polden.

William Polden was born on 18 May 1890 to George and Emma Polden of Mount Pleasant, South Australia. He attended Mount Pleasant Public School, and went on to work as a clerk. He was well known in the district as a successful athlete, and was a prominent member of the Mount Pleasant Football Club, winning the gold medal for the best all-round player in 1914.

William Polden enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force shortly after the outbreak of war in 1914. He was posted to the newly formed 16th Battalion, one quarter of whom, like Polden, came from South Australia, while the remaining three quarters came from Western Australia. The two parts of the battalion were united in Victoria, where the unit continued training as a whole battalion.

The 16th Battalion left Australia for active service overseas on Boxing Day 1914. After a brief stop in Albany, Western Australia, they proceeded to Egypt, where the men continued training in the desert for some weeks.

On the morning of 25 April 1915 the 16th Battalion sailed from the island of Lemnos in “splendid weather”, with the faint sounds of firing from the landing at Anzac Cove audible on the breeze. The battalion itself began landing in the evening, and disembarkation under ceaseless fire continued the next day.

The situation on Gallipoli remained uncertain for the following days. The 16th joined the other Australian battalions on Gallipoli in establishing a strong forward line on the heights above Anzac Cove. The work was hectic, and a considerable number of the battalions mixed in together, particularly those that had taken part in the initial landing.

By 1 May, the situation was beginning to stabilise, and for the first time men of the 16th Battalion were allowed time to bathe in the sea in small groups. At some point on this day, however, it appears that Private William Polden was wounded.

Polden’s family were informed by telegram that he was wounded, but they received no further information from military authorities, nor from their son. They continued writing to him weekly, but heard nothing.

Private Polden’s fate remains somewhat obscure. At some point his file was marked “wounded and missing”, and no evidence of admission to any hospital was found. The following year a court of inquiry in Serapeum determined that Private Polden had in fact been killed in action on 1 May 1915, but his manner of death is unknown.

Private Polden’s body was never located, and today he is commemorated on the Lone Pine Memorial on Gallipoli. He was 25 years old.

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 Private William Polden, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1319) Private William Polden, 16th Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)