The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (5975) Private Harold Dean Anderson, 15th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2020.1.1.338
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 3 December 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 (5975) Private Harold Dean Anderson, 15th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

5975 Private Harold Dean Anderson, 15th Battalion, AIF
KIA 28 January 1917

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Harold Dean Anderson.

Harold Anderson, known as “Halv” to his mates, was born on 2 February 1898 to John and Clara Anderson of Toowoomba, Queensland. Harold’s father was a well-known identity in Toowoomba, having run a grocery on Ruthven Street for 35 years. A number of Harold’s brothers owned stores in and around Ruthven Street in later years. Harold was educated at the South State School, and worked his way up to the rank of sergeant in the local militia forces in Toowoomba. He was described as a bright young man, “one of those lads whom to know was to love. His disposition was bright, and the quiet and unassuming manner always displayed by him endeared him to all who knew him.”

Harold Anderson was desperate to go to war, with reports suggesting that “had his age permitted, he would have been one of the first to enlist from Toowoomba.” Rather than put his age up, however, he waited to enlist until five days after his 18th birthday in February 1916. He underwent a period of training in Australia before leaving for active service overseas with reinforcements to the 15th Battalion in August 1916.

Anderson left Australia with a provisional rank of corporal, which reverted to private when he reached England. He continued training on Salibury Plain for some time before leaving for the battlefields of northern France in December 1916. He arrived in the middle of the coldest winter in more than 30 years, and joined his battalion as it rotated in and out of the front line. Within a month he fell sick with tonsillitis, and spent ten days in hospital recovering.

Private Harold Anderson rejoined the 15th Battalion in the front line on 19 January 1917. The battalion was just finishing a program of training, which he joined over the next few days. On 23 January, the battalion moved into the front line near Guedecourt to relieve the 46th Division.

It had been snowing before the move, and there was a hard frost on the ground. But the bitterly cold weather was not the only threat to the front-line soldier at this time, despite active operations being on hold for the winter. The artillery of both sides was fairly active, seeking out each others’ trenches and strong points. Artillery was still an inexact science, and the quieter months of the year were a good opportunity to test the range and accuracy of the guns, as well as continuing to harass the enemy.

On 27 January 1917 a 6-inch shell, assumed to be an Australian shell that fell short, landed in trenches held by the 15th Battalion, killing Captain William Nicholls and three others. Among the dead was Harold Dean Anderson, although his death would later be recorded as happening on the following day.

In all his letters home, Harold had written “most cheerfully and hopefully of returning” but it was not to be. He and the other men killed in the blast were taken from the battlefield, and today they lie near each other in the Guards’ Cemetery at Lesboeufs, France. Harold Anderson died just days before his 19th birthday.

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 Harold Dean Anderson , 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 (5975) Private Harold Dean Anderson, 15th Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)