The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3040) Corporal Ewen Alexander Cameron, 60th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2020.1.1.359
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 24 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
Description

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 Gerard Pratt, the story for this day was on (3040) Corporal Ewen Alexander Cameron, 60th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

3040 Corporal Ewen Alexander Cameron, 60th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF
KIA: 19 July 1916

Today we remember and pay tribute to Corporal Ewen Alexander Cameron.

Ewen Alexander Cameron was born in March 1884 in Wahring, Victoria, the son of Donald and Janet Cameron. The second of seven children born to the couple, when he was young his family moved to the nearby town of Mansfield. On finishing school, Cameron became a school teacher in the district. As a young man, he served for seven years in the local Light Horse unit, where he attained the rank of lance corporal.

In July 1915, Cameron volunteered to join the Australian Imperial Force. It is possible that he was following the example of his younger brother John, who had enlisted earlier the same month. After initial training, the two brothers sailed together from Melbourne in November 1915 on the transport ship Wiltshire.

Cameron arrived in Egypt in February 1916 and joined the newly-raised 60th Australian Infantry Battalion. With his years of military experience, he was promoted to the rank of corporal in March. At this time, most of the AIF was in the process of sailing to France to join the fighting on the Western Front. The 60th Battalion followed in the middle of June.

At this time, British commanders had commenced a large-scale assault along the Somme River. The Australians were to take part in a smaller attack north of these battlefields, near the French village of Fromelles. The aim of this attack was to keep the German reserve forces in the area, to prevent them moving south to reinforce the defenders on the Somme.

On 19 July 1916 British and Australian forces launched a seven-hour artillery barrage on German positions at Fromelles. At 6 o’clock in the evening, the barrage ended and British and Australian infantry, including the 60th Battalion, attacked the German lines. The defenders were ready, however, and the attackers suffered extremely heavy losses.

Cameron’s unit was on the right hand side of the Australian forces, and in this area the artillery barrage had been particularly ineffective. During the attack, Cameron was struck in the legs by rifle or machine-gun fire and badly wounded. He died shortly afterwards.
He was 32 years old.

The attack at Fromelles was a disaster. The 60th Battalion lost more than 90 per cent of its strength in one day. Of about 1,000 men in the battalion prior to the assault, only 65 answered roll call on 20 July.

Few of the Australians killed at Fromelles were identified. Nearly 1,300 Australian soldiers were buried at VC Corner Australian Cemetery, and Cameron is presumed to be amongst these. Today his name appears on the memorial at that site.

As a result of the confusion in the aftermath of the battle, Cameron’s parents did not hear about his death until January 1917, when they received a letter from the Red Cross suggesting he had been killed. They received official notice of his death in the middle of March 1917.

In Australia, Ewen Cameron was survived by his father, mother, and siblings. His younger brother John also served in the 60th Battalion. He was wounded at Fromelles and recovered in England, later serving as the pay sergeant to the battalion. He returned to Australia in 1919, where he died suddenly the following year.

Corporal Ewen Alexander Cameron 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 Ewen Alexander Cameron, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Thomas Rogers
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3040) Corporal Ewen Alexander Cameron, 60th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)