The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (359) Private Randolph Adamson, 35th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2020.1.1.362
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 28 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 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 Joanne Smedley, the story for this day was on (359) Private Randolph Adamson, 35th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

359 Private Randolph Adamson, 35th Battalion, AIF
KIA 7 June 1917

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Randolph Adamson.

Randolph Adamson, known as “Dolph”, was born in Salisbury Plains, New South Wales, in 1897, the third son of George and Ann Adamson. His father was a school teacher, and when Dolph was a young boy the family moved to Bendemeer, where his father took up the position of headmaster at Glen Oak School. Following his education, Dolph took on an apprenticeship with a coachbuilder in Newcastle.

Dolph Adamson enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in January 1916 at the age of 18. He underwent a period of training in Australia before leaving for active service overseas with the 35th Battalion – known as “Newcastle’s Own” – in May 1916. He was first sent to England to continue training, and arrived on the Western Front in late November 1917. His older brother, Thomas, also enlisted with the 35th Battalion; he arrived in England a few weeks later, and the brothers were reunited the following year.

On 7 June 1917 the 35th Battalion took part in its first major operation, the successful attack at Messines. Private Dolph Adamson was serving as batman to Captain Jarratt, and after the assault, the pair were sitting in a captured German trench together. As their company worked around them consolidating its gains, Jarratt and Adamson came under fire, and a German machine-gun bullet hit Adamson in the head, killing him instantly. Jarratt later wrote, “I don’t think anyone can appreciate the good work that your son did more than I can, for he had been with me ever since we came to France up to the time he was killed.”

Despite reports from other witnesses that “he was sure to have been buried as we retained the ground where he fell”, Adamson’s battlefield grave was lost in later fighting, and today he is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial in the Belgian town of Ypres.

In 1919 Ann Adamson heard that her son’s name had accidentally been omitted from an honour roll in Bendemeer. She wrote to the Presbyterian church to ask “if they remember ‘a little laddie’ called Randolph Adamson who attended their Sunday School until he was 15 years old … When that ‘young laddie’ was 18 years old,” she added, “he thought he was man enough to offer himself to fight for his country, and came to beg permission to enlist… To those who did go, I am with many others thankful, and I am proud that so many of Bendemeer’s lads answered the call and went and did their bit.”

In a memorial notice in the Newcastle Morning Herald, the Adamson family wrote, “Through the ranks of heroes silently passed the soul of a clear-eyed, laughing lad. He was brave – but ah, so young.” Dolph Adamson was 19 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 Randolph Adamson, 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 (359) Private Randolph Adamson, 35th Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)