The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of 2/Lieutenant Herbert Abraham Ansell, 8th Machine Gun Company, First World War.

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Albert Bapaume Area, Flers
Accession Number AWM2021.1.1.12
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 12 January 2021
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 Craig Berelle, the story for this day was on 2/Lieutenant Herbert Abraham Ansell, 8th Machine Gun Company, First World War.

Speech transcript

2/Lieutenant Herbert Abraham Ansell, 8th Machine Gun Company
KIA 23 October 1916

Today we remember and pay tribute to Second Lieutenant Herbert Abraham Ansell.

Herbert Ansell, known as “Bert”, was born on 1 October 1878 to Henry and Hannah Ansell of Hobart. His family was well known in Hobart, where his father owned property and worked for a wholesale boot and shoe manufacturer as a commercial traveller. His father was “a sincere worker for the Hobart Hebrew Congregation” for many years, and Bert Ansell was raised in the Jewish faith.

He attended Hutchins Church of England Grammar School in Hobart, where he was made dux, and secured several scholarships. He passed the senior public exams at the Tasmanian University in 11 subjects. He excelled academically and in all branches of athletics. He was also known to be a fair tennis player, although it was lamented that “he did not take the game up seriously and did not care about playing in pennant matches or open tournaments”.

After finishing his schooling, Ansell went to work at the Treasury of the Tasmanian government for some time. He crossed to the mainland and worked in the head office of the Vacuum Oil Company in Melbourne with a reputation as being “a most hardworking and dutiful assistant”. The rest of his family moved to Melbourne in 1904; and in 1911, his father died unexpectedly.

Ansell had taken a keen interest in military matters, and served in the senior cadets for three years. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in July 1915, at the age of 36, and undertook a number of training courses which led to his being granted a commission in January 1916. Second Lieutenant Ansell left Australia for active service overseas with reinforcements to the 29th Battalion in March 1916.
Ansell was first sent to Egypt and spent four months there before being transferred to England in August 1916. One month later he arrived in France, transferring to the 8th Australian Machine Gun Company on arrival.

On 23 October, Ansell was in command of a gun crew not far from the village of Flers in France. His position was struck by a dud artillery shell that was fired from behind his position and fell short. Second Lieutenant Ansell was killed instantly.

Ansell’s body was initially buried near where he fell, but after the war he was reinterred in the AIF Burial Ground cemetery at Flers, where he lies today under the words “To live in the hearts of those we love is not to die.” He was 38 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 Second Lieutenant Herbert Abraham Ansell, 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 2/Lieutenant Herbert Abraham Ansell, 8th Machine Gun Company, First World War. (video)