The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1379) Private George Burdett King, 9th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2021.1.1.36
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 5 February 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 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 Craig Berelle, the story for this day was on (1379) Private George Burdett King, 9th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

1379 Private George Burdett King, 9th Battalion, AIF
Illness (Pneumonia) 16 August 1918

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private George Burdett King.

George King was born about 1894 in Charters Towers, a gold mining town in Northern Queensland. The son of George and Emily King, he grew up in Charters Towers alongside his siblings Emily, Mary, Georgina, William, and John.

George’s father had served in the British Army in India and received the Afghanistan Medal before emigrating to Australia, where he served with the Queensland Defence Force.

Young George attended Richmond Hill State School, and went on to work as a miner. He also served as a a cadet with the Kennedy Regiment Charters Towers.

King enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 6 January 1915. He was allotted to reinforcements to the 9th Battalion, and embarked from Brisbane on board the troopship Seang Bee in mid-February.

King arrived at Gallipoli, joining his battalion in early May. While the 9th Battalion would remain on Gallipoli until the evacuation in December, Private King’s time on the peninsula would be shorter.

On 28 June he was wounded and taken prisoner by Ottoman Turks, before being transported away from Gallipoli, spending time at a variety of prisoner of war camps.

King wrote regularly, often stating that “All the boys here are looking well and in the best of health”, and noting that he and the other Australian prisoners had been receiving food parcels. In late May 1917 he wrote that he had recently been moved to a new area, where other Australian prisoners had arrived from Baghdad and Suez.

A letter sent in early November 1917 contained some troubling news: “I am not too well, I have been in hospital.” But his condition seems to have improved, as in July 1918 he reported, “I am quite well and keeping up my spirits.”

The following month, on 16 August 1918, George King died of pneumonia while a prisoner of war at Afron Kara Hissar.

Another Australian prisoner later reported that George “was made to go in hospital on August 2nd 1918, against his wish, suffering from a slight attack of Spanish Influenza … His last words to me were, ‘I will be out again in a couple of days.’”

George King was 24 years old.

His remains were buried in the town’s Armenian cemetery, alongside two other Australians. Their graves were marked with wooden crosses erected by fellow prisoners.
His remains were later reburied at Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery – one of many graves to be brought in from battlefields and cemeteries where Commonwealth prisoners of war had been buried by the Turks. His grave bears the inscription “His duty nobly done”.

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 George Burdett King, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Duncan Beard
Editor, Military History Section

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