The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (745) Sergeant Horace Stewart Winburn, 40th Battalion, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2021.1.1.38
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 7 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 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 Joanne Smedley, the story for this day was on (745) Sergeant Horace Stewart Winburn, 40th Battalion, First World War.

Speech transcript

745 Sergeant Horace Stewart Winburn, 40th Battalion
KIA 13 October 1917

Today we remember and pay tribute to Sergeant Horace Stewart Winburn.

Horace Winburn was born on 19 September 1896, the third son of Frederick and Mary Winburn of Mathinna in Tasmania. There is some indication that Horace may have been raised from a young age by his grandmother, Elizabeth Atwater. He grew up in the Longford district, where he attended the local state school. Horace’s mother died in 1903, when he was seven years old, and his father when he was 17. Horace went on to attend Phillip Smith Training College in Hobart, and became a school teacher at the East Launceston Practising School.

Winburn enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in October 1915. In the new year he was posted to the newly-raised 40th Battalion, and underwent a period of training in Australia. The 40th Battalion did not leave for active service overseas until July 1916, when Winburn and his comrades sailed for England on the troopship Berrima.

Winburn reached the battlefields of the Western Front in November 1916, joining the rest of the 40th Battalion as it rotated in and out of the front line during the bitterly cold winter. He proved an able soldier, and received regular promotions. Winburn’s health suffered in the cold, and he was hospitalised once in February with illness, and in March with a septic foot, probably a result of trench foot. After treatment he rejoined his battalion in late March 1917.

On 12 May 1917 the 40th Battalion was holding the front line near the Belgian town of Ploegsteert. At some point during the day, Winburn was wounded, probably during the regular German artillery bombardments that hit the battalion’s sector of the line. But he managed to remain on duty, and less than a month later was promoted to sergeant.
The day after this promotion, Winburn took part in the battle of Messines. His family later reported in the newspapers that Winburn was mentioned in despatches for his “gallant conduct and conspicuously good work during the Messines offensive.”

On 12 October 1917, the 40th Battalion took part in an operation to capture the Belgian town of Passchendaele. The men moved into position through heavy mud and attacked under fire. Though ground was captured, it could not be held. On the evening of 13 October, the order to retire was finally received, and Sergeant Winburn went forward to pass the word along. As he did so, a shell exploded nearby. Private Gardner later reported that he saw Winburn wounded in the shoulder. Winburn was conscious, and said, “I’m hit, and do not feel good.” That was the last report received of him.

Initially declared missing, Horace Winburn was soon acknowledged to have been killed during the attack on Passchendaele. His body was never recovered, and today he is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing in Ypres. He had just turned 21 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 Sergeant Horace Stewart Winburn, 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 (745) Sergeant Horace Stewart Winburn, 40th Battalion, First World War. (video)