The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1129) Lance Corporal Robert Henry Lawson, 5th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2021.1.1.68
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 9 March 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 Chris Widenbar, the story for this day was on (1129) Lance Corporal Robert Henry Lawson, 5th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

1129 Lance Corporal Robert Henry Lawson, 5th Battalion, AIF
KIA 26 April 1915

Today we remember and pay tribute to Lance Corporal Robert Henry Lawson.

Robert Lawson was born in 1885 to Thomas and Alice Lawson of Ballarat, Victoria. His father died when Robert was eight years old. At some point he undertook an apprenticeship as a machinist, but on the outbreak of war in 1914, Lawson was working in Harrietville as a labourer making roads.

Robert Lawson enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force at the end of September 1914. He underwent a period of training in Australia before leaving for active service overseas with the 5th Battalion, probably with the first contingent on 21 October 1914. Although initially embarking for England, the AIF was diverted to Egypt to take part in a new operation. For several weeks at sea the men undertook ongoing training and exercise until arriving at Port Said.

Lawson was promoted to lance corporal, possibly after arriving in Egypt. For several weeks his battalion trained from Mena Camp, about 16 kilometres from Cairo. They went on route marches and conducted exercises in the desert sands, and had time to do some sightseeing among the pyramids and markets of Cairo and nearby Heliopolis.
On 4 April the battalion left Mena Camp and went to Alexandria, eventually embarking on the transport Nevian bound for the Gallipoli peninsula. They landed at Anzac Cove as part of the second wave, coming ashore from 6 am. Tows coming to carry the men ashore were already crowded with wounded from the first wave of the landing, and getting ashore was difficult and fraught with danger. They rowed ashore under Turkish shrapnel fire, landing on a crowded and confused beach.

Shortly after its arrival, the 5th Battalion pushed forward to help establish the Anzac front line. The battalion quickly became disorganised and intermingled with neighbouring units, a situation which took some days to sort out. In the confusion of the day after the landing, Lance Corporal Robert Lawson was killed in action. No record remains of the manner of his death, nor was his body recovered from the battlefield. Today he is commemorated on the Lone Pine Memorial, not far from where he fell. He was 30 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 Lance Corporal Robert Henry Lawson, 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 (1129) Lance Corporal Robert Henry Lawson, 5th Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)