The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (6237a) Private Lionel Theodore Claude Docking, 10th Battalion, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2021.1.1.327
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 23 November 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 (6237a) Private Lionel Theodore Claude Docking, 10th Battalion, First World War.

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Speech transcript

6237a Private Lionel Theodore Claude Docking, 10th Battalion
Killed in Action 6 May 1917

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Lionel Theodore Claude Docking.

Lionel Docking, known as “Claude”, was born on 17 April 1893, the seventh son of James and Marie Clara Docking of South Australia. His father was a farmer on the Yorke Peninsula, and Claude and some of his siblings were born at Nantawarra, near Port Wakefield. Claude was educated at a number of different schools on the Yorke Peninsula, including those at Bute, Penang, Copper Hill and Cunliffe. In 1905 James Docking moved to the Pinnaroo district, taking much of his large family with him. Claude went too, completing his education in Pinnaroo. He went on to work as a farmer in the district, possibly on his brother Frantz’s property at Rosy Pine.

In early 1916 Claude Docking was in South Australia with his older brother Frantz. The two were particularly close, and decided to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force, doing so on 1 May 1916 from Kadina. It was reported that “they were manly young fellows, and entered upon their duty with quiet determination to uphold the honor of the country and district.” Before going into camp they returned to Pinnaroo, where a farewell social was held in their honour at the Rosy Pine Hall. Several friends gave speeches, and “all spoke of the popularity of the young men and the loss the district was sustaining by their departure.”

Claude and Frantz returned to Adelaide and went into camp for training on 30 May 1916. After completing their initial training, the brothers left for active service overseas with reinforcements to the 10th Battalion on board the troopship Anchises on 28 August.

The Docking brothers arrived in England in October 1916. Claude was sick on arrival, and instead of going on to Salisbury Plain for further training with his brother, he was sent to hospital. While Frantz completed his training and was sent to France in early December 1916, Claude spent two weeks in a convalescent depot before his training could begin. When he was sent to France shortly before Christmas 1916, he joined the 27th Battalion for a few weeks, and was later attached for guard duties with the 3rd Brigade Headquarters. He finally joined the 10th Battalion, and his brother Frantz, on the battlefields on 26 February 1917.

Around the time the brothers were reunited, the German Army had begun to withdraw to a pre-prepared defensive position known to the Allies as the Hindenburg Line. The Australians were part of the force to follow the German withdrawal, and by early April were beginning to make attacks on the fortified outpost villages to the German line.

On 3 May Australian forces made a second major attack on the Hindenburg Line at Bullecourt, following the first battle of Bullecourt in mid-April. The day after the battle began, the 10th Battalion was called forward, reaching the outpost village of Noreuil [pron. Na – roy] on 5 May. The following day the 10th Battalion went into the front line a company at a time to reinforce the 12th Battalion and ward off German counter-attacks. Over the course of the day the battalion took more than 20 casualties.

Among those killed were Privates Claude and Frantz Docking. Their mates later wrote home to the Docking family to say that they were fighting side by side when they met their deaths, and it was assumed that they had been hit by the same shell. The bodies of the two brothers were lost in later fighting, and today their names are commemorated side by side on the Australian national memorial at Villers-Bretonneux. Claude was years 24 old, his brother Frantz 27.

Their names are 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 Lionel Theodore Claude Docking, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

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