The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (638) Private Albert Herculean Augustus Pearce, 40th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2022.1.1.6
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell, Australian War Memorial
Date made 6 January 2022
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC

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 Gerard Pratt, the story for this day was on (638) Private Albert Herculean Augustus Pearce, 40th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

638 Private Albert Herculean Augustus Pearce, 40th Battalion, AIF
KIA 7th January 1917

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Albert Herculean Augustus Pearce.

Albert Pearce was born on 7 May 1887 in Hobart, one of eight children born to George and Annie Pearce. He received his education at Hobart State School, before moving to New Zealand in search of work. He met Ivy Nelder who he married in 1910. The couple later moved to Tasmania where they settled in Moonah near Hobart and had two children: Albert Edward George and Ivy Annie Louisa. When war broke out in 1914, Albert was working as a builder’s labourer in Hobart.

Albert Pearce enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 20 March 1915, joining the newly-raised 40th Battalion, which was comprised of Tasmanian volunteers. Assigned the rank of private, Pearce embarked from Hobart on board the troopship Berrima on 1 July 1916. During the voyage, Pearce’s comrade, Signaller Biggs, wrote in a letter home to his family: “The spirit among us all is nothing if not optimistic regarding our future and Tasmania may rest assured that the pride she cherishes in her battalion will not have been misplaced and that as a body we hope to bring undying glory upon the ‘garden of the South’.”

Private Pearce reached England in September, and spent a number of months training with his battalion. In England, Pearce was fined twice: the first time for having an untidy tent, and the second for being absent without leave, for which he forfeited a week’s pay.

In November 1916, Pearce’s battalion reached the Western Front during the coldest winter of a generation. There, they were introduced to life in the trenches around the French village of Armentieres. The 40th Battalion continued serving around this section of the front into early 1917 where their trenches were subject to enemy raids, heavy shelling, machine-gun and rifle fire.

On 7 January 1917, Private Pearce was serving in the front lines when the enemy began to shell the trenches. More than 58 shells fell in a matter of hours, causing multiple casualties for the battalion. Among the dead was Private Albert Pearce, who was hit and killed instantly by enemy shell-fire. He was 29 years old.

His comrades buried him nearby at Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery, where he lies today. His wife Ivy died in 1992, having never remarried after losing Albert more than 75 years earlier.

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 Albert Herculean Augustus Pearce, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Meghan Adams
Researcher, Military History Section

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