The Band of the 5th Australian Infantry Brigade, led by Bandmaster Sergeant A Peagam of the 19th ...

Accession Number E00426
Collection type Photograph
Object type Black & white - Glass original half-plate negative
Maker Baldwin, Herbert Frederick
Place made France: Picardie, Somme, Albert Bapaume Area, Bapaume
Date made 19 March 1917
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


The Band of the 5th Australian Infantry Brigade, led by Bandmaster Sergeant A Peagam of the 19th Battalion, passing through the Grande Place (Town Square) of Bapaume, playing the 'Victoria March'. The ruins of the town are still smouldering, and smoke rises from the debris of surrounding buildings. A few miles away, on the Lagnicourt-Noreuil line, the fighting continues. Identified are: Sergeant (Sgt) A Peagam, 19th Battalion, leading the band. First row, left to right: Private (Pte) R Cuskey, G trombone, 18th Battalion; Pte Downes, trombone; Pte A Farrell, trombone, 17th Battalion; Pte W Knight, 18th Battalion. Second row, left to right: Pte R Wheatley, 18th Battalion; Pte A Amery, 19th Battalion; Pte O Inverach, 19th Battalion; Pte C H Jones, 18th Battalion. Marching behind Pte Jones are: Pte Finlay, baritone, 19th Battalion; Pte J Street, 20th Battalion; unidentified; Pte Swain, 18th Battalion; unidentified; Pte S Talbot, drum (in background), 17th Battalion. Other band members not identified are: Pte J Burton, solo cornet, 19th Battalion; Pte Prescott, 19th Battalion; Pte E Stace, side drum, 19th Battalion; Pte E Setchell, side drum, 18th Battalion. Also identified is 4727 Sergeant (Sgt) Arthur Jack Gordon, seated on the horse (left).

Of all the Australian Official Photographs, none gained wider publicity than this. This image was frequently reproduced during the war, featuring in numerous newspapers and the first catalogue of Official Photographs from the Western Front. It served as the centrepiece of the Australian section of a major exhibition on the imperial war effort held in London in 1918. However, there has long been suspicion that the event was staged for publicity. Sgt Gordon who had visited Bapaume to secure supplies for his unit later shared with his family that the fires, which had long since waned, were re-lit for effect. The logistical requirements of pulling instruments from storage behind the line and bandsmen from their units – noting the important role many played as stretcher bearers – lends weight to Sgt Gordon’s claims.