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 Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on (1268) Telegraphist Cyril Lefroy Baker, HMAS AE1, Royal Australian Navy, First World War. The Address is read by Corporal Rebecca Braddy.
1268 Telegraphist Cyril Lefroy Baker, HMAS AE1
Died at sea 14 September 1914
No photograph in collection
Story delivered 22 November 2013
Today we remember and pay tribute to Telegraphist Cyril Lefroy Baker.
Cyril Baker was born in Launceston, Tasmania, on 29 November 1892 to John Baker, a miner, and Mary Alberta Elizabeth Baker, known as Bertie. Cyril was the fifth of ten children, and was known as "Buds" by his family. Little is known of his early life, except that a month before his 19th birthday he joined the Navy.
Cyril Baker's ambition was to become a telegraphist. He served on HMAS Protector for two years in order to undergo training and on 22 January 1913 he passed his training to take on the rank of ordinary telegraphist. Within a year of his enlistment Baker sported a heart-and-spear tattoo on his right forearm and a kangaroo and flag on his left.
In February 1914 the first of the Royal Australian Navy's new submarines was commissioned into service. AE1 and her sister ship AE2 left England together, finally reaching Australia on 24 May. Just over two months later Britain was at war with Germany and, in support, so was Australia.
One of the first acts of the Australian government following the outbreak of war was to arrange for a volunteer force called the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force, or ANMEF, to seize German colonies in New Guinea and the south-west Pacific. Baker was appointed telegraphist on AE1 and joined the expedition.
At 7 am on 14 September AE1 left base to patrol along the coast near the Duke of York Islands. She failed to return. The submarine had been accompanied by HMAS Paramatta, which was conducting its own patrol at the same time, but conditions were extremely hazy and it was difficult to keep sight of the submarine. Despite extensive searches no trace of AE1 was ever found, and it was surmised that the vessel had been sunk on a reef or other submerged formation.
The only option was to conclude that AE1 was lost with all hands. Telegraphist Cyril Baker was one of those men, just under three months before his 22nd birthday.
His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with more than 60,000 others from the First World War.
This is but one of the many stories of courage and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Telegraphist Cyril Lefroy Baker, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation.