The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (4524) Private Malcolm McIntosh Southwell, 20th Battalion (Infantry), First World War

Accession Number PAFU2013/120.01
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 November 2013
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 Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on (4524) Private Malcolm McIntosh Southwell, 20th Battalion (Infantry), First World War.

Speech transcript

4524 Private Malcolm McIntosh Southwell, 20th Battalion
KIA 15 November 1916
Photograph: P00124.001

Story delivered 9 November 2013

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Malcolm McIntosh Southwell.

Malcolm Southwell - sometimes known as 'Mac' - was born in 1888 to George and Anne Southwell. The Southwell family had lived in the district around Queanbeyan and Canberra since 1834, and his mother's family, the McIntoshes, were also well established locally. Early in the new century, the family moved to Ainslie. Malcolm worked in "afforestation" - planting pine trees around Canberra - and was working on Mt Stromlo in 1915. He left this position to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force in October at the age of 27.

Just before Southwell left Australia, an assembly was hurriedly called together to bid him farewell in Queanbeyan. Archdeacon Bartlett said to Private Southwell, "I don't want to dishearten or disappoint you, but my sincerest wish is that when you get to the front you will be told your services are not required and that you will be asked to return to Queanbeyan."

Southwell joined the 20th Battalion in France in October 1916. Six weeks later they were called on to participate in the battles at the village of Flers, where I Anzac Corps had conducted a series of offensives near the village since 5 November. On the night of 9 November the 20th Battalion moved into the front line. It had been raining heavily for some time, and the men found themselves in waist-high mud. After three days of extremely trying conditions, including German artillery barrages and the constant threat of counter-attack, the men were in a "very poor state" and had to be put in reserve for an attack made by the rest of their brigade.

On 15 November 1916, the day after the operation began, Private Southwell was found lying dead in a sap. He had been wounded in the head, although reports differ as to whether it was the result of a bullet or a shell fragment. Southwell was buried in the battlefield and later reinterred in the AIF Burial Ground at Flers.

In Australia Mrs Ann Southwell, long since widowed, received word of her son's death. A memorial service was held for him just after Christmas 1916. The Presbyterian Church in Ainslie was "crowded with people of all denominations" - a true indicator at that time of how popular and respected Malcolm had been.

Malcolm Southwell was described by one who had known him all his life as "a man full of promise, a deep thinker, a splendid worker ... a born fighter ... a loving son to his mother". The community expressed its sorrow to the family by telling them that "it must be their chief consolation to know that he laid down his life in the noble cause of righteousness and liberty, and therefore died not in vain".

Malcolm Southwell's name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with more than 60,000 others from the First World War, and his photograph is displayed today beside the Pool of Reflection.

This is but one of the many stories of courage and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Private Malcolm McIntosh Southwell, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation.

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (4524) Private Malcolm McIntosh Southwell, 20th Battalion (Infantry), First World War (video)