The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (5430) Private Richard Wesley Wong, 17th Battalion, First World War.

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Albert Bapaume Area, Warlencourt
Accession Number PAFU2015/386.01
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 16 September 2015
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 (5430) Private Richard Wesley Wong, 17th Battalion, First World War.

Speech transcript

5430 Private Richard Wesley Wong, 17th Battalion
KIA 2 March 1917
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 16 September 2015

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Richard Wesley Wong.

Richard Wong was born in Ringarooma, Tasmania, in 1888. He was the third son of Bartholomew Wong Poo and his wife, Emma Jane. Richard’s father was a missionary to the Chinese population in and around Ringarooma, and supported his family on a wage of voluntary contributions to his work. His father’s English was not very good, and so although Richard’s mother was of European descent, his upbringing was centred in the Chinese community. Like his father, Richard was a quiet man. The family moved back to Victoria, where his parents had married in 1877, and settled in Beechworth, where Richard attended the local school. He went on to become a blacksmith and a farrier. In 1912 his father died at the age of 83.

In February 1915 Richard’s younger brother William enlisted for service in the Australian Imperial Force. He was turned down as being “not substantially of European descent”. In January 1916 Richard tried enlisting, and was successful. He was posted to the 17th Battalion, and after a period of training in Australia was sent to England. He finally arrived in France to fight on the Western Front in December 1916.

Private Wong spent the harsh winter of 1916–17 with his battalion, rotating in and out of the front line. He became ill in February and spent a short time in hospital recovering before once again returning to the front line.

In early March 1917 a party from the 17th Battalion conducted a bombing attack on German positions near the French village of Warlencourt. As a result, the Germans sent over an artillery barrage on the Australian line. One of the artillery shells in this barrage burst close to Private Wong. He was killed instantly.

Wong’s body was recovered by his mates, and he was buried nearby. Today he lies in the Warlencourt British Cemetery with more than 330 other identified Australian soldiers of the First World War. He had been on the Western Front less than four months. He was 29 years old.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among more than 60,000 Australians who died during 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 Richard Wesley Wong, and all those Australians who have given their lives in
the service of our nation.

Dr Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

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