The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2810) Private John “Jack” Dicks 9th Battalion, AIF, First World War

Place Europe: France, Nord Pas de Calais, Nord, Lille, Armentieres
Accession Number PAFU2015/045.01
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 5 February 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
Description

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 Nicholas Schmidt, the story for this day was on (2810) Private John “Jack” Dicks 9th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

2810 Private John “Jack” Dicks 9th Battalion, AIF
KIA 20 April 1916
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 5 February 2015

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private John Dicks of the 9th Battalion AIF.

John Dicks was born in January 1874 in Rotherhithe, London, to William and Joyce Dicks. He grew up in London and attended the Albion Street Boarding School. After leaving school Dicks enlisted in the Royal Marines Light Infantry. His first commission was aboard HMS Walleroo, which was then a part of the Australia station, based at that time in Sydney. He served for just over 12 years before taking an honourable discharge.

Following his service with the Royal Marines he became a ship’s steward before immigrating to Australia, aged 36. He was working as a groom in Brisbane when the First World War began.

Dicks enlisted in Brisbane on 18 August 1915 and was allocated to the 9th reinforcements to the 9th Battalion. He embarked with his unit from Sydney in September aboard the transport ship Ayrshire, bound for Egypt. After several months he was admitted to hospital suffering from a poisoned toe. It took some time to heal, and it was not until early March that he finally joined the 9th Battalion, which had returned to Egypt from Gallipoli in January. Following a period of rest and reinforcement, the battalion sailed for France at the end of March.

By 19 April the 9th Battalion was in reserve billets near Rouge-de-Bout, one mile behind the front line in the Armentières or Nursery Sector. Intermittent artillery fire was landing nearby. The next afternoon, tragedy struck. The battalion’s C Company billets were heavily shelled and one shell landed outside a canvas tent, wounding four soldiers. As men went to assist, another shell landed among them, killing several more men and wounding others. A further shell hit the brick wall of a nearby billet, causing another 47 casualties. C Company was decimated, suffering 25 men killed, one of whom was Dicks, and a further 50 wounded. Several other men would die from their wounds over the ensuing days.

The fallen men were laid to rest in the Rue-Du-Bacquerot (13th London) Graveyard at Laventie. Jack Dicks was 42 years old. 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 service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Private John Dicks, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in service of our nation.

Michael Kelly
Historian, Military History Section

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