The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (4303) Private George William Stockham, 5th Battalion (Infantry), First World War

Accession Number PAFU/846.01
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 13 June 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
Description

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial every 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 Gerard Pratt the story for this day was on (4303) Private George William Stockham, 5th Battalion (Infantry), First World War.

Speech transcript

4303 Private George William Stockham, 5th Battalion
KIA 10 May 1917
Photograph: P03679.001

Story delivered 13 June 2013

Today, we remember and pay tribute to Private George William Stockham.

Will Stockham grew up in Adelaide but was living in Melbourne when he enlisted in September 1915. He joined the 5th Battalion AIF and arrived in France in April 1916.

Just five days into his active service on the Western Front, Stockham was wounded. Three of those days had been spent "in trenches under terrific artillery fire" preliminary to assaulting the German lines. But as his company left the trenches to enter the enemy trenches, Stockham was wounded by the blast from an artillery shell, which left a shrapnel pellet in his face and a shell splinter in his calf. Suffering from shock, he wandered around the battlefield for three hours before finding his way back to his own lines. His brother Syd, who was serving with the 27th Battalion, was able to meet him before he was taken away in a motor ambulance. Will told Syd that he had had enough of the war.

However, once Will had recovered from his wounds he returned to the front line less than two months later. His battalion spent the French winter holding parts of the front line, carrying out small raids and making repairs as required.

In the spring of 1917 Will Stockham was attached to the 2nd Australian Machine Gun Company from 5th Battalion for operations against the Hindenburg Line. On the night of 9 May his gun crew was helping to hold the line near Bullecourt when an artillery shell made a direct hit on his gun emplacement. It landed directly between Will and his sergeant, and while the sergeant was almost untouched, Will suffered severe head wounds. The sergeant gave him first aid before sending him to a nearby dressing station, but Will never regained consciousness and was buried in the field.

Syd Stockham recorded that he was "fairly staggered" by the news of his brother's death, and that it "took all the heart out of me". He, too, died in the service of his country the following year.

Their names are listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with around 60,000 others from the First World War, and Will Stockham's 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 George William Stockham, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in service of our nation.

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