If you’re posted to the ACT region the Australian War Memorial needs your help.
Over recent years the AWM has adopted a new closing ceremony called ‘the Last Post Ceremony’. This ceremony occurs at closing time every day of the year (closed Christmas Day) and involves the playing of the National Anthem, the reading of a personal story of a selected soldier, sailor or airman whose name appears on the Gallery of Remembrance. An opportunity is presented for surviving relatives and friends to lay wreaths at the Pool of Remembrance while the ‘Pipers Lament’ is sounded.
At the completion of the reading the Ode is recited to assembled staff and visitors, the sounding of the Last Post and then closing of the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier.
CDF has authorised ADF support to the AWM Last Post Ceremony by the participation of uniformed ADF personnel. This is a voluntary activity and all members of the ADF are encouraged to participate.
Recently I volunteered to participate in the activity and I can say that it was one of the proudest moments of my life. Albeit rather nerve-wracking being my first time and not fully appraised on what to expect but nonetheless an activity I fully intend to volunteer my free time at every opportunity well into the future.
On this occasion I was surprised to learn the day marked the 73rd anniversary of the sinking of the Hospital Ship ‘Centaur’ by a Japanese submarine off the Queensland coast during WW2. This was particularly poignant to me as one of the nurses who survived the tragedy was a teacher to my mother before the war.
Being ‘wired for sound’, and all eyes on me I read the story of QX23875 PTE Frederick John Lynagh, 2/12 Field Ambulance, AAMC who sadly lost his life.
To make the experience even more interesting I then proceed up the stairs to the front of the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier and proceeded to recite the Ode. At its completion I about turned and marched inside the Tomb with the Piper and Bugler with the doors closing behind us.
Shaking like a leaf in a Tropical Cyclone I was glad the ceremony was over, but overwhelmed by a sense of pride.
One of the organisers of the event commented to me that the Last Post Ceremony will be conducted for every single name on the Gallery of Remembrance – a project that will take 330 years to complete.
So, if you’re posted to the ACT region or even visiting on Course or pleasure the AWM really needs your help. The activity only takes 15 minutes and you’re left with a memory that will last a lifetime.
There is a roster for Army, Navy and Airforce members at specific days, usually coinciding with an anniversary where members of those services lost their lives. The reading is appropriately conducted by a member representing that service the anniversary of the deceased applies.
Points of contact are:
Navy: Email: HARMANAWMLastPostCeremony@defence.gov.au
Army: Email: ArmyLast.PostReader@defence.gov.au or phone 02 6265 1888
Airforce: Email: AFHQ WOD or phone 02 6265 1084
Andrew Douglas is a long-suffering Aussie Digger who, after many hours of sitting in a pit with a notebook and pen writing his woes, has turned his hand to writing for leisure and entertainment in the comfort of his lounge room. He and his partner, Sonia, live in a 100-year-old home in southern NSW, where Andrew uses his home-repair skills to make improvements, such as being able to flush the toilet by turning on the garden tap.