Musician’s touching tribute

More than 105 years after his death, the name and legacy of Private No. 5104 Matthew Tubman lives on.

CAPTION: Able Seaman Mathew Tubman kneels at the grave of his relative, Private Mathew Tubman, at the Bonjean Military Cemetery in Lille, France. Story by Captain Sarah Kelly. Photo by Corporal John Solomon.

Able Seaman Matthew Tubman, a musician posted to the RAN Band, visited Bonjean Cemetery in France to pay his respects to his father’s great-uncle.

Private Tubman left Australia on board HMAT Ajana in July 1916 and reached Plymouth on August 31.

Originally posted to the 20th Battalion, he joined the 36th Battalion in late September 1916 and proceeded to France on November 22 that year.

Private Tubman was killed in action on January 22, 1917.

During Able Seaman Tubman’s visit to his relative’s grave, he was asked if he wanted to say a few words.

His response was simple: “I don’t need to say anything, I’ll let my music say it all”.

As the sun shone on the Private Tubman’s headstone, his great-nephew, once removed, stood at attention and, on the hour, sounded the Last Post.

It was a very special moment for Able Seaman Tubman.

“It has been an honour and privilege to pay my respects to my ancestor, but also acknowledge and commemorate the sacrifice of all servicemen and women,” he said.

“I am proud to be an Australian service member and I look forward playing my role on Anzac Day.”

On Anzac Day, he will perform with the RAN Band at the Anzac Day dawn service in France, to be held at the Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux.

This will likely be Able Seaman Tubman’s last official international engagement as a musician with the band as he will be commissioned later this year.





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