Recently we visited the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, which we both thoroughly enjoyed, it had been many years since our last visit so we were keen to get back there, there is so much history, you could literally spend a whole day walking around and reading everything. But this visit was different to previous ones as we experienced something we had never experienced before, we went to the Last Post Ceremony.
Neither of us knew about this until a guide at the information centre mentioned it to us, but we were definitely interested so we booked our tickets. The Last Post Ceremony is held daily in the Commemorative Courtyard at 4.45pm. You can be involved in this moving ceremony, where every night they share the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour.
We expected this to be a moving and emotional experience, but the tears started much earlier than expected, in fact before the ceremony even started! Whilst we were waiting for the ceremony to start we were speaking with one of the staff members and she told us a little about the story we were going to hear. She said that it was a special one as the family, including the deceased’s only child, was in attendance and would be watching and laying wreaths. The deceased’s 101 year old widow was also going to be watching the live stream online from home.
The ceremony started with the national anthem and was followed by a lament on the bagpipes whilst family and visitors laid wreaths. Next we were told the story of Flight Sergeant John McAulay Morrison, born in 1918 in Lismore, NSW. John applied to join the Royal Australian Airforce in April 1940 at the age of 22. He also had 5 brothers and all served during the second World War. In May 1940 John married and later welcomed a daughter. John was called up and enlisted in the air force in September 1940 as a pilot. Unfortunately, like so many others, Flight Sergeant John McAulay Morrison never made it home to his family and on 28 June 1942, at the age of 24, he was killed when the Kittyhawk he was flying crashed. His remains are buried in Grafton Cemetery.
Lastly, the ceremony ended with a reading of the Ode by Defence Force personnel and the sounding of The Last Post.
To watch a replay of this live stream, click here – https://www.facebook.com/AWMemorial/videos/808828923353086
To read about John McAulay Morrison, click here – https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/R1719540
This was a great experience and definitely one to do on your next trip to Canberra. It’s emotional and interesting and a great way to pay your respects to those who gave their all for us to live the life we do today.
To attend this ceremony you must have a ticket which you can arrange via their website, but there is no cost involved. The tickets allow you entry from 4.20pm and you can walk around the Commemorative Courtyard, the Pool of Reflection, the Roll of Honour halls and the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier (also amazing and something which we had never seen before). The service is streamed live every night on YouTube and Facebook and into RSL clubs.