The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (WX8989) Private Daniel Mannix Patrick Maslen, 2/28th Battalion, Second Australian Imperial Force, Second World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2021.1.1.81
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 22 March 2021
Access Open
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945
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 Gerard Pratt, the story for this day was on (WX8989) Private Daniel Mannix Patrick Maslen, 2/28th Battalion, Second Australian Imperial Force, Second World War.

Speech transcript

WX8989 Private Daniel Mannix Patrick Maslen, 2/28th Battalion, Second Australian Imperial Force
Died 17 August 1942

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Daniel Mannix Patrick Maslen.

Daniel Maslen was born on 24 December 1918 in Bunbury, Western Australia, the youngest son of Margaret and Edward Maslen. His father was a timber inspector, and later an accountant. Known as “Max” and “Macca” to his friends and family, he had three brothers – Will, Bob, and Phil – and two sisters – Mary and Win.

Maslen was working as a truck driver when he enlisted in the Second Australian Imperial Force on 25 October 1940, aged 22. He underwent months of training in Australia before embarking for overseas service on 5 July 1941. He arrived in the Middle East the following month, and in October was taken on strength by the 2/28th Battalion.

The 2/28th had recently been evacuated from Tobruk, and later moved to Syria and then Lebanon for rest, training, and garrison duties. By July 1942 the war in North Africa had become critical for the British. The Germans and Italians had reached El Alamein in Egypt, about 70 miles from Alexandria, and so the 9th Division was rushed to the front.

Just after midnight on 27 July, Maslen’s battalion attacked Ruin Ridge. Despite early progress, the operation was hampered by poor planning and lack of support, and the battalion was eventually surrounded by German forces. The commander had little choice but to surrender, and the Australians were rounded up and marched behind the German lines. Their path took them through the British artillery barrage, resulting in more casualties.

The 2/28th Battalion suffered heavily at Ruin Ridge. Sixty-five men from the battalion and its support units were killed or wounded, while nearly 500 were captured and became prisoners of war, including Private Maslen.

Three weeks later Maslen was one of more than 500 Australian and Commonwealth prisoners placed aboard the Italian cargo ship Nino Bixio at Benghazi, part of a larger convoy being escorted from the holding camps to Greece. The following day, on the afternoon of the 17th of August, the Nino Bixio was torpedoed by Allied forces. One torpedo struck the hold containing the prisoners, and all but 70 were drowned or died in the explosion. Among the dead was Daniel Maslen. He was 23 years old.

He was dearly missed by his family and friends, who placed in memoriam notices in the newspaper in the years after his death. One, written by his brother Bob, read: “Your sacrifice will be ever in our memories”.

Private Daniel Maslen has no known grave, and is commemorated on the El Alamein Memorial in Egypt. His name is also listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with some 40,000 others from the Second 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 Daniel Mannix Patrick Maslen, and all those Australians who have given their lives in service of our nation.

Christina Zissis
Editor, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (WX8989) Private Daniel Mannix Patrick Maslen, 2/28th Battalion, Second Australian Imperial Force, Second World War. (video)