The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3787607) Private Colin Joseph Whiston, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, Vietnam War

Accession Number PAFU/828.01
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 24 May 2013
Access Open
Conflict Vietnam, 1962-1975
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 Craig Berelle the story for this day was on (3787607) Private Colin Joseph Whiston, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, Vietnam War.

Speech transcript

Last Post Closing Ceremony

Private Colin Whiston
Roll of Honour no: Vietnam Panel 5
Date of death: 18/8/66


Today, we remember and pay tribute to Private Colin Joseph Whiston of D Company, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment.

Colin Whiston was born in Annandale, in the inner west of Sydney, to Ruby and Thomas Whiston, on May 8th 1945. In January 1965, Colin was a working as a postman when he registered for the National Service Ballot, compulsory for all 20-year-old males. He was also very much in love with girlfriend Barbara. So much so, they had become engaged.

However, whatever plans Colin and Barbara had, were put aside, when Colin’s birth date came up in the first National Service Ballot in March 1965. As part of Colin’s full-time service in the regular army Colin was sent, like others, to perform combat duties in Vietnam.

He first arrived in Vietnam, in June 1966, soon to be posted to D Company, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. Thoughts of Barbara were never far away. Colin was based at Nui Dat camp which was regularly bombarded with noise from planes and helicopters, and artillery and mortars, used in operations close by. Tropical insects and snakes were an ever present threat.

But it wasn’t all bad.

Under the shade of rubber trees, soldiers made chairs and tables for their tents from artillery boxes and had stereo equipment to play their music. There were also concerts and movies. But the best thing was receiving news from home. Colin wrote back to Barbara, sending her his metal ‘Australia’ badges from his dress uniform as a “souvenir of their love”. Colin loved Barbara all the more for writing to his Mum. He wrote that it “would help” his Mum “a lot” to receive a letter from Barbara.

On the 18th August at 11am, the men of D company were sent out to patrol the area east of Nui Dat. Viet Cong had bombarded the base the previous day. B Company had been unable to locate any Viet Cong overnight and into the morning. Consequently the soldiers of D Company were ‘“not real happy” pushing through tall grass’ instead of being at the Little Pattie and Col Joye concert they could hear in the distance .

D Company entered the Long Tan rubber plantation at 3pm. Their first contact with enemy fire suggested a local guerrilla force, but by 3.40pm it was clear D Company were facing a main force regiment. There was a torrential downpour and a group of soldiers were almost surrounded, and pinned down by heavy grenade and automatic weapons fire. Colin was killed while lying in his firing position, facing the Viet Cong forces. It was estimated that 108 men of D Company had originally opposed an enemy force of at least 1500 and had finally driven them off with the assistance of a relief company, some 4 hours later.

When the battle ended, the rain stopped.

Over the years Barbara continued to treasure the shoulder titles Colin had sent her, as a “keepsake to his memory”. Colin is buried at Crib Point Cemetery and is commemorated at the Garden of Remembrance in Victoria.

Private Colin Whiston’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with 520 others from the Vietnam War, and his photograph is displayed today beside the Pool of Reflection.

This is one of the many stories of courage and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Private Colin Joseph Whiston, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in service of our nation.

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3787607) Private Colin Joseph Whiston, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, Vietnam War (video)