The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (342916) Private Michael Damien Poole, 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (RA INF Spec List Bandsmen), Vietnam

Accession Number PAFU/908.01
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 21 May 2013
Access Open
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copyright restrictions apply. Only personal, non-commercial, research and study use permitted. Permission of copyright holder required for any commercial use and/or reproduction.

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. The story for this day was on (342916) Private Michael Damien Poole, 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (RA INF Spec List Bandsmen), Vietnam.

Note: There is no recording of this event

Speech transcript

342916 Pte Michael Damien Poole, 5th Battalion RAR
KIA 21 February 1967
No photograph in collection.

Story delivered 21 May 2013

Today, we remember and pay tribute to Private Michael Damien Poole.

Mick Poole was a member of the 5th Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment. The battalion arrived in Vietnam in 1966 and as part of the 1st Australian Task Force was stationed at Nui Dat in the Phuoc Tuy province. In late February 1967 they began Operation Renmark, a search-and-destroy operation to remove Viet Cong strongholds from the Long Hai Hills. The roads and approaches into this area had been extensively mined and booby-trapped by the Viet Cong and, although subjected to artillery fire and air strikes, had not seen an infantry operation against it since June 1966.

Armoured personnel carriers took Australian troops through the dangerous area, where they identified camps, ammunition dumps, food stores, tunnels, and mines of the enemy. On the early afternoon of the 21st of February B Company was changing to a new search area to the south. The official history describes them rumbling along "in a long line of APCs beside a track in the foothills, two kilometres from the sea"1 when suddenly a huge explosion hurled the lead carrier, in which Mick Poole was riding, into a backwards somersault. It had hit an enemy mine on the track.

Captain Tony White, the medical officer of 5RAR described the scene:
Ten metres away the APC lay on its side. Its back door had been blown off and nearby lay what at first glance seemed to be a pile of discarded uniforms, blackened and dusty. Getting closer I realised that the heap was composed of dead and wounded soldiers. In amongst the carnage, I came across the body of Mick Poole. He had just turned 20 and was a favourite with village kids because of his cheeky good humour. He played the tenor horn in the battalion band. On patrol, bandsmen acted as stretcher-bearers and provided first aid. I caught up with the B company medic, and three more stretcher-bearers, all dazed and wounded but getting on with tackling what lay at hand.

Seven Australian soldiers died in the incident and 28 were wounded, two of whom later died of their wounds. Mick Poole was just twenty years old.

Many years after the event, Private Ross Wood from 5RAR recalled this terrible incident:
There was a lot of sadness as we all knew our mates who had been hit, and the deathly silence in the company position as that last Iroquois with the bodies on board flew slowly [away]... seemed to last forever.

Mick Poole's name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with around more than 500 others from the Vietnam War.

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