The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (WX10426) Private Percival Eric Gratwick VC, 2/48th Battalion, 2nd AIF, Second World War

Accession Number PAFU2014/095.01
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 25 March 2014
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 Craig Berelle, the story for this day was on (WX10426) Private Percival Eric Gratwick VC, 2/48th Battalion, 2nd AIF, Second World War.

Speech transcript

WX10426 Private Percival Eric Gratwick VC, 2/48th Battalion, 2nd AIF
KIA 26 October 1942
Photograph: 100640

Story delivered 25 March 2014

Today we pay tribute to Private Percival Eric Gratwick, Second Australian Imperial Force, whose photograph is displayed today beside the Pool of Reflection.

Percival Eric Gratwick - known as Percy - was born on 19 October 1902 at Katanning, Western Australia. He was the fifth son of Ernest and Eva Mary. After Ernest's death in 1911, the Gratwick family battled hard to make ends meet. The young Percy attended numerous schools at Katanning, Boulder, and Perth.

Percy left school at the age of 16 and worked in a variety of jobs. At one time he was a messenger, and later learnt blacksmithing and droving at a station near Port Hedland. In the early 1930s he turned his hand to prospecting.

At the outbreak of the Second World War Percy arrived at a recruiting station to enlist in the Second Australian Imperial Force, but he was rejected because of a broken nose he had sustained years before. Disappointed, he spent a large sum of money to have his nose fixed and on his second attempt was accepted in December 1940 at the age of 38.

In July 1941 Gratwick embarked for overseas service and in September he joined the 2/48th Battalion and served in the siege at Tobruk.

Over 25 and 26 October 1942, during the decisive second battle of El Alamein, Gratwick's company suffered heavy casualties in an attack at Miteiriya Ridge and was held up by intense enemy fire; his platoon lost its commander, its sergeant, and most of the men. Seeing the seriousness of the situation, Gratwick launched a single-handed attack on the German posts with grenades, rifle, and bayonet. He finally fell to a burst of machine-gun fire. His lone efforts had a big impact, inspiring all those around him and enabling the company to advance. For his "unselfish courage, gallant and determined efforts" during this action Gratwick was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

Percy Gratwick was 40 years old when he died, and he is buried in the El Alamein Commonwealth War Cemetery. His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with around 40,000 Australians killed in the Second World War.

This is but one of the many stories of courage and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Private Percival Eric Gratwick, and all of those Australians - as well as our Allies and brothers in arms - who gave their lives during the Second World War.

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (WX10426) Private Percival Eric Gratwick VC, 2/48th Battalion, 2nd AIF, Second World War (video)