The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (VX43909) Sergeant Albert James Potts, Z Special Unit, AIF, Second World War

Place Oceania: Australia, Queensland
Accession Number PAFU2014/249.01
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 27 July 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 Dennis Stockman, the story for this day was on (VX43909) Sergeant Albert James Potts, Z Special Unit, AIF, Second World War.

Speech transcript

VX43909 Sergeant Albert James Potts, Z Special Unit, AIF
DOW 6 July 1944.
Photograph: P08363.003

Story delivered 27 July 2014

Today we remember and pay tribute to Albert James Potts. His photograph is displayed today beside the Pool of Reflection.

Albert James Potts was born in the Melbourne suburb of Hawthorn on 6 May 1940. The son of James and Violet Potts, young Albert worked as a carpenter before enlisting in the Second Australian Imperial Force on 22 June 1940.

Joining the 2/9th Field Ambulance, Potts undertook training at Seymour, Victoria, before embarking for overseas service in February 1941. He joined other members of the 8th Australian Division aboard the famous passenger liner Queen Mary, bound for Singapore.

After several months stationed in Malaya, Potts volunteered for a secretive special unit. He was one of 47 Australians – dubbed “Tulip Force” – who would join another 250 British troops in the 204 British Military Mission to China.

Tulip Force left Malaya for the Bush Warfare School in Burma, where they undertook a period of intense training in guerrilla warfare. From here they journeyed up the Burma Road in December 1941 and into China, where they were to train Nationalist Chinese forces in support of their war against Japan. The convoy travelled 3,400 kilometres in 25 days before arriving at its training camp at Kiyang.

Shortly after setting off on this long journey, the truck in which Potts was passenger overturned on a corner. It had been carrying two tonnes of high explosives. Much to the relief of his colleagues the explosives did not detonate, and Potts calmly emerged from the upturned vehicle, keen to continue the journey.

Once in China, the Australian and British troops found themselves isolated. They received no mail or newspapers for six months and could not make radio contact, and many began suffering from disease.

One evening whilst posted on guard duty, Potts passed the time by shooting the half-wild dogs that lived around the area. However, on one instance he was too quick on the draw and accidently shot himself in the leg. Because of his wound he spent the next few months in hospital. Before long he would be back in hospital with sickness.

After many idle months, the 204 Mission was recalled in October 1942 and the men of Tulip Force retraced their journey back along the Burma Road to Kunming, from where they flew to India and back to Australia in December 1942.

Suffering from malaria, Potts spent many months convalescing in Australia, and later commenced training with the 1st Australian Cavalry (Commando) Squadron. He would continue to be hampered by bouts of malaria.

In April 1944, Potts was selected for special duties with Z Special Unit. On 6 July 1944, while training on Fraser Island, Queensland, Potts was accidently shot through the head. He died of his injuries. He was just 24 years old.

Potts is buried in the Maryborough War Cemetery in Queensland. His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with some 40,000 others killed in the Second World War.

This is but one of the many stories of honour, courage, and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Albert James Potts, and all of those Australians who gave their lives in service of their nation.

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (VX43909) Sergeant Albert James Potts, Z Special Unit, AIF, Second World War (video)