The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (23807) Stoker Jack Edmund Numan, HMAS Kuttabul, Second World War

Place Oceania: Australia, New South Wales, Sydney, Sydney Harbour
Accession Number PAFU2015/207.01
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 31 May 2015
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

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 Michael Kelly, the story for this day was on (23807) Stoker Jack Edmund Numan, HMAS Kuttabul, Second World War.

Speech transcript

23807 Stoker Jack Edmund Numan, HMAS Kuttabul
KIA 4 1 June 1942
No photograph in collection

Today we remember and pay tribute to Stoker Jack Edmund Numan.

Jack Numan was born on 27 June 1922 to Sarah and Edmund Numan of Brisbane, Queensland. Jack’s father died when he was four years old, and when he was eight his mother married Vincent Jeffs, who raised Jack as his own. Jack grew up in Margate, and attended the Woody Point State School. Following his education, he became a plasterer’s apprentice with the Stucoid Modelling Company of Brisbane.

Numan enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy on 8 December 1939. After a period of training at HMAS Cerberus near Melbourne, he was posted to HMAS Australia. Numan was on Australia during deployment on convoy escort duties between Australia and Africa. Later the heavy cruiser participated in Operation Menace, patrolling off Dakar in French West Africa as a part of the wider aim to install a Free French force in northern Africa and evict the Vichy French from Dakar.

In December 1941 Numan was sent home to Australia for medical attention. As a result he was placed on light duties at the Garden Island naval base in Sydney Harbour for a few months. He was billeted aboard HMAS Kuttabul, a harbour ferry that had been requisitioned by the Royal Australian Navy to provide accommodation for men working on Garden Island.

On the evening of 31 May 1942, three Japanese midget submarines entered Sydney Harbour. Shortly after midnight, one of the Japanese submarines fired two torpedoes at USS Chicago, an American heavy cruiser moored near Garden Island. Both torpedoes missed the cruiser. One ran aground and failed to explode, but the second torpedo exploded against the sea wall near Kuttabul. The ferry broke in two in the explosion, and quickly sank, leaving just the uppermost deck exposed. Nineteen men from the Royal Australian Navy and two from the British Navy were killed as a result.

One of those men was Stoker Jack Numan. His body was recovered almost immediately after the attack.

His family later wrote that Jack had “a face we will always remember … [and] a voice we love to recall”. On the fourth anniversary of his death, the family placed a notice in the paper in memory of their son, stepson and brother. It read:

A cheerful smile, a heart of gold,
The dearest friend the world could hold.
A beautiful life full of kindly deeds
A helping hand to all in need
Always sincere in heart and mind
What a beautiful memory to leave behind.

Stoker Jack Numan was buried with five of his comrades with full honours in Rookwood Cemetery. He died only weeks short of his 20th birthday.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with some 40,000 Australians who died during 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 Stoker Jack Edmund Numan, and all those Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation.

Dr Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (23807) Stoker Jack Edmund Numan, HMAS Kuttabul, Second World War (video)