The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (VX142017) Private David Murdock, 14th/32nd Battalion, Second World War.

Places
Accession Number PAFU2015/383.01
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 13 September 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
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 Joanne Smedley, the story for this day was on (VX142017) Private David Murdock, 14th/32nd Battalion, Second World War.

Speech transcript

VX142017 Private David Murdock, 14th/32nd Battalion
KIA 17 March 1945
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 13 September 2015

Today we remember Private David Murdock, who was killed in action while serving in the 14th/32nd Battalion on New Britain during the Second World War.

David ”Mick” Murdock was born on 13 January 1923 in Carlton, Melbourne, the only son of James and Elizabeth Murdock. Before the war he worked as a French polisher and lived with his mother in Altona, his father having died. Two months before the start of the war in the Pacific the 18 year old was called for service in the Militia in October 1941. His first full day in the army began in early January 1942. After his initial training, Murdock was posted to the 14th Battalion in February.

Raised in Prahran during the Great War, the 14th Battalion drew in recruits from south and south-west Melbourne. During the interwar period the battalion was known as the “Prahran Regiment”.

The 14th Battalion was part of the force deployed in defensive duties around Port Phillip Bay. It was sent to the Bellarine Peninsula and spread out between Grovedale and Mount Duneed. In August 1942 the battalion moved to Western Australia, where it joined the 6th Brigade around Geraldton. The following month it merged with the Militia’s 32nd Battalion to become the 14th/32nd Battalion.

In February 1943 the 14th/32nd Battalion underwent amphibious landing and jungle warfare training on the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland. Murdock volunteered for the Australian Imperial Force two months later, and in July embarked with his battalion for the islands. After reaching Port Moresby it was flown across to the Buna–Gona area, and spent more than a year in garrison duties, carrying out long-range coastal patrols along Papua’s north coast.

In late 1944 the 14th/32nd Battalion and the 6th Brigade, as part of the Militia’s 5th Division, were relieving the Americans garrisoning New Britain. Rather than carry out a major offensive against the Japanese on the island, as Australian forces would do in New Guinea and Bougainville, the 5th Division would concentrate on confining the much larger Japanese force to Rabaul and the Gazelle Peninsula.

In November the 6th Brigade landed at Jacquinot Bay and pushed up the coast by barge and on foot. By mid-March 1945 the brigade’s lead battalion had reached a feature dubbed “Bacon Hill”, the main Japanese defensive line in the Waitavalo–Tol Plantation area. This region had been the scene of a Japanese massacre of Australians earlier in the war.

From 16 to 20 March the 14th/32nd Battalion fought to secure the area. Though the Japanese were well entrenched on Bacon Hill, the battalion captured it within days. The Australians established a line across the neck of the Gazelle Peninsula, which they held and patrolled for the rest of the war.

In five days of fighting, the 14th/32nd Battalion suffered 57 killed and wounded, including Private David Murdock, who was killed in action on 17 March. He was 22 years old.

Murdock is buried in the Rabaul (Bita Paka) War Cemetery on New Britain. His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, among some 40,000 Australians killed in 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 Private David Murdock, and all those Australians who gave their lives during the Second World War.

Dr Karl James
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (VX142017) Private David Murdock, 14th/32nd Battalion, Second World War. (video)