The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (NX23265) Private Harry Crowther, 2/20th Battalion, Second AIF, Second World War.

Accession Number PAFU2015/423.01
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 October 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 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 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 Meredith Duncan, the story for this day was on (NX23265) Private Harry Crowther, 2/20th Battalion, Second AIF, Second World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

NX23265 Private Harry Crowther, 2/20th Battalion, Second AIF
KIA 10 February 1942
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 13 October 2015

Today we remember and pay tribute to Harry Crowther.

Born in Durham, England, on 27 December 1921, Harry Crowther was the son of Annie and Osmond Crowther. Harry and his siblings – Norman, Violet, Edna, and Valerie – lost both parents at a young age, with Annie passing away in 1930 and Osmond dying in a mine accident in 1934.

Growing up in Reidtown in north Wollongong, New South Wales, Harry Crowther worked as a mine labourer before his enlistment alongside his brother, Norman, in the Second Australian Imperial Force on 19 May 1940. Being just 18 and under the enlistment age, Harry lied and stated that he was 20 years old. He was accepted, and both he and Norman were posted to the 2/20th Battalion of the 22nd Brigade, as part of the 8th Division.

In February 1941 the 22nd Brigade embarked for overseas service aboard the famous ocean-liner-cum troopship Queen Mary. Arriving in Singapore, the brigade joined the garrison forces in Malaya.

Following Japan’s entry into the war on 7/8 December 1941 the Malayan peninsula was invaded by Japanese forces. From mid-January 1942 the units of the 8th Division were involved in fierce fighting against the Japanese on the Malayan peninsula. By the beginning of February the British and Commonwealth forces had been pushed back to the island of Singapore, and on the night of 8/9 February the Japanese began landing. The 22nd Brigade bore the brunt of the enemy forces in north-western Singapore, and heavy casualties were inflicted upon either side.

It was at some point during this fighting, on 10 February 1942, that Harry was listed as missing, presumed killed.

Harry Crowther was one of almost 1,800 Australians killed in the month-long campaign in Malaya and Singapore, and one of almost 900 Australians killed in just one week of fighting on Singapore Island.

Reported missing in action, it would be some years before the Crowther family was informed officially of Harry’s death. During this time he was still listed as missing, and his family must have hoped that both Harry and Norman were alive as prisoners of war.

Norman, who was interned in Changi following the fall of Singapore on 15 February 1942, survived the war. During his imprisonment he was sent to Thailand to work on the forced construction of the Burma–Thailand Railway.

Harry’s body was never recovered. His name is listed on the Singapore Memorial at the Kranji War Cemetery, and here on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with the names of some 40,000 other Australians who died serving 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 Harry Crowther, and all of those Australians who gave their lives in the hope of a better world.

Dr Lachlan Grant
Historian, Military History Section

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