The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (S/7260) Able Seaman Norman William Andersen, HMAS Australia (II), Second World War.

Place Asia: Philippines, Luzon, Lingayen Gulf
Accession Number AWM2016.2.6
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 6 January 2016
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 Troy Clayton, the story for this day was on (S/7260) Able Seaman Norman William Andersen, HMAS Australia (II), Second World War.

Speech transcript

S/7260 Able Seaman Norman William Andersen, HMAS Australia (II)
KIA 6 January 1945
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 6 January 2016

Today we remember Able Seaman Norman William Andersen and those members of HMAS Australia (II) who were killed in 1945 while fighting to liberate the Philippines from Japanese occupation.

Norman Andersen was born on 2 June 1925 in Undercliffe in south-western Sydney, the youngest son of Rasmus and Hilda Andersen. Of Danish ancestry, the couple had four children – three sons and a daughter. All three sons would serve in the forces during the Second World War, with the eldest two serving in the army.

When the Second World War broke out Norman Andersen was an apprentice lino mechanic. He enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy on 19 October 1942, aged 17.

Andersen was posted as an ordinary seaman to HMAS Cerberus, the navy’s training establishment on Western Port Bay in Victoria. In mid-March 1943 he was posted to the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia (II), which was carrying out patrolling duties in Australian waters.

Commissioned into the RAN in 1928, Australia was a Country-class heavy cruiser originally armed with eight 8-inch guns, four 4-inch guns, and four 2-pounder pom-poms. Along with RAN cruisers, destroyers and other vessels, it formed the Australian Squadron that operated closely with the United States Navy as the joint Australian–American Task Force 74.

From November 1943 HMAS Australia and the task force began supporting American forces in a series of amphibious operations against Japanese territory in New Georgia, New Britain, and New Guinea. In January–February 1944 it underwent an eight-week refit before rendezvousing with the task force for another series of American landings in western New Guinea. At about the same time, in mid-April, Andersen was promoted to able seaman. In May the Australian task force provided fire support for the battle of Wakde Island, and the invasion of Noemfoor Island in western New Guinea in July.

By mid-1944 the Allies were preparing to return to the Philippines, and on 20 October American forces amphibious landed on Leyte Island. The next major phase of the campaign, beginning on 9 January 1945, was the invasion of Luzon Island in the Lingayen Gulf.

The Japanese fiercely opposed every phase of MacArthur’s offensive. During the battle of Leyte Gulf, HMAS Australia was hit by a Japanese suicide aircraft, killing 30 officers and ratings. In January 1945 the ship was again in the thick of the action, in the battle of Lingayen Gulf. The heavy cruiser was hit five times over five days, killing another 44 men in total.

At about 5.45 pm on 6 January, a Japanese Val dive-bomber crashed into Australia on the starboard side and exploded in a fireball. Fourteen men were killed, including Able Seaman Andersen. He was 19 years old.

Both of the Andersen’s other two serving sons survived the war.

Norman Andersen is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial in Britain. His name is also listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with some 40,000 others from 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 Able Seaman Norman William Andersen and all of those Australians who have given their lives in service of our nation.

Dr Karl James
Historian, Military History Section

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