The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (VX138246) Private Charles Mann, 14th/32nd Battalion, Second World War.

Place Oceania: New Guinea, Bismarck Archipelago, New Britain, Gazelle Peninsula
Accession Number AWM2016.2.52
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 21 February 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 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 Charis May, the story for this day was on (VX138246) Private Charles Mann, 14th/32nd Battalion, Second World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

VX138246 Private Charles Mann, 14th/32nd Battalion
KIA 16 March 1945
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 21 February 2016

Today we remember Private Charles Mann, who was killed in action while serving on New Britain during the Second World War.

Charles Mann was born on 10 June 1912 in Prahran, Melbourne, the son of Charles and Mary Mann. Before the war he worked as a labourer for Carlton & United Breweries. In March 1941 the 28 year old was called for 90 days’ service in the Militia. His first full day in the army began in May when he was posted to the 14th Battalion.

In the days following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and the start of the Pacific war in December 1941, Mann was called up for full-time service with the 14th Battalion, part of the force deployed to defend Port Phillip Bay. In August 1942 the battalion moved to Western Australia. In September it merged with the Militia’s 32nd Battalion to become the 14th/32nd Battalion.

In February 1943 the 14th/32nd underwent amphibious landing and jungle warfare training on the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland. Mann volunteered for the Australian Imperial Force two months later. In July the battalion embarked for the islands, and after reaching Port Moresby was flown across to the Buna–Gona area. Mann’s battalion spent more than a year in garrison duties and 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 given the task of relieving the Americans garrisoning New Britain, a large island north of New Guinea. Rather than carry out a major offensive against the Japanese on the island, the 5th Division would concentrate on confining the much larger Japanese force to Rabaul and the Gazelle Peninsula.

In November the 14th/32nd Battalion landed at Jacquinot Bay, from where the 6th Brigade 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 this feature within days. This was the final major engagement of the New Britain campaign and the battalion’s first and last battle. 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 Charles Mann, who was killed in action on the first day. He was 32 years old.

Mann is buried in the Rabaul (Bita Paka) War Cemetery on New Britain. His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with 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 Charles Mann, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Dr Karl James
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (VX138246) Private Charles Mann, 14th/32nd Battalion, Second World War. (video)