The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (218006) Temporary Corporal Henry Edward Suttor, 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, Vietnam.

Places
Accession Number AWM2016.2.77
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 17 March 2016
Access Open
Conflict Vietnam, 1962-1975
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 Gerard Pratt, the story for this day was on (218006) Temporary Corporal Henry Edward Suttor, 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, Vietnam.

Speech transcript

218006 Temporary Corporal Henry Edward Suttor, 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment
KIA 16 November 1969
Photograph: P04644.001 – portrait provided by 5RAR C Company Association

Story delivered 17 March 2016

Today we remember and pay tribute to Temporary Corporal Henry Edward Suttor.

Henry Edward Suttor was born on 13 April 1943 in Mudgee, New South Wales, to Hubert Kumis “Kim” Suttor and Marilyn Sarah “Madge” Suttor. He was the second of three children. Suttor’s parents separated when he was young, and he went to live with his father.

As part of a longstanding family tradition, Suttor attended King’s School at Parramatta, and boarded there throughout his formative years. He was a member of the “first eight” rowing team, and was a champion rifle shot and a member of the school cadets, attaining the rank of sergeant.

After school Suttor indulged his love for horses and the land and went jackerooing. A little over a year later he had moved to Orange, where he began his own business operating heavy earth-moving equipment. It was here that he met Suzanne Murray, the daughter of a local businessman. They began a relationship and were married in the years after.

Suttor’s business went bankrupt in 1965, owing mainly to larger companies in the region not paying their bills on time. He and Suzanne moved to Sydney to live with Suttor’s mother on Garden Island, and Suttor applied to join the Australian Regular Army. For him it was a way to earn a steady income and pay back his creditors. He enlisted in Sydney on 15 November 1967 for a six-year term.

Along with other recruits, Suttor was sent to Kapooka for basic training, and at the end of the course he was named as the best recruit. He qualified as a rifleman in May 1968 and was posted to the 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, where he joined 9 Platoon, C Company. He was promoted to lance corporal the same day.

The battalion spent much of 1968 training for its deployment to Vietnam, and Suttor, with his work ethic and easygoing manner, became a highly regarded member of his company and the wider battalion. He was marked out by his superiors as having good leadership potential, and was described as an “enthusiastic and reliable soldier” with “definite NCO potential”.

The 5th Battalion arrived in Vietnam in February 1969 and began operations shortly after. Suttor’s leadership in combat stood out and he was promoted to temporary corporal in May. However, the onset of the monsoon season meant that his glasses kept fogging up in the humid jungle, and he had to be temporarily reassigned.

In April Suzanne Suttor gave birth to a daughter, Sarah, and Suttor flew home in July to attend her christening. After returning to Vietnam, Suttor requested a transfer back to C Company.

In October 5RAR relieved 9RAR in the Hat Ditch area and commenced Operation Kings Cross, a reconnaissance and ambush operation. Over the next two weeks the Australians were in regular enemy contact and encountered numerous bunker systems. On the morning of 16 November Suttor’s platoon was following up signs of an enemy bunker when it came under heavy fire.

The platoon began to assault the bunkers, but was forced to ground by the weight of enemy fire. Despite this, Suttor crawled to an outlying bunker and called back that he “was going to grenade it”.

He pulled the pin from one of his grenades but, as he raised himself to throw, was shot twice in the chest. As he fell Suttor released the grenade, which detonated, killing him instantly.

Two other men were wounded during the action and Centurion tanks provided cover as members of 9 Platoon recovered Suttor’s body. His remains were returned to Australia and he was cremated with Church of England rites at Cano bolas Gardens Crematorium in Orange.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, among some 40,000 Australians who died while serving in the Second World War. His photograph is displayed today beside the Pool of Reflection.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Temporary Corporal Henry Edward Suttor, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Michael Kelly
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (218006) Temporary Corporal Henry Edward Suttor, 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, Vietnam. (video)