The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (NX122705) Private Ross Davis, 2/3rd Battalion, Second AIF, Second World War.

Place Oceania: New Guinea, Aitape
Accession Number AWM2016.2.172
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 20 June 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 Charis May, the story for this day was on (NX122705) Private Ross Davis, 2/3rd Battalion, Second AIF, Second World War.

Speech transcript

NX122705 Private Ross Davis, 2/3rd Battalion, Second AIF
Drowned 27 January 1945
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 20 June 2016

Today we pay tribute to Private Ross Davis, who was killed on active service during the Second World War.

Born on 31 December 1920 in Cumnock, New South Wales, Ross Davis was the son of Lawson William George Davis and Ruth Davis. Before enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force on 3 November 1941, Ross Davis worked as a station hand and wool presser in Orange, New South Wales. He trained with the 54th Battalion until July 1944 when he was posted to the 2/3rd Battalion.

At this time the battalion was in the midst of a long period of training in northern Queensland. Davis was joining a battalion that had served with distinction at Bardia and Tobruk, in Greece and Syria, and at Kokoda and in the Papuan beachhead battles of 1942 and 1943.

In October 1944 the 6th Division was sent to the north coast of New Guinea to destroy the Japanese forces remaining in the Aitape–Wewak area. For several days in January 1945 torrential rain caused severe flooding to Danmap River. Rising floodwaters washed away bridges, boulders, and trees. On the night of 26 January the machine-gun platoon in which Private Davis was a member found itself isolated on a newly formed island. That night the river rose six metres above its banks, and the men of Davis’ platoon clambered up in to the treetops as the high ground was consumed by the flood.

Platoon Commander Lieutenant G.H. Fearnside, a veteran of Tobruk and El Alamein, found this night the most terrifying experience of his life. He later recalled:
"Some were killed outright in that mad onslaught of frenzied water and green timber; others were swirled beneath the press of timber and drowned; others were knocked unconscious and their bodies snatched and sent racing downstream, turning over and over, like otters."

The following day the survivors made their way to the safety of the banks gathered in the battalion area. Seven men of the machine-gun company failed to report, having drowned in the floodwaters. One of the seven was Private Davis. He was 24 years old.

His name is listed on the Lae Memorial in the Commonwealth War Cemetery in Lae, Papua New Guinea, and here on the Roll of Honour on my left, among some 40,000 other Australians who died while 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 Ross Davis, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

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