The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (PM2924) Able Seaman Charles William Barclay, HMAS Parramatta, Second World War.

Accession Number AWM2016.2.332
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 27 November 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 Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on (PM2924) Able Seaman Charles William Barclay, HMAS Parramatta, Second World War.

Speech transcript

PM2924 Able Seaman Charles William Barclay, HMAS Parramatta
KIA 27 November 1941
No photograph in collection

Today we remember and pay tribute to Able Seaman Charles William Barclay.

Charles Barclay was born on 29 November 1906 in Wedderburn, Victoria. He was one of three children of Charles and Edith Barclay and grew up in the suburb of Footscray in Melbourne. He worked at the Myers Department store in Bourke Street, and was an administrator for Footscray’s reserve Australian Rules football team on the side. In 1931 he married Olive Grant, and the following year the couple had a daughter, Aileen Beverley Barclay.

Charles Barclay enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy in August 1940 and undertook training at HMAS Cerberus and HMAS Kuttabul. After completing his training in 1941 he was posted to HMAS Parramatta (II), joining the sloop where it was serving in the Red Sea. Shortly afterwards the Parramatta was transferred to the Mediterranean.

In June 1941Parramatta and another sloop, HMS Auckland, escorted a small steamer carrying a cargo of petrol to the besieged force at Tobruk, Libya. As the convoy approached they were subjected to a number of determined attacks from German aircraft. Parramatta survived, and rescued the crew from HMS Auckland after the vessel was lost. The Parramatta continued to perform escort duties to and from Tobruk and Cyprus, and later in the year in the Suez Canal zone.

In November 1941 Parramatta escorted a slow convoy to Tobruk as the British Eighth Army began its long-planned offensive in Libya. Although attacked by air and sea, Parramatta was unscathed, and returned two days later escorting another convoy of much-needed ammunition. Just after midnight on 27 November 1941, Parramatta was struck by a single torpedo fired from the German submarine U559. The explosion from the torpedo is thought to have ignited the ship’s magazine, and with two explosions Parramatta rolled to starboard and, within minutes, sank beneath the surface.

Only those seamen on deck at the time of the blast were able to escape; the other 138 died in the sinking. One of those killed was Able Seaman Charles William Barclay. His body was never recovered, and today he is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial in England. He died two days before his 35th birthday.

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.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Able Seaman Charles William Barclay, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Dr Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (PM2924) Able Seaman Charles William Barclay, HMAS Parramatta, Second World War. (video)