The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (VX54751) Private Albert Samson Hooper, 2/21st Battalion, AIF, Second World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2017.1.198
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 July 2017
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
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 Charis May, the story for this day was on (VX54751) Private Albert Samson Hooper, 2/21st Battalion, AIF, Second World War.

Speech transcript

VX54751 Private Albert Samson Hooper, 2/21st Battalion, AIF
DOI 17 July 1945

Story delivered 17 July 2017

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Albert Samson Hooper.

Albert Hooper was born in March 1916, one of five children of Thomas and Edith Hooper of Tootool in the central east Riverina in New South Wales. After attending Tootool Public School, Hooper worked as a labourer on a wheat farm, and was later engaged in digging irrigation channels.

Hooper enlisted in the army in April 1941. His decision upset his parents and siblings, but he believed that at least one member of the family should go to the war and he, as the fittest, was willing to volunteer. After a period of training at Royal Park in Melbourne, Hooper was posted to the 2/21st Battalion, which was based in Darwin and had been earmarked to reinforce Dutch troops on the island of Ambon in the event of a Japanese attack. On 8 December 1941, Japan attacked British and American bases with near simultaneous offensives against south-east Asia and the central Pacific. Days later, Australian troops of the 2/21st sailed for Ambon to join elements of the 18th Anti-Tank Battery, the 2/11th Field Company, and the 2/12th Field Ambulance to form what became known as “Gull Force”. Once on Ambon, Hooper and the rest of the 2/21st Battalion faced a precarious position: transport was difficult, and rations and ammunition were limited. The combined Dutch and Australian force of 3,700 troops was overwhelmed when three battalions of Japanese marines began landing on Ambon on the night of 30 January 1942.

Private Hooper was among the surviving members of Gull Force that were forced to surrender to Japanese troops on 3 February. Imprisoned at their former barracks at Tan Tui, conditions were so harsh that 77 per cent of those imprisoned on Ambon did not survive the war. According to those who were with him, Hooper “enjoyed good health in the prisoner of war camp until the last year when he gradually weakened, like everybody else, on account of the shortage of food”. Despite suffering from tropical ulcers which wore down his physical condition over the following two years, Hooper “carried on by sheer spirit and determination long after his body was worn out”. He was admitted to the Tan Tui camp hospital on 15 July 1945 suffering from beriberi. He died three days later. Aged 29 at the time of his death, Hooper is buried at the Ambon War Cemetery.

After the war, some of Hooper’s mates who survived the ordeal on Ambon wrote to his parents to describe their son’s final moments and to reassure them that “death came to him as a happy release”. To them, “we knew him as a true and trusted friend and a gallant comrade … In a desperate place where every man lived for himself your son was honest to the end, took advantage of no man and always had consideration for others”. As consolation, they informed Hooper’s parents that the Ambon survivors all conveyed their sympathy “and pay their respects to Albert, a son of whom you may be justly proud and a mate on whom we could always depend. Believe me when I say he will never be forgotten by us”.

Hooper’s 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 Private Albert Samson Hooper, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Aaron Pegram
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (VX54751) Private Albert Samson Hooper, 2/21st Battalion, AIF, Second World War. (video)