The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (NX23486) Sergeant Maurice William Carroll, 2/3rd Battalion, Second Australian Imperial Force, Second World War.
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 (NX23486) Sergeant Maurice William Carroll, 2/3rd Battalion, Second Australian Imperial Force, Second World War.
NX23486 Sergeant Maurice William Carroll, 2/3rd Battalion, Second Australian Imperial Force
Drowned 27 January 1945
Story delivered 27 October 2017
Today we pay tribute to Sergeant Maurice William Carroll.
Maurice Carroll was born on 15 June 1914 in Sydney to William and Belinda Carroll.
Married to Claire Lillian Carroll, Maurice lived in Enfield and worked as an assistant manager. In June 1940, he enlisted in the Second Australian Imperial Force and was posted to the 2/3rd Battalion, which was training in the Middle East.
The 2/3rd Battalion took part in Australia’s first campaign of the war in January 1941 when it was involved in the attack on Bardia and Tobruk in Libya.
In March, the battalion left Libya with the rest of the 6th Division. In Greece it took part in the disastrous Allied campaign in the face of a swift German advance. Evacuated in late April, the battalion returned to Palestine. In June and July, the 2/3rd took part in the campaign in Syria and Lebanon and then remained in Syria as part of the garrison force until January 1942.
Following Japan’s entry into the war in early December 1941, the 2/3rd left the Middle East in March 1942, and before returning to Australia spent several months as part of the garrison forces on Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka).
The 2/3rd Battalion first went into action against the Japanese along the Kokoda Trail, and participated in the beachhead battles. It fought major engagements at Eora Creek in October, Oivi in November, and on the Sanananda Track in November and December.
The battalion then spent 1943 and 1944 training in northern Queensland. 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.
In late January torrential rain caused severe flooding to the Danmap River, washing away bridges, boulders, and trees. On the night of 26 January the Sergeant Carroll’s machine-gun platoon found itself on a newly formed island in the floodwaters. When the river rose six meters above its banks the men clambered to what high ground they could find, and then into the treetops.
The platoon commander, Lieutenant G.H. Fearnside, a veteran of Tobruk and El Alamein, found this night the most terrifying experience of his life. He recounted that:
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 survivors who made it to the safety of the banks gathered in the battalion area. Seven men failed to report, one of whom was Sergeant Carroll.
Maurice Carroll was 30 years old. His body was recovered and buried in the Commonwealth War Cemetery at Lae in Papua New Guinea.
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 Sergeant Maurice William Carroll, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.
Historian, Military History Section
Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (NX23486) Sergeant Maurice William Carroll, 2/3rd Battalion, Second Australian Imperial Force, Second World War. (video)