The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (VX142017) Private David Murdock, 14th/32nd Battalion, Second World War.

Accession Number AWM2017.1.343
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 09 December 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

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 (VX142017) Private David Murdock, 14th/32nd Battalion, Second World War.

Speech transcript

VX142017 Private David Murdock, 14th/32nd Battalion
KIA 17 March 1945

Story delivered 9 December 2017

Today we remember Private David Murdock.

David Murdock was born on 13 January 1923 in the Melbourne suburb of Carlton, the only son of James and Elizabeth Murdock. Known by the nickname “Mick”, Murdock worked as a French polisher and lived with his mother in Altona after his father died. The 18 year old was called for service in the Militia in October 1941, two months before the start of the Pacific War. His first full day in the army began in early January 1942, and the following month he was posted to the 14th Battalion.

Originally raised during the Great War in Prahran, the 14th Battalion drew recruits from south and south-west Melbourne. During the inter-war period the battalion was granted the title of the “Prahran Regiment”.

After forming part of the force deployed in defensive duties around Port Phillip Bay, in August 1942 the battalion moved to Western Australia, where it joined the 6th Brigade around Geraldton. The following month the 14th and the Militia’s 32nd Battalions merged to become the 14th/32nd Battalion.

In February 1943 the 14th/32nd Battalion underwent amphibious landing and jungle warfare training on the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland. Murdock volunteered for the Australian Imperial Force two months later. In July the battalion embarked for the islands, and after reaching Port Moresby was flown across to the Buna–Gona area. Murdock’s battalion spent more than a year in garrison duties and carrying out long-range coastal patrols along Papua’s north coast.

In late 1944 the 14th/32nd Battalion and the 6th Brigade, as part of the Militia’s 5th Division, were given the task of relieving the Americans garrisoning New Britain. Rather than carry out a major offensive against the Japanese on the island, as Australian forces in New Guinea and Bougainville would do, the 5th Division would concentrate on confining the much larger Japanese force to Rabaul and the Gazelle Peninsula.

In November the 14th/32nd Battalion landed at Jacquinot Bay, from where the 6th Brigade pushed up the coast by barge and on foot. By mid-March 1945 the brigade’s lead battalion had reached a feature dubbed “Bacon Hill”, the main Japanese defensive line in the Waitavalo–Tol Plantation area; this region had been the scene of a Japanese massacre of Australians earlier in the war.

From 16–20 March the 14th/32nd Battalion fought to secure the area. Though the Japanese were well entrenched on Bacon Hill, the battalion captured it within days. This was the final major engagement of the New Britain campaign, and the battalion’s first and last battle. The Australians established a line across the neck of the Gazelle Peninsula, which they held and patrolled for the rest of the war.

In five days of fighting, the 14th/32nd Battalion suffered 57 killed and wounded, including Private David Murdock, who was killed in action on 17 March. He was 22 years old.
Murdock was buried in the Rabaul (Bita Paka) War Cemetery on New Britain. His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, among almost 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 David Murdock, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Karl James
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (VX142017) Private David Murdock, 14th/32nd Battalion, Second World War. (video)