The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (235324) Lieutenant Bernard Anthony Garland, 4 Field Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery and (235328) Lieutenant Errol John Lee, 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment Vietnam War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2017.1.344
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 10 December 2017
Access Open
Conflict Vietnam, 1962-1975
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 Joanne Smedley, the story for this day was on (235324) Lieutenant Bernard Anthony Garland, 4 Field Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery and (235328) Lieutenant Errol John Lee, 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment Vietnam War.

Speech transcript

235324 Lieutenant Bernard Anthony Garland, 4 Field Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery
KIA 22 April 1970

Story delivered 10 December 2017

Today we remember and pay tribute to Lieutenant Bernard Anthony Garland.

Bernard Anthony Garland was born in Sydney on 26 September 1946 to Bernard James and Lillian Joyce Garland.

After receiving his leaving certificate from Epping Boys’ High School in 1963, Garland began officer training at Royal Military College, Duntroon. To his classmates, he was known as Bernie, but others also knew him as Tony.

Garland’s superior officers noted that he was a keen and well-disciplined staff cadet who was active in extracurricular activities. He played rugby and squash, and was a member of the organising committees of the ski and sailing clubs.

In December 1967, Garland was commissioned with the rank of lieutenant, and was posted to the 1st Field Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery. With this unit, he undertook several courses as further training as an artillery officer. After marrying Elizabeth Anne Scott, he joined his unit at Brisbane in early May 1969 and left for Saigon.

Once reaching Saigon, the unit moved to the Australian base at Nui Dat in Phuoc Tuy province. At the end of two weeks in-country training, his battery was deployed to Fire Support Base Virginia. From this time, the unit alternated between four weeks on operational duties – providing artillery support to 6th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment – and two weeks at Nui Dat base. To the end of 1969, Garland worked as a gun position officer with the battery, which involved commanding gunners, maintaining, and laying the weapons.

In late February 1970, Garland was transferred to “A” Company Headquarters, 6RAR/NZ, as forward observer. In this new role, he was attached to the patrolling infantry and would call in artillery supporting fire. As well as the ever-present threat of enemy-laid mines and booby traps, Garland now faced a higher risk of direct contact with the enemy.

In March 1970, 6RAR/NZ began its last operation in Vietnam, codenamed Operation Townsville. The aim of this operation was to put pressure on local enemy units, especially the Viet Cong D445 Battalion. Garland’s unit operated in the remote Nui May Tao mountains in the north-east of Phuoc Tuy province.

Towards the end of the operation, on 22 April 1970, Garland and “A” Company Headquarters were patrolling south of Xuyen Moc. Soon after 10 am, Garland stood on an M16 mine and was killed. He was 23 years old.
Garland was a popular officer, and with his death occurring only one day before the operation concluded and the unit returned to Nui Dat, the company was affected particularly badly. Four other Australians were wounded in the explosion, including Company Sergeant Major James Myles, who helped prod out a safe path for the medics with his bayonet.

Garland’s remains were returned to Australia, and today he is commemorated at Norwood Park in Canberra.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on your right, along with more than 500 others from the Vietnam War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Lieutenant Bernard Anthony Garland, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Dr Thomas Rogers
Historian, Military History Section





235328 Lieutenant Errol John Lee, 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment
KIA 11 May 1969

Story delivered 10 December 2017

Today we remember and pay tribute to Lieutenant Errol John Lee.

Errol John Lee was born on 30 July 1946 to Ashley and Mary Lee in the Sydney suburb of Ashfield. Known as John, he grew up on the north coast of New South Wales, and matriculated from Quirindi High School in 1963. His reference letters from the school and St Alban’s Church describe a well-liked young man with leadership potential who was involved in his local community.

Lee enrolled at Royal Military College, Duntroon in January 1964. He was a hard-working staff cadet, and was active in the sporting life of the college. He won a Half Colour for rugby, playing in the first fifteen during his final two years. He was also on the Rugby Committee, and played cricket for the second eleven.

After graduating in December 1967, Lee was commissioned as a lieutenant in the 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. In January 1968 he became a platoon commander. He spent 1968 training at Holsworthy barracks in Sydney. During this time he and the other men of 5RAR prepared themselves for the battalion’s second tour of Vietnam. Lee undertook courses in psychological operations, battlefield noise simulations, army health in south-east Asian conditions, and civil affairs.
In December 1968, Lee married Barbara Kirk of Dickson, and shortly afterwards, 5RAR left for Vietnam.

5RAR was based at Nui Dat in Phuoc Tuy province. The battalion’s overall objective was the pacification of the province, which involved finding and destroying enemy bases, preventing contact between the enemy and civilian population, and seeking to build a secure civil and political atmosphere in South Vietnam.

Twelve kilometres west of Nui Dat base, the Nui Thi Vai and Nui Dinh mountains rise abruptly out of the plain. Known to the Australians as “the Warburtons”, these mountains housed extensive interlocking defensive complexes held by local Viet Cong units. Throughout May 1969, 5RAR carried out a reconnaissance-in-force in the mountains.

Lee was Platoon Commander of 1 Platoon, “A” Company. On 11 of May 1969, his unit was patrolling on the northern slopes of the Nui Thi Vai mountains. Around midday, the platoon came under heavy fire from concealed caves and bunkers. Lee moved forward of his platoon in order to reconnoitre the enemy’s position, but he and two other soldiers were shot and wounded. Enemy fire pinned down his platoon, and a firefight continued for several hours.

Towards nightfall, Sergeant William Ward of the Assault Pioneer Platoon used a flamethrower to suppress the enemy, an action for which he was awarded the Military Medal. His work allowed 1 Platoon to be relieved and the wounded soldiers evacuated. Lee had been badly wounded and died shortly afterwards. He was 22 years old.

Survived by his parents and wife, his brother Brian and sister Rosemary, John Lee’s remains were returned to Australia and buried at Woden Cemetery in Canberra.
His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on your right, along with more than 500 others from the Vietnam War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Lieutenant Errol John Lee, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Thomas Rogers Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (235324) Lieutenant Bernard Anthony Garland, 4 Field Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery and (235328) Lieutenant Errol John Lee, 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment Vietnam War. (video)