The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (VX27227) Private Sydney Clyde Batty, 2/24th Australian Infantry Battalion, Second World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.65
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 6 March 2018
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 Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on (VX27227) Private Sydney Clyde Batty, 2/24th Australian Infantry Battalion, Second World War.

Speech transcript

VX27227 Private Sydney Clyde Batty, 2/24th Australian Infantry Battalion
KIA 22 July 1942
Story delivered 6 March 2018

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Sydney Clyde Batty.

Known by his middle name “Clyde”, Sydney Batty was born on 15 January 1900 in Birregurra, Victoria, to Zion and Charlotte Batty. He had an older brother, Albert, and seven sisters: Amy, May, Ivy, Lavinie, Lily, Grace, and Elsie.

Sydney’s father ran a well-known seaside guesthouse at Airey’s Inlet through the 1890s, but by the time Sydney was born the family had moved to Barwon Downs.

Sydney Batty attended school at Barwon Downs, winning a merit certificate in late 1914 for academic achievement, before working as a mill hand.
His older brother, Albert, enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in October 1916, but was discharged as medically unfit a month later because of hearing problems that originated from a childhood ear infection.

Batty enlisted with the written consent of his parents in January 1918, barely a fortnight after turning 18. After completing initial training, he left Melbourne aboard the troopship Barambah in late October. During the voyage, he was charged with attempting to steal liquor from the guard room and was awarded five days’ Field Punishment Number Two.

By the time Private Batty reached England in mid-November 1918, the war had ended. After a few months at the 1st Australian Dermatological Hospital at Bulford, Private Batty headed home, arriving in Melbourne in May 1919.

In 1920 Sydney Batty married Elsie May Bell. That year she gave birth to the couple’s first child, Albert, named after Sydney’s brother who had died in an accident a year earlier. The couple lived in Barwon, before moving to Geelong, and raised a large family.

When Australia entered the Second World War in 1939, the age range set for enlistment was 20 to 35. Sydney Batty was by now 40 years old, and not eligible to enlist. When the maximum age of enlistment was raised the following year, he wasted no time, enlisting in the Second Australian Imperial Force at Geelong on the 14th of June.

Batty joined the 2/24th Battalion, and on 16 November left Melbourne on the troopship Strathmore. He disembarked in the Middle East on 17 December (three days after his father had died in Australia), and moved into Cyrenica to complete training.

On New Year’s Day, Batty was accused of being drunk at his post and disobeying a superior officer. While a district court martial held in February found him not guilty of being drunk, he earned two weeks’ detention for insubordination. Later in the month he was charged with being out of bounds, presumably when he should have been in detention.

A few months later, Batty was with the 2/24th Battalion as it entered Tobruk on 10 April. The battalion helped defend the “fortress” for the next eight months before transferring to Palestine and Syria for rest and garrison duties.

By July 1942 German and Italian forces had reached El Alamein in Egypt, about 110 kilometres from Alexandria. The 9th Division, including the 2/24th Battalion, was rushed to the Alamein area and held the northern sector for almost four months as the Eighth Army was reinforced for an offensive under new a commander.

The orders for the first attack were issued on 7 July. The 26th Brigade, of which Batty’s battalion was part, advanced along the coast, driving a wedge between the sea and German positions by capturing the feature known as Tel el Eisa, which ran between the railway line and the sea.

The 2/24th Battalion was instrumental in capturing Company 621, a German Wireless Intercept Unit, on 10 July 1942 – an event that helped change the course of the conflict in Africa.

Two days later, Private Batty was evacuated by field ambulance. He was sent to a rest camp, rejoining his unit after a few days.
A week later, in the early morning of 22 July, two companies of the 2/24th Battalion attacked an area where enemy troops were thought to be located. They captured their objective on schedule, but suffered severely from heavy artillery, mortar, and machine-gun fire, especially from the flanks. The companies consolidated under intense enemy fire, but were forced to withdraw because of heavy casualties. An estimated 250 casualties were inflicted on the enemy, and 11 prisoners and five enemy machine-guns were brought back. But the companies suffered about 100 casualties, including at least 20 killed. Among the dead was Private Sydney Batty
He was 42 years old. Barely old enough to enlist in the First World War, and initially too old to enlist in the Second World War, Sydney Batty had served in both as soon as he was able.

Today his remains lie in the El Alamein War Cemetery under the words chosen by the family he left behind:
A great soldier
Until the end.
Loved by all.

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 Sydney Clyde Batty, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Duncan Beard
Editor, Military History Section

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