|Object type||Last Post film|
Australian War Memorial
|Place made||Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell|
|Date made||25 May 2018|
Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
|Copying Provisions||Copy provided for personal non-commercial use|
The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (4719818) Private Alexander Remeljej, 5th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (5 RAR), Vietnam 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 Troy Clayton, the story for this day was on (4719818) Private Alexander Remeljej, 5th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (5 RAR), Vietnam War.
4719818 Private Alexander Remeljej, 5th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (5 RAR)
KIA 11 April 1969
Story delivered 25 May 2018
Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Alexander Remeljej.
Alexander Remeljej was born on 22 May 1947 in Detmold, Germany, his parents Georg and Gertrude having journeyed there via Yugoslavia and Austria towards the end of the Second World War. Alexander was their second son. His elder brother Wolfgang had been born in 1941. Like many other families seeking to escape war-ravaged Europe, they were accepted for migration to Australia. Their ship, the Fairsea, arrived in Melbourne on 23 May 1950.
The family soon settled in Adelaide, where they gained naturalisation as Australians in 1956. Alex grew up an Australian boy and immersed himself in the culture of his adopted land. He enjoyed music, but his main passion was surf lifesaving. He joined the Glenelg Surf Lifesaving Club in 1962 and would become one of their most respected, conscientious, and hardest-working members. He was awarded the Bronze Lifesaving Medallion and gained his instructor’s certificate while at the club.
Alex also attended Plympton High School in Adelaide, but left at the age of 16, having gained his Intermediate Certificate. He eventually found work as a survey draftsman’s assistant for the State Public Service where he worked for four years prior to his military service.
Alex was called up for national service in early 1968 and was enlisted in the army in February that year. Assigned to the infantry, he did his basic training, and then as a reinforcement for the Royal Australian Regiment, attended the Jungle Training Centre at Canungra in Queensland in July. Things moved rapidly. By mid-September he headed to Vietnam, arriving at Saigon. The first few weeks were spent with the reinforcement unit at the main Australian Task Force base at Nui Dat.
In October he was posted to 1 RAR, but with that battalion’s tour ending in February 1969, he joined 5 RAR, which was just arriving for their second tour of Vietnam.
An infantryman’s life in Vietnam was hard; gruelling patrols out in the field that could last days, even weeks, kept men on edge. They were on constant alert for ambushes and the dreaded mines and booby traps. The heat and humidity meant they were constantly bathed in sweat, dehydrated and exhausted, while tropical diseases presented a constant danger.
Alex adapted well to his new life as a soldier. His platoon commander described him as “keen, intelligent and reliable”, and said he was “developing into a good soldier”. Six months into his tour, the action was constant for Alex and 5 RAR. As 1969 began, Operations Federal, Quintus Thrust, and then Overlander came, one after the next, without let-up. In early April 1969 there was a smaller operation: Deerstalk, a series of smaller-scale reconnaissance and ambushes set by the Australians to catch enemy moving between Nui Dat and the Nui Dinh mountains to the west of the base.
On 11 April, B Company, 5 RAR were patrolling just a few kilometres to the south-west of Nui Dat. When night fell they were lying quietly in ambush position near the Song Dinh creek, just north of the town of Baria. Alex was on sentry duty. Shortly before 9 pm he detected enemy movement to the company’s rear. He stood up, quickly advanced and fired his M-16, killing one of the Viet Cong instantly. The enemy squad replied with heavy automatic fire from AK-47s and RPGs before fleeing.
An RPG round hit Alex on the right shoulder and exploded, causing a massive wound. Three others nearby were wounded by the blast. As the Viet Cong escaped to the hills, the dustoff chopper came in to evacuate the wounded, but there was nothing they could do for Alex, who would remain with his comrades by the banks of the Song Dinh one more night. The next morning his body was brought out on an armoured personnel carrier. He was just 21 years old.
A telegram from the Minister for the Army brought the terrible news to the family the next day, and Alex’s body was returned to Australia for burial in Centennial Park Cemetery in Adelaide. At his beloved Glenelg Surf Lifesaving Club, his name lives on. An inspiration for everything the club stood for, their highest award is named after Alex Remeljej.
His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, among 521 Australians who died while serving in 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 Private Alexander Remeljej, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.
Military History Section
Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (4719818) Private Alexander Remeljej, 5th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (5 RAR), Vietnam War. (video)