The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (VX48254) Lieutenant Colonel Reginald Ernest Wall, 2/23rd Battalion, Second World War.

Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.247
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 4 September 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 Copyright restrictions apply. Only personal, non-commercial, research and study use permitted. Permission of copyright holder required for any commercial use and/or reproduction.

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 Craig Berelle, the story for this day was on (VX48254) Lieutenant Colonel Reginald Ernest Wall, 2/23rd Battalion, Second World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

VX48254 Lieutenant Colonel Reginald Ernest Wall, 2/23rd Battalion
KIA 4 September 1943
Story delivered 4 September 2018

Today we remember and pay tribute to Lieutenant Colonel Reginald Ernest Wall.
Known as “Reg”, Reginald Wall was born on 27 May 1905 in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy, the son of Reginald and Henrietta Wall.

He grew up in Melbourne, and after finishing his education went to work in security for Perpetual Trustees Company, a company he would remain with for many years.

In 1924, Wall was commissioned as a lieutenant in the 57th Battalion in Australia’s part-time military force, the Citizen Forces. Wall was strongly committed to service, becoming adjutant general and quartermaster in 1928, and captain in 1929. In the early 1930s, the battalion was amalgamated with the 60th Battalion, to become the 57th/60th Battalion, and in 1936 Wall was promoted to major.

By then, he had married; his wedding to Dorothy Amos taking place in Wesley Church in Melbourne in 1928, and a song, Bruce, born to the couple in 1933.

With the outbreak of war in Europe, Wall enlisted in the Second Australian Imperial Force in July 1940, and was seconded to the 2/23rd battalion.
Embarking on the transport Strathmore at Port Melbourne, the 2/23rd arrived in Egypt in mid-December and was reassigned from the 7th Division to the 9th.

With a German–Italian offensive from the west, the battalion was ordered to the vital port of Tobruk and formed part of the garrison during the siege of Tobruk, taking part in defensive actions and counter-attacks over the next eight months.

In late June 1942, Wall was Mentioned in Despatches for his gallant and distinguished service at Tobruk. It was at this time that the 9th Division was hurried to Egypt to bolster Allied forces fighting at El Alamein. Lieutenant Colonel Wall took part in the first and second battles of El Alamein, with the most significant actions being two main attacks at Tel el Eisa.

Before the battalion was withdrawn on 1 November 1942, Wall was given command of the 2/23rd Battalion.

A period of rest followed, before Wall and the 2/23rd began the journey home to Australia. The 9th Division had been called home by the Australian government to join the 6th and 7th Divisions, which had also been redeployed from the Middle East in order to confront the Japanese threat in the Pacific.

The 9th Division’s next job was to liberate the town of Lae in New Guinea with the 7th Division. A pincer movement was planned, with the 9th Division carrying out an amphibious landing to the east and the 7th Division being flown into a recently secured airfield to the west.

In the early morning hours of 4 September, the initial assault was launched under the cover of naval bombardment. Three battalions landed on the beaches and patrols were sent out to link up along the beachhead. As the 26th Brigade came ashore, it was attacked by nine Japanese aircraft. Around 40 men were wounded, and eight men were killed, one of whom was Lieutenant Colonel Reg Wall.

Another air raid that afternoon resulted in two landing craft being struck with torpedos and bombs, killing 34 Australian commandos and seven sailors.

While the 9th Division would go on to race the 7th Division to take Lae, clearing Japanese resistance from this important cargo port and transport hub, this must have been cold comfort for the family of Reg Wall.

He was buried at Lae War Cemetery, where his remains lie underneath the epitaph chosen by his family: “He gave his life that we may be free”.
He was 38 years old.

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 Lieutenant Colonel Reginald Ernest Wall, 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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