The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (B3666) Able Seaman Frederick Walter Lota Marsh, HMAS Leeuwin, Second Wrold War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.269
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 26 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 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 Craig Berelle, the story for this day was on (B3666) Able Seaman Frederick Walter Lota Marsh, HMAS Leeuwin, Second Wrold War.

Speech transcript

B3666 Able Seaman Frederick Walter Lota Marsh, HMAS Leeuwin
DOD 1 February 1945
Story delivered 26 September 2018

Today we remember and pay tribute to Able Seaman Frederick Walter Lota Marsh.

Frederick Marsh was born on 20 January 1924, the son of Alfred and Ivy Marsh of Brisbane. Marsh grew up in the Brisbane suburbs, where his father worked as a carter. Following his education, Marsh took on an apprenticeship as a cabinet maker with the Brisbane Furniture Company, where he was a well-known practical joker, if a man of few words.

A member of the Royal Australian Naval Reserve, he was mobilised for action in early 1942 and later that year began training for clandestine operations behind Japanese lines in south-east Asia. Given the nickname “Boofhead”, he became an integral part of preparations for Operation Jaywick, which went ahead in September 1943.

The operation, devised by British Captain Ivan Lyon, used a dilapidated old Japanese-built fishing vessel, the Krait to sneak a crew of 14 into enemy waters. The Krait left Exmouth Gulf in Western Australia on 2 September, and arrived off Singapore about three weeks later. From there, six men paddled canoes in to Singapore Harbour and attached limpet mines to Japanese ships under cover of darkness. They destroyed or seriously damaged seven ships, or more than 35,000 tonnes of shipping.

Able Seaman Marsh was one of the crew of eight who remained on board the Krait while the canoeists completed their task. The captain, Ted Carse, recorded in his diary “this waiting about is the worst part of the trip so far”. More than two weeks later the two teams reunited at Pompong Island and quickly retreated back to Australia.

A new raid – Operation Rimau – was planned for the following year, and although many members of the Jaywick team were suspicious of the operation, several, including Marsh, volunteered to take part due to their regard for Ivan Lyon. On 11 September 1944, a party of 23, including Marsh, were taken by submarine to the South China Sea, where they seized a local junk and sailed towards Singapore, this time hoping to attack merchant ships in submersible canoes.

They were discovered a short while later, however, and had to abandon the mission. The party failed to meet their rendezvous with the submarine, and had split up into groups to try to return to Australia by small boat. Most members of the party were killed in intermittent fighting on their way south.

Marsh escaped with Able Seaman Andrew Huston, also a veteran of Operation Jaywick. The folboat they were paddling in was sunk by gunfire. Huston drowned, but the seriously wounded Marsh was captured and sent to Singapore where he was reunited with other captured members of the operation. Some reports indicate that he was singled out for a series of beatings and torture before he died of illness, torture, and starvation on 1 February 1945.

All 23 men were killed or captured, with only ten surviving by mid-1945. After a trial where the remaining ten men faced charges of espionage, they were all found guilty and beheaded on 7 July 1945, one month before the end of the war.

In 1978 the 1st Commando Association commissioned a medal they called the Commando Cross of Valour. One was presented to Marsh’s mother, Mrs Ivy Marsh. Andrew Huston’s sister later wrote, “Mrs Marsh has experienced something truly wonderful. She took the medal to show… it was passed from person to person. She was just so proud.” She died a year later.
The final resting place of Able Seaman Frederick Walter Lota Marsh is unknown, although some think he was cremated and his ashes spread in Kranji War Memorial Cemetery in Singapore. He was 21 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 Able Seaman Frederick Walter Lota Marsh, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (B3666) Able Seaman Frederick Walter Lota Marsh, HMAS Leeuwin, Second Wrold War. (video)