The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (WX297) Private Raymond Eaton Beard, 2/11th Australian Infantry Battalion, Second World War.

Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.284
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 11 October 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

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 (WX297) Private Raymond Eaton Beard, 2/11th Australian Infantry Battalion, Second World War.

Speech transcript

WX297 Private Raymond Eaton Beard, 2/11th Australian Infantry Battalion
KIA 26 January 1941
Story delivered 11 October 2018

Today we remember and pay tribute to Trooper Raymond Eaton Beard.

Raymond Beard was born on 11 September 1914, in the Perth suburb of Holyoake, the eldest son of Herbert Beard and Evelyn Loaring.

Raymond’s father served with the 8th Field Artillery Brigade during the First World War, and died at Menin Road in Belgium in 1917, when Raymond was just three years old. While Raymond’s parents were engaged, they hadn’t had the opportunity to marry.

Known as “Dick”, Raymond worked as a truck driver, was yardman at the Freemason’s Hotel in Toodyay, and a member of the Wanderer Football Club before enlisting in the Second Australian Imperial Force at Subiaco on 7 November 1939.

His younger brother, Thomas, enlisted in August the following year. Thomas served with the 2/16th Battalion before returning home in 1944.

While undergoing initial training, Raymond Beard was fined for overstaying his leave. Allotted to the 2/11th Battalion, the first Western Australian battalion raised for service overseas, he left Australia on 20 April 1940, bound for the Middle East. While training in Palestine and Egypt, Beard was again reprimanded for tardiness, receiving a fine for being absent without leave in late May.

The 2/11th Battalion went into action for the first time at Bardia, a small town on the Mediterranean coast of Libya, on 5 January 1941.

Bardia had been captured late in the afternoon of 4 January, but Italian resistance in the southern portion of the perimeter kept up until the following morning; the diversionary force had encountered the toughest fighting of all. The attack had netted approximately 40,000 Italian prisoners and large quantities of arms, rations, equipment, and alcohol. All of which was put to good use by the Australians. Beard was charged with drunkenness, and fined accordingly.

As part of the Allied advance into Libya, the 2/11th took part in the 6th Division’s dawn assault on Tobruk on 21 January. The Italian garrison was taken by surprise and most had surrendered by the following day.

A few days later, the 2/11th Battalion moved on to secure the Derna airfield. Unlike Tobruk and Bardia, Derna had not been subjected to bombing before the attack. Determined resistance from the Italian special armoured brigade, known as the Babini Group, made progress slow and difficult. Italian bombers and fighters attacked the Australians from the air, and the Italians swept the flat ground with field artillery and machine-guns, stopping the Australian advance short of its objective.

The fighting continued until the Italians disengaged on the night of 28 January, and Derna was occupied unopposed the next day.

Five members of the 2/11th were killed at Derna, including Private Raymond Beard, who was killed in action on 26 January. He was buried in Knightsbridge War Cemetery in Acroma, just west of Tobruk, under the epitaph:

Until the day break
And the shadows flee away

He was 26 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 Trooper Raymond Eaton Beard, 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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