The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (SX7535) Corporal Patrick O’Loughlin, 2/48th Australian Infantry Battalion, Second AIF, Second World War.

Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.293
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 20 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 (SX7535) Corporal Patrick O’Loughlin, 2/48th Australian Infantry Battalion, Second AIF, Second World War.

Speech transcript

SX7535 Corporal Patrick O’Loughlin, 2/48th Australian Infantry Battalion, Second AIF
KIA 22 July 1942
Story delivered 20 October 2018

Today we remember and pay tribute to Corporal Patrick O’Loughlin.

Patrick O’Loughlin was born on 15 June 1906 at Booleroo Centre, the tenth of 12 children of Laurence and Francis O’Loughlin.

Patrick’s father was a farmer and Member of the Parliament of South Australia, holding a variety of roles from Speaker of the House of Assembly, to Commissioner of Crown Lands and Immigration, and Minister of Agriculture.

Nicknamed “Paddy”, young Patrick O’Loughlin attended Christian Brothers College in Adelaide before returning to Pinnaroo in the Murray Mallee region of South Australia, working with his elder brothers who were establishing their own farms. He later took up land at Gurrai with his younger brother, Gerald.
Patrick O’Loughlin enlisted on 2 July 1940 and began initial training at Woodside. Towards the end of October he took eight days of pre-embarkation leave, returning to Pinnaroo to farewell his family.

On 18 November, Private O’Loughlin embarked on the troopship Stratheden with the 2/48th Battalion, bound for the Middle East. He was appointed acting lance corporal during the trip, arriving in Palestine in mid-December.

In early 1941 the 9th Division, of which O’Loughlin’s battalion was part, moved into Cyrenica to complete its training. Despite the successes of the British offensive at the start of the year, the 9th Division fell back to Tobruk after the German-led counter-attack. The 2/48th entered Tobruk’s defences in early April and help hold the “fortress” for the next eight months.

On 14 April – Easter Monday – the battalion helped defeat the Axis assault on Tobruk, and over the next two days its patrols captured nearly 800 officers and men – almost the entire 1st Battalion of the Italian 62nd Trento Regiment.

O’Loughlin was promoted to acting corporal in August. He was confirmed in that rank in January 1942, after his battalion was withdrawn from Tobruk and sent to Palestine and Syria for rest and garrison duties.

By July 1942 German and Italian forces had reached El Alamein in Egypt, about 100 kilometres from Alexandria. The war in North Africa had become critical. The 9th Division was rushed to the Alamein area and held the northern sector for almost four months, as the British Eighth Army was reinforced for an offensive under new a commander.

Orders for the first main attack were issued on 7 July. The 26th Brigade would advance along the coast and capture the feature known as Tel el Eise, in order to create a wedge between the Germans and the sea.

Attacking just before dawn on 10 July, the 2/48th took its first objectives and captured about 400 prisoners. Tel el Eisa was captured the following morning. The Australians spent the next few days fighting off heavy counterattacks before fighting spread to other parts of the front, continuing for the rest of the month.

Alamein was a great, although bloody, success for the Allies. Between July and November 1942, the Australian 9th Division suffered almost 6,000 casualties, but they had played a crucial role in stopping Rommel’s drive into Egypt.

It was during the bitter fighting at Tel el Eisa on 22 July that Corporal Patrick O’Loughlin was killed in action. He was buried nearby, and after the war was reburied in El Alamein War Cemetery.

He was 36 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 Corporal Patrick O’Loughlin, 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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