The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (QX7893) Private Francis John Hipworth, 2/9th Australian Infantry Battalion, Second World War.

Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.11
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 January 2019
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 Chris Widenbar, the story for this day was on (QX7893) Private Francis John Hipworth, 2/9th Australian Infantry Battalion, Second World War.

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Speech transcript

QX7893 Private Francis John Hipworth, 2/9th Australian Infantry Battalion
KIA 18 December 1942

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Francis Hipworth.

Commonly known as “Frank”, Francis Hipworth was born on 30 September 1919 to the large family of Francis and Ivy May Hipworth of Cairns. While working in a local sawmill at the age of 15, he caught his hand in some machinery, losing some fingernails and making the local newspaper.

Francis was working as a carpenter on the outbreak of war in 1939. He enlisted at Cairns in June the following year, on the day that France officially surrendered to Germany.

Hipworth had a few minor disciplinary issues during his first few months of training at Miowera Army Camp in Queensland, but settled in well after that.

In early February 1941 he embarked from Sydney with reinforcements to the 2/9th Battalion. During the voyage, he was admitted to the ship’s hospital with abdominal colic, and was eventually evacuated to a British General Hospital in Bombay, India, suffering from dysentery.

Hipworth joined his unit in the Middle East in March of 1941. In the first week of April the 2/9th Battalion left Egypt with the rest of the 18th Brigade to reinforce Tobruk against the German advance. The battalion participated in the defence of Tobruk – being subjected to repeated ground assaults and almost constant shelling and bombing from German and Italian forces.

When the battalion was relieved at the end of August, it trained in Palestine before joining the forces garrisoning Syria in late September. After Returning to Palestine in early January 1942, the 2/9th sailed for Australia from Suez in February.

New Guinea was the battalion’s next battleground. In early September it fought in the desperate defence of Milne Bay, the first major battle of the war in the Pacific in which Allied troops decisively defeated a Japanese amphibious force.

In mid-December, the 18th Brigade, including the 2/9th Battalion, and a squadron of tanks from the 2/6th Armoured Regiment moved from Milne Bay to reinforce American troops of the 32nd Division at the village of Buna.

By this time, Buna village had been captured but the Japanese remained well-entrenched around the airfields and the government station. The 18th Brigade's first attack was launched in the airfield area by the 2/9th and 2/10th Battalions on the morning of 18 December. Despite the support of the tanks, the fighting was slow and vicious, and there were many casualties. Three-hundred and six men from the 18th Brigade were killed, including Private Francis Hipworth, who died during the fighting on the first day of the assault.

Today his remains lie buried at Port Moresby (Bomana) War Cemetery under the epitaph: “He gave his life for those he loved.” He was 23 years old

A year after his death, various members of his family placed four separate notices in the Cairns Post. The notice inserted by his parents and siblings included the following lines of verse:

Duty called him, he was there
To do his bit and take his share.
His heart was true, his spirit brave;
He’s resting now in a hero’s grave.

He followed the path of duty,
He answered his country’s call;
He died an Australian hero,
The grandest death of all.

Francis Hipworth’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, among some 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 Private Francis Hipworth, 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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