The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (SX7429) Corporal James Hinson, 2/48th Infantry Battalion, Second World War.

Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.19
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 19 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 Craig Berelle, the story for this day was on (SX7429) Corporal James Hinson, 2/48th Infantry Battalion, Second World War.

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Speech transcript

SX7429 Corporal James Hinson , 2/48th Infantry Battalion
KIA 31 October 1942

Today we remember and pay tribute to Corporal James Hinson.

Known to his mates as “Spud”, James Hinson was born on 5 April 1919, in Manchester, England, to James and Maud Hinson. He had two brothers, Stanley and William.

The Hinson family moved to Plympton in South Australia while James was still young. He attended Black Forest Primary School in South Australia and went on to work as a motor car trimmer.

Hinson was a talented soccer player, playing outside left for the Birkalla Rovers, and on occasion representing Australia at international matches. He also served as a member of the 27th Battalion of the Militia, known as the “South Australian Scottish Regiment”.

On 2 July 1940, at the age of 21, Hinson enlisted in the Second Australian Imperial Force at Adelaide. He joined the 2/48th Australian Infantry Battalion, and did his initial training with the battalion at Woodside, before sailing to the Middle East in November.

Hinson was appointed lance corporal before the year was finished, and in early 1941 his battalion, along with the rest of the 9th Division, moved into Cyrenica to complete its training. On 9 April, the 2/48th entered Tobruk’s defences, helping to hold it for the next eight months.

After less than a week after arriving, the battalion helped defeat the Axis assault on Tobruk, and over the following days, patrols from the battalion captured nearly 800 officers and men ¬– virtually the entire 1st Battalion of the Italian 62nd Trento Regiment.

Hinson was promoted to acting corporal shortly afterwards, and was confirmed in that rank a few months later.

In August, Hinson contracted diarrhoea and had to be evacuated, first to hospital, then to a convalescent depot for rest and recuperation. He spent some time working with the 26th Australian Infantry Training Battalion before re-joining his unit in November.

By July 1942 German and Italian forces had reached El Alamein in Egypt and the 9th Division was rushed over from Syria to assist the British Eighth Army. The orders for their first main attack were issued in early July. The 26th Brigade would advance along the coast and capture the feature known as Tel el Eisa.

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.

It was for his “inspiration of leadership and courage” during the fighting in this area on 10 July that Hinson was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. According to newspaper reports, he “[l]ed his section at two guns, firing point blank, and captured them.”

After the capture of Tel el Eisa, the Allied army grew steadily in strength with the arrival of more troops and equipment. On night of 23 October 1942, a massive artillery barrage heralded the great Allied offensive. With the Axis forces holding their lines intact, General Montgomery worried that his offensive was becoming bogged down and ordered the 9th Division to switch their attack northward. What followed was a week of extremely fierce fighting, with the Australians grinding their way forward over well-defended enemy positions.

During the fighting, on 31 October 1942, Corporal James Hinson was killed in action at El Alamein. He was buried in the field, but was later reburied at El Alamein War Cemetery.

He was 23 years old.

Following news of his death, the local newspaper filled with notices in loving memory of the popular Spud Hinson sent by friends, family, and his fiancée, Joyce Gilbert.

His parents inserted the following lines of verse:

A cheerful smile, a heart of gold,
A dearest son the world could hold;
A beautiful life full of kind deeds,
A helping hand to all in need.

Hinson’s father was later presented with the Distinguished Conduct Medal awarded to his son at a ceremony at Government House on 9 May 1945. The 2/48th would become Australia’s highest decorated unit of the Second World War, awarded four Victoria Crosses (three of them posthumously) and more than 80 other decorations.

James Hinson 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 Corporal James Hinson, 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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