The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (VX77341) Lance Sergeant Abraham Bezalel Beth-Halevy, 2/12th Battalion , Second World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.23
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 23 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 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 Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on (VX77341) Lance Sergeant Abraham Bezalel Beth-Halevy, 2/12th Battalion , Second World War.

Speech transcript

VX77341 Lance Sergeant Abraham Bezalel Beth-Halevy, 2/12th Battalion
KIA 21 January 1944

Today we remember and pay tribute to Lance Sergeant Abraham Bezalel Beth-Halevy.

Avraheim Beit HaLevi was born in the Polish city of Kalisz on 25 May 1913, the son of Israel and Shurek Beth-Halevy.

On the eve of the German invasion in 1939, the Jewish population of Kalisz numbered over 20,000. Kalisz was captured by the Wehrmacht almost instantly and by the summer of 1942 the Jewish community in Kalisz was entirely destroyed.

By then, Abraham’s family had settled in Tel Aviv in what was then British Mandate of Palestine.

Abraham came to Australia in June 1939 to compete in a test series of soccer matches. The players were mostly from the powerful Maccabi Tel-Aviv club side, with a few players from other teams included to create a “Palestine” banner under which to play.

Before leaving for Australia, the touring party laid a wreath on the Australian War Memorial, opposite the entrance gates of the British War Cemetery, at Mount Scopus, Jerusalem, in memory of fallen Australian soldiers from the First World War.

Abraham, a full-back who had previously played representative football for Egypt, was known as “the personality man” of the team, and was interviewed by newspapers about the tour. The trip was rough, and the team sometimes had to sleep on luggage racks between matches, as they had been limited to travelling with second class train tickets.

Although the tourists lost the test series they won 11 and drew three of their 19 matches. While some of the press coverage of the matches was negative, Avraheim Beit HaLevi, Avraheim Reznik, and Menaham Mirmvotich received offers to play for local clubs, and elected to remain in Australia. After the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, Menaham Mirmvotich enlisted for service, joining the 2/11th Battalion, and was killed in action in New Guinea on 12 May 1945.

Avraheim anglicised his name to Abraham Beth-Halevy, found work as an accountant and accommodation in North Carlton, and became engaged to Sara Wayeman.
He too volunteered to join the Second Australian Imperial Force, enlisting on 5 March 1942.

After a period of training in Australia, in December he embarked from Townsville to join the 2/12th Battalion, which was in New Guinea for some of the most bitter and costly battles of the war. At Buna it delivered the coup de gras to the Japanese force at Giropa Point, but suffered 63 killed and 122 wounded in the process. The battalion's later efforts to clear the Japanese from the torturous swamp country around Sanananda cost another 61 lives.

In February Beth-Halevy was promoted to corporal. The 2/12th returned home in March, and the following month he was admitted to hospital with malaria, a recurring malady that struck him again in July.

In August he had recovered sufficiently to rejoin his battalion, training around Port Moresby and being promoted to lance sergeant before deploying to the Finisterre Mountains on 31 December.
The following day, the 2/9th, 2/10th and 2/12 Battalions, along with the 15th Brigade of the Militia, replaced the 21st and 25th Brigades, which had been fighting since September.

As the 2/9th continued the battle on Shaggy Ridge, the 2/10th advanced and occupied the enemy’s attention. The 2/12th took advantage by venturing along the Mene River to the west of Shaggy Ridge, creeping unnoticed towards 75-millimetre mountain gun that been pounding the 2/9th.

As the men came within 100 metres of the gun, it turned on them, firing across a small gully at point-blank range. Shells burst in the tree canopy above, wounding and maiming many. The mountain-gun was eventually knocked out by a direct assault across the gully, but not before it had caused immense damage: 13 members of the 2/12th Battalion were killed, and 48 wounded. The gun had been silenced too late in the evening to allow for the evacuation of the wounded, who would have to spend the night on the mountain before making their way back down to the valley floor, but not before repelling a night-time Japanese assault.

Among the dead was Lance Sergeant Abraham Beth-Halevy. He was 30 years old.

Initially buried near where he fell, he was later reburied Dumpu War Cemetery and then Lae War Cemetery where his remains lie today under the epitaph, “The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places”.
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 Lance Sergeant Abraham Bezalel Beth-Halevy, 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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