The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (QX50616) Private Ronald Phipps, 7th Australian Infantry Battalion, Second World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.99
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 9 April 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 (QX50616) Private Ronald Phipps, 7th Australian Infantry Battalion, Second World War.

Speech transcript

QX50616 Private Ronald Phipps, 7th Australian Infantry Battalion
KIA 31 July 1945

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Ronald Phipps.

Ronald Phipps was born on 17 November 1924 in Taroom, a small town in Central Queensland, the son of Walter and Rosanna Phipps.

Known affectionately as “Ron”, he grew up in Taroom alongside his siblings Tom, Colin, Lloyd, and Dawson, and attended Taroom state school.

He was remembered as a quiet lad who loved his football, and who regularly played for the local team. He assisted his father as part of a ring-barking team for some time, but after Australia became involved in the Second World War, he was eager to enlist. Ronald’s father tried to stop him from enlisting, buying him a Whippet car as a bribe.

Ronald, however, would not be deterred. Shortly after turning 18 he enlisted, and soon afterwards was marched out to a training base at Dubbo.

In February 1944, Private Phipps joined the 7th Battalion. The 7th Battalion had been formed in 1936 as a Militia unit, named the North West Murray Borderers, as its members came from the area where Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia meet. The battalion been formally moved into the Australian Infantry Forces in 1942 in preparation for overseas service.

In late April 1944 Phipps embarked at Cairns on the troopship Duntroon, bound for the war in the Pacific.

The 23rd Brigade, of which the 7th Battalion was part, had been attached to the Second Corps, tasked with launching a renewed offensive on Bougainville. First given the task of relieving garrisons on the outer islands, the 7th Battalion was primarily responsible for defending the airfield at Mono Island from possible Japanese attack. Some members of the battalion sought to enliven their existence by acting as crews on US Navy PT boats, carrying out raids on New Britain and New Ireland.

The difficult conditions on the Pacific islands took their toll on Phipps’s health. In November he was admitted to a field ambulance with an unknown malady, and rejoined his unit in mid-December. He was again admitted in late February 1945, this time staying out of action until early April.

Shortly after Phipps returned to his unit, the 7th Battalion was transferred to Torokina on Bougainville Island, where the Japanese garrison was holding out. In June the 7th Battalion moved up the Numa Numa Trail to Pearl Ridge in the central sector of the island and began aggressive patrols to dominate the Japanese in their area of operations.

By the end of July, the men of B Company prepared to dislodge an enemy force situated on a V-shaped spur, armed with automatic weapons. With artillery and mortar support, Private Phipps and his company advanced and occupied forward enemy positions, meeting heavy machine-gun fire during the assault, and then encountering heavy opposition at extensive positions along the spur. B Company suffered three deaths: Private S. G. Lowe, Private D. W. McTaggert, and Private Ronald Phipps.

Ronald Phipps was 20 years old.

His remains lie buried in Port Moresby (Bomana) War Cemetery under the inscription chosen by his grieving family: “Lovingly remembered”.
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 Private Ronald Phipps, 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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