The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (NX7622) Private Joseph Thomas Earp, 2/3rd Infantry Battalion, Second World War.

Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.183
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 2 July 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

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 (NX7622) Private Joseph Thomas Earp, 2/3rd Infantry Battalion, Second World War.

Speech transcript

NX7622 Private Joseph Thomas Earp, 2/3rd Infantry Battalion
KIA 3 January 1941

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Joseph Thomas Earp.

Joseph Earp was born on 11 June 1917, the eldest son of Thomas and Edith Earp of Sydney, New South Wales. Earp grew up in the inner-city suburb of Darlinghurst and later worked as a solderer.
On 3 November 1939, not long after the beginning of the Second World War, Earp enlisted to join the Australian Imperial Force. He soon began training with the 2/1st Infantry Battalion at the camp at Ingleburn, in Sydney’s south-west.

After just over one month’s training, Earp sailed with his unit in the first convoy of Australian troops sent for service abroad in the war. He arrived in Kantara on the Suez Canal in Egypt in February 1940. Earp and the 2/1st Battalion spent the next eight months training and adjusting to the desert conditions at the Australian camp at Julis, near Gaza in Palestine.

In April, Earp received a severe injury to his knee, possibly the result of a training accident in which a truck carrying troops of his battalion drove into a ditch and turned over.

His injuries did not keep him out of his unit for long, and in September he moved with the rest of his battalion from Palestine to the Allied base at Ikingi Maryut, near Alexandria in Egypt. They were moving west in preparation to join the fighting against fascist Italian forces, who had declared war in June 1940 and attacked British positions in Egypt later that year.

In mid-October 1940 Earp and the 2/1st Battalion moved to the base at Amiriya, also near Alexandria. While at this base the men of the 2/1st had their first taste of warfare when they came under attack during an Italian air raid.

In December Earp and his battalion moved west in preparation for a major attack on Bardia, a well-defended Italian occupied port in Libya, near the border with Egypt.

The attack began in the early hours of 3 January 1941, when Australian troops of the 16th Brigade, supported by British artillery, tanks and aircraft, attacked Italian barbed wire and concrete strongpoint defences. The Australian troops successfully breached the Italian defensive perimeter, and by 5 January successfully took Bardia. In this battle, Allied forces took over 40,000 Italian prisoners of war in three days’ fighting at the cost of 130 Australian soldiers killed.

Earp was one of the Australians killed in the attack. He fell on 3 January, the first day of the battle, probably killed by Italian rifle or machine gun fire from a concrete strong point.
He was 23 years old.

He is buried in the Halfaya Sollum War Cemetery in Egypt, where over 2,000 Commonwealth soldiers of the Second World War now lie. His gravestone reads: “For King and Country”.
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 Joseph Thomas Earp, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

David Sutton
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (NX7622) Private Joseph Thomas Earp, 2/3rd Infantry Battalion, Second World War. (video)