The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (VX5859) Lance Sergeant Joseph Solomon, 2/7th Infantry Battalion, Second Wolrd War

Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.267
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 24 September 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 Craig Berelle, the story for this day was on (VX5859) Lance Sergeant Joseph Solomon, 2/7th Infantry Battalion, Second Wolrd War

Speech transcript

VX5859 Lance Sergeant Joseph Solomon, 2/7th Infantry Battalion
KIA 4 January 1941

Today we remember and pay tribute to Lance Sergeant Joseph Solomon.

Joseph Solomon was born on 29 August 1914 in Hobart, one of three children born to Eliza and Coleman Solomon. Solomon’s father died in 1925, leaving Solomon’s mother to raise Joseph, his brother Jim and sister Molly on her own. During his childhood the Solomon family moved to Newbury, in central Victoria.

After school, Joseph Solomon, known as “Joe” to family and friends, worked as a grocer’s assistant in the Newbury area and spent time with his sweetheart Nancy Patton, from nearby Wandong.

Solomon applied to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force in October 1939, not long after the beginning of the war, and a week later began his training for service in the army. He trained with the newly formed 2/7th Infantry Battalion at Puckapunyal, and in December 1939 was promoted to the rank of corporal.

In April 1940 he sailed with the 2/7th Battalion from Melbourne for service overseas, and after arriving at El Kanatara on the Suez Canal in Egypt, moved to Palestine for further training. In Palestine, the 2/7th Battalion, which formed part of the 17th Brigade of the 6th Australian Division, adjusted to the hot desert conditions. During this period Solomon was again promoted, this time to the rank of lance sergeant.

In November 1940, after a brief period in hospital, Solomon joined his unit as it was transferred from Palestine to Egypt. They were moving west to continue the attack on Italian forces near the Libyan border.
The Australian forces of the 6th Division were brought to the Egyptian–Libyan border for the planned attack on Bardia, an important Italian-held Libyan sea port on the Mediterranean coast.

Bardia was well-defended by Italian forces, surrounded by extensive barbed wire lines, anti-tank ditches, and concrete machine-gun posts. At 5.30 am on 3 January 1941, Australian troops of the 6th Division, supported by British tanks, attacked the Italian lines and soon managed to breach the initial defences.

Solomon’s unit formed part of the southern part of the Australian advance and took part in the heavy fighting. The battle was a resounding success for Allied forces, who between 3 and 5 January captured their objectives and 40,000 Italian prisoners of war.
Solomon was in the thick of fighting during the first two days of the battle. On 3 January a splinter from an Italian shell split a grenade that Solomon was carrying in his pocket in half without detonating it. Solomon joked to one of his comrades, “They’ll never get me!” That night, another Italian grenade landed almost between his legs but did not detonate properly and only slightly wounded him.

The following day, on 4 January 1941, Solomon and his company attempted to attack an Italian post by using some nearby abandoned Italian weapons strewn on the battlefield. As they attempted to do this they came under enemy machine-gun fire. Solomon returned fire with his rifle and managed to hit the machine-gunner, but as he raised his rifle to search for a new gunner he was shot through the head and killed instantly.

He was 26 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 grave reads: “A dearly loved son and brother. Deeply mourned”.

His family left numerous messages of mourning and memorial in local newspapers. His sweetheart Nancy wrote, “We are put parted for a little while”.

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 Joseph Solomon, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

David Sutton
Historian, Military History Section

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