The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (VX31407) Private Alfred James Woodman, 2/9 Field Ambulance AAMC, Second World War.

Accession Number AWM2020.1.1.75
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 15 March 2020
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 Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on (VX31407) Private Alfred James Woodman, 2/9 Field Ambulance AAMC, Second World War.

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Speech transcript

VX31407 Private Alfred James Woodman, 2/9 Field Ambulance AAMC
KIA 9 February 1942

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Alfred James Woodman.

Alfred Woodman was born in the Melbourne suburb of Richmond on 11 January 1916, the son of Hubert and Myra Woodman.

Affectionately known as “Alfie”, he grew up in West Brunswick, where he attended the local school. He went on to be employed doing chemical work for the battery-making company Impex.

Woodman was also a member of the Citizens Military Forces, serving for four years with the 15th Field Ambulance. Because of this experience, after enlisted on 13 June 1940, he was posted to the 2/9 Field Ambulance of the Australian Army Medical Corps.

After some training in Bonegilla, in early February 1941 the unit left Sydney bound for Singapore. The unit then moved to Port Dickson, on the west coast of Malaya, where they were trained in transporting the sick and the wounded. During this time, Private Woodman fell afoul of military discipline on a few occasions: in May he was charged with leaving his post without being properly relieved, and in August he was charged with disobeying the command of a superior – failing to go to parade when directed.

Throughout November and the start of December it seemed that war with Japan was increasingly likely. By the start of 1942 the Japanese had advanced through Thailand and most of Malaya.

When the Japanese began their assault on Singapore on 8 February 1942, Woodman’s unit was overwhelmed with the task of evacuating the many wounded to a dressing station known as “Hill 80”.

On the afternoon of 9 February 1942, the medical officer in charge of the dressing station ordered all of his personnel to evacuate to Hill 80. But Woodman, Harold Ball, William Lewis, and medical officer Captain John Park, who were all traveling in the same vehicle, never reached “Hill 80”. Despatch riders were sent out to locate the men, but they could not be found. The men were reported missing, with the hope that they were being held as prisoners of war.

It wasn’t until 9 May 1942, three months later, that a working party of Australian prisoners of war, sent out to cut feed for Japanese horses, found the bodies of four men who had been tortured by the Japanese before being executed. Two of the bodies were identified as being John Park and Harold Ball, but Woodman’s remains were never positively identified.

The Woodman family’s suffering was compounded the following year when Alfred’s younger brother, Percival Woodman, who was serving as a gunner in the 10th Field Regiment, died of wounds received in a road accident on 23 February.

Today Alfred Woodman is commemorated at the Singapore War Memorial in Kranji War Cemetery, which bears the names of over 24,000 casualties among Commonwealth soldiers who fought in south-east Asia and who have no known grave.

Woodman’s name also appears 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 Alfred James Woodman, 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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