The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (NX34412) Gunner David Charles Newman, 2/4 Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Second World War.

Accession Number AWM2020.1.1.194
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 12 July 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 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 Jennifer Surtees, the story for this day was on (NX34412) Gunner David Charles Newman, 2/4 Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Second World War.

Speech transcript

NX34412 Gunner David Charles Newman, 2/4 Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment
DOW 23 September 1943

Today we remember and pay tribute to Gunner David Charles Newman.
David Newman was born on 21 August 1923 in Junee, in the Riverina region of New South Wales. The youngest child of Louis and Deborah Newman, he had three brothers and two sisters.

As a boy, he attended Junee Public School. After the Newman family moved to Sydney in 1929, he attended Cleveland Street Boys High School, and passed his Intermediate Certificate.

David’s first job was in the glass trade, but by late 1937 he and his brothers had cleared seven acres of land at Panania, which their mother had bought to establish the family business. The family set out gardens for flowers and vegetables to sell at markets.

Jessel was first of the brothers to enlist; Maurie would later join the Army, and Edgar would serve in the Royal Australian Air Force. David Newman enlisted at the recruiting centre at Martin Place in Sydney on 9 June 1941, putting his age up a year in order to enlist, and listing his occupation as “offsider on truck”.

He joined a field training unit at Cowra, and in September attended the anti-aircraft wing of the school of artillery at Scheyville. After pre-embarkation leave in October, on 1 November 1941 Gunner David Newman left Sydney, bound for the Middle East.

He joined the 2/4th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, which was part of the 9th Division, in January 1942, and went on to serve at the First and Second Battles of El Alamein in North Africa.

Towards the end of the 1942, it was decided to release the 9th Division from service in the Middle East, so that it could return to Australia and support efforts against the Japanese in the Pacific. Newman and the 2/4th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment landed at Sydney in February 1943, and began training to join the fight in New Guinea.

After embarking from Cairns in early October 1943, Newman landed first at Milne Bay. The 9th Division's first task in New Guinea was to liberate the town of Lae in a joint operation with the 7th Division. After establishing supply bases, the two Australian divisions raced each other to Lae. The capture of Lae ahead of schedule meant that the focus of Allied operations could then be shifted to an advance up the Huon Peninsula.

On 22 September 1943, only six days after the fall of Lae, Newman was part of an amphibious landing at Scarlet Beach, ten kilometres north of Finschhafen. Because of the haste with which the operation had been put together, there had been no time for rehearsals. This haste, coupled with faulty maps and the fact that the landing took place in darkness, resulted in the majority of the brigade being landed on the wrong beach. Allied intelligence estimates of Japanese strength around Finschhafen were also faulty, with an expected force of between 500 and 2,100, although the Japanese really had around 5,000 personnel in the area.

A comrade of Newman’s later wrote to David’s family with his recollections of the landing:

The noise of the guns going off in such a confined space and the bombs and flak from the Japanese falling into the sea and on the sides of the vessels didn’t help our nerves any as we approached the shore … We were met by very heavy fire from the Japanese, who were entrenched in emplacements just inside the kunai grass at the edge of the beach, and how more of us weren’t killed at that stage one will never know … The gun troop of 10 batteries in which Newman was a member set their guns up on the extreme right-hand edge of Scarlet Beach just close to the bombing line.

Shortly after first light the bombers and strafers came in, and the newly-won positions were put under a strong bombing attack … The gun site was severely hit.

Seven members of the group were wounded. David Newman was among their number and died of his wounds later that day.

Lieutenant Paul later wrote to David’s mother to tell her:

Last Sunday the regiment held a commemoration parade in memory of those of this regiment who fell during the recent campaign. Your son was remembered with the others, as he always will be … The day was fine and sunny and the service was held in the afternoon at 4 o’clock. Surrounded on two sides by jungle and two sides by kunai grass, the notes of the Last Post and then Reveille rang clearly and stirringly through the air. It was a simple tribute, but fine and moving, and all that we could pay them here to show that we will ever honour their memory.

Today, David Newman’s remains lie buried in Finschhafen War Cemetery.

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 Gunner David Charles Newman, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Duncan Beard
Editor, Military History Section
567 words

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