|Object type||Last Post film|
Australian War Memorial
|Place made||Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell|
|Date made||10 August 2020|
Second World War, 1939-1945
Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
|Copying Provisions||Copy provided for personal non-commercial use|
The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (VX45168) Trooper Gordon Ernest Beard, 2/11 Cavalry Commando Squadron, Second World War.
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 (VX45168) Trooper Gordon Ernest Beard, 2/11 Cavalry Commando Squadron, Second World War.
VX45168 Trooper Gordon Ernest Beard, 2/11 Cavalry Commando Squadron
KIA 11 June 1945
Today we remember and pay tribute to Trooper Gordon Ernest Beard.
Gordon Beard was born on 5 November 1918, the eldest son of Ernest Joshua and Jane Elizabeth Mary Beard of Mortlake in Victoria. He had a brother, Alexander, and a sister, Dorothy.
Gordon’s parents died when he was young, his mother when he was five, and his father when he was 10. He was placed under the guardianship of John McDonald, who also lived in Mortlake. (McDonald would later adopt a member of the Dutch underground – after his own son was killed over Cologne on Christmas Day 1944 while serving with the Royal Australian Air Force.)
Gordon Beard worked in the area as a farmhand, and served for two years in a Light Horse Militia unit.
On 20 June 1940 he enlisted at Warnambool, and in August was posted to the 8th Division Cavalry Regiment, which trained on Vickers light tanks and machine-gun carriers. With the 8th Division being sent to Malaysia, Singapore, and the islands, its commander thought that armour would have limited use in the jungle, so the regiment was reassigned to the 9th Division.
Sailing for the Middle East in April, Beard arrived in Egypt and then moved to Palestine. In June, his unit fought as part of the Allied invasion of Syria, using a number of captured French Renault R35 tanks.
As the war in the North Africa continued and German armour became stronger, the regiment was equipped with Crusader cruiser tanks, Stuart light tanks, and machine-gun carriers. By July 1942 German and Italian troops had reached El Alamein. The 9th Division was rushed to the area and held the northern sector for almost four months as the 8th Army was reinforced for a new offensive.
Alamein was a great, although bloody, success for the Allies and by early November enemy forces were retreating. But the 9th Division was needed elsewhere. In January 1943 the regiment left Egypt and boarded troopships for Australia. After a period of leave, Beard regrouped with the rest of the division in April on the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland.
In January 1944 the 9th Division Cavalry Regiment became the 2/9th Cavalry (Commando) Regiment, losing its vehicles and becoming the administrative headquarters for other commando squadrons.
On 1 July 1944, Gordon Beard married Violet Frances Maud Parsons. He was later admonished for being absent without leave from 3-7 July, presumably enjoying an unscheduled honeymoon.
In April 1945 Beard unit sailed with his unit from Townsville as part of the buildup for operations to liberate areas of the Netherlands East Indies and British Borneo.
The bulk of the 2/11th came ashore at Green Beach on Labuan Island on 10 June. Amidst heavy naval and aerial bombardments, the landing met little opposition, as the Japanese defenders had withdrawn from the beaches.
However, there were some casualties. Trooper Gordon Beard was killed in action on 11 June.
He was 26 years old. He was buried in the Labuan Cemetary in Borneo, underneath the words: “His duty fearlessly and nobly done. Ever remembered.”
His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, among some 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 Trooper Gordon Ernest Beard, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.
Editor, Military History Section
Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (VX45168) Trooper Gordon Ernest Beard, 2/11 Cavalry Commando Squadron, Second World War. (video)