The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Private Colin Joseph Whiston, 6th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, Vietnam War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2020.1.1.231
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 18 August 2020
Access Open
Conflict Vietnam, 1962-1975
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
Description

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 Private Colin Joseph Whiston, 6th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, Vietnam War.

Speech transcript

Private Colin Joseph Whiston, 6th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment
KIA: 18 August 1966

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Colin Joseph Whiston.

Colin Whiston was born in Sydney on 8 May 1945, the eldest of three children of Tom and Ruby Whiston.
The Whiston family moved to Crib Point on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria when Colin was a young boy. He attended St Joseph’s Primary School and Mornington High School.
Colin had a keen interest in Australian Rules football. As he was already over six-feet tall, he quickly became the Crib Point Magpies under-17 team ruckman, and he was a key player in the club’s 1963 premiership in the Nepean Football League’s third eighteen. He also enjoyed playing tennis and loved fishing.

After leaving school, Colin initially went to work as a postman but was working at Central Timbers in Frankston when his call-up papers for National Service arrived.
Beginning his National Service on 26 September 1965, after training at Puckapunyal and Ingleburn he was posted to the 1st Australian Reinforcement Unit at Vung Tau, arriving in Vietnam in mid-June.

In August he was posted to the 6th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment. He joined his unit on 16 August and was sent to 11 Platoon, D Company.

In the early hours of the 17th of August, Nui Dat was hit by mortar and rifle fire, causing 24 Australian casualties. Patrols were sent out and soon located the enemy firing positions, but the Viet Cong had withdrawn.

The next day D Company moved into the Long Tan area. Shortly after 3 pm, 11 Platoon came into contact with enemy forces in the Long Tan rubber plantation. The enemy withdrew, 11 Platoon followed up. At approximately 4 pm, 11 Platoon encountered heavy opposition and began taking casualties.

Whiston was hit and killed by multiple gunshot wounds in the opening seconds of the battle. In minutes, 6 Section was all but wiped out. Engaged from three sides, the platoon was in danger of being cut off. Monsoonal rain deluged the area, reducing visibility and turning the ground into slick, red mud.

In the hours that followed, a numerically superior Vietnamese force attempted to overrun D Company. Well-controlled artillery fire and ammunition resupply flown in by Australian helicopters helped stave off disaster. That evening, armoured personnel carriers arrived and linked up with D Company, and as night fell the enemy withdrew.
The next morning the men of D Company returned to the battle site and recovered two of their badly wounded comrades. Colin and the rest of the fallen were found still lying at their weapons, having died defending their positions.

The Australians recovered three wounded Vietnamese soldiers and buried over 245 of their dead.

Colin Whiston’s remains were returned to Crib Point. He was laid to rest in the Crib Point Cemetery. He was 21 years old. When his father Tom, a Second World War veteran, passed away in 1993, he was laid to rest next to his son.

Colin Parade, which leads to the Crib Point Reserve, is named in his honour.

Colin Whiston’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on your right, along with more than 500 others from the Vietnam War.

This is but one of the many stories of courage and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Private Colin Joseph Whiston, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Michael Kelly
Historian, Australian War Memorial

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Private Colin Joseph Whiston, 6th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, Vietnam War. (video)