The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (WX26091) Corporal Mervyn Minchin, 2/24th Battalion, Second World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2020.1.1.255
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 11 September 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
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 Gerad Pratt, the story for this day was on (WX26091) Corporal Mervyn Minchin, 2/24th Battalion, Second World War.

Speech transcript

WX26091 Corporal Mervyn Minchin, 2/24th Battalion
Died of wounds 1 May 1945

Today we remember and pay tribute to Corporal Mervyn Minchin.

Mervyn Minchin was born on 7 May 1918 in York, the oldest inland town in Western Australia, located about 100 kilometres east of Perth.

The youngest son of Frederick and Lillie Minchin, Mervyn grew up surrounded by a large family. He was an active member of the community of Dangin, finding employment as a farm labourer while being heavily involved in Sunday School at the local Methodist church; he was also a popular scout leader.

He served in the 10th Light Horse Regiment, known at the time as the Western Australia Mounted Infantry. After enlisting in the militia unit in October 1939, he was called up for full time duty two years later.

Minchin attended numerous schools and training courses in Bunbury and Perth, and was promoted to corporal on 29 December 1941. He continued to train in Perth, and was noted as having “knowledge, command and personality”.

As the 10th Light Horse focused on the defence of south-west Australia, it was partially mechanised. However, it did retain horses to patrol the coastline, and was the last regiment in Australia to employ horses.

On 20 July 1942, Minchin transferred to the Australian Imperial Force, a necessary step in order to be able to serve overseas.

In May 1943 Minchin became an instructor at the military camp at Northam, about 100 kilometres north-east of Perth . He continued in this position until November 1944, when he travelled to Queensland and joined an infantry training battalion. He experienced some health issues, first being sent to hospital with back-ache in late November and early December.

In January 1945 he joined the 2/24th Battalion before taking sick in February with tonsilitis and pharyngitis.
He had, however, recoved by April, as his unit was committed to Operation Oboe: the Allied campaign to retake Borneo and Java from the Japanese.

The amphibious assault on Tarakan began on 1 May. Despite difficult coastal approaches, minefields and strongly fortified defences, the landing was a success.
Naval and air bombardment before the landing, and then naval gunfire support once ground forces were ashore, neutralised most resistance.

But even such a well organised success came at a cost. Corporal Mervyn Minchin was wounded by machine-gun fire to his chest and left elbow. He was was evacuated from the battlefield, but died of his wounds that day.

He was 26 years old.

This was a particularly cruel loss for the Minchin family, as Mervyn’s brother Alec had died a year earlier while a prisoner of war. Having served with the 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion before being taken prisoner, Alec was among 1,318 prisoners of war forced to board the hellship Rakuyo Maru as part of a convoy bound for Japan. He died at sea after the convoy was attacked by American submarines in the South China Sea.

Today, Mervyn Minchin’s remains lie in the Labuan War Cemetery under the inscription chosen by his grieving family: “His duty fearlessly and nobly done, ever remembered.”

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 Corporal Mervin Minchin, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Duncan Beard
Editor, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (WX26091) Corporal Mervyn Minchin, 2/24th Battalion, Second World War. (video)