The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (5/673) Private Kenneth George Sketchley 3rd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, Korean War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2020.1.1.300
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 26 October 2020
Access Open
Conflict United Nations Command Korea (UNC-K) 1950-1956
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 Craig Berelle, the story for this day was on (5/673) Private Kenneth George Sketchley 3rd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, Korean War.

Speech transcript

5/673 Private Kenneth George Sketchley 3rd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment
KIA: 3 October 1950

Kenneth George Sketchley was born in Perth on 8 January 1930, the son of James and Violet Sketchley.

Kenneth’s father James was a hotelier, and the family moved from Perth to Collie, to take over the Colliefields Hotel when Kenneth was quite young. He attended school locally; as he grew up, he enjoyed shooting and swimming. After leaving school, he held a variety of jobs, the last of which was as an assistant at Dorsett’s Garage in Collie.

Seeking greater opportunities, Sketchley enlisted in the Australian Regular Army at Karrakatta on 9 April 1948 for a six-year term. As he was 18, he was given permission to do so by his parents.

He was sent to the 1st Recruit Training Battalion at Greta for his initial training. This was followed by a posting to a technical school. In March 1949, he was posted to the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment at Puckapunyal in Victoria.

Following the outbreak of the Korean War on 25 June 1950, the Australian Government committed the 3rd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, then stationed in Japan, to the conflict.

On 23 August, Sketchley volunteered to join 3RAR as part of K Force, which was designed to bring the battalion up to strength with regular soldiers and volunteers who had served during the Second World War.

A week later, Sketchley and many other K Force volunteers were flown to Japan, joining 3RAR in early September.

Several weeks of frenetic training followed. 3RAR embarked from Kure on 27 September and disembarked at Pusan the following day, and became part of the 27th British Infantry Brigade.

With the UN landing at Inchon and the breakout from the Pusan Perimeter, 3RAR was tasked with patrolling in the Songju-Waegwan area, to look for North Korean troops cut off during the UN advance.

Sketchley was driving an LP2A carrier for C Company Headquarters. The company commander, Captain Ken Hummerston, and several other men were his passengers.

3RAR began patrolling on 2 October, but no enemy troops were sighted that. Patrolling continued the next day. Around 2pm, C Company was patrolling south of Waegwan. The carrier being driven by Sketchley left the main road to investigate a dirt track.

Unbeknownst to the Australians, the area had been heavily mined. Soon after leaving the road, the carrier detonated a Russian anti-tank mine. The explosion overturned the vehicle, which triggered several more mines. Sketchley, aged 20, and Hummerston, aged 34, were killed instantly. They were the first fatalities suffered by 3RAR in Korea.

Sketchley and Hummerston were initially laid to rest in a temporary cemetery at Taegu, but following the creation of the United Nations Cemetery at Busan, their remains were reinterred on 14 May 1951.

Sketchley’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour to my left, among the 340 soldiers, sailors and airmen who died as a result of their service during the Korean War.

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


Michael Kelly
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (5/673) Private Kenneth George Sketchley 3rd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, Korean War. (video)