The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Private Menaham Mirmovitch, 2/11th Australian Infantry Battalion, Second World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2021.1.1.7
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 7 January 2021
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 Gerard Pratt, the story for this day was on Private Menaham Mirmovitch, 2/11th Australian Infantry Battalion, Second World War.

Speech transcript

Private Menaham Mirmovitch, 2/11th Australian Infantry Battalion,
KIA 12 May 1945

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Menaham Mirmovitch.

Menaham Mirmovitch was born on 22 January 1915 in Margo, Cyprus, the son of Yecheskel and Haya-Mauya Mirmovitch.

A group of Jewish families from Russia had established an agricultural community in Margo. The group had little experience, but their undertaking was funded, farmland was purchased, houses and farm buildings built for the settlers, seed and livestock purchased, and a school, synagogue, bakery and mill established.

Menaham Mirmovitch’s family were most likely recruited from an agricultural school on the outskirts of Jaffa on the coast of Palestine. The Mirmovitches were part of a new group that joined older families and established more successful farming practices, briefly reinvigorating the Cyprus commune. However, after a brief respite during the First World War, most of the settlers there moved to the British Protectorate of Palestine.

Here Menaham Mirmovitch became a successful soccer player, playing in the first official Jewish sports federation of Maccabi Tel-Aviv.

In 1938, he competed against the Greek national team. The players were mostly from the powerful Maccabi Tel-Aviv club side, with a few from other teams included to create a “Palestine” banner under which to play.

In June 1939, Mirmovitch came to Australia as part of the same team to compete in a test series of soccer matches.
Before leaving for Australia, the touring party laid a wreath on the Australian War Memorial, opposite the entrance gates of the British War Cemetery, at Mount Scopus, Jerusalem, in memory of fallen Australian soldiers.

In Australia, they played games against state sides and regional sides – as well as five tests against the Australian national team, winning one, drawing one, and losing three.

The trip was rough, and the team sometimes had to sleep on luggage racks between matches, as they had been limited to travelling with second-class train tickets.

While some of the press coverage of the matches was negative, Mirmovitch and two other players – Avraheim Beit HaLevi and Avraheim Reznik – received offers to play for local clubs, and elected to remained in Australia.

Mirmovitch settled in Western Australia, where he enlisted in the Second Australian Imperial Force on 9 February 1942, shortly before his 27th birthday.

During his first few months of service he had a reaction to an inoculation, for which he was admitted to hospital, and was transferred around reinforcement forces for various battalions.

He was appointed lance corporal in August 1942, but after he was found absent without leave and illegally using an army vehicle in late December, he reverted to private.

A year later, still in Western Australia, Mirmovitch was again found absent without leave. In late September 1943 he began jungle warfare training. In February the following year was taken on strength of the 2/11th Battalion, which had been assisting in the defence of Western Australia, but returned to northern Queensland in July 1943.

The 2/11th landed at Aitape in New Guinea on 13 November 1944 to undertake its only campaign against the Japanese.

Patrolling, often arduous in nature, constituted most of its operations. While it was operating east of the Danmap River, Mirmovitch was taken ill with fever. A week later, after having his illness identified as dengue, he returned to his unit.

On 12 May the 2/11th Battalion was fighting for control of a piece of ground known as “Feature 620”. A Japanese position that held up their advance had been shelled by artillery that morning, but proved difficult to dislodge.
Mirmovitch’s company was ordered to patrol and try to make contact with the 2/4th Battalion for assistance. During the patrol, Mirmovitch was killed by a sniper.

His remains were later buried in the Lae War Cemetery, where they lie today, under the epitaph, “The beauty of Israel is slain upon the high plains … Zion”.

Menaham Mirmovitch was 30 years old.

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 Private Menaham Mirmovitch, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Duncan Beard, Editor
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Private Menaham Mirmovitch, 2/11th Australian Infantry Battalion, Second World War. (video)