|Object type||Last Post film|
Australian War Memorial
|Place made||Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell|
|Date made||10 April 2021|
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 (NX14887) Corporal Geoffrey Vigors Hewitt, 2/13th Australian Infantry Battalion, 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 Joanne Smedley, the story for this day was on (NX14887) Corporal Geoffrey Vigors Hewitt, 2/13th Australian Infantry Battalion, Second World War.
NX14887 Corporal Geoffrey Vigors Hewitt, 2/13th Australian Infantry Battalion
KIA 25 June 1941
Today we remember and pay tribute to Corporal Geoffrey Vigors Hewitt.
Geoffrey Hewitt was born in Glenn Innes, New South Wales, on 23 February 1914, the third son of William and Nina Hewitt.
Growing up alongside his three brothers and three sisters, young Geoff attended the New England Grammar School in Glen Innes, before going on to work as a jackeroo and a farmer.
Geoff Hewitt enlisted in the Militia in May 1939, and after a year of service was a sergeant in the 35th Battalion.
On 14 May 1940 he enlisted in the Second Australian Imperial Force, and was allotted to the newly formed 2/13th Battalion with the rank of acting corporal.
Part of the 20th Brigade of the newly formed 7th Division, the 2/13th Battalion completed basic training at Ingleburn before marching to Bathurst army camp.
Embarking for overseas service in October 1940, the battalion sailed from Sydney Harbour for the Middle East, transferring to the newly formed 9th Division en route to Egypt.
During the sea voyage, Hewitt was evacuated to hospital in Bombay and then spent time in the ship’s hospital with mumps.
His rank of corporal was confirmed and in December he was promoted to acting sergeant, reverting to corporal in February. Early in March 1941 he and the rest of the 9th Division moved into Cyrenaica (today’s Libya), replacing the 6th Division, which was going to Greece.
The Axis were also reorganising their forces. German forces landed at Tripoli, bolstering the Italians, and advanced east. The British were forced to evacuate Benghazi and fall back to Tobruk. The 2/13th Battalion covered the withdrawal of the rest of the division, and by 9 April had joined them at Tobruk.
Geoff and his comrades helped to defend Tobruk for eight months – the only Australian battalion to see out the entire siege. It was planned that the battalion would evacuate in October – but this was delayed when its convoy was forced to turn back from enemy air attack.
Sadly, Corporal Geoff Hewitt would not leave Tobruk when the siege lifted in December. He was killed in action on 25 June 1941.
Signaller C.S. Anderson reported on the events surrounding his death:
Geoff had taken his night patrol out and they had crept up very close to the enemy lines when they were seen by the light of a sudden flare. The enemy has what are called fixed lines of machine-guns, which are fired blindly during the night. The enemy put over mortars and one of these lines opened up close behind the patrol.
Two men were wounded by the mortars and the patrol had to get back at all costs. Geoff knelt up with a Bren gun and kept the enemy down from their machine-guns sufficiently long enough for all his men to get away. It was a piece of shrapnel from a mortar which hit Geoff. When things quietened down his patrol went back and got him. He is buried in the AIF cemetery at Tobruk.
It was the action of an extremely brave and unselfish man …
Today, Geoff Heweitt’s remains lie in Tobruk War Cemetery, beneath the epitaph chosen by his grieving family: “He gave his life that truth, honour and justice might prevail.”
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 Geoffrey Vigors Hewitt, 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 (NX14887) Corporal Geoffrey Vigors Hewitt, 2/13th Australian Infantry Battalion, Second World War. (video)