The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (NX177991) Lieutenant Henry Wykeham Freame, 2/24th Australian Infantry Battalion, Second World War.

Accession Number AWM2021.1.1.128
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 8 May 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

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 Tristan Rallings, the story for this day was on (NX177991) Lieutenant Henry Wykeham Freame, 2/24th Australian Infantry Battalion, Second World War.

Speech transcript

NX177991 Lieutenant Henry Wykeham Freame, 2/24th Australian Infantry Battalion
KIA 8 May 1945

Today we remember and pay tribute to Lieutenant Henry Wykeham Freame. He was born on 5 December 1921 in Uralla, New South Wales, the son of Henry and Edith Freame.

His father was an adventurer, soldier, orchardist and interpreter, believed to have been born in Osaka, Japan – though he gave his birthplace as Canada when he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force during the First World War.
Freame senior was awarded one of the AIF's first Distinguished Conduct Medals for “displaying the utmost gallantry in taking water to the firing-line although twice hit by snipers”, and was Mentioned in Despatches for his work at Monash Valley in June. Charles Bean described him as “probably the most trusted scout at Anzac”.

Discharged as medically unfit, the older Freame settled on the Kentucky estate in New England, New South Wales, where he became a successful orchardist. With the outbreak of the Second World War he offered his services to the Australian Military Forces. In December 1939 he was planted by military intelligence as an agent among the Japanese community in Sydney. In September 1940 he was appointed as an interpreter on the staff of the first Australian legation to Tokyo.

He returned to Australia early in April 1941 because of ill health and died in May.

His son, Henry Freame junior, enlisted in the Militia in late October 1941. The following year a police report from Uralla stated that he was “a good citizen and definitely loyal to the British Empire. He is not known to speak the Japanese language and so far as it is known has not visited Japan.”

Freame served with the 33rd Battalion until enlisting in the Second Australian Imperial Force in August 1942, rising to the rank of sergeant with the Australian Provost Corps.

He entered the Royal Military College, Duntroon, on 27 March 1943, and when he graduated in April 1944 he was Colour Sergeant of the Corps of Staff Cadets. He was appointed as a lieutenant the following day, and by December 1944 had transferred to the 2/24th Battalion.
By then, the battalion had defended Tobruk and fought at el Alamein in North Africa, before facing Japanese forces in the Pacific, fighting around Lae, Finschhafen, and Sattelberg in New Guinea.

The battalion had then remained in Australia for almost a year, training on the Atherton Tablelands and receiving a large number of reinforcements. In April 1945 the battalion was committed to Operation Oboe, the Allied campaign to retake Borneo and Java, tasked with capturing the island of Tarakan.

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. Heavy fighting ensued, as Japanese defenders fought to hold on to the position, and the Australians were held up for three days. Following this, they pushed into the rugged terrain inland, fighting a series of actions to secure the high ground overlooking the township. This fighting lasted until 20 June, when Hill 90 was finally taken.
The Oboe series of operations were some of the most controversial fought by Australian troops during the war. Many senior Australian officers considered them strategically unsound and felt that they contributed little to the defeat of Japan; 225 Australians were killed as a result of Tarakan campaign. As a proportion of the number of troops involved, it was the most costly of the Oboe operations.

Among the dead was Lieutenant Henry Wykeham Freame, who was killed in action on 8 May 1945.
He was 23 years old.

Elsewhere this day marked the formal acceptance by the Allies of Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces, marking the end of the Second World War in Europe. For Australian troops in Borneo, however, the end would not come for some time. In the aftermath of the campaign, Australian personnel would remain in Borneo until late 1945, restoring civilian administration, overseeing reconstruction efforts, supervising the surrender of Japanese troops, and liberating former prisoners of war.
Today, Henry Freame’s remains lie in Labuan War Cemetery, under the Latin inscription “Fortiter Fideliter Feliciter”¬¬ – which means “bravely, faithfully and happily”.

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 Lieutenant Henry Wykeham Freame, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Duncan Beard
Editor, Military History Section