The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (QX6090) Captain Arthur Max Benson, 2/9th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force, Second World War.

Accession Number AWM2021.1.1.359
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 December 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 Copyright restrictions apply. Only personal, non-commercial, research and study use permitted. Permission of copyright holder required for any commercial use and/or reproduction.

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 Melaine Cassar , the story for this day was on (QX6090) Captain Arthur Max Benson, 2/9th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force, Second World War.

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Speech transcript

QX6090 Captain Arthur Max Benson, 2/9th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force
Accidental death: 25 December 1944

Today we remember and pay tribute to Captain Arthur Max Benson.

Arthur Benson was born on 3 March 1906 in Gundiah, Queensland, to Joseph and Charlotte Benson. He had a twin brother, Emmanuel.

Little is known of his early life, but he married Florence Grace Benson, and they had three children: sons Jack and Marcel, and daughter Vilma. They lived in Tiaro, Queensland. He worked as a farmer and later a railway employee, but also served on and off with the Militia in the Australian Military Forces, or AMF, from 1926. In October 1939, as part of the 47th Battalion in the AMF, he volunteered for duty, and was later made a lieutenant in the 2/9th Battalion, Second Australian Imperial Force.

Benson travelled with his unit to the Middle East on 5 May 1940. The battalion served in Egypt before reinforcing the defence of Tobruk. One of Benson’s reports to his commander indicates a wry sense of humour:

We had our usual narrow escapes; in one instance a grenade was thrown at me and exploded at my feet. Except for being blown off my feet I received no injury. Not being selfish, I tossed back a Mills hand grenade for the occupants to share amongst them.

Benson spent June to August in and out of hospital with various illnesses, including jaundice and dysentery. After being withdrawn from Tobruk in August, the battalion trained in Palestine, during which Benson attended a field works course. The unit joined the forces garrisoning Syria in September, and in early January Australian troops were ordered to withdraw from the Middle East after the outbreak of war with Japan in the Pacific. The 2/9th Battalion embarked on 12 February 1942.

Benson spent five months in Australia before sailing with his battalion to New Guinea in August 1942. In September he was promoted to temporary captain. The 2/9th took part in the bloody battles at Buna on the north-eastern coast of Papua. On 27 December the battalion was attacking a Japanese position near Buna when Benson was wounded in action with gunshot wounds to the forehead, chest, and legs. He was evacuated to the 2/9th Australian General Hospital, and in January he embarked aboard the Manunda for Australia. He was later Mentioned in Despatches for his “gallant and distinguished service in the South West Pacific Area”.

After treatment in military hospitals in Brisbane, Benson spent some months in recovery from his wounds. In June 1943 he was made second in command of an infantry training battalion, and served in Australia until March 1944, when he was sent back to Port Moresby to rejoin his unit.

Benson served a few months in New Guinea before being evacuated back to Australia in May 1944. He appears to have spent some months attending tactical training before being hospitalised in November with an undiagnosed debility, possibly owing to his old wound. On 12 December he was assessed as unfit for overseas service and the following day was discharged from the hospital with anxiety, and was put on leave until the 29th.

Benson spent his leave with his family. On Christmas Day 1944 he, his wife, and his three children went to the Mary River to teach the boys to swim. Benson was in the river with his two sons when he disappeared from view. His body was found an hour later, but he could not be revived. A court of inquiry cited evidence that indicated he had drowned after suffering a stroke, probably brought on by head trouble from an old shrapnel wound. He was 38 years old.

Benson was buried at Maryborough Military Cemetery.

Captain Arthur Max Benson is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with some 40,000 others from the Second World War. His photograph is displayed beside the Pool of Reflection.

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

Christina Zissis
Editor, Military History Section

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