|Object type||Last Post film|
Australian War Memorial
|Place made||Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell|
|Date made||14 September 2013|
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 (QX8135) Private Edgar Hamilton Roselt, 2/15th Battalion (Infantry), Second World War
The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial every 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 Ryan Wilson, the story for this day was on (QX8135) Private Edgar Hamilton Roselt, 2/15th Battalion (Infantry), Second World War.
**Due to technical issues this recording is of poor quality and not for public display.**
QX8135 Private Edgar Hamilton Roselt, 2/15th Battalion
KIA 31 August 1941
No photograph in the collection
Story delivered 14 September 2013
Today, we remember Private Edgar Hamilton Roselt, 2/15th Battalion, killed in action on 31 August 1941 at Tobruk, Libya.
Known as "Garry" to his family and "Snowy" in the army, Roselt was born in 1907 in Gympie in south-eastern Queensland. In 1932, Roselt married Amy Sole, and just over a year later had a daughter named Margery. The family spent much of the rest of the decade in the remote and isolated gold mining communities of Cracow and Mt Morgan.
Following the outbreak of war, Roselt travelled to Rockhampton and volunteered for the Australian Imperial Force in May 1940. Soon afterwards he was allocated to the newly raised 2/15th Battalion's C Company. His wife and daughter, meanwhile, moved to Redcliffe to stay with family.
The 2/15th Battalion left Australia for the Middle East at the end of 1940. After a period of training in Palestine, in February 1941 the battalion, along with the rest of the 9th Division, moved to the Libyan Desert. By this time the German and Italian forces in Libya were on the offensive, with British and Australian forces retreating to the harbour fortress of Tobruk and the Egyptian border. This retreat became known as the "Benghazi handicap" during which more 150 members of 2/15th Battalion were captured by the rapidly advancing Germans. Reaching Tobruk, Roselt described the withdrawal in his diary, writing how "only us chaps who went through could ever realise what a grand time we had in getting through ... Badly disorganised, some of us on foot ... finished sneaking though ... in small batches". Days later, Tobruk was surrounded by German and Italian forces in what became a long dragged out siege.
Commanded by Australian Major General Leslie Morshead, Tobruk's garrison consisted of the 9th Division and the Australian 18th Brigade as well as British and Indian troops. After defeating a major German attack in mid-April, Roselt was confident Tobruk would hold out, commenting:
Hitler sure gave us hell with his great swarm of bombers last week & Just wave after wave of them diving on our trenches, bombing and machine gunning & After all his blitzkerg (sic), he has done no good. His army weren't good enough to come through us.
On 1 May, a well-coordinated German and Italian attack succeeded in capturing a section of Tobruk's perimeter that became known as "the Salient". Repeated Australian counter attacks to recapture the lost territory were beaten back with heavy casualties. As the siege dragged on, in early July Roselt noted how the health and morale of those around him were fading: "This ceaseless pounding is beginning to fray the nerves of a few of the lads." They were without tobacco and had "not tasted a drop of beer for eight weeks".
Much of the fighting that took place along Tobruk's perimeter was conducted by small patrols. Each night groups of Australians went out into no-man's land to raid and harass the enemy. Roselt regularly participated in this patrolling war but on 31 August he was mortally wounded when his patrol attacked an Italian position. He was 34 years old. Years later, an Australian soldier who had taken part in the attack told Roselt's daughter her father's final words were: "Mother & mercy."
Roselt's name is listed on the Roll of Honour on your right, along with around more than 40,000 others from the Second World War.
His is but one of the many stories of courage and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Private Edgar Roselt, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in service of our nation.