Australian War Memorial – Last Post Ceremony

Card on floral wreath with message, ‘Lest We Forget. Lieutenant Kyle, RAN. Thank you for your service.’ (Australian War Memorial)
Card on floral wreath with message, ‘Lest We Forget. Lieutenant Kyle, RAN. Thank you for your service.’ (Australian War Memorial)

On 1April 2022, the Australian War Memorial joined the Australian Signals Directorate in celebrating our 75th Anniversary, with a Last Post Ceremony honouring Lieutenant Alan Fairlie Kyle, who served as a Coastwatcher in WWII.

Lieutenant Kyle first served in the Australian Imperial Force in WWI as a Sapper assigned to the 4th Divisional Signal Company. After suffering from strain and shock as a result of active service, he was removed from the field and discharged in 1918. In the post-war years, he was employed as the assistant district commissioner at Namatanai in Papua New Guinea, and remained there when WWII began.

When a Japanese convoy arrived on the island, Kyle and his patrol officer, Gregory Benham helped refugees escape and then set up an observational post to gather intelligence. As a result of their work, they were assigned to the Special Intelligence Service, and appointed to the Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve.

After months of intelligence gathering, and with the Japanese establishing a civil administration on the island, it became too dangerous for the Australians to remain. Two rescue attempts were made to recover Lieutenant Kyle and Sub-Lieutenant Benham, but to no avail. It was later revealed they were captured hours before the second submarine arrived, and were held captive for four months before being executed on Nago Island in 1942.

Today, his name is listed on the Roll of Honour with the almost 40,000 other Australians who died while serving in WWII. You can watch the Last Post Ceremony below.