FIELD, Kevin Francis, Pte., VX144763
(KIA 28 Jun 1945, Bougainville, PNG)
Kevin Francis Field was born 5 September 1917 at Kew, the second son of William and Mary Field of Montmorency. He was educated at Christian Brothers’ He enlisted at Heidelberg on 27 August 1940. His service record is currently not publicly accessible, but it appears that he was brought before a Court Martial on 23 September 1942. Kevin was a Private in the 57/60 Australian Infantry Battalion: a grunt, the work-horse of the Army. The 57th/60th Battalion was assigned to the 15th Brigade, 3rd Division in Victoria.
The battalion was initially used in a garrison role in Australia before being deployed to New Guinea in March 1943. The 57th/60th performed garrison and engineering roles at Tsili Tsili Airfield in the Watut Valley, while the rest of 15th Brigade took part in the Salamaua–Lae campaign, following which the 15th Brigade including the 57th/60th was formed up for battle in its entirety. Command was transferred to the 7th Division and the 15th Brigade including the 57th/60th then fought in the Markham and Ramu Valley and the Finisterre Range campaigns. Kevin’s battalion remained in New Guinea until July 1944 before being brought back to Australia for home leave, further training, and reorganisation.
The battalion was called together again to the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland. After a foreshortened training period, the 57th/60th received orders to re-join the 3rd Division which was at the time on Bougainville as part of the Australian II Corps, Australian forces having taken over responsibility for the island from the Americans in November 1944. The battalion embarked from Townsville on 1 January 1945 aboard the Fairisle, disembarking at Torokina, Bougainville, on January 5, 1945.
Following fighting around Slater’s Knoll the 15th Brigade moved forward and relieved the 7th Brigade in the southern sector of the island and shortly afterwards resumed the advance along the axis of the Buin Road, crossing the Hongorai River, and then the Hari and Mobiai Rivers before being relieved on 1 July by the 29th Brigade. During this time, the 57/60 took part in the Battle of the Hongorai River, as well as the advance to the Mivo River, undertaking a diversionary drive along the Commando Road on the left flank of the brigade’s main effort. Long (1963) describes the events of the advance towards the Mivo River:
“The 57th/60th Battalion, having completed its wide outflanking move on 16th June, was on the Buin Road and advancing towards the Mobiai. On the 17th a company of this battalion tried to outflank the enemy position between it and the Mobiai but was blocked by a Japanese position well north of the road. Next day it made a wider outflanking move and reached the road behind the enemy. There it was attacked but pressed on, and on the 19th the Japanese withdrew, having destroyed the field gun whose presence had prevented the tanks from advancing. In the following days the battalion thrust steadily forward, gaining a few hundred yards at a time, and on the 23rd was close to the Mobiai. There on the 24th a strong and determined enemy force was encountered with a 37-mm gun which scored three hits on the leading tank but failed to damage it. A heavy bombardment failed to dislodge the Japanese that day, but on the 25th they had gone leaving behind their gun, which had been buckled by fire from a tank.
Brigadier Hammer wished to advance to the Mivo before the enemy had recovered and reorganised. His plan was to relieve the 57th/60th Battalion on the Mobiai with the 58th/59th, move the 24th and 57th/60th to Musaraka whence they would advance with tanks round the enemy’s northern flank, the 24th to the Buin Road between the Koopani and Ivana Rivers and the 57th/60th to Shishigatero. The 58th/59th would create a diversion across the Mobiai and south of the Buin Road. By the 27th both leading battalions were in the concentration area and a track for tanks had been made on this flank from the Mobiai to a track—Killen’s—which ran just west of the Mivo to Shishigatero on the Buin Road.
That day when the 24th Battalion reached the assembly area from which the march to the Buin Road was to begin, the leading company found a party of Japanese in occupation, attacked them, killing nine, and dug in some 200 yards away while the artillery bombarded the enemy . Next day when the 57th/60th reached its area, farther forward, its leading company was attacked by about 100 Japanese as it was digging in. There was a fierce fight lasting half an hour in which 2 Australians were killed and 10 wounded and 11 Japanese dead left on the field. Nevertheless by dusk the battalion was packed and rationed ready to move off early next morning—29th June. All that night it rained, and in the morning there being no sign of the Japanese who had attacked the previous day, two companies, each with a troop of tanks, set off over boggy ground behind an artillery barrage which lifted 200 yards every eight minutes . By 4 p.m. the leading companies were on the Buin Road—their objective.”
Kevin was killed in action on June 28. The 57/60 was relieved by 15 Battalion on 2 July 1945. The battalion did not see combat again prior to war’s end. For Kevin and his family, the end of the fighting was so near, a few days at most – yet proved too far.
Kevin was remembered with the following notices published in The Age, Saturday, 7 July 1945, p10:
- FIELD. — Killed in action, Bougainville, June 28, VX144763, Private Kevin Francis, dearly loved son of William and Mary, Montmorency, loving brother of Gerard and Majella, age 27 years. May his dear soul rest in peace.
- FIELD. — In memory of Pte. Kevin, killed in action Bougainville June 28. His cheerful smile and kindly ways always remembered. —Inserted by Orme family, Diamond Creek.
The Age, Saturday, 14 July 1945, p10:
- FIELD. — Killed in action, on June 28, Bougainville, VX144763, 57/60th Btn. Private Kevin Francis, dearly loved son of William and Mary, Montmorency, loving brother of Gerard and Majella, age 27 years. May his dear soul rest in peace.
- FIELD. — On June 28, killed in action Bougainville, VX144763, Pte. Kevin Francis, loved friend of Mr. and Mrs. Cowan and family, Montmorency. One of the best. We will always remember him.
- FIELD. — On June 28, killed in action Bougainville, VX144763, Pte. Kevin Francis. Always a pal. – Barbara and Ron Cowan.
The Age newspaper, Saturday 29 June 1946, p10:
- FIELD. — In loving memory of our dear son and brother, Kevin Francis, 57/60th Batt., D Coy., killed in action Bougainville, June 28, 1945. Requiescat in pace. – Inserted by his loving parents, brother Gerard, sister, Majella.
- FIELD. — VX144763, Pte. Kevin Francis Field, killed in action, Bougainville, June 28, 1945, loving friend of Joe Hefferman, Templestowe, R.I.P.
The Age newspaper, Wednesday 28 June 195046, p2:
- FIELD. — Killed in action, Bougainville, June 28, 1945, Kevin Francis, 57/60 Batt., loving son of William and Mary, Montmorency; loving brother Gerard and Magella (deceased). R.I.P.
- FIELD. — In loving memory of Kevin, killed in action at Bougainville on June 28, 1945, second son of Mr. and Mrs. W. Field, Montmorency. — Inserted by his loving grandfather, John W. Field.
- FIELD. — In loving memory of Pte. Kevin Francis, VX144763, killed in action, June 28, 1945, at Bougainville. R.I.P. — Inserted by loving uncle and aunt, Eric and Kit Field, Kew.
- FIELD. — In loving memory of Kevin, killed in action, June 28, 1945. Res in peace. In God’s care. Loved by all who knew him. — Inserted by Mrs. Neal, Nellie and boys.
Kevin is buried in Port Moresby (Bomana) War Cemetery, Papua New Guinea, Grave C1. F. 27.
FIELD, Pte. KEVIN FRANCIS, VX.144763 A.I.F 57/60 Bn. Australian Infantry
28th June 1945. Age 27.
Son of William and Mary Field, of Montmorency, Victoria.
His duty fearlessly
And nobly done
Ever remembered. R.I.P.
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ROLL OF HONOUR
Soldiers of the Shire of Eltham remembered on the Eltham Roll of Honour for their supreme sacrifice; located in the Eltham War Memorial Hall
- Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission https://www.cwgc.org/
- Electoral Roll Records via Ancestry.com
- Family history search , Births Deaths Marriages Victoria https://my.rio.bdm.vic.gov.au/efamily-history/-
- Service Records, National Archives of Australia https://www.naa.gov.au/
- World War Two Nominal Roll, Department of Veteran Affairs, Australian Government https://nominal-rolls.dva.gov.au/ww2
- KILLED IN ACTION ON BOUGAINVILLE (1945, September 13). The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 – 1954), p. 5. Retrieved July 30, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article245662215
- Long, Gavin (1963). The Final Campaigns. Australia in the War of 1939–1945, Series 1—Army. Volume VII (1st ed.). Canberra, Australian Capital Territory: Australian War Memorial, https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/RCDIG1070206/
- ROLL OF HONOR (1945, August 31). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved July 30, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article204026209
- Wikipedia contributors. (2020, May 12). 57th/60th Battalion (Australia). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved August 6, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=57th/60th_Battalion_(Australia)&oldid=956359513
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