Francis Lawrence (Lawrie) KEAST

KEAST, Francis Lawrence

Service Number: QX7999
Enlisted: 2 July 1940
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 2nd/15th Infantry Battalion
Born: Cooktown, Queensland, Australia, 17 January 1916
Home Town: Atherton, Tablelands, Queensland
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: farm hand
Died: Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia, 24 September 1990, aged 74 years, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Norwood Park Crematorium, Mitchell, A.C.T.
Explorers Garden, On Rock Portion, Flinders Row.
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World War 2 Service

2 Jul 1940: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Private, QX7999, 2nd/15th Infantry Battalion
18 Apr 1941: Involvement Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Private, QX7999, Siege of Tobruk
1 Sep 1942: Wounded Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Private, QX7999, El Alamein, GSW left head. A bullet creased the left temple and tore the left ear.
24 Sep 1943: Wounded Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Private, QX7999, New Guinea - Huon Peninsula / Markham and Ramu Valley /Finisterre Ranges Campaigns, GSW right knee. Evacuated to 2/5 AGH.
21 Mar 1944: Discharged Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Private, QX7999, 2nd/15th Infantry Battalion

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Biography contributed by Peter Keast

Lawrie enlist in Cairns 1940, the same as his late father who was KIA in July 1918. After basic training in Brisbane and futher training and deployment in Darwin he embarked for the Middle East in the 2/15th Battalion AIF. Here he saw service as one of the Rats Of Tobruk being present for most of the seige. In the precursors the the Battle of El Alamein known as Operation Bulimba Lawrie in his words "copped a bit of a knock to the head" crudely reported as a GSW left temple. A bullet creased his left temple and all but tore his left ear off. Patched up he was back in the front line with the battalion for the major battle. Returning to Australia and retraining for the Pacific War he was to make the landings at Lae and then Finchhafen. On the 23 September 1943 he was in the lead section at the first attemped crossing of the Bumi River when a Japanese machine gun opened fire. Two of the group were killed and Lawrie sustained a significant wound to his right leg, again in military language, GSW right knee. He was evacuated and flown back to the huge army hospital complex at Rocky Creek on the Atherton Tableland where access to high quality medical help they managed to save his leg. Coincidently this site was very close to where his family lived and they were able to visit regularly which no doubt helped his recovery. After many months in care and rehabilitation he was discharged medically unfit for further service. For many years following he required further medical assistance for the wound. While further recuperating and still suffering what we now call PTSD he visited his married sister in Canberra, ACT where he met the girl next door, Irene Newport and they subsequently married in 1952 and went on to have two sons, Robert and Peter. They remained together until his death in 1990. Irene passed away 2004.