Harold Carnarvon HEATH

HEATH, Harold Carnarvon

Service Number: SX5177
Enlisted: 12 June 1940, Adelaide, SA
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
Born: Pt Lincoln, SA, 22 July 1909
Home Town: Henley Beach , City of Charles Sturt / Henley and Grange, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Not yet discovered
Died: 19 June 1993, aged 83 years, cause of death not yet discovered, place of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Dudley Park Cemetery, South Australia
Area: LAWN Section: Sub section: Sector: Plot: Row: NN Grave: 0
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World War 2 Service

12 Jun 1940: Involvement Lieutenant, SX5177
12 Jun 1940: Enlisted Adelaide, SA
12 Jun 1940: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Lieutenant, SX5177, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
26 Oct 1945: Discharged Lieutenant, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
26 Oct 1945: Discharged Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Lieutenant, SX5177, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion

What Price Service?

What Price Service?
Born in Port Lincoln on the 22nd July, 1909, Harold’s family moved to the coastal, suburban town of Henley Beach where, just prior to his 21st, he enlisted to serve in WWII. He was allocated the number, SX5177 in the newly formed 2/48th Battalion, which was almost immediately thrown into the vicious fighting of the Middle East, including Tobruk.
In his book, ‘Tobruk to Tarakan’ by John G. Glenn, Harry (Harold) was involved in several incidents. These included what was to be known as the Benghazi Handicap in April 1941. The 2/48th had only just arrived in Barraca, assuming there to be no Germans and only minimal Italian forces in the area. When news came through that Rommel was fast advancing, the Australians were ordered to immediately withdraw to near the Madalena Pass. To relieve congestion through Derna and to increase the speed of their withdrawal, the 2/48 cut across a desert track through Martuba.
Glenn reports: ’The confusion was so great that some sections of the unit became separated from the rest. Among the last to pass through Derna were Bill Lewis and Harry Heath. This is what they saw around midday on 7th April, four days after the beginning of the retreat’:
“We were directed through Derna because of the situation to the south and as we passed through the town great clouds of smoke drifted across the road and hid the truck ahead. The canteen was burning furiously, and explosions were coming from the dumps and stores as they were being destroyed by the engineers. We must have been one of the last trucks through; the engineers were ready to blow the road and were yelling at us to get a move on. We knew the Hun was close on our tail and heard afterwards that Parties of Germans had already been seen in Derna. As we crawled up the escarpment on to the plains above we saw our artillery had pulled to the right of the road and were preparing to engage the enemy. Great clouds of dust could be seen to the south.
“18th July considerable enemy activity had been noticed on a spur between two wadis forward of Post S25. Sgt Harry Heath and Corporal Bert Polkinghorne moved forward to the Wadi Sehel and selected the position for the observation post and mortar placement. The first round was right on the target, and soon the area was obliterated.”
In a typically Australian action, the Adelaide News reported that Ralph Parham of the South Australian Jockey Club, and a group of friends in October ’42 “paid up for him (Harry) in a sweep on the Caulfield Cup. Tranquil Star was drawn for Harold, and the bonny Gay Lothario mare did her part by scoring in excellent style. The first prize for the sweep is being forwarded to Harold, who will surely appreciate the kind thought of his friends. Before he went away Harold worked at race meetings on Saturday afternoons.”
Harry eventually rose to the rank of Lieutenant and was one of the few original 2/48th Battalion to survive the war. He was finally discharged in October 1945. He married Bessie Olive and the two had a son, Malcolm. Aged 83, Harold died on the 19th June, 1993. In a beautiful tribute to her husband, Bessie’s inscription on his memorial plaque reads ‘My dearly beloved husband, I will love you forever, Bessie (Toby)’. She survived him by 14 years, then aged 93 died on the 8th May, 2007. Their memorial is in the Dudley Park Cemetery.
Regrettably, Harold’s eight hard earned, personalised medals, in beautiful condition, were seen for sale in the Adelaide Arcade in 2020 for $897.
Researched and written by Kaye Lee daughter of Bryan Holmes, SX8133 2/48th Battalion.

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