John Latima ASSHETON

ASSHETON, John Latima

Service Number: NX202253
Enlisted: 9 September 1943, Paddington New South Wales
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 41st Infantry Battalion
Born: Sydney, New South Wales, 16 August 1925
Home Town: Pymble, Ku-ring-gai, New South Wales
Schooling: Sydney Grammar School & Metropolitan Business College
Occupation: Student
Died: Injuries caused by mortar shell, Pymble, Sydney, Australia, 9 July 1944, aged 18 years
Cemetery: Sydney War Cemetery, Rookwood, New South Wales
Plot U, Row A, Grave 2,
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
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World War 2 Service

9 Sep 1943: Enlisted Paddington New South Wales
9 Sep 1943: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Private, NX202253
9 Jul 1944: Involvement Private, NX202253, 41st Infantry Battalion

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Biography contributed by Elizabeth Allen

John Latima ASSHETON was born in Sydney in 1928 although he stated on his enlistment he was born on 16.8.1925

His parents were Charles Frederick ASSHETON and Anne Amelia DEHLE who married on 7th April, 1927 in the Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Strahan, Tasmania

He enlisted in Paddington, Sydney on 9th September, 1943 and was with the Citizens Military Force - 41st Infantry Battalion

John died from injuries in his Uncles garage when a  fuse cap from a mortar shell he had in his possession exploded

He is buried in Rookwood War Cemetery, Plot U, Row A, Grave 2


His Uncle was Flight Lieutenant Horace Athold CHIN of the RAAF (SN 74489) who was discharged in 1946

His father Lieutenant Colonel Charles Frederick ASSHETON (SN NX379) was killed on 9th February, 1942 during the fall of Singapore


Trove Newspaper Articles about the tragedy

Tweed Daily (Murwillumbah) 10th July, 1944 page 3

Mortar shell kills youth

SYDNEY  Sunday.  A 16 year old youth, Private John Latima Assheton of Tamworth was killed today while trying to open a 2 inch mortar shell

The lad, who was staying at Pymble with his Mother prior to leaving for Tamworth tomorrow was working in a garage on the shell when it exploded - he was fearfully injured and the garage was completely wrecked.

His father, Colonel C F Assheton was killed at Singapore

He pleaded with his mother to be allowed to join the AIF to avenge his Fathers death.  She assented & 9 months ago he joined up. Detectives are investigating the tragedy.


Sydney Morning Herald 10th July, 1944 page 1


Garage explosion at Pymble

Private John Latima Assheton, 16 of the AIF was killed yesterday afternoon when a fuse cap exploded in a garage at the home of his Uncle, Flight Lieut, H.A. Chin in Pentecost Avenue, Pymble

Private Assheton was the only son of the late Colonel Charles F Assherton, formerly a Main Roads Engineer of Glen Innes, who was one of the first Australianas to enlist and was killed in action in Malaya.

Relatives of the youth said that he had worried his mother for permission to enlist "I want to have a go at the Japs for killing my Dad" was his insistent appeal.

He joined the AIF 9 months ago giving his age as 18  A few days ago he was given 23 days leave and stayed with his Uncle who is a dental surgeon.  His mother whose home is now in Tamworth was also in the house.


Yesterday afternoon he was left alone in the house.  A few minutes after 4.30pm there was an explosion which alarmed residents of Pentecost St.  Sergeant Douglas Mudie of the RAAF who lives in the same street, ran to Dr Chins garage

In the semi darkness he said last night "I found Assheton lying on the floor, terribly injured and buried by fittings which had been blown off the wall of the garage.  

He died as I was waiting for a doctor and the Central Distrcit Ambulance to arrive.

A few minutes later his Mother & Dr & Mrs. Chin arrived back at the house.  When they saw the waiting ambulance, I broke the news to them"

It is not known how Private Assheton obtained the fuse cap. Fragments examined by Detective Sergeant Wilson & White suggested that it was from a two inch mortar.  Fragments blew a hole in the ceiling of the garage and drove a large tin dish up to the tiles

On a bench police found a screw driver and a large jack knife and it is believed that Private Assheton was using one of these on the fuse cap when it exploded.  None of his relatives knew that he had the fuse cap in his possession.