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Jack Keith Weston (1912–1963)

by Lloyd Brodrick

This article was published:

Jack Keith Weston (1912-1963), by unknown photographer, 1942

Jack Keith Weston (1912-1963), by unknown photographer, 1942

Australian War Memorial, 022936

Jack Keith Weston (1912-1963), soldier, was born on 7 January 1912 in North Adelaide, tenth child of Australian-born parents Alfred Leonard Weston, railway ganger, and his wife Mabel Annie, née Brumby. Educated at Woodside and Parilla Public schools, Jack worked as a stockman and labourer. At St Martin's Church, Campbelltown, on 4 February 1931 he married with Anglican rites Naomi Florence Usher, a waitress. He was employed as a tractor driver at Appila when he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 25 June 1940. Posted to the 2nd/48th Battalion, he embarked for the Middle East in November as a corporal.

In North Africa 'Tex' Weston emerged as an outstanding member of an equally outstanding battalion. From April 1941 the 2nd/48th was besieged at Tobruk, Libya. Weston took part in and led numerous night patrols, displaying an extraordinary ability to navigate by the stars through no man's land, often travelling long distances outside the Australian lines to reconnoitre German and Italian positions. In engagements with the enemy he displayed courage, aggression and a cool head. For his work on twenty-three patrols up to 31 July he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. Confirmed in the rank of sergeant on 19 October, he left Tobruk with his battalion three days later.

Following a period of training and garrison duty in Palestine, Syria and Lebanon, in June 1942 the 2nd/48th Battalion moved to Egypt with the 9th Division. Weston was again active in patrolling enemy positions at night. On 10 July 1942 during the division's assault on Tel el Eisa, his platoon was ordered to silence a battery of German field-guns that were firing on the advancing Australians. As platoon sergeant, he led the attack, seizing the battery and then single-handedly capturing the crews of a further four guns that he had observed. Later that day he kept the platoon intact when it was overrun by tanks, and took some German tank crews prisoner. For his 'determination and courage' he was awarded the Military Medal, becoming the only Australian to be awarded both the D.C.M. and M.M. in the Middle East in World War II.

On 31 October 1942 in the battle of El Alamein Weston was badly wounded in his left arm and right leg. In spite of his injuries he carried another wounded soldier a mile (1.6 km) back to the dressing station. He rejoined the 2nd/48th Battalion from hospital on 8 January 1943, less than a month before it embarked for Australia. After home leave and several months of jungle-warfare training, he arrived at Milne Bay, Papua, on 6 August 1943. For seven weeks he served in Papua and around Lae, New Guinea, before spending almost five months in hospital with malaria and dysentery. He rejoined his battalion on 1 March 1944 but ten days later was again in hospital with malaria. Medically downgraded, he served with a number of units in South Australia before being discharged on 7 March 1945.

Weston was six feet (183 cm) tall and well built. He had been a tough soldier who was admired by his men and respected by his superiors. Softly spoken and described as a 'real bushman', he enjoyed a drink and a joke, and 'taking the mickey' out of officers. In 1946 he joined the Australian contingent for the Victory March in London. He managed pastoral stations in New South Wales and South Australia, and hotels at Cleve and Cowell. Survived by his wife, their daughter and one of their two sons, he died of cancer on 13 December 1963 at the Repatriation General Hospital, Daw Park, Adelaide, and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • J. G. Glenn, Tobruk to Tarakan (Adel, 1960)
  • B. Maughan, Tobruk and El Alamein (Canb, 1966)
  • G. A. Mackinlay, True Courage (Syd, 1992)
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 14 Dec 1963
  • private information.

Citation details

Lloyd Brodrick, 'Weston, Jack Keith (1912–1963)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 25 February 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (Melbourne University Press), 2002

View the front pages for Volume 16

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