Roscrea to New Guinea

When 19-year-old John Letsome Moten stood in the dock at Nenagh Assizes to hear sentence of transportation for life imposed on him, he could hardly have dreamt that a century later his grandson would be one of Australia’s most outstanding army commanders in World War II.

When 19-year-old John Letsome Moten stood in the dock at Nenagh Assizes to hear sentence of transportation for life imposed on him, he could hardly have dreamt that a century later his grandson would be one of Australia’s most outstanding army commanders in World War II.

From Cullahill, Roscrea, he had been convicted of shooting at Theophilus Roe, Ballykelly, in May 1845.

He spent several years in penal settlements in Van Diemens Land (Tasmania). Subsequently he moved to Victoria, married, and had a small farm near Dartmoor. He died in September 1878.

His grandson, Brigadier Murray Moten, (1899-1953), commanded 2/27 battalion, A.I.F. in the Syrian campaign of 1941, for which he was awarded the D.S.O. He then commanded 17 Brigade in New Guinea in 1943, and defeated the Japanese in the battle for Wau in January 1943. This battle halted the Japanese advance towards Port Moresby. He led the Brigade in other campaigns in New Guinea in 1944-5, and was awarded the CBE in 1944. He led the Australian infantry contingent at the Victory Parade in 1946. At the the the time of his death in September 1953, he was ADC to the Governor General, Field Marshal Sir John Slim. The story of John and Murray has now been told in “From Roscrea to New Guinea: John Letsome Moten and Murray Moten, DSO, CBE” (J15) by Liam Doran, who is great grand nephew of John. The foreword is by Senator Anne McEwen, who represents South Australia in the Senate in Canberra, and whose father, Doug, served under Murray Moten in the 2/27th. It will be launched by former EU Commissioner, Charlie McCreevy, at Racket Hall Hotel, Roscrea, on Monday night, October 21, at 8pm. Special guest will be the Australian Ambassador, Her Excellency, Dr. Ruth Adler. Music by Roscrea Comhaltas.