Murray Moten

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Murray John Moten
Born (1899-07-03)3 July 1899
Hawker, South Australia
Died 14 September 1953(1953-09-14) (aged 54)
Adelaide, South Australia
Allegiance  Australia
Service/branch Australian Army
Years of service 1917–1918
Rank Brigadier
Commands held 9th Brigade (1948–52)
6th Division (1945–46)
17th Brigade (1941–45)
2/27th Battalion (1940–41)
48th Battalion (1939–40)
43rd/48th Battalion (1929–39)

Second World War

Awards Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Service Order & Bar
Mentioned in Despatches (2)

Brigadier Murray John Moten CBE, DSO & Bar (3 July 1899 – 14 September 1953) was a senior officer in the Australian Army during the Second World War.[1]

Early life and First World War[edit]

Murray was born on 3 July 1899 at Hawker, South Australia, the eldest son of John Moten and Maude Mary Sophia, née Murray. Murray attended primary schools at Port Augusta, Mingary, and at Mount Gambier.[1] Murray started work as a messenger-boy at the Mount Gambier post office in January 1915 and shortly afterwards was employed as a clerk in the Mount Gambier branch of the Savings Bank of South Australia. Murray joined the Commonwealth Military Cadet Corps in August 1916 and later enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 23 August 1917. Murray was sent on leave and was discharged as medically unfit in January 1918. Murray returned to civilian life and began work at head office of the Savings Bank of South Australia in Adelaide.[1]

Between the wars[edit]

Resigning from the cadets, Murray was appointed provisional lieutenant of the 48th Battalion, Citizen Military Forces (CMF) in July 1923. Undertaking further studies, Murray studied accountancy at the University of Adelaide in 1924. Murray married Kathleen Meegan at St Mary's Catholic Church, Port Adelaide on 16 January 1926.[1] Murray was promoted to major in 1929 and was promoted to lieutenant colonel, upon taking command of the 43rd/48th Battalion, CMF. Murray was elected the President of the Bank Officials' Association of South Australia in 1934 and later promoted in October 1938 as a sales clerk in the Savings Bank of South Australia's mortgage department.

Second World War[edit]

With the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, he was placed in command of the 48th Battalion, CMF. Murray was then seconded to the Second Australian Imperial Force as commander of the 2/27th Battalion on 26 April 1940.[1] The battalion and Moten left Melbourne and embarked for the Middle East on 21 October.[2] The convoy briefly stopped in India en route and arrived at Egypt on 24 November. The battalion was moved to Palestine to complete its training. After a period of training, the battalion under Moten’s command moved to the fortresses at Mersa Matruh and Maaten Bagush, Egypt in April 1941.[2] While at Mersa Matruh, the battalions positions came under frequent air bombardment from German planes. The battalion was sent back to Palestine in May in preparation for the invasion of Syria and Lebanon. The battalion fought in the Syrian campaign, capturing Sidon on 15 June and taking part in the successful battle of Damour on 6–12 July.[2] For his leadership and gallantry, Moten was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and mentioned in despatches. Promoted colonel and temporary brigadier on 27 December, he was appointed commander of the 17th Brigade, taking over from Stanley Savige on 17 December 1941.[3]

The 17th Brigade was ordered home and after a period garrisoned in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), arrived in Australia in August 1942. The 17th Brigade was shipped to Milne Bay, Papua in October. The 17th Brigade was air-lifted to Wau, New Guinea in January 1943, and took part in the Battle of Wau, where the opposing Japanese force suffered heavy losses. For his actions, Moten was awarded a Bar to his Distinguished Service Order. The 17th Brigade repulsed Japanese assaults at Mubo and Lababia Ridge and following the capture of Komiatum and Mount Tambu in August, Moten was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire and again mentioned in despatches. The 17th Brigade returned to Australia for rest and regrouping and later returned to New Guinea for the Aitape–Wewak campaign. Moten took command of the 6th Division from 18 November 1945.

Later life[edit]

After returning to Australia, Murray was transferred to the Regimental Supernumerary List on 17 January 1946 in Adelaide and he resumed his civilian career. Murray led the Australian army component of the Victory March in London in June. Murray became the Australian Army Representative of the Imperial War Graves Commission in 1947, and went on to command the 9th Brigade, CMF and while serving in this capacity he was appointed honorary colonel of the 27th Battalion, CMF in 1952.[1] Murray was promoted as the general manager of the Savings Bank of South Australia in December. He was appointed as the aide de camp to Governor General on 16 March 1953.

Murray collapsed at the 27th Battalion ball at Torrens Drill Hall on 5 September 1953 and while in the Royal Adelaide Hospital, Moten died of myocardial infarction on 14 September. Moten was buried with full military honours in Centennial Park Cemetery with Anglican and Catholic rites. Murray was survived by his wife, daughter and two sons. His son, John Moten, was Director-General of Security (the head of ASIO) from 1988–1991.


  1. ^ a b c d e f R. Sutton, 'Moten, Murray John (1899–1953)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, Melbourne University Press, 2000, pp 429–430
  2. ^ a b c "2/27th Battalion". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  3. ^ "War Diary 17 Infantry Brigade December 1941". Australian War Memorial. p. 2. Retrieved 27 June 2015.