The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (432634) Sergeant Edwin William Fleming, No. 5 Service Flying Training School, RAAF, Second World War.

Place Oceania: Australia, New South Wales, Wagga Wagga
Accession Number AWM2016.2.175
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Physical description 16:9
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
Date made 23 June 2016
Access Open
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copy provided for personal non-commercial use
Description

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by , the story for this day was on (432634) Sergeant Edwin William Fleming, No. 5 Service Flying Training School, RAAF, Second World War.

Speech transcript

432634 Sergeant Edwin William Fleming, No. 5 Service Flying Training School, RAAF
KIA 24 March 1944
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 23 June 2016

Today we remember Sergeant Edwin William Fleming, who died in a training accident during the Second World War.

Edwin Fleming was born in Herberton on the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland, on 3 January 1924. He was the only son of Edwin and Beatrice Fleming. Following their son’s birth, the family moved south to the Darling Downs region. During the 1930s, Fleming attended Killarney State School and Warwick High School while his father was the Killarney postmaster.

Fleming was described as a “keen participant” in all school activities and represented Warwick High School in inter-school football. He also won an academic scholarship. With his red hair, he was affectionately known to his friends as “Blue”.

When he was 17 years old Fleming took a position as a cadet fireman in the Commonwealth Public Service. Moving to the ACT, he began his career with the Canberra Fire Brigade in July 1941. Canberra’s fire service was small, consisting of only 12 permanent staff members, and the service’s chief officer had pleaded for members to not be called for military service. This did not stop Canberra’s firefighters from volunteering, however, and on 4 January 1943, a day after his 22nd birthday, Fleming enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force.

Fleming qualified as a pilot and was posted as an instructor to No.5 Service Flying Training School at RAAF Station Uranquinty, near Wagga Wagga in New South Wales’s Riverina region.

During the afternoon of 24 March 1944 Fleming took off with a trainee, Leading Aircraftsman John Nesbitt, in a two-seater Wirraway to practice instrument flying. During the flight the Wirraway’s engine seized and Fleming took over the aircraft’s controls to make an emergency landing. The Wirraway touched down in a paddock but overshot the field, struck a telephone post, and overturned. Nesbitt suffered some minor injuries but Fleming was killed instantly. He was 20 years old.

He was buried in Wagga Wagga War Cemetery. On the first anniversary of his death his parents placed a notice in the newspaper with the simple epitaph: “Ever remembered.”

Sergeant Fleming is also commemorated here, on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with some 40,000 Australians who died while serving in the Second World War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Sergeant Edwin William Fleming, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Dr Karl James
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (432634) Sergeant Edwin William Fleming, No. 5 Service Flying Training School, RAAF, Second World War. (video)