The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (420870) Pilot Officer William Eldred Felstead, No. 467 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War.

Place Europe: France, Nord Pas de Calais, Nord, Lille
Accession Number AWM2016.2.46
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 15 February 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 Charis May, the story for this day was on (420870) Pilot Officer William Eldred Felstead, No. 467 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War.

Speech transcript

420870 Pilot Officer William Eldred Felstead, No. 467 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force
KIA 10 May 1944
Photograph: P08898.001

Story delivered 15 February 2016

Today we pay tribute to Pilot Officer William Eldred Felstead, who was killed on active service with the Royal Australian Air Force.

Born in North Sydney on 19 April 1922, William Eldred Felstead was the son of Sydney Gordon Felstead and Blanch May Catchlove Felstead.

Felstead worked as a clerk at H.S. Bird and Co. in Macquarie Place, Sydney. He had previously served in the 7th Field Regiment of the Militia. Following the outbreak of the Second World War he enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force and began training as a pilot. In March 1943 he embarked for overseas service.

As part of the Empire Air Training Scheme Felstead was one of almost 27,000 RAAF pilots, navigators, wireless operators, gunners, and engineers who joined Australian and British squadrons in Britain throughout the course of the war.

Arriving in Britain in April 1943, Felstead undertook further specialist training before being posted to No. 467 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force. As part of Bomber Command, the squadron flew the four-engine Avro Lancaster heavy bomber.

On the night of 10 May 1944 the Lancaster in which Felstead was pilot was taking part in a large raid on the railway yards in Lille, northern France. This raid was in support of the forthcoming Allied landings in Normandy.

The raiding force came under consistent attack from German night-fighters, and Felstead’s Lancaster was one of those shot down, crashing into a factory in the south-eastern suburbs of Lille.

Felstead was killed, along with all his fellow crewmates, including Australian Flight Sergeants Brian Gordon Grasby, William Hancock, and Herbert Ferguson, as well as British Sergeants Charles Arthur Nash,
Cyril Duthoit and John Mellor.

William Felstead was 22 years old. His body was buried in the Lezennes Communal Cemetery, near Lille in the Nord Pas de Calais region of France.

Felstead’s name and those of his Australian crewmates are listed here on the Roll of Honour on my left, among some 40,000 other Australians who died while serving in the Second World War. His photograph is
displayed today beside the Pool of Reflection.

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

Dr Lachlan Grant
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (420870) Pilot Officer William Eldred Felstead, No. 467 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War. (video)