The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (418296) Flight Sergeant John Wilbert McLeod, No. 576 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Second World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2017.1.127
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 07 May 2017
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 Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on (418296) Flight Sergeant John Wilbert McLeod, No. 576 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Second World War.

Speech transcript

418296 Flight Sergeant John Wilbert McLeod, No. 576 Squadron, Royal Air Force
KIA 7 May 1944

Story delivered 7 May 2017

Today we pay tribute to Flight Sergeant John Wilbert McLeod.

Born in the town of Benella in central Victoria on 17 September 1923, John Wilbert McLeod was the son of Walter and Mary McLeod.

When John was young, the McLeod family moved from Benella to the Melbourne suburb of East Kew. Following school, McLeod was employed in the Postmaster General’s department, the forerunner to Australia Post.

On 15 May 1942, McLeod enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force. Following enlistment, he began training as an air gunner and before long embarked for overseas service.

As part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, McLeod was one of almost 27,500 RAAF pilots, navigators, wireless operators, gunners, and engineers, who, throughout the course of the war, joined squadrons based in Britain.

After arriving in Britain he undertook further specialist training and was posted to No. 576 Squadron of the Royal Air Force.

As part of the Royal Air Force’s Bomber Command, No. 576 Squadron was equipped with the four-engine Avro Lancaster heavy bomber.

On the night of 7 May 1944, the Lancaster in which McLeod was air gunner took part in a raid on a German ammunition supply dump at Aubigne-Racan, south of Le Mans, France.

On the return from the bombing run, McLeod’s Lancaster was attacked by a German nightfighter and shot down near Le Mans.

Six crew members – including McLeod – were killed in action. Just two survived. One evaded escape, and the other – the extra man aboard the
Lancaster which usually had a crew of seven, was a second pilot, Air Commodore Ronald Ivelaw-Chapman. Captured by the Gestapo, Ivelaw-Champan was the most senior Bomber Command officer captured during the war, but the Gestapo, not realising his seniority, believed he was an ordinary airmen. Ivelaw-Chapman survived the war and later rose to the rank of Air Chief Marshall.

McLeod and his crewmates killed in the crash were buried in Remy-du-Plain Communal Cemetery, and were later reburied in the British and Commonwealth war cemetery at Bayeux in Normandy.

A memorial stone and hedge was erected by local villagers and can be found at the site of where McLeod’s Lancaster crashed in France more than 70 years ago.
John McLeod was 20 years old.
His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, among 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 Flight Sergeant John Wilbert McLeod, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Lachlan Grant
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (418296) Flight Sergeant John Wilbert McLeod, No. 576 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Second World War. (video)