The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (411748) Flying Officer Robert Maxwell Bryant, 156 Squadron RAF, Second World War

Accession Number PAFU/839.01
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 5 June 2013
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 Copyright restrictions apply. Only personal, non-commercial, research and study use permitted. Permission of copyright holder required for any commercial use and/or reproduction.

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial every 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 Robyn Siers the story for this day was on (411748) Flying Officer Robert Maxwell Bryant, 156 Squadron RAF, Second World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

411748 Flying Officer Robert Maxwell Bryant, No. 156 Squadron, RAF
KIA 11 June 1943
Photograph: P01993.032

Story delivered 5 June 2013

Today, we remember and pay tribute to Flying Officer Robert Maxwell Bryant, of No. 156 Squadron, Royal Air Force.

Robert Maxwell Bryant was born in Cowra, New South Wales, in 1921. He was studying law in Sydney when he enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force on the 25th of May 1941.

Max, as he was known to his fellow airmen, trained under the Empire Air Training Scheme in Canada before being posted to Bomber Command in England, where he served in No. 103 Squadron, Royal Air Force, flying Lancaster heavy bombers.

Bryant was an outstanding navigator, which led to his posting to No. 156 (Pathfinder) Squadron, RAF, again flying Lancasters, in 1943. Pathfinder aircraft led bomber formations to their targets in enemy territory, a task requiring the very best flying skills and steady nerves. This was incredibly dangerous work, and a typical tour of duty consisted of thirty 'ops'. Bryant had already flown twenty sorties in his bomber squadron, but had to start the count again when he transferred to the Pathfinder squadron. He had reached his 22nd mission.

Just before midnight on the 11th of June 1943 his aircraft took off from Warboys in England on a bombing operation over Munster, Germany. While flying over Holland en route to the target, the aircraft and crew were lost. Nothing had been heard from the crew after take-off and the cause of the crash is unknown. Six days later, the body of Max Bryant was washed ashore on a small island in the Ijsselmeer in Holland. The bodies of other crew members were also found and they were buried together in a common grave.

Bryant was only 22 when he died, but in that short time he had earned the greatest respect from others who knew him. Don Charlwood, one of his closest friends and a fellow navigator, wrote to Max's parents, referring to Max as being like a brother, a man who was 'always intensely human and generous-hearted'.

After the war, citizens of Amsterdam adopted the graves of Allied airmen who had died in the defence of Holland. The final resting place of Max Bryant and his fellow airmen, the Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery, is still lovingly cared for by locals.

Robert Maxwell Bryant's name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with about 40,000 others from the Second World War. His photo is displayed today beside
the Pool of Reflection.

This is one of the many stories of courage and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Flying Officer Robert Maxwell Bryant and all of those Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation.

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (411748) Flying Officer Robert Maxwell Bryant, 156 Squadron RAF, Second World War (video)