The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (422424) Flying Officer Kenneth Roy Collier, 91 Squadron RAF, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War

Accession Number PAFU2013/154.01
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 December 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 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 Gerard Pratt, the story for this day was on (422424) Flying Officer Kenneth Roy Collier, 91 Squadron RAF, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War.

Speech transcript

4224424 Flying Officer Kenneth Roy Collier, No. 91 Squadron, Royal Air Force.
KIA 5 December 1944
Photograph: UK1571 and UK1504

Story delivered 5 December 2013

Today we pay tribute to Flying Officer Kenneth Roy Collier.
Born in the Sydney suburb of Glebe on 5 November 1920 to Hendricus Josephus Collier and Sylvia Dorothy Collier, Ken Collier worked as a meat inspector in Homebush. In May 1942 he joined the Royal Australian Air Force and embarked for further training in Canada as part of the Empire Air Training Scheme.

Collier was one of almost 16,000 RAAF pilots, navigators, wireless operators, gunners, and engineers who joined Royal Air Force squadrons throughout the course of the war. In October 1942 his father, who had served in the AIF during the First World War and suffered for much of his life after being gassed on the Western Front, was found drowned in Sydney Harbour. Further sad news reached Collier whilst in Canada in August 1943 when he was informed of the death of his mother following illness.
After completion of training, Collier embarked for Britain. There he joined No. 91 Squadron, Royal Air Force. With an infectious cheerfulness, he quickly became a "popular member of the squadron".

In 1944 Collier flew with the squadron during operations surrounding the Normandy campaign. From mid-June, air power was divided as the attention of the RAF turned from the foothold in Normandy to the V-1 terror bombing campaign on London. Australian aircrews and pilots were involved in attacking and bombing the launch sites in northern France as well as intercepting and shooting down the V-1 rockets in flight. It was a dangerous task; if a pilot flew too close to the target when hit he could be killed in the powerful explosion.

On 23 June, Collier found himself in pursuit of a V-1 just as it passed over the British coast. Collier fired his machine-guns to no effect, but despite having exhausted his ammunition he was determined to bring it down. Bravely, he flew his Spitfire up alongside the V-1 and with his wingtip was the first pilot to use the technique of flicking the rocket - upsetting its gyroscopes and sending it spiralling out of control earthward. This was one of seven V-1s brought down by Collier between 22 June and 29 July.
His extraordinary exploit received wide press coverage, and the technique was copied and became a successful measure in dealing with the V-1s.

Collier continued to serve with the squadron, but on 5 December 1944, while flying an operation in Germany, they came into contact with two large formations of Focke-Wolfe 190s and Messerschmitt 109s. In the ensuing battle, Collier's Spitfire was shot down, crashing near the town of Scholven.

A local man investigating the crash scene recovered Collier's remains and buried him in a grave a few metres from the wreckage. The grave was later lost and Collier was listed as missing. Five years later, following an investigation, the grave and wreckage of his spitfire were recovered and his body was interred in the Rheinburg Commonwealth War Cemetery in Nordrhein-Westfal.

Collier was one of thousands of Australians who served within the Commonwealth forces in Europe. His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with around 40,000 others killed in the Second World War.

This is but one of the many stories of courage and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Flying Officer Kenneth Roy Collier, and all of those Australians - as well as our Allies and brothers in arms - who gave their lives in service of their nation.

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (422424) Flying Officer Kenneth Roy Collier, 91 Squadron RAF, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War (video)