The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (420413) Flying Officer Dudley Francis Ward, No. 463 Squadron, RAAF, Second World War

Place Europe: France, Nord Pas de Calais, Nord, Lille
Accession Number PAFU2014/155.01
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 10 May 2014
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

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 Joanne Smedley, the story for this day was on (420413) Flying Officer Dudley Francis Ward, No. 463 Squadron, RAAF, Second World War.

Speech transcript

420413 Flying Officer Dudley Francis Ward, No. 463 Squadron, RAAF
KIA 10 May 1944
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 10 May 2014

Today we pay tribute to Flying Officer Dudley Francis Ward, who was killed on active service with the Royal Australian Air Force in 1944.

Born on 25 January 1920 in Roseville, New South Wales, Dudley Francis Ward was the son of Francis and Anne Ward. From 1936 until his enlistment in the Royal Australian Air Force Ward worked for the C.C. Wakefield Company in Sydney, where he undertook clerical duties and worked in sales.

In November 1941, Ward enlisted in the RAAF and began training as a pilot. Following his initial training, Ward was posted for overseas service. As part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, Ward 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 further training, Ward was posted in March 1944 to No. 463 Squadron, which flew the four-engine Avro Lancaster heavy bomber. Over the next two months Ward would fly on 15 operations with the squadron.

During a raid on the German industrial centre of Schweinfurt, one of the engines on Ward's Lancaster failed shortly after clearing the target. Soon, two more failed and the bomber began to lose height. With only one engine, Ward began the 850 mile journey home. The flight engineer was successful in starting one of the other defective engines but the Lancaster's chances of making it back to England appeared grim. Eventually Ward successfully piloted the Lancaster back across the Channel and an emergency landing was made at a Spitfire airfield by the coast. For his "exception skill and determination" Ward was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross. His actions, the citation read, were an achievement "worthy of the greatest praise".

But Ward would never receive his decoration. On the night of 10 May 1944 Ward's was one of 12 Lancasters lost - shot down - during a raid on the rail yards at Lille in northern France. The raids were in support of the impending Allied invasion of Western Europe. Ward was killed in action, along with five of his crew. The only surviving crew member became a prisoner of war. This raid was the most costly undertaken by Nos 463 and 467 squadrons in the entire war. Ward is buried in the Forest-sur-Marque Communal Cemetery.

In a letter to Ward's mother, the commander of No. 463 Squadron wrote that Ward was one of the most capable pilots in the squadron. Ward "was a popular member of the squadron", he wrote "and will be sorely missed by us all".

The news of Ward's death came only days after the good news of his DFC citation. In a ceremony at Government House, Sydney, on 13 April 1946, Ward's DFC was presented to his mother.

Ward's name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with around 40,000 Australians killed in the Second World War. There is no photograph in the Memorial's collection to display beside the Pool of Reflection.

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

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (420413) Flying Officer Dudley Francis Ward, No. 463 Squadron, RAAF, Second World War (video)