The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3418) Flight Lieutenant William Archie Wilkinson, 12 Signals Unit, Second World War

Place Oceania: Australia, Queensland, North Queensland, Cleveland Bay
Accession Number PAFU2014/157.01
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 12 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 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 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 Craig Berelle, the story for this day was on (3418) Flight Lieutenant William Archie Wilkinson, 12 Signals Unit, Second World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

3418 Flight Lieutenant William Archie Wilkinson, 12 Signals Unit
Accidentally killed 7 September 1943
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 12 May 2014

Today we remember and pay tribute to Flight Lieutenant William Archie Wilkinson.

William Archibald Wilkinson was born in a small town on the island of Anglesey in northern Wales on 11 February 1900, the son of William and Mary Jane Wilkinson. Little is known of his early life, although some of it was spent living with his uncle and aunt in Llanedwen. Late in the First World War he joined the Royal Garrison Artillery of the British Expeditionary Force and saw some service overseas. His father also served during the First World War.

Sometime after the end of the war William immigrated to Australia, leaving his parents in Wales. In 1928 he joined the Royal Australian Air Force. He had considerable radio experience on the sea, and was posted to the signals units of the RAAF. He served for over 13 years in various roles, including as the operator in charge of the transmitting stations at Point Cook and at Melbourne, and two years as a wireless instructor at the RAAF signals school at Laverton.

On 26 March 1937 William married Cornelia Elizabeth Richmond in Victoria, and at the outbreak of the Second World War he was working as a signals officer in a steamship company in Victoria. He presented himself for active service early in 1940 and was granted the rank of flight sergeant in the signals section of the RAAF. Later he would be promoted to flight lieutenant. For three years he worked at various bases around Australia, including Laverton and Richmond.

By 1943 Wilkinson was largely posted to Far North Queensland, flying in and out of various bases for short periods. On 7 September 1943, Wilkinson was one of a large party returning to Townsville on a Catalina flying boat. As the aircraft touched down on Cleveland Bay at 4.48 pm it crashed into the bay. More than 10 men were killed in the accident, and at least another six were injured. The cause of the crash was never determined.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with around 40,000 others from 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 Flight Lieutenant William Archie Wilkinson, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation.

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