The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (428538) Flight Sergeant Bruce Llewellyn Williams, No. 98 Squadron, RAF, Second World War

Place Europe: Netherlands, Gelderland, Arnhem
Accession Number PAFU2014/353.01
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 25 September 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 Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on (428538) Flight Sergeant Bruce Llewellyn Williams, No. 98 Squadron, RAF, Second World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

428538 Flight Sergeant Bruce Llewellyn Williams, No. 98 Squadron, RAF
KIA 25 September 1944
Photograph provided by family

Story delivered 25 September 2014

Today we remember and pay tribute to Flight Sergeant Bruce Llewellyn Williams, whose photograph is displayed beside the Pool of Reflection.

Bruce Williams was born on 4 July 1923 in Coburg, Victoria, to Llewellyn Eli and Olivia Rosiland Williams. He grew up in Garden Vale and attended Wesley College in Melbourne. He was a keen sportsman, playing cricket, football, tennis, and golf, and was very close with his parents and younger brother, John.

When the Second World War began Williams was still studying, but attained his intermediate certificate in early December, aged 16. Too young to enlist, he worked as a furniture salesman. After turning 18 in 1942 he joined the Citizens’ Military Force and became an anti-aircraft gunner, briefly joining the 10th Battery, 112th Anti-Aircraft Regiment, based at Werribee. But Williams, who had been interested in flying from boyhood, had his sights set on becoming a pilot and applied to join the Royal Australian Air Force.

In November 1942 he transferred to the RAAF and, after basic training, qualified for pilot training. After completing his initial courses, Williams was sent to Canada as part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, and earned his wings in September 1943.

In January 1944 Williams sailed for England, where he began flying North American B-25 Mitchell medium bombers. In July 1944, days after his 21st birthday, he joined No. 98 Squadron at RAF Dunsfold in Surrey, flying Mitchell Mk II bombers.

Williams’ navigator, Pilot Officer Thomas Lennie, was a fellow Australian; the Canadian Warrant Officer Frank Bowmaster was wireless operator/air gunner; and rear gunner Jim Roach was British. The crew was soon put to work, flying missions over Normandy and then for the wider liberation of France.

Operation Market Garden, the Allied attempt to liberate Holland and shorten the war, began in September, and Williams’ crew flew bombing operations in support of the landings. Over the next week the situation deteriorated for the Allies, and more missions were flown in an attempt to slow the German counter-attacks.

On 25 September No. 98 Squadron was tasked with bombing German positions in Arnhem, covering the withdrawal of British airborne troops. That day Roach reported sick and was replaced by the experienced and highly decorated Irishman Flight Lieutenant Charles Carter.

The crew took off for Arnhem that afternoon as part of a 12-bomber formation. The bombing completed, they turned for home, but were attacked by German Focke Wulf F-190 fighters. One beset Williams’ aircraft from below and astern, giving the gunners no chance to properly respond. Despite evasive manoeuvring, the aircraft was hit multiple times, and Lennie was killed. An escape hatch was also badly damaged, trapping Carter in his turret, and the port engine was set on fire.

With the aircraft fatally damaged, Williams ordered the crew to bail out. After unsuccessfully trying to free Carter, Bowmaster forced his way out of the damaged aircraft, landed safely, and was taken prisoner.

Williams parachuted towards the bridge across the Lower Rhine, which was back under control of the SS after being briefly captured by British paratroopers. Troops stationed on the bridge fired at Williams as he descended, and he was killed.

The aircraft crashed in flames on the riverbank. Lennie’s body was recovered and later buried, but Carter’s was never found.

A local Dutch man, Fritz Baars, witnessed Williams’ death, and he landed not far from Baars’ house. When it was safe for him to do so, he recovered Williams’ body and buried him in his parachute nearby.

After the war, Williams was reinterred next to Thomas Lennie in the Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery. The fallen Allied aircrew and servicemen buried on Dutch soil, including Williams, are remembered and honoured to this day by the people of Holland.

Williams’ name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left along with around 40,000 others from 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 Flight Sergeant Bruce Llewellyn Williams, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in service of our nation.

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (428538) Flight Sergeant Bruce Llewellyn Williams, No. 98 Squadron, RAF, Second World War (video)