The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (412673) Warrant Officer Allen John Painting, No. 180 Squadron, RAF, Second World War

Place Europe: France
Accession Number PAFU2014/440.01
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 27 November 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 (412673) Warrant Officer Allen John Painting, No. 180 Squadron, RAF, Second World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

412673 Warrant Officer Allen John Painting, No. 180 Squadron, RAF
KIA 26 November 1943
Photograph supplied by family

Story delivered 27 November 2014

Today we remember and pay tribute to Warrant Officer Allen Painting, who was killed in the air war over Europe in the Second World War.

Allen John Painting was born in February 1917, the son of John and Annie Painting of Whitton, New South Wales. Known as John within the Painting family, he attended Whitton Public School and Leeton Intermediate High School, played Australian Rules Football in the local competition, and worked as a surveyors’ assistant and truck driver. John had previously tried and failed to enlist in the Citizen Air Force in Narranderra, but in October 1940 he travelled to Sydney and was ultimately accepted as a reservist in the Royal Australian Air Force.

John, like most air force reservists, ended up transferring to the permanent air force, and began aircrew training at No. 1 Initial Training School in Somers, Victoria in July 1941. John was sent in October 1941 to Canada, where he underwent training in Manitoba as a wireless operator/air gunner. John was one of approximately 16,000 RAAF pilots, navigators, wireless operators, gunners and engineers who went on to serve in Royal Air Force squadrons in Britain under the auspices of the Empire Air Training Scheme. After completing training in Canada, and logging hours at several Operational Training Units in England, in October 1943 John was posted to No. 180 Squadron RAF at Dunsfold in Surrey.

No. 180 Squadron formed part of the 2nd Tactical Air Force, whose role it was to support Allied ground forces in the build-up to the Normandy invasion. As such, No. 180 Squadron RAF was one of a number of British squadrons that flew the North American B-25 Mitchell – a fast and nimble medium bomber that was highly suited to low-level daylight raids over Nazi-occupied Europe.

While few Australian airmen served in the 2nd Tactical Air Force, John’s younger brother William was posted to No. 320 (Netherlands) Squadron RAF and flew Mitchells from the same airfield.

It is believed that John participated in just one raid with No. 180 Squadron. On the afternoon of 26 November 1943, John and three other crew members went missing during a daylight raid on the German construction works at Martinvast, near Cherbourg in France. It was confirmed after the war that John’s aircraft collided with another Mitchell that had been hit by German anti-aircraft fire and had lost control in the tightly packed formation of bombers. Both Mitchells crashed near the town of Trouville, and both crews were killed. John’s body remained missing, believed to have been buried in a communal grave near the crash site, until French authorities found the wreck of his Mitchell in 1949. John’s remains were recovered from the wreck, and he was reinterred at Cherbourg Old Communal Cemetery, where he rests today.

John’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with around 40,000 others from the Second World War. The photograph displayed beside the Pool of Reflection shows Allen, on the right, with his brother William, who survived the war.

This is just one of the many stories of courage and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Warrant Officer Allen John Painting, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in service of our nation.

Aaron Pegram
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (412673) Warrant Officer Allen John Painting, No. 180 Squadron, RAF, Second World War (video)