The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (8685) Warrant Officer William Emerson Gilmore, No. 78 Squadron RAAF, Second World War

Place Oceania: New Guinea1, Papua New Guinea, Papua
Accession Number PAFU2015/110.01
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 March 2015
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 Charis May, the story for this day was on (8685) Warrant Officer William Emerson Gilmore, No. 78 Squadron RAAF, Second World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

8685 Warrant Officer William Emerson Gilmore, No. 78 Squadron RAAF
KIA 14 October 1944
No photograph in collection; image supplied by family

Story delivered 10 March 2015

Today we pay tribute to Warrant Officer William Emerson Gilmore, who was killed on active service with the Royal Australian Air Force during the Second World War.

Born in Allora, Queensland, on 10 October 1917, William Emerson Gilmore was the son of Alice and William Gilmore. He attended Scots College in the town of Warwick, which was close to his family’s grazing and wheat-growing farm. Gilmore left school at 16, having completed his Junior Public Exam and excelling in mathematics. A keen sportsman, Gilmore enjoyed tennis, cricket, polo, and swimming.

After leaving school Gilmore worked on farms on country Queensland, and as a store clerk in his hometown of Allora. He enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force in Brisbane on 5 February 1940, aged 22. Owing to his experience as a store clerk, the RAAF assigned Gilmore to the Grazier and Clerk Stores at Ascot Vale, Victoria. However, Gilmore had aspirations to be a pilot and, after six months of letter-writing, he was allowed to transfer to No. 4 Elementary Flying Training School in Geraldton, Western Australia.

Over the next three years Gilmore completed numerous flying training courses around Australia. His instructors found him to be an above-average navigator, and extremely hardworking. Even when he crashed a Wirraway plane during training at Coolomon in regional New South Wales, resulting in multiple lacerations of the face, concussion, and a possible fracture of the skull, Gilmore still aspired to serve as an RAAF pilot. Although his instructors did not initially believe that he possessed the necessary skills to become a satisfactory pilot, with hard work and perseverance Gilmore successfully completed his courses.

In September 1944 Gilmore finally gained his opportunity. He was assigned to No. 1 Reserve Personnel Pool in Townsville, where he was equipped for overseas service. In September 1944 Gilmore joined No. 78 Squadron in western New Guinea. The squadron was tasked with supporting US Navy boats during strikes on Japanese positions in New Guinea and shipping in the easternmost islands of the Netherlands East Indies.

On 14 October 1944, just 17 days after arriving in New Guinea to fulfil his dream of serving overseas as an RAAF pilot, Gilmore’s Kittyhawk went missing. The plane was attacked over west Papua, and crashed off the Kai Islands. His body was never recovered, and his name is listed on the Ambon Memorial in Indonesia which commemorates officers and men of the Australian forces who died with no known grave.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with some 40,000 Australian killed in the Second World War. His photograph is displayed today beside the Pool of Reflection.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Warrant Officer William Emerson Gilmore, and all of those Australians – as well as our Allies and brothers in arms – who gave their lives in the hope for a better world.

Lucy Robertson
Volunteer, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (8685) Warrant Officer William Emerson Gilmore, No. 78 Squadron RAAF, Second World War (video)