The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (401092) Squadron Leader John Philip Liversidge, No. 178 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Second World War

Place Europe: Poland
Accession Number PAFU2015/164.01
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 24 April 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 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 Meredith Duncan, the story for this day was on (401092) Squadron Leader John Philip Liversidge, No. 178 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Second World War.

Speech transcript

401092 Squadron Leader John Philip Liversidge, No. 178 Squadron, Royal Air Force
KIA 17 August 1944
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 24 April 2015

Today we pay tribute to Squadron Leader John Philip Liversidge who was killed on active service with the Royal Air Force in 1944.

Born on 27 July 1913 in South Melbourne, John Philip Liversidge was the first son of Charles and Lillian Liversidge.

Liversidge was a school teacher for the Victorian Department of Education at the Bendigo School of Mines. Married to Eunice Miriam Benton, Liversidge also served in the 38th Battalion and the 2nd Artillery Survey Company of the Militia. He enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force at the age of 27 on 4 January 1941.

Liversidge began training as a navigator, and in December 1941 he embarked for overseas service. As part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, Liversidge was one of almost 16,000 RAAF pilots, navigators, wireless operators, gunners, and engineers who joined Royal Air Force squadrons throughout the course of the war.

Arriving in the Middle East, Liversidge was posted to Air Headquarters Levant, Royal Air Force, where he joined No. 1438 Flight, flying the Bristol Blenheim light bomber. Liversidge served with this unit until July 1943. The following December he was posted to No. 178 Squadron, RAF. Operating successively from Egypt, Libya, and Italy, No. 178 Squadron was a four-engine heavy bomber squadron flying the B-24 Liberator.

Liversidge flew on numerous operations with the squadron, including mine-laying missions in the Aegean Sea and Danube River and bombing targets in Greece, Crete, Bulgaria, France, Hungary, and Romania. In September 1943 Liversidge was promoted to the rank of flight lieutenant.

No. 178 Squadron was one of a number of Allied squadrons in Italy tasked with dropping supplies to the Polish Home Army and Polish insurgents engaged in desperate fighting against German forces during the Warsaw uprising.

It was a dangerous operation. Squadrons from airfields in Italy had to fly a 2,600-kilometre round-trip without fighter escort, much of it over occupied territory. Once over Warsaw they dropped their supplies at low altitudes at slow speeds. On 17 August 1944, during its second delivery flight, the aircraft in which Squadron Leader John Liversidge was navigator was shot down by a German fighter near Krakow. Liversidge was killed. He was 31 years old. His remains were recovered and buried in the Krakow Rakowicki Cemetary.

One of Liversidge’s crewmates, fellow Australian Allan Hammett, survived by parachuting safely to the ground where, badly wounded, he hid with Polish partisans until the arrival of Soviet forces in the area in January 1945.

Casualties among Allied airmen involved in these operations were high, though these overall numbers were small in comparison to Polish casualties on the ground. Their uprising was eventually defeated by the Germans; more than 15,000 Polish fighters and roughly 200,000 Polish civilians were killed during the fighting.

Just three months after John’s death his younger brother, Eric Joseph Liversidge, also died on active service. Eric was reported missing while serving with Z Special Force, and is believed to have died of illness on 20 November 1944. Their mother, Lillian Liversidge, lost her only sons during the Second World War.

The names of both John Philip Liversidge and Eric Joseph Liversidge are listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with around 40,000 Australians who died during the Second World War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Squadron Leader John Philip Liversidge, 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.

Dr Lachlan Grant
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (401092) Squadron Leader John Philip Liversidge, No. 178 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Second World War (video)