The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (421460) Flying Officer Archibald Pollock Smith, No. 203 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Second World War

Places
Accession Number PAFU2015/316.01
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 26 July 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
Description

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 (421460) Flying Officer Archibald Pollock Smith, No. 203 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Second World War.

Speech transcript

421460 Flying Officer Archibald Pollock Smith, No. 203 Squadron, Royal Air Force
KIA 20 March 1945
No photograph in collection – photograph supplied by family

Story delivered 26 July 2015

Today we pay tribute to Flying Officer Archibald Pollock Smith, who was killed on active service with the Royal Air Force during the Second World War in 1945.

Born in the Sydney suburb of Drummoyne on 6 December 1917, Archibald Smith was one of four children born to James and Emily Smith. He had two brothers, Ronald and James, and a sister, Ailsa.

Growing up, Archibald Smith attended Drummoyne Primary School and then Drummoyne Intermediate High. Later he worked as a clerk for A.J. Taylor & Sons, real estate agents in Petersham. He also worked as a sports journalist for the weekly Sydney newspaper The Referee.

At his workplace he met a girl and they became engaged, but they were not to marry; Archibald’s enlistment in the Royal Australian Air Force in January 1942 intervened.

On enlistment Smith began training as a navigator and in late July 1942 embarked for overseas service. As part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, Smith was one of almost 37,000 RAAF pilots, navigators, wireless operators, gunners, and engineers who were trained in Canada and Britain throughout the course of the war.

After further specialist training Smith was posted to No. 203 Squadron, Royal Air Force, which at that time was stationed in India.

No. 203 Squadron was at that time equipped with the two-engine Vickers Wellington medium bomber, and later the four-engine Consolidated B-24 Liberator heavy bomber. Its men undertook coastal and anti-shipping patrols over the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal.

On 20 March 1945 six B-24 Liberators of No. 203 Squadron took off from their base at Kankesanthurai, on the northern coast of Ceylon, for an operation to attack shipping and port installations at Oleelheue, Banda Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra in the Netherlands East Indies.

During the attack the Liberator in which Archibald Smith was navigator was hit by anti-aircraft fire shortly after it had made its bombing run. The aircraft failed and crashed into the ocean. All of the Liberator’s ten crew – Smith, one Canadian and eight British airmen – were killed.

Archibald Smith was 27 years old.

In a letter to Smith’s father the commander of No. 203 Squadron wrote of Archibald’s loss:
a sad blow to the squadron … and I should like to assure you how greatly we, his comrades, in the Royal Air Force admire your son’s gallant sacrifice. Your son was greatly admired by the remainder of the crew, for his cheerfulness and efficiency.

Smith’s name is commemorated on the Singapore Memorial to the missing at the Kranji War Cemetery in Singapore, and is here on the Roll of Honour to my left, among some 40,000 Australians who died 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 Flying Officer Archibald Pollock Smith, and all of those Australians who gave their lives for their nation.

Dr Lachlan Grant
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (421460) Flying Officer Archibald Pollock Smith, No. 203 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Second World War (video)