The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Chaplain Squadron Leader Gordon Gladstone Wood, Overseas Headquarters London, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War

Place Europe: United Kingdom, England, Greater London, London
Accession Number PAFU2015/371.01
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 1 September 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 Meredith Duncan, the story for this day was on Chaplain Squadron Leader Gordon Gladstone Wood, Overseas Headquarters London, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War.

Speech transcript

Chaplain Squadron Leader Gordon Gladstone Wood, Overseas Headquarters London, Royal Australian Air Force
KIA 18 June 1944
Photograph: P03914.035

Story delivered 1 September 2015

Today we pay tribute to Squadron Leader Gordon Gladstone Wood, who was killed on active service with the Royal Australian Air Force during the Second World War.

Born in the town of Moonta on the Yorke Peninsula of South Australia, Gordon Gladstone Wood was the son of Alfred and Janet Wood.

Wood was educated at Leigh College in Sydney before completing a Licentiate of Theology in Melbourne. He was also a keen sportsman, and played cricket, tennis, and soccer.

Following his education Wood served the Methodist church at Bellingen, Uralla, Cobar, Gulgong, and Wellington, and in the Far West Mission.

When the Second World War broke out Wood enlisted as a chaplain in the Royal Australian Air Force. He was first stationed at No. 1 Bombing and Air Gunnery School at Evans Head in New South Wales, where he served for almost two years before embarking for overseas service.

He arrived in Britain in November 1942 and was posted to the RAAF Overseas Headquarters at Kodak House in London. As well as serving as a Methodist chaplain for RAAF personnel stationed in Britain, he also conducted the RAAF choir. Popular among RAAF airmen, Wood was known for his initiative in making services as attractive as possible, often including film or choral performances in his presentation.

On the morning of Sunday 18 June 1944 Wood was a member of a large congregation that gathered for worship at the Guards’ Chapel on Bird Cage Walk at Wellington Barracks, near Buckingham Palace.

The choir had just begun singing when a V-1 flying bomb hit the roof of the church. The roof and supports collapsed onto the congregation, causing huge loss of life and injury.

A total of 121 military personnel and civilians were killed and 141 more were seriously injured. It took 48 hours to free all the survivors from the rubble. Among those killed was Squadron Leader Gordon Wood. He was 42 years old.

His body was recovered and is buried in the British and Commonwealth War Cemetery at Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey, England.

After the war a chapel was erected in his honour at the Uniting Church in Wellington, New South Wales, where Wood had served as superintendent before the war. The chapel’s funding was raised entirely by donations from people of the district.

Wood’s name is listed here on the Roll of Honour on my left, among some 40,000 other 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 Gordon Gladstone Wood, and all of those Australians – as well as our Allies and brothers in arms – who gave their lives for their nation.

Dr Lachlan Grant
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Chaplain Squadron Leader Gordon Gladstone Wood, Overseas Headquarters London, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War (video)