The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (403856) Sergeant Ronald Garnet Burton, No. 50 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Second World War.

Place Oceans: Atlantic Ocean, North Sea
Accession Number PAFU2015/385.01
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 15 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

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 Gerard Pratt, the story for this day was on (403856) Sergeant Ronald Garnet Burton, No. 50 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Second World War.

Speech transcript

403856 Sergeant Ronald Garnet Burton, No. 50 Squadron, Royal Air Force
KIA 7 June 1942
Photograph: P04281.002

Story delivered 15 September 2015

Today we pay tribute to Sergeant Ronald Garnet Burton, who was killed on active service with the Royal Air Force during the Second World War.

Ronald Garnet Burton was born in Millthorpe, New South Wales, on 31 October 1917, the son of William Burton and Ann Clara Frances Burton. Ronald attended Orange High School and played cricket, football, and tennis. Later he studied accountancy and was employed as a clerk at the Bank of New South Wales.

In March 1941 Burton enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force, having previously served in the 1st Battalion of the Militia. Once in the RAAF he began training as a pilot.

In July 1941 Burton embarked in Sydney for overseas service, first to Canada, then Britain. As part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, Burton was one of almost 27,500 RAAF pilots, navigators, wireless operators, gunners, and engineers who joined squadrons based in Britain throughout the course of the war.

Around the time of his arrival in Britain, Ronald Burton would have received news of his brother, Petty Officer Supply Eric Samuel Burton.

Eric Burton was serving aboard HMAS Perth, and was reported missing, later confirmed killed, when the Perth was sunk in the battle of Sunda Strait on 1 March 1942.

Ronald Burton undertook further specialist training in Britain before being posted to No. 50 Squadron, Royal Air Force. As part of the Royal Air Force’s Bomber Command, No. 50 Squadron was at that time equipped with the twin-engine Avro Manchester heavy bomber.

A matter of weeks later, on the night of the 6th of June, the Manchester in which Burton was a crewmember was lost after a raid on Emden, Germany. Heading home, the aircraft developed engine trouble and crashed into the North Sea. Burton was killed instantly. He was 22 years old.

His body was never recovered, and his name is listed on the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede. This memorial, overlooking the River Thames, lists all British and Commonwealth airmen with no known grave.

Six of his fellow crewmates – five Australian and one British – were later rescued by a German seaplane and became prisoners of war. One Australian, Flying Officer Argyle Donald Beatty, succumbed to his injuries and died in Germany. The others survived the war.

The names of Ronald Burton, Eric Burton, and Argyle Beatty are listed here on the Roll of Honour on my left, among some 40,000 Australians who died while serving in 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 Sergeant Ronald Garnet Burton, and all those Australians – as well as our Allies and brothers in arms – who gave their lives in the hope of a better world.

Dr Lachlan Grant
Historian, Military History Section

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