|Europe: United Kingdom, Scotland, Angus, Montrose
|Last Post film
Australian War Memorial
|Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
|8 November 2015
Second World War, 1939-1945
Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
|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 commemorating the service of (439896) Flight Sergeant Charles Bede Mackay, No. 1667 Conversion Unit, Royal Air Force, Second World War.
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 Jana Johnson, the story for this day was on (439896) Flight Sergeant Charles Bede Mackay, No. 1667 Conversion Unit, Royal Air Force, Second World War.Film order form
439896 Flight Sergeant Charles Bede Mackay, No. 1667 Conversion Unit, Royal Air Force
Accidentally killed 8 November 1944
No photograph in collection – family supplied
Story delivered 8 November 2015
Today we pay tribute to Flight Sergeant Charles Bede Mackay, who was killed on active service with the Royal Air Force in 1944.
Born in the Sydney suburb of Balmain on 26 July 1925, Charles Mackay was the son of Francis and Florence Mackay. As a young man, he attended the Christian Brothers’ Technical High School in Balmain. A keen sportsman, he played football and cricket, and was into swimming, riding, and sailing. On finishing school he worked as a shipping clerk at the Riverstone Meat Company.
In 1943 Mackay enrolled in the Royal Australian Air Force, commencing his appointment shortly after his 18th birthday. He began training as an air gunner, and on 5 April 1944 he embarked in Sydney for overseas service.
As part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, Mackay was one of almost 16,000 RAAF pilots, navigators, wireless operators, gunners, and engineers who joined Royal Air Force units and squadrons in Britain throughout the course of the war.
Arriving in Britain in May 1944, Mackay undertook further specialist training, joining the No. 1667 Conversion Unit. It was while serving with this unit in Scotland that Mackay was killed when his Halifax bomber crashed during a cross-country training exercise.
All six of his fellow Australian and British crewmates were killed. Five of them, Jeffrey Grieve, Arthur Cook, William Edmonds, Keith Jeffrey, and Arthur Spencer-Maggs, were serving in the Royal Australian Air Force, while the fifth, Walter Picton, was with the Royal Air Force.
Charles Mackay’s body was buried in the Sleepyhillock Cemetery in Montrose, Scotland. He was 19 years old.
Mackay’s name and those of his Australian crewmates are listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with around 40,000 other Australians who died serving 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 Flight Sergeant Charles Bede Mackay, and all of those Australians who gave their lives during the Second World War.
Dr Lachlan Grant
Historian, Military History Section
Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (439896) Flight Sergeant Charles Bede Mackay, No. 1667 Conversion Unit, Royal Air Force, Second World War. (video)