The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (421913) Warrant Officer John Gordon Treatt Killen, No. 100 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Second World War.

Place Europe: Germany, Bottrop
Accession Number PAFU2015/463.01
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 13 November 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 Joanne Smedley, the story for this day was on (421913) Warrant Officer John Gordon Treatt Killen, No. 100 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Second World War.

Speech transcript

421913 Warrant Officer John Gordon Treatt Killen, No. 100 Squadron, Royal Air Force
KIA 3 February 1945
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 13 November 2015

Today we pay tribute to Warrant Officer John Gordon Treatt Killen, who was killed on active service with the Royal Air Force in 1945.

Born in Forbes, New South Wales, on 14 July 1920, John Killen was the son of John Gilliand Killen and Constance Treatt Killen. He worked as a grazier at Goobarragandra station, near Tumut.

After enlisting in the Royal Australian Air Force in Sydney on 24 April 1942, Killen began training as a bomb aimer and soon embarked for overseas service. As part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, Killen 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.

Killen undertook further specialist training in Britain before being posted to No. 100 Squadron, Royal Air Force. As part of the RAF’s Bomber Command, No. 100 Squadron was equipped with the four-engine Avro Lancaster heavy bomber.

On the night of 3 February 1945 the Lancaster in which Killen was bomb aimer was taking part in a bombing raid on the Prosper Benzol Works at Bottrop in the Ruhr industrial area of Germany. At some point during this raid the aircraft was apparently shot down. Killen and five of his crewmates – Australians Flight Lieutenant Robin Ordell, Pilot Officer Ian Osborne, Flight Sergeant Keith Reynolds, and Flight Sergeant Raymond McKaskill, and British Sergeant Charles Scurr – were all killed in action.

The only member of the crew to survive was the British tail gunner, Flight Sergeant James Harper, who became a prisoner of the Germans and spent the rest of the war in hospital recovering from his injuries.

Killen was 24 years old.

The crew’s bodies were recovered and buried in St Elizabeth Cemetery in Venraij, in the Netherlands, before being later re-interred in the British and Commonwealth War Cemetery at Mierlo, in Noord-Brabant.

The Killen family had a strong record of service during the Second World War, at great personal cost. John’s cousins Sergeant Graham Burford Parker and Pilot Officer Meredith Burford Parker were also killed in the service of the RAAF. Graham Parker was shot down off Malta in March 1942 while serving with No. 69 Squadron, RAF. Meredith Parker was killed serving with No. 466 Squadron, RAAF, on an operation in France on June 1944. Another cousin, Gunner Douglas Bruce Killen, who served with the 2/15th Field Regiment, died in Burma on August 1943 as a prisoner of war, having worked on the Burma–Thailand Railway.

Killen’s name and those of his fellow Australian crewmates and family killed on active service are listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, among the 40,000 other Australians who died 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 Warrant Officer John Gordon Treatt Killen, and all of 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

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (421913) Warrant Officer John Gordon Treatt Killen, No. 100 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Second World War. (video)