The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (427631) Flight Sergeant Douglas Buchanan Aberle, No. 460 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War.

Places
Accession Number PAFU2015/519.01
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 30 December 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 (427631) Flight Sergeant Douglas Buchanan Aberle, No. 460 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War.

Speech transcript

427631 Flight Sergeant Douglas Buchanan Aberle, No. 460 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force
KIA 23 November 1943
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 30 December 2015

Today we pay tribute to Flight Sergeant Douglas Buchanan Aberle, who was killed on active service during the Second World War.

Born on 5 August 1923 in Fremantle, Western Australia, Douglas Aberle was the son of Ernest and Elizabeth Aberle. Before enlisting in the Royal Australian Air Force at the age of 18 in August 1942, he had worked in Fremantle as a junior clerk.

Aberle began training as an air gunner, and in May 1943 he embarked for overseas service. As part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, Aberle 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. There he was posted to the Australian No. 460 Squadron.

This was the most highly decorated Australian squadron in Bomber Command, but would also suffer the highest number of casualties. Flying Wellingtons and the four-engine Avro Lancaster heavy bomber, the squadron lost more than 1,000 men: Australian, British, Canadian, New Zealander, and South African. Almost 600 Australians from No. 460 Squadron are listed here on the Roll of Honour.

On the night of 23 November 1943 the men of No. 460 Squadron were taking part in a raid on Berlin. It was on this operation that the Lancaster in which Aberle was the mid-upper gunner was shot down. Four of Aberle’s British and Australian crewmates managed to bail out and became prisoners of war. Aberle – along with fellow Australian Pilot Officer Maurice Joseph Freeman and British airmen Thomas Elliott – was killed. He was just 20 years old.

His body was recovered from the crash site and buried in the North Military Cemetery at Dussledorf, before being reinterred at the British and Commonwealth Reichswald Forest War Cemetery in Kleve, Germany, near his fellow crewmates.

After the incident, the commanding officer of No. 460 Squadron wrote to Aberle’s father, stating that Douglas “had carried out his duties in a very keen and conscientious manner”, and that his loss would “all the more deeply be felt in the Squadron”.

Aberle’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with some 40,000 other 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 Flight Sergeant Douglas Buchanan Aberle, 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 (427631) Flight Sergeant Douglas Buchanan Aberle, No. 460 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War. (video)