The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (415518) Flight Sergeant Keeble Charles French, No. 207 Squadron, Royal Air Force,Second World War.

Place Europe: Germany
Accession Number AWM2016.2.71
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 11 March 2016
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 (415518) Flight Sergeant Keeble Charles French, No. 207 Squadron, Royal Air Force,Second World War.

Speech transcript

415518 Flight Sergeant Keeble Charles French, No. 207 Squadron, Royal Air Force
KIA 28 August 1943
Photograph: P08487.001

Story delivered 11 March 2016

Today we pay tribute to Flight Sergeant Keeble Charles French, who was killed on active service with the Royal Air Force during the Second World War.

Born in the small town of Northam, Western Australia, on 10 September 1915, Keeble French was the son of James Edward French and Catherine Frances French. Prior to his enlistment in the Royal Australian Air Force on 9 November 1941, he worked on his family’s farm at French’s Siding, near Northam.

French began training as an air gunner, and in 1942 embarked for overseas service to Canada and Britain. As part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, he 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.

French undertook further specialist training in Britain before being posted in August 1943 to No. 207 Squadron, Royal Air Force. As part of the RAF Bomber Command, it was equipped with the four-engine Avro Lancaster heavy bomber.

On the night of 27 August the Lancaster in which French was an air gunner was taking part in a raid when it was shot down by a night-fighter near Nuremberg, Germany. French and all six of his crewmates were killed. They were fellow Australians Flying Officer Hugh John McCulloch, Flight Sergeant Geoffrey Augustine Lynch, and Flying Officer John Richard Welch, and British airmen Sergeant Leslie Thomas Reynolds, Sergeant James Seddon, and Sergeant Arthur Herbert Whetton.

Keeble French was 27 years old. His body was recovered and buried alongside his crewmates at the British and Commonwealth War Cemetery at Durnbach, south of Munich.

In a letter to French’s brother Norman, a member of No. 207 Squadron wrote that Keeble would be greatly missed, and expressed “how much we all honour the gallant sacrifice your bother has made so far from home in the cause of freedom and in the service of the Empire”.

French’s name is listed here on the Roll of Honour on my left, among around 40,000 others from 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 Keeble Charles French, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Dr Lachlan Grant
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (415518) Flight Sergeant Keeble Charles French, No. 207 Squadron, Royal Air Force,Second World War. (video)