|Place||Europe: United Kingdom, England, Lincolnshire|
|Object type||Last Post film|
Australian War Memorial
|Place made||Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell|
|Date made||14 June 2016|
Second World War, 1939-1945
Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
|Copying Provisions||Copy provided for personal non-commercial use|
The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (414349) Flight Sergeant William Kevin Halstead, No. 460 Squadron, Royal Australian 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 Craig Berelle, the story for this day was on (414349) Flight Sergeant William Kevin Halstead, No. 460 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War.
414349 Flight Sergeant William Kevin Halstead, No. 460 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force
KIA 16 December 1943
Story delivered 14 June 2016
Today we pay tribute to Flight Sergeant William Kevin Halstead, who was killed on active service with the Royal Australian Air Force during the Second World War.
Born in Cairns on 4 June 1921, William Halstead was the son of John Regan Halstead and Nora Agatha Halstead. He attended the Mundingburra Communal School and West End State School in Townsville, before progressing to Townsville Grammar School and Townsville High School. Halstead later worked as a clerk and cashier for the Shell Company Australia. He also served in the Militia.
On 13 September 1941 Halstead enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force. He began training as a navigator, and before long he embarked for overseas service to Britain, via Canada. As part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, Halstead 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.
Arriving in Britain in November 1942, Halstead undertook further specialist training before being posted in June 1943 to No. 460 Squadron. This would become the most highly decorated Australian squadron in Bomber Command, and would suffer the highest casualties. Flying twin-engine Vickers Wellington medium bombers and the four-engine Avro Lancaster heavy bomber, the squadron lost more than 1,000 men: Australians, Britons, Canadians, New Zealanders, and South Africans. Almost 600 Australians from No. 460 Squadron are listed here on the Roll of Honour.
On the night of 16 December the Lancaster in which Halstead was navigator participated in a large raid on Berlin. During the return flight the aircraft hit bad weather. Having circled No. 460 Squadron’s home station of Binbrook in heavy fog and low cloud, the Lancaster crashed near the village of Market Stainton in Lincolnshire.
Halstead and all six of his crewmates – fellow Australians Captain Francis Randall, Flying Officer Harold Dedman, Flight Sergeant Charles Howie, Flight Sergeant Reginald Moynagh, and Flight Sergeant Harry Peterser, and Briton Jack McKenzie – died in the crash.
Flight Sergeant Halstead was 27 years old.
In a letter home to the families, the commander of No. 460 Squadron wrote that he had lost one of its best crews. They were buried side by side in the Cambridge City Cemetery.
The heavy losses suffered by Bomber Command squadrons owing to enemy action and bad weather during that night’s raid saw the night become known as “Black Thursday”. It is this night’s operation that is featured in the Striking by night exhibition in Anzac Hall.
Halstead’s name is listed here on the Roll of Honour on my left, among some 40,000 others who died while 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 William Kevin Halstead, 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 (414349) Flight Sergeant William Kevin Halstead, No. 460 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War. (video)