The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (416685) Wing Commander Eric Le Page Langlois, No. 467 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2016.2.350
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 15 December 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 Gerard Pratt, the story for this day was on (416685) Wing Commander Eric Le Page Langlois, No. 467 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War.

Speech transcript

416685 Wing Commander Eric Le Page Langlois, No. 467 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force
KIA 3 March 1945
Photograph: SUK14841, SUK14842

Story delivered 15 December 2016

Today, we pay tribute to Wing Commander Eric Le Page Langlois, who was killed on active service with the Royal Australian Air Force during the Second World War.

Born in the Adelaide suburb of Clarence Park on 25 September 1913, Eric Langlois was the son of Edwin and Matilda Langlois, the second of six children. When Eric was just six years old his father passed away. It was hard for his mother to bring up six children on her own, but the family were able to make ends meet by letting their small house out to boarders.

Langlois attended Adelaide Technical High School and was always near the top of his class. On graduation he received a scholarship to study engineering, and upon completion of his studies he was employed as an engineer by News Limited, working as the pressroom foreman for The Mail and The News in Adelaide.

Langlois had a passion for machinery, and cars and aircraft in particular. His pride was his open-top convertible tourer, which he used for holiday trips to Moonta and Victor Harbour. He became a member of a local flying club, and took lessons.

In August 1941, aged 27, Langlois enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force. He soon commenced training as a pilot and in July 1942 embarked in Sydney for overseas service. As part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, Langlois was one of almost 27,500 RAAF pilots, navigators, wireless operators, gunners, and engineers, who joined Royal Air Force squadrons or Australian squadrons based in Britain throughout the course of the war.

On arriving in Britain in October 1942 Langlois undertook further specialist training before being posted to No. 150 Squadron, Royal Air Force in March 1943. Based in Algeria, the squadron was equipped with twin-engine Vickers Wellington medium bombers. Langlois flew more than 40 operations with the squadron, supporting Allied operations in North Africa, Italy, and the Mediterranean, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

In September 1943 Langlois returned to Britain, where he became an instructor for 27 Operational Training Unit. In May 1944 he worked for a short while for a base headquarters unit before requesting a return to combat operational duties.

Now holding the rank of squadron leader, Langlois put together an experienced crew for his second tour, and started training with the four-engine Avro Lancaster heavy bombers at No. 1661 Heavy Conversion Unit.

On 11 August 1944 Langlois and his crew were posted to No. 463 Squadron, an Australian heavy bomber squadron serving in Bomber Command, flying 11 operations before he and his crew were transferred to No. 467 Squadron, RAAF, in October 1944. In February 1945 Langlois became the squadron’s commanding officer, and was promoted to wing commander.

On the night of 3 March 1945 Langlois was flying on an operation over Europe, his sixtieth operation in total. His Lancaster was taking part in a large raid on the Dortmund-Ems Canal at Ladbergen, Germany, when it was shot down by an enemy Messerschmitt night fighter.

Wing Commander Eric Le Page Langlois, Flying Officers Charles Cameron, Alan Reid, and Evan Patten, and their British crewmate Flight Sergeant John Scott, were all killed in the incident. The two survivors, Flying Officers Joseph Willmott and Ray Taylor – who spent the rest of the war as prisoners of the Germans – reported that the crew had managed to bail out and land safely. It is believed that the remainder of the crew were captured and executed by SS troops. Their place of burial is unknown.

Eric Langlois was 31 years old. Today he is commemorated on the Air Forces Memorial overlooking the River Thames, the Runnymede Memorial which lists missing British and Commonwealth airmen with no known grave.

His name is also listed here on the Roll of Honour on my left, among some 40,000 Australians who died while serving in the Second World War. His photograph is displayed today by 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 Wing Commander Eric Le Page Langlois, 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 (416685) Wing Commander Eric Le Page Langlois, No. 467 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War. (video)