The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (407219) Flying Officer Philip Brooks, No. 13 Squadron RAAF, Second World War.

Accession Number AWM2017.1.126
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 06 May 2017
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

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 Dennis Stockman, the story for this day was on (407219) Flying Officer Philip Brooks, No. 13 Squadron RAAF, Second World War.

Speech transcript

407219 Flying Officer Philip Brooks, No. 13 Squadron RAAF
KIA 22 May 1942
Photograph: P07159.215

Story delivered 6 May 2017

Today we remember and pay tribute to Flying Officer Philip Brooks.

Philip Gardner Brooks was born in 1917, one of six children of Albert and Margorie Banks of Adelaide, South Australia. A bank clerk before the war, Brooks was an active member of the Adelaide Rowing Club and paraded part time with the 10th Battalion (known as the Adelaide Rifles). He married Marjorie Lewis in 1940 and the couple had two children, Anthony and Julie.

Brooks enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force in Adelaide in August 1940 and trained as an airman in accordance with the Empire Air Training Scheme. After initial training at Somers in Victoria, he carried out elementary flying training at Parafield in South Australia and service training at Point Cook, where he qualified as a pilot in February 1941. He was subsequently commissioned as a pilot officer.

Having learned to fly in Tiger Moth trainers and the Avro Anson, Brooks completed Air Observer School at Cootamundra in New South Wales, and the General Reconnaissance School at Point Cook. He then spent time at an operational training unit at Nihill in Victoria where he trained and qualified to fly the Lockheed Hudson light bomber and reconnaissance aircraft.

A skilled pilot, Brooks was posted to No. 7 Squadron at Laverton in Victoria, where he spent a month flying coastal patrols, seaward searches, and anti-submarine patrols after the outbreak of the Pacific War. He was transferred to No. 6 Squadron, also at Laverton, in March 1942, before a posting with No. 13 Squadron at Hughes Airfield at Darwin in the wake of the Japanese bombings. Having suffered heavy losses against the Japanese in the previous weeks, No. 13 Squadron carried out operational attack and reconnaissance sorties throughout
Timor and the eastern islands of the Netherlands East Indies, as the island of Ambon faced invasion and ultimately fell to the Japanese.

On 22 May 1942, Brooks’s Hudson A16-174 was one of two Australian aircraft that failed to return from a strike against Japanese shipping in Ambon Bay. After the war, Australians imprisoned on Ambon later described the raid. The two Hudson bombers carried out their attack run at an exceptionally low level, dropping their bombs directly on the enemy ships, before two Japanese Zero fighters took off from a nearby airfield. One of the Japanese aircraft was shot down before the remaining Zero engaged and shot down Brook’s aircraft. The prisoners who witnessed the incident said that “for sheer courage and bravery they have never seen the likes before or after”. Brooks and his crew “did a magnificent job in a magnificent manner”.

Philip Brooks was 24 years old.

He was buried at Passo village, but today rests in Ambon War Cemetery in Indonesia.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, among some 40,000 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 Flying Officer Philip Brooks, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Aaron Pegram
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (407219) Flying Officer Philip Brooks, No. 13 Squadron RAAF, Second World War. (video)