The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (40063) Flight Lieutenant Stuart Crosby Walch, No. 238 Squadron (RAF), RAAF, Second World War.

Accession Number AWM2017.1.258
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 September 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 Greg Kimball, the story for this day was on (40063) Flight Lieutenant Stuart Crosby Walch, No. 238 Squadron (RAF), RAAF, Second World War.

Speech transcript

40063 Flight Lieutenant Stuart Crosby Walch, No. 238 Squadron (RAF), RAAF
DOD 11 August 1940

Story delivered 15 September 2017

Today we remember and pay tribute to Flight Lieutenant Stuart Crosby Walch.

Stuart Walch was born on 16 February 1917 in Hobart, Tasmania, the third child and only son of Percival and Florence Walch.

Stuart’s father was a prominent member of the Hobart business community, being managing director of the family company, J. Walch and Sons.

After attending the prestigious Hutchins School – where he was prominent in football, cricket, and rowing – Stuart Walch went to work as a clerk in the family company, where he had been earmarked to succeed his father as managing director.

Walch enlisted to join the Militia in March 1935, but was discharged at his own request when his application for a cadetship to RAAF was successful that same year.
He entered 1 Flying Training School at Point Cook in July 1936. A year later had earned a short service commission with the British Royal Air Force and the rank of Pilot Officer. Arriving in England, he began further training at Wittering before being posted to 151 Squadron RAF, based at North Weald.

Walch was promoted to Flying Officer on 26 March 1939, and about six months later flew his first wartime operation. It was 4 September 1939, and 151 Squadron had been ordered to patrol the fighter station at North Weald. They formed up quickly, but were ordered down after being in the air for about 15 minutes. Despite the nagging sense of anticipation, Walch and his squadron had no contact with enemy aircraft during the first few weeks of the war.

In mid-May, Walch was posted to 238 Squadron as flight commander of B Flight, and promoted to acting Flight Lieutenant. Responsible for training his pilots, he quickly gained the reputation of being the father of his squadron, and for taking on the most dangerous jobs for himself.

By June 1940 the Allies had been defeated in Western Europe and Scandinavia, and German armed forces prepared for Operation Sea Lion: the invasion of Britain. Before this could be carried out, however, the Luftwaffe had to destroy the RAF and achieve air supremacy.

Through July and August 1940, the Luftwaffe undertook operations to destroy the RAF, targetting convoys in the English Channel and occasionally RAF airfields.

On 11 August 1940, 238 Squadron was ordered to patrol Portland, a small island south Weymouth in the English Channel. With Walch leading, the squadron encountered an enemy force of more than 150 aircraft. Rather than baulking at the overwhelming numbers, he led his flight of Spitfires forward, continuing to fight until his plane plummeted into the water south of Swanage.

Today his name is recorded on the Air Forces’ Memorial at Runymede. It is also 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 Private Edwin Carlill Morrison, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Duncan Beard
Editor, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (40063) Flight Lieutenant Stuart Crosby Walch, No. 238 Squadron (RAF), RAAF, Second World War. (video)