The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (414938) Flight Sergeant Charles Gordon Howie, No. 460 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.16
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 16 January 2018
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 Craig Berelle, the story for this day was on (414938) Flight Sergeant Charles Gordon Howie, No. 460 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War.

Speech transcript

414938 Flight Sergeant Charles Gordon Howie, No. 460 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force
KIA 16 December 1943
Story delivered 16 January 2018

Today we pay tribute to Flight Sergeant Charles Gordon Howie.

Born in Ipswich, Queensland, on 12 November 1922, Charles Gordon Howie was the son of Charles Gordon Howie senior and Agnes May Howie.

The young Charles Howie attended North Ipswich State School, and then Ipswich Technical College. A keen sportsman, he played hockey, football and cricket.
Following school, Howie worked as a labourer and served in the Royal Australian Engineers in the Militia.

On 6 December 1941, Howie enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force and then began training as an air gunner. Before long, he embarked in Sydney for overseas service. Before he left, however, he married Jean Dulcie Mavis in October 1942.

As part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, Howie was one of almost 27,500 RAAF pilots, navigators, wireless operators, gunners, and engineers who, throughout the course of the war, joined squadrons based in Britain.

Arriving in Britain in April 1943, Howie undertook further specialist training before being posted to No. 460 Squadron in August 1943. No.

460 Squadron would become the most highly decorated Australian squadron in Bomber Command, and the squadron that suffered the highest casualties. Flying twin-engined Vickers Wellingtons medium bombers, and then the four-engined Avro Lancaster heavy bomber, the squadron lost over 1,000 men: Australian, British, Canadians, New Zealanders and South Africans. Almost 600 Australians from 460 Squadron are listed here on the Roll of Honour.

After taking part in a large raid on Berlin on the night of 16–17 December 1943, the Lancaster in which Howie was the navigator circled No. 460 Squadron’s home station of Binbrook in heavy fog and low cloud, before crashing near the village of Market Stainton in Lincolnshire.

Howie and all six of his crewmates died – fellow Australians Captain Francis Randall, Flying Officer Harold Dedman, Flight Sergeant William Halstead, Flight Sergeant Reginald Moynagh, Flight Sergeant Harry Petersen, and British crewmate Jack McKenzie.

Charles Howie was 21 years old.

In a letter to the families of the dead, the commander of No. 460 Squadron wrote that he had lost one of its best crews.
The crew were buried side by side in the Cambridge City Cemetery on 23 December.

Because of the heavy losses suffered by Bomber Command squadrons –from enemy action and bad weather during that night’s raid on Berlin – the night became known as Black Thursday.
That night’s operation is featured in the Striking by night exhibition that features G-for-George in Anzac Hall here at the Memorial.

Charles Howie’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, among almost 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 Flight Sergeant Charles Gordon Howie, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Lachlan Grant
Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (414938) Flight Sergeant Charles Gordon Howie, No. 460 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War. (video)