The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (260354) Wing Commander Hilson Christopher Newton Daly, No. 4 Squadron, RAAF, Second World War.

Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.52
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 21 February 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

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 (260354) Wing Commander Hilson Christopher Newton Daly, No. 4 Squadron, RAAF, Second World War.

Speech transcript

260354 Wing Commander Hilson Christopher Newton Daly, No. 4 Squadron, RAAF
Flying battle 17 November 1944

Story delivered 21 February 2018

Today we remember and pay tribute to Wing Commander Hilson Christopher Newton Daly.

Hilson Daly was born on 30 September 1908, the eldest son of Edwin and Ethel Daly of Sydney. Known as “Chris” to his family and friends, Daly attended the Kings’ School Parramatta, and later lived in the suburb of Strathfield, where he worked as a commercial traveller for Dalgety & Co. Limited.

Daly was well-known for his loyalty to his family and friends, for being an excellent host, and for telling jokes. He was a keen sportsman, who enjoyed motoring, tennis, golf, and skiing, and was a member of several sporting clubs.

Daly’s great passion in life was aviation. He held a pilot’s licence, and on 16 October 1939, weeks after the outbreak of the Second World War, enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force. Daly told his family that after the end of the war, he would continue with his hobby because he would always “need to fly”.

After enlisting, Daly commenced his training at various bases across Australia. Due to his previous aviation experience, he rose through the ranks of the air force. In October 1942, while still a flight lieutenant, he married Dora Fullagar in Burrowa, New South Wales. The couple would have one child together, Jane, born in 1944.

Pilot training during the Second World War was a dangerous exercise. In May 1943, while attached to No. 85 Squadron, Daly crash-landed his single-pilot Boomerang aircraft while on a training flight at Guildford in Western Australia. He survived the accident, but the aircraft was destroyed.

In January 1944, still in Western Australia, Daly was conducting a training exercise when he noticed smoke and a burning electrical smell coming from the cockpit of his aircraft. The controls of the aircraft soon burst into flames, and Daly conducted a forced landing on a beach north of Rockingham. He jumped from the burning plane unscathed, and put out the fire with wet sand.

Following his training, Daly joined No. 4 RAAF Squadron, which operated in support of Australian and American forces fighting in New Guinea. Daly and his squadron flew Boomerang aircraft in reconnaissance and strafing missions, often guiding Allied Beaufort bombers and increasing their bombing accuracy.

By 1944, Daly had reached the rank of wing commander.

On 17 November 1944, Daly took part in a reconnaissance mission near the Kerang River, West of Madang in New Guinea. Near the village of Angetji, Daly was performing a low diving and strafing manoeuvre near a river when his right wing struck a tree. His aircraft sharply turned to the right and hit the ground at high speed, exploding upon impact.

On hearing news that Daly’s aircraft may have crashed, his fellow airmen in the Western Area Headquarters immediately made official inquiries as to his wellbeing. Officials at the time stated that his mates were, “anxious to ascertain whether [the rumours] true, as [the] member was apparently very well known, and held in high regard”.

Daly’s family was originally informed that he was missing, presumed killed, and the sad confirmation of his death did not come through until April 1946.

Survived by his wife and daughter Jane, who was only weeks old when her father passed away, Hilson Daly was 36 years old.

He is buried in the Lae War Cemetery in Papua New Guinea, where over 2,300 soldiers of the Second World War now lie.

His 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 Wing Commander Hilson Christopher Newton Daly, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

David Sutton
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (260354) Wing Commander Hilson Christopher Newton Daly, No. 4 Squadron, RAAF, Second World War. (video)