The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (30029) Flying Officer Robert James McDermott, No. 521 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Second World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.156
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 5 June 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 Chris Widenbar, the story for this day was on (30029) Flying Officer Robert James McDermott, No. 521 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Second World War.

Speech transcript

30029 Flying Officer Robert James McDermott, No. 521 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Presumed dead 7 February 1945
Story delivered 15 June 2018

Today we remember and pay tribute to Flying Officer Robert James McDermott.

Born in Hobart on 22 May 1921, Robert James McDermott was the son of John and Theodora McDermott.

Educated at Princes Street State School and Technical School, before enlisting in the Royal Australian Air Force he worked in the clerical staff of the Hydro Electric Commission in Hobart.

A talented musician, McDermott had attended the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. In Britain, he had been attending the Trinity College of Music in London, and had been accepted for study at Oxford University.

After enlisting in March 1940, McDermott undertook a period of training before he embarked for overseas service. As part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, McDermott 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.

After arriving in Britain, McDermott undertook further specialist training and was posted to No. 521 Squadron, Royal Air Force. No. 521 Squadron was a meteorological observation unit within RAF Coastal Command.

On 7 February 1945, McDermott was a crewmember aboard a twin-engined Lockheed Hudson light bomber undertaking a regular meteorological sortie.

During the flight, somewhere off the Norwegian coast, the weather deteriorated. McDermott’s plane sent a SOS signal, but nothing was further heard or seen of the aircraft.

Robert McDermott, and all five of his fellow crewmates – including fellow Australian, Flight Sergeant Joseph Holian – were killed. McDermott was 23 years old.
His body was not recovered and today his name is listed and commemorated upon the Air Forces Memorial overlooking the River Thames. The Runnymede memorial lists more than 20,000 British and Commonwealth airmen with no known grave.

Robert McDermott’s name is also 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 Flying Officer Robert James McDermott, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.


Lachlan Grant
Historian, Military History Section


  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (30029) Flying Officer Robert James McDermott, No. 521 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Second World War. (video)