The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (433169) Flight Sergeant Edward Thomas Sumner, No. 463 Squadron, RAAF, Second World War.

Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.199
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 18 July 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 Copyright restrictions apply. Only personal, non-commercial, research and study use permitted. Permission of copyright holder required for any commercial use and/or reproduction.

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 Troy Clayton, the story for this day was on (433169) Flight Sergeant Edward Thomas Sumner, No. 463 Squadron, RAAF, Second World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

433169 Flight Sergeant Edward Thomas Sumner, No. 463 Squadron, RAAF
Killed in flying battle 21 February 1945
Story delivered 18 July 2018

Today we remember and pay tribute to Flight Sergeant Edward Sumner.

Edward Thomas Sumner was born on 7 December 1924 in the Sydney suburb of Redfern, to Edward Thomas and Nelly Sumner. He had three sisters, Norma, Jean, and Valerie.

After attending obtaining his intermediate certificate from Sydney Boys’ High School, Sumner worked as a clerk and paymaster at Felt and Textiles of Australia.

On 25 February 1943, a few months after turning 18, he enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force.

After completing initial training, Sumner was given the rank of leading aircraftsman and attended wireless air gunners’ school at Parkes. Further training took him to Port Pirie and Bradfield Park before he left Sydney for overseas posting on 27 January 1944.

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

Arriving in Britain in March 1944, Sumner went through more training with an advanced flying unit, before being promoted to flight sergeant in June and posted to No. 27 Operational Training Unit in July

He joined No. 467 Squadron in late January 1945, but shortly afterwards was transferred to No. 463 Squadron, based at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire. In proportion to its size – it operated with only two flights instead of the usual three – it sustained the highest loss rate of any of the Australian bomber squadrons, losing 546 aircrew – 225 of whom were Australian – and 78 aircraft.

On the night of 21 February 1945, ten aircraft from the squadron were returning from an operation to bomb the Mittelland Canal at Gravenhorst in Germany.

Around 9:30 pm, the four-engine Avro Lancaster heavy bomber in which Sumner was acting as wireless operator was hit by flak, causing a fire in the fuselage. As the aircraft filled with smoke, Warrant Office Dixon and Sergeant Freeman managed to bail out before the Lancaster crashed in the Dutch Province of Limburg, killing the remaining crew members.

Flight Sergeant Edward Sumner was buried alongside his crewmates -– the Australians Flight Sergeant Gould and Flight Officer Pedersen, and the British Sergeant Harkness and Flight Sergeant Heel – at the Hoensel General Cemetery at Eindhoven.
Edward Sumner was 20 years old.

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. His photograph is displayed beside the Pool of Reflection.
This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Flight Sergeant Edward Sumner, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Duncan Beard
Editor, Military History Section

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