The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (414293) Flight Sergeant Francis Smith Forsyth, No. 460 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.221
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 9 August 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 Gerard Pratt, the story for this day was on (414293) Flight Sergeant Francis Smith Forsyth, No. 460 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War.

Speech transcript

414293 Flight Sergeant Francis Smith Forsyth, No. 460 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force
Killed in flying battle 25 July 1943
Story delivered 9 August 2018

Today we remember and pay tribute to Flight Aubrey Francis Smith Forsyth.

Born in St Ninian, in Stirling, Scotland, on 15 September 1922, Francis Forsyth – known as “Frank” – was the son of James and Isabella Forsyth.

Around 1928 the Forsyth family emigrated from Scotland to Australia, and settled in Mackay, Queensland. The young Frank Forsyth attended the local state school before going on to work as a plumber.

On 18 August 1941, he enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force with his brothers, John and Jim Forsyth. John would go on to serve in Bomber Command, and was later awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service with No. 106 Squadron, Royal Air Force.

After enlistment, Frank Forsyth commenced training as an air gunner. After his initial training in Australia, he embarked for overseas service.

As part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, he 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.

After his arrival in Britain, Forsyth undertook further specialist training before being posted to No. 460 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force.

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 four-engined Avro Lancaster heavy bombers, 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.
On the night of 24–25 July 1943, 26 Lancasters from No. 460 Squadron were taking part in large bombing raid on the German city of Hamburg. As part of the Battle of Hamburg, known as Operation Gomorrah, the raid was part of bombing offensive on the German city by the Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Force that had began on that night and would last eight days.

The Lancaster in which Forsyth was the tail gunner was shot down by flak during the raid, and he all six of his fellow crewmates were killed action. They were the Australians Flight Sergeant Frederick Taylor, Flight Sergeant Aubrey Ashley, British Sergeant John Acheson, Sergeant James Joyce, and Sergeant Dennis Metcalfe, and Canadian Sergeant Antoine Perron.

The crew were buried side by side in a collective grave in the British and Commonwealth War Cemetery in Becklingen, Germany.

Francis Forsyth was 20 years old.

His name is listed here 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 Francis Smith Forsyth, 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 (414293) Flight Sergeant Francis Smith Forsyth, No. 460 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War. (video)