The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (424110) Flight Sergeant Douglas William McConville, No. 9 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Second World War.

Place Europe: France
Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.282
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 October 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 Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on (424110) Flight Sergeant Douglas William McConville, No. 9 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Second World War.

Speech transcript

424110 Flight Sergeant Douglas William McConville, No. 9 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Killed in flying battle 13 August 1944
Story delivered 9 October 2018

Today we pay tribute to Flight Sergeant Douglas William McConville.

Born in Narrandera, in the Riverina region of southern New South Wales, on 31 January 1917, Douglas McConville was the son of Thomas and Alice McConville.

Growing up, young Douglas McConville attended Albury Public School and Albury Grammar, before attending Thurgoona Public School, and then Albury High School. A keen sportsman, McConville took part in boxing, wrestling, swimming, football, cricket and golf. It was horse riding, however, at which McConville excelled.

Following his schooling, Douglas was a rodeo showman, and worked with his father, who was the star and founder of the famous Thorpe McConville’s Wild Australia rodeo and circus show, which toured regional New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland from the 1920s until at least the 1950s.

Douglas was a showman with Wild Australia, performing under the stage name of “Thorpe McConville Junior”. A rough rider and buck-jump rider during shows, he was also a truck driver when the show went on the road.

On 12 August 1942, at the age of 25, Douglas McConville enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force. He had previously served as a driver in the Headquarters Company of the 5th Infantry Training Battalion of the Militia.

During this time the Wild Australia show suspended its performances, and its trucks were given over to the RAAF for transportation during the war.

Following his enlistment in the RAAF, McConville started training as an air gunner. After his initial training in Australia, McConville embarked in Sydney on 13 October 1943 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 in November 1943, McConville undertook further specialist training before he was posted to No. 9 Squadron, Royal Air Force, in July 1944. As part of RAF Bomber Command, No. 9 Squadron was equipped with four-engined Avro Lancaster heavy bombers.

On 13 August 1944, the Lancaster in which McConville was the mid-upper gunner was shot down by flak on a daylight mission to bomb the U-Boat pens and shipping in the harbour at Brest, on the western coast of France. Other crews reported that the Lancaster had a wing tip shot off. It dived and crashed into the ground.

McConville and all six of his fellow Australian crewmates died – Flight Sergeant Charles Edwards, Flight Sergeant John Scott, Flight Sergeant Cyril Scott, Flight Sergeant William Andrew – as well as British crewmates, the pilot Flight Lieutenant Edward Relton, and Sergeant Frederick Johnson.

Douglas McConville was 27 years old. He had barely been with his squadron for a month.

The bodies of the crew were recovered from the crash and McConville was buried alongside his crewmates in the Plougastael–Daoulas Communal Cemetery.

The epitaph upon his gravestone, chosen by his family, reads:
A famous horseman
And good fellow
At rest
McConville’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 Douglas William McConville, 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 (424110) Flight Sergeant Douglas William McConville, No. 9 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Second World War. (video)

Related information