The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (408440) Flying Officer Donald George Hudspeth, No. 460 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War.

Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.317
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 13 November 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 Gerard Pratt, the story for this day was on (408440) Flying Officer Donald George Hudspeth, No. 460 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War.

Speech transcript

408440 Flying Officer Donald George Hudspeth, No. 460 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force
Killed in flying battle 5 March 1945
Story delivered 13 November 2018

Today we pay tribute to Flying Officer Donald George Hudspeth.

Born in Hobart on the 10th of November 1921, Donald Hudspeth was the youngest son of Robert and Ada Hudsbeth.

Hudspeth grew up in the Hobart suburb of Sandy Bay alongside his younger brothers Ken and Bruce. After attending Hobart Junior Technical School, he found employment as a clerk for the Tasmanian branch of the Australian Mutual Provident Society.

Hudspeth enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force on 25 May 1942 and began training as a navigator. 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.

Arriving in Britain, Hudspeth 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 5/6 March, 21 Lancasters from 460 Squadron were taking part in a large raid targeting the industrial and rail centre of Chemnitz, Germany. During this operation, the Lancaster in which Hudspeth was the navigator crashed near the small village of Pfieffe, near Spangenberg in central Germany. The local mayor reported that the aircraft had circled low with its engines on fire before crashing.

Hudspeth, and all seven of his crewmates – fellow Australians Squadron Leader John Holmes, Flight Sergeant Trevor Clarke, Flying Officer Ivan Baudinette, Flight Lieutenant Thomas Morgan, and Warrant Officer Elwyn Mayne, British crewmate Sergeant John Young, and Sergeant Ralph Hayward from Newfoundland – were killed.

Donald Hudspeth was 23 years old. He had been engaged to Marjorie Lidgett, with the wedding anticipated to take place after his return to Australia.

The bodies of the crew were recovered and buried in the Pfieffe churchyard. They were later reinterred and buried side-by-side in the British and Commonwealth War Cemetery in Hanover, Germany.

Hudspeth’s name is listed here on the Roll of Honour on my left, among some 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 Donald George Hudspeth, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Lachlan Grant
Historian, Military History Section