The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (414121) Pilot Officer Leslie Dean Anderson, No. 466 Squadron RAAF, Second World War.

Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.29
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 29 January 2019
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

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 (414121) Pilot Officer Leslie Dean Anderson, No. 466 Squadron RAAF, Second World War.

Speech transcript

414121 Pilot Officer Leslie Dean Anderson, No. 466 Squadron RAAF
KIA 29 January 1944

Today we remember and pay tribute to Pilot Officer Leslie Anderson.

Leslie Dean Anderson was born on 26 February 1923 in Toowoomba, Queensland, to Leslie and Florence Anderson

Growing up, Anderson attended Toowoomba Boys Grammar, and was known by the nickname “Jock” – short for Jockey – as his father was a horse trainer and had his son riding from early age.

Before the advent of the Second World War, Anderson worked as a clerk, but according to his family, he had always wanted to be a pilot, and joined the air cadets as a teenager. On 16 August 1941, at the age of 18, Anderson enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force at Brisbane.

He attended initial training school in Bundaberg before embarking at Sydney for overseas service. As part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, Anderson 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 Canada in mid-May 1942, Anderson passed elementary flying training school and air observers’ school, and was awarded his air navigator’s badge before relocating to Bournemouth, England, in early November.

In May 1943, Anderson was posted to 466 Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force, based in Yorkshire. This squadron was flying the four-engined Handley Page Halifax heavy bombers. The following September he was promoted to pilot officer.

On the night of 28 January 1944, Anderson was the navigator in a Halifax taking part in night raids over Germany with orders to bomb the industrial areas of Berlin. His aircraft failed to return afterwards, and there was no further news of him. Some months later the International Red Cross Committee provided information that an Australian member of the crew had been captured and was a prisoner of war. Anderson’s family did not know whether or not this prisoner was their son until May 1944, when Anderson’s name appeared on a German list of the dead.

Reports from other surviving crew indicated that as the aircraft approached Berlin, it came under repeated attack from German fighters. On their last attack, the pilot was hit on the forehead and passed out briefly.

When he came to, he ordered the crew to bail out. The intercom was cut before anyone could acknowledge, but the emergency light was used to signal that the message had been received.

Landing in a number of different places, some in a small field on the outskirts of Berlin, others in the outskirts of the city, the survivors were captured immediately by Germans manning spotlights. Flight Sergeants Hughes and Balderston, Pilot Officers Last and Coombes, and Sergeant Causier were captured and held as prisoners of war.

Pilot Officer Leslie Anderson, who was known to have successfully baled out, Flight Officer Clifford Trotman, and Sergeant Roger Nelson were never heard from again. No official records indicate how they were killed.

Leslie Anderson was 20 years old.

His body was later identified and buried in the Berlin 1939–1945 War Cemetery. Many years later, Anderson’s younger sister tracked down two of the surviving crew members, who told her that Anderson had landed safely on a farm property, but was shot by the farmer’s wife who was afraid of the enemy.

Anderson’s mother, Florence, arranged for a memorial headstone to be erected in his memory at Toowoomba cemetery. His name also appears on the Mother’s Memorial at Toowoomba as well as on honour boards at the church he attended and Toowoomba Boys Grammar School, and on the Freedom Wall at Mount Cootha in Brisbane.

His name is also listed 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 Pilot Officer Leslie Dean Anderson, 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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