The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (428858) Pilot Officer George York, No. 102 Squadron RAF, Second World War.

Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.273
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 30 September 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 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 Joanne Smedley, the story for this day was on (428858) Pilot Officer George York, No. 102 Squadron RAF, Second World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

428858 Pilot Officer George York, No. 102 Squadron (RAF)
Missing (Believed Killed in Action) 13 August 144

Today we remember and pay tribute to Pilot Officer George York.

George York was born on 5 February 1915 to George and Ann York of the Sydney suburb of Woollahra. Young George attended Woollahra Public School and Sydney Boy’s High School, and enjoyed wrestling, swimming, football and tennis. Following his education, York worked as a manager at an importing company and lived in the suburb of Kingsford. In June 1938 he married Margaret, and the couple had one child together, Ronald Bruce York, born in 1941.

York enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force on 10 October 1942, and undertook some early training at Bradfield Park and Ascot Vale. On 15 January 1943 he embarked from Melbourne for Canada, where he would participate in the Empire Air Training Scheme. The Empire Air Training Scheme was a joint British and Dominion program designed to ensure that enough trained airmen were available to keep up with demand in Europe. York undertook courses in bombing, gunnery and navigation, while in North America took the opportunity to visit Niagara Falls, New York and Kentucky.

In August 1943, he departed for the United Kingdom, where he served in the Royal Air Force and continued training. He trained at various times in southern England, on the Isle of Man, in Scotland, and in Yorkshire. He often wrote to his family at home in Australia, especially about how much he missed his friends and family.

York’s extensive training and good record saw him promoted first to sergeant, then flight sergeant, and later to pilot officer.

In 1944 York joined No. 102 “Ceylon” Squadron RAF, and commenced a conversion course to fly Halifax Bombers. On 11 June 1944, just days after D-Day, he took part in his first operational bombing flight over occupied Europe.

On the night of 12/13 August 1944, York served as an air bomber in a major raid on the German city of Russelsheim, near Frankfurt. Nearly 300 Allied Halifax and Lancaster bombers participated in the attack. Twenty would not return home.

In the early hours of 13 August 1944, York’s MZ647 Halifax came under attack from a German fighter near Rehborn, and crashed into a hill near the small town’s railway station. All eight crew members died in the crash. York was 29 years old.

Members of the small town of Rehborn buried the remains of the airmen in the local cemetery. After the war, their remains were moved by British authorities to the larger Rheinberg War Cemetery in Germany, where over 3,300 Commonwealth servicemen of the Second World War are now commemorated.

In the immediate aftermath of the crash, the eight members of the crew were originally reported as missing, and it was not until after the war that York’s family, including his wife and young son, received official confirmation of his death. His grave now reads: “Dearly loved & missed by loving wife Margaret and son Bruce”.

A member of York’s No. 102 Squadron later wrote of him: “He was, I think, the best bombardier in the Flight having completed many trips safely, and he had the complete confidence of the rest of the crew. Everybody who knew him liked him immensely, and he will be sorely missed by the Squadron.”

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.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Pilot Officer George York, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

David Sutton
Historian, Military History Section

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