The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3483) Air Mechanic Class II George Lonsdale Taylor, 2 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, AIF, First World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.278
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 5 October 2019
Access Open
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
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 , the story for this day was on (3483) Air Mechanic Class II George Lonsdale Taylor, 2 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

3483 Air Mechanic Class II George Lonsdale Taylor, 2 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, AIF
Died of Illness 11 February 1919

Today we remember and pay tribute to Air Mechanic Second Class George Lonsdale Taylor.

George Lonsdale Taylor was born on 14 July 1900 in the Melbourne suburb of Croydon, one of five surviving children of John Lonsdale and Emma Mary Taylor. Soon after his birth, the family moved to Albury in New South Wales, where George attended school. On leaving school, he worked as an accountant before taking work as a jackaroo and farmhand on a nearby station.

George was keen to join the war effort. As a 17-year-old, he enlisted at Sydney Showgrounds in October 1917, falsely claiming that he was 21 years old. Three days after he was recruited, however, his true age was discovered and he was discharged. Two months later, in December 1917, he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force at Grafton, this time giving his age as 19. His parents signed their consent to him serving overseas, and this attempt to join the army was successful.

In February 1918 George was transferred to 2nd Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, and began training at the airbase in Laverton, Victoria. He trained there as an aircraft mechanic for eight months. On 5 October 1918, 101 years ago today, he embarked at Melbourne on the transport ship Zealandic, arriving in London in early December. By this time, the war had ended, and George spent Christmas at the Royal Air Force Camp in Blandford.

George wrote letters home to his family while he was training and sailing. Writing to his eldest sister Ethel, George was not able to reveal military details. Instead, he asked after the family and sent his love. On board the ship to England, George worked as a mess orderly, and he signed off one letter noting that he was being called away by his corporal to organise rations.

When George joined the Australian Flying Corps, aviation was in its infancy. During the war, all belligerent powers realised the advantages that air superiority could bring, and they developed new aircraft and new tactics. By the end of the war, aeroplanes had been used as fighters, spotters for artillery, bombers, and photographic reconnaissance. The 2nd Squadron had been involved in the Allied attainment of almost complete dominance in the air by the time of the Armistice.

With the war over, the men of the 2nd Squadron were now sent to evaluate and study captured German aircraft. For this reason, George was sent to France in early January 1919. By the end of that month, however, he had contracted influenza and was hospitalised. He was declared dangerously ill on 6 February, and he died on 11 February 1919. He was 18 years old.

Most wartime censors minimised early reports of illness and mortality, but with papers free to report the epidemic's effects in neutral Spain, the country appeared to be particularly hard hit, and so the pandemic earned the nickname “Spanish flu”.

Around 500 million people were infected worldwide, resulting in the deaths of 50 to 100 million.

Today, George’s remains lie buried in Lille Southern Cemetery in France, near the site of the British army’s 39th Stationary Hospital where he died. He was survived by his parents and four sisters, Edith, Ethel, Winifred, and Katherine.

Air Mechanic Second Class George Lonsdale Taylor is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among more than 60,000 Australians who died while serving in the First World War.

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

Thomas Rogers
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3483) Air Mechanic Class II George Lonsdale Taylor, 2 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, AIF, First World War. (video)