The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (408462) Pilot Officer Tasman Leonard Williams, No. 466 Squadron, RAAF, Second World War.

Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.325
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 21 November 2019
Access Open
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 Meleah Hampton, the story for this day was on (408462) Pilot Officer Tasman Leonard Williams, No. 466 Squadron, RAAF, Second World War.

Speech transcript

408462 Pilot Officer Tasman Leonard Williams, No. 466 Squadron, RAAF
Flying Battle 15 October 1944

Today we remember and pay tribute to Pilot Officer Tasman Leonard Williams.

Tasman Williams was born on 12 July 1923, the son of John and Lavinia Williams of Derby, a riverside town in the north-east of Tasmania, where he grew up on Main Street.

On 22 December 1941, the 18-year-old Tasman Williams enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force Reserve. At the time he was working as a clerk.

Around six months later, on 19 June 1942, Williams enlisted in the RAAF and began training as a wireless operator/air gunner.

In May 1943, Williams was promoted to pilot officer and embarked from Sydney, bound for the United Kingdom.

As part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, Williams was one of almost 27,500 RAAF pilots, navigators, wireless operators, gunners, and engineers who, throughout the course of the war, trained in anticipation of joining Royal Air Force squadrons or Australian squadrons based in Britain.

Arriving in the United Kingdom in early July, he was transferred to Dumfries in Scotland, where he continued his training at No. 10 Advanced Flying Unit, before joining No. 20 Operational Training Unit, in north-eastern Scotland.

On 24 May 1944 Pilot Officer Williams was posted to No. 102 Squadron, which was attacking rail targets in France in preparation for the D-Day invasion. Tasman was attached to No. 102. Squadron during the invasion of Normandy, and in August was transferred to No. 466 Squadron which was based at RAF Station Driffield in Yorkshire.

On the night of 15/16 October 1944, Williams was the wireless operator/air gunner aboard a Halifax Bomber tasked with a mission that took it over the coastal town of Wilhelmshaven in Germany.

When the aircraft failed to return, the crew were reported missing, and then presumed dead.

Wing Commander H. W. Connelly wrote of Pilot Officer Williams’ qualities of “resolution and efficiency’’, and he described the crew’s efforts as “an inspiration to us all”.

Later, information was received from the International Red Cross that Williams and two other Australian members of the crew were buried at Wittmund, near Wilhelmshaven in Germany.
It was eventually confirmed that the aircraft had crashed at Jackstede, 25 kilometres from Wilhelmshaven. The only surviving crew member was Polish, Sergeant Kemp, who became a prisoner of war.

The remainder of the crew died: Flight Officer Albert Henry Munroe, Pilot Officer Ernest Thompson, Flight Sergeant Harvey Roy Harris, Pilot Officer William Stones, Flight Sergeant George William Dawson, and Pilot Officer Tasman Williams, who was 21 years old.

The crew members’ remains were later moved to the Sage Cemetery in Niedersachsen, Germany.

Weeks before he was killed, Tasman Williams had written home to his mother, assuring her he would be home soon after fighting had ceased in Europe.

Tasman Williams brother Ronald George Williams survived the war and returned home in October 1945 after being a prisoner of war from February 1942. Ronald was posthumously awarded a Distinguished Service Medal in 2019. Their mother believed she had lost both sons in service of their country – sadly only one returned and we honour them both.

Today Tasman Williams lies under the inscription chosen by his grieving family: “His duty fearlessly and nobly done. Ever remembered.”

His 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 Pilot Officer Tasman Leonard Williams, 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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