The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (421311) Flying Officer Geoffrey Charles Bucknell, No. 97 Squadron (RAF), Second World War.

Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.331
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 27 November 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 , the story for this day was on (421311) Flying Officer Geoffrey Charles Bucknell, No. 97 Squadron (RAF), Second World War.

Speech transcript

421311 Flying Officer Geoffrey Charles Bucknell, No. 97 Squadron (RAF)
Flying Battle 6 August 1944

Today we remember and pay tribute to Flying Officer Geoffrey Charles Bucknell.

Geoffrey Bucknell was born on 9 May 1911 at the family property “Newstead North”, in Inverell, New South Wales.

The son of Norman and Ruby Bucknell, he attended the Shore School, and went on to work as a grazier on the family property.

On 14 May 1936, Geoffrey Bucknell married Joan Black. Two children were born to the couple: Anne and Peter.
Bucknell paraded part-time with the 12th Light Horse Regiment, reaching the rank of sergeant. During the Second World War, on 31 January 1942, he enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force.

After initial training, he trained as a pilot at bases in Narromine, Bundaberg, Bradfield Park, and Ascot Vale.

In early March 1943, he embarked from Melbourne on the Nieu Amsterdam bound for overseas service. As part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, Bucknell 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.

After landing at San Francisco, Bucknell travelled with comrades to the east coast of America, visiting New York before leaving on the retired British ocean liner Queen Mary. Landing in Liverpool, Bucknell travelled by train to Bournemouth.

By late August he had joined an operational training unit based at RAF Wymeswold in Leicestershire, where he trained with night bomber crews.

After being promoted to pilot officer on 7 February 1944, in mid-March he was posted to 50 Squadron, RAF.
In early May the Glenn Innes Examiner reported news from Bucknell, which related that he “participated in several ‘flying visits’ to Germany” and sent on his message that, “Our crew of seven now consider themselves old hands, and, believe it or not, we quite enjoy the operations.”

Towards the end of May, Bucknell transferred to 97 Squadron, based at RAF Waddington, which was flying four-engined Avro Lancaster heavy bombers against German targets.

On 6 August 1944, Bucknell was the pilot of a Lancaster that was part of a mission to bomb a V1 rocket fuel depot in northern France. As Bucknell’s bomber finished its mission, it was hit by German flak. A few minutes later the petrol tanks exploded.

A later account related:
Geoff had a gash in his forehead and was slumped over the controls. The bomb aimer and engineer opened the escape hatch and could easily have baled out; but they were flung into the nose of the plane. The plane fell like a stone afterwards, developing into a spin and disintegrating. Geoff was obviously unconscious, and possibly killed outright.
The Lancaster crashed close to the intersection of villages, destroying part of one house and causing damage to its neighbour.

Lieutenant Rodney James had managed to escape the aircraft, opening his parachute and landing nearby. James was taken care of by a local resident, whose family helped to hide him from German soldiers, eventually taking him to Paris. James managed to reach London and rejoin his squadron and report what had happened.

The other crew members were not so lucky. Flying Sergeant Ronald McAllister, Flying Sergeant Leslie B. Daitz , Sergeant Leonard Barlow, Sergeant Clifford Dyke, Sergeant William Patience, Sergeant Leslie Farmer, and Flying Officer Geoffrey C. Bucknell, who was 33 years old, died as a result of the crash.

The crew were buried in the nearby Clichy Cemetery, where Geoffrey Bucknell’s remains lie today, under the inscription “Always in our memory”.

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 Flying Officer Geoffrey Charles Bucknell, 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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