|Object type||Last Post film|
Australian War Memorial
|Place made||Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell|
|Date made||21 February 2020|
Second World War, 1939-1945
Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
|Copying Provisions||Copy provided for personal non-commercial use|
The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (433207) Sergeant Geoffrey Hayman, RAAF No. 467 Squadron, Second World War.
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 Sharon Bown, the story for this day was on (433207) Sergeant Geoffrey Hayman, RAAF No. 467 Squadron, Second World War.
433207 Sergeant Geoffrey Hayman, RAAF No. 467 Squadron
Flying Battle 4 December 1944
Today we remember and pay tribute to Flight Sergeant Geoffrey Hayman.
Geoffrey Hayman was born on 3 February 1924 in the Sydney suburb of Dulwich Hill, the son of Walter and Stella Janie Hayman. Known by the nickname “Happy”, Hayman attended school at Drummoyne and Ultimo, and later worked as a receiving clerk and storeman. He enjoyed tennis, soccer and athletics, and at the time of his enlistment lived in Haberfield, in Sydney’s inner west.
On 4 February 1943, one day after his eighteenth birthday, Hayman applied to join the Royal Australian Air Force at Woolloomooloo. Later that month, he enlisted as an Aircraftman 2nd Class and was posted to the No. 2 Initial Training School at Bradfield Park in Sydney’s north.
Hayman spent the next year training at various bases across Australia, including the No. 2 Wireless Air Gunners School at Parkes, and Air Gunnery School in West Sale. Throughout his training, Hayman received several promotions, eventually reaching the rank of flight sergeant.
In February 1944 he received his flying badge, and the next month embarked from Brisbane for the war in Europe. In England he continued his training with RAF No. 27 Operation Training Unit, before being posted to RAF No. 51 base Aircrew School, and later the RAF No. 5 Lancaster Finishing School. On the 17th of November 1944, his training complete, Hayman was posted into RAAF No. 467 Squadron, based at Waddington, Lincolnshire.
No. 467 Squadron formed part of 5 Group, Bomber Command, and flew Avro Lancaster heavy bombers chiefly on night-time raids over occupied Europe. Before Hayman joined, the squadron had participated in the D-Day landings of June 1944, carrying out preparatory bombing on German positions in occupied France and then bombing targets once the invasion began.
On 4 December 1944, just weeks after joining No. 467 Squadron, Hayman participated in a major night-time raid on Heilbronn, an important rail hub in southern Germany. Hayman served as tail gunner in Avro Lancaster PB740, known as “O for Oboe”. At 4.42 pm, O for Oboe took off from Waddington to join the attack, which involved nearly 300 Allied bombers.
As Hayman’s aircraft approached its target, Hayman alerted his pilot, Flying Officer John Plumridge, that their aircraft was under attack from German Junker 88 fighter aircraft. Plumridge began a corkscrew manoeuvre in an attempt to shake off the enemy fighters while Hayman began firing on the enemy aircraft with his tail gun. Hayman’s fire, in combination with fire from O for Oboe’s mid-turret, successfully warded off the German aircraft, and the Lancaster continued towards its target.
The relief, however, was short lived. Hayman and O for Oboe soon came under renewed German attack, this time from fighter ace Oberlieutenant Peter Spoden, who was responsible for shooting down 25 Allied planes during the war. Spoden’s attack caused O for Oboe’s engines to burst into flames, and the order was given to parachute out of the damaged aircraft.
O for Oboe crashed into a field near the town of Meimsheim, Germany, and exploded on contact with the ground. The explosion was so large that it left a two-metre-deep crater in the ground. Only one member of the crew, Flight Sergeant Penman, managed to jump safely from the plane before it crashed. He spent the rest of the war in the German prisoner-of-war camp. The rest of the seven man crew, Geoffrey Hayman included, died on impact. Hayman was 20 years old.
Today his remains lie buried in the Durnbach War Cemetery in Bavaria, Germany, where nearly 3,000 soldiers of the Second World War now lie.
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 Flight Sergeant Geoffrey Hayman, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.
Historian, Military History Section
Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (433207) Sergeant Geoffrey Hayman, RAAF No. 467 Squadron, Second World War. (video)