The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (416613) Flying Officer Kenneth Lovett Ridings, No. 10 Squadron, RAAF, Second World War.

Accession Number AWM2020.1.1.83
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 23 March 2020
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 Jennifer Surtees, the story for this day was on (416613) Flying Officer Kenneth Lovett Ridings, No. 10 Squadron, RAAF, Second World War.

Speech transcript

416613 Flying Officer Kenneth Lovett Ridings, No. 10 Squadron, RAAF
Flying battle 17 May 1943

Today we remember and pay tribute to Flying Officer Kenneth Lovett Ridings.

Kenneth Ridings was born on 7 February 1920 in the Adelaide suburb of Unley. Commonly known as “Ken”, he was the youngest of four sons born to Rowland and Olive Ridings.

Kenneth’s father had been a wicketkeeper for Sturt and later became an umpire at Adelaide. The Ridings boys grew up with cricket in their blood, and all four went on to play at a high level. Kenneth played his first game of first-grade cricket at the age of 16, and two years later made his debut for South Australia.

An opening batsman and occasional leg-spin bowler, he played all six of South Australia's matches in that season's Sheffield Shield, which was won by South Australia. In the match against Queensland he scored 122 in the first innings, adding 197 for the first wicket with Richard Whitington and 109 for the second wicket with his captain, Don Bradman. He also took 2 for 27 and 4 for 26. The next season, he scored 151 playing against Queensland, adding 196 in 115 minutes with Bradman.

The coming of the Second World War disrupted many professional sporting events. By December 1941 most state cricket associations had agreed to abandon interstate matches until the end of the war, and the Melbourne Cricket Ground was commandeered by the services.

While his three brothers would enlist in the Army, Kenneth joined the Australian Army Services Corps in February 1940. In March the following year he was discharged so that he could enlist in the Royal Australian Air Force, which he did on 21 July 1941, at the age of 21.

After attending Elementary Flight Training School at Parafield, and Special Flying Training School at Point Cook, on 20 October 1942 he was promoted to flying officer and posted to 10 Squadron. By then he had become engaged to Audrey Foale.

No. 10 Squadron was the first RAAF squadron to see active service in the Second World War, when one of its aircraft made a flight to Tunisia in October 1939. It was also the only RAAF squadron to see continuous active service throughout the war. Flying Sunderland aircraft, its major tasks were escorting convoys, conducting anti-submarine patrols, and air-sea rescue. Operating from RAF Mount Batten in Plymouth, the unit flew missions as far afield as Scotland, Malta, and Gibraltar.

On 17 May 1943, Ridings was the first pilot in a Sunderland that left RAF Mount Batten at dusk, tasked with an anti-submarine patrol. The aircraft was never heard from again, disappearing somewhere over the Bay of Biscay off the Atlantic coast of France.

He was initially reported as missing, but a German message was later incepted that stated: “On 17 May, German bombers on armed reconnaissance over the Atlantic shot down a giant four-engined flying boats of the Sunderland type. After a short combat the flying boat fell into the water and exploded on hitting the sea.” As no other Sunderlands had been reported missing after the patrol, it was assumed that Ridings’ aircraft had been shot down by German combat aircraft, killing all on board.

They were Flight Lieutenant Malcolm McKenzie; Armament Officer Flight Lieutenant Thomas Patrick; Pilot Officer Norman McLeod; Flight Officer Robert Bowley; Flight Officer Victor Coreless; Flight Sergeant Joseph Kelly; Flight Sergeant John Jackson; Sergeant James Pearce; Sergeant Terence Doran; Sergeant Jack Hogg; Leading Aircraftmen James Murdoch; and Flight Officer Kenneth Ridings, who was 23 years old.

Ridings had recently been selected to play in England in an All-Australia Eleven.

With no grave but the sea, today Ridings is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, sometimes known as the Air Forces Memorial on the bank of the River Thames. It commemorates more than 20,000 airmen and women who were lost in the Second World War during operations from bases in the United Kingdom and northern and western Europe who have no known grave.

Kenneth Ridings’ 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 Kenneth Lovett Ridings, 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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