The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (432329) Flight Sergeant Raymond Yabsley, 19 Operational Training RAF, Second World War.

Accession Number AWM2020.1.1.337
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 2 December 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 Sharon Bown, the story for this day was on (432329) Flight Sergeant Raymond Yabsley, 19 Operational Training RAF, Second World War.

Speech transcript

432329 Flight Sergeant Raymond Yabsley, 19 Operational Training RAF
Flying battle 28 August 1944

Today we remember and pay tribute to Flight Sergeant Raymond Yabsley.

Raymond Yabsley was born in the Sydney suburb of Marrickville on 27 September 1924, the son of Harry and Maud Yabsley.

Known as “Ray”, he attended Belmore Public School and then Sydney Technical High School in Paddington, earning his intermediate certificate in 1939.

He began working as a maintainance mechanic at the Service Box Company factory in Redfern. He met a young lady named Bonnie, who had just started working at the factory, and the two began a relationship.

While Raymond was fond of swimming, cycling, and football, he was mad about model planes. Given this, it was no surprise that he was keen to join the Royal Australian Air Force.

He began training in the Air Training Corps in April 1942, joining No. 24 Squadron at Ashfield, and applied to be an air crew member in July, with signed permission from his mother. On 5 December 1942, Ray Yabsley enlisted in the RAAF, at the age of 18.

After initial training, he began training as a a wireless operator and air gunner. He attended wireless air gunners school at Parkes, and bombing and gunnery school at Port Pirie.

On the last night of his leave, he and Bonnie talked about getting engaged. They planned to get married at home when the war was over.

In late November 1943, Yabsley embarked at Sydney, travelling via America to the United Kingdom. He kept a diary, writing about his journey and then his experiences in London: seeing the damage done to London during the Blitz, going on route marches, and seeing shows at the Windmill Theatre.

He wrote to Bonnie about being billeted in Brighton, where he went ice-skating, and after he was transferred to 19 Operational Training Unit, located at RAF Kinloss in the north-east of Scotland, he wrote about the places he visited.

19 Operational Training Unit trained aircrew to work as crews on operational bombing missions. Thousands of airmen were trained, and many lost their lives during training. 19 OTU lost over 100 aircraft during training accidents.

On the night of 27 August 1944 , Yabsley was the wireless operator/air gunner on a twin-engined Whitley medium bomber that had been detailed to carry out operational training exercises in bombing, cross country and air firing.
After completing the bombing exercise, the crew carried on with the cross country exercise. Communication with the aircraft continued until about 2:30 am on 28 August. Nothing further was heard from the aircraft, which did not return to base. Searches were carried out over the following days but no trace of the missing aircraft or crew members was found.

It is believed that the plane crashed into the North Sea off the east coast of Scotland. The crew members were listed as missing presumed dead. They were:
• Flight Sergeant Peter Caddy
• Sergeant John Crawford
• Sergeant John Finch
• Sergeant Richard Tibbles
• Sergeant Francis Truffet
• and Flight Sergeant Raymond Yabsley, who was 19 years old.

The last entry in Yabsley’s diary read, “I have just started writing a letter to Bonnie, we have just been called out, will finish it when we get back.”

Today, Raymond Yabsley and the crew of Whitley Z6739 are commemorated on the Air Forces Memorial at Runneymede, which commemorates by name over 20,000 Air Force personnel who were lost in the Second World War, flying from bases in the UK and North and Western Europe, and who have no known graves.

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 Raymond Yabsley, 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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