The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (402260) Flight Lieutenant Raymond Harold Charles Sly, No 185 Squadron RAF, Second World War.

Accession Number AWM2021.1.1.129
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 9 May 2021
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 Joanne Smedley, the story for this day was on (402260) Flight Lieutenant Raymond Harold Charles Sly, No 185 Squadron RAF, Second World War.

Speech transcript

402260 Flight Lieutenant Raymond Harold Charles Sly, No 185 Squadron RAF
Ground battle 9 May 1942

Today we remember and pay tribute to Flight Lieutenant Raymond Harold Charles Sly.

Raymond Sly was born in the Sydney suburb of Burwood on 1 October 1921, the son of Harold and Ivy Sly. He grew up in Sydney’s inner west and attended Fort Street Boys School in Petersham. He later worked as a cadet draughtsman with the New South Wales Department of Mines.

Sly enlisted into the Royal Australian Air Force on 22 July 1940, and soon began training at the Number Two Initial Training School at Bradfield Park.

In November 1940 he sailed for Canada, where he would train as part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, a system by which airmen from across the British Commonwealth trained for service with the Royal Air Force.

Sly trained as a fighter pilot, gaining his flying badge in March 1941. A reliable, capable and popular airman, he was a keen footballer who worked well with his team mates, who was promoted on several occasions, granted a commission as an officer, and eventually attained the rank of flight lieutenant.

In April 1941 he sailed from Canada to the United Kingdom to continue his training and prepare for action against the German Air Force.

In late August 1941 he was posted to No. 452 Squadron, the first Australian squadron to form in Britain as part of the Empire Air Training Scheme. This squadron flew Spitfire fighter aircraft in escort duties over German occupied France and Belgium, and conducted defensive patrols over the English Channel.

In March 1942 Sly transferred to No. 457 Squadron, another Australian fighter squadron. In May, he was attached to No. 185 Squadron RAF and took part in an operation to transport a number of Spitfires from the United Kingdom to Malta, where they were desperately needed to assist in persistent air assaults by enemy attack aircraft.

In the early hours of 9 May 1942, Sly successfully landed at his destination, the Hal Far aerodrome in southern Malta, but once on the ground his aircraft came under attack from German fighters. During the chaotic attack, Sly attempted to take off again so as to engage the enemy but crashed as he attempted to do so.

He was taken to the Number 90 General Hospital at Mtarfa with serious injuries, and died soon after.
He was 20 years old.

Today, his remains lie buried in the Malta (Capuccini) Naval Cemetery, where nearly 700 casualties 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 Lieutenant Raymond Harold Charles Sly, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

David Sutton
Historian, Military History Section