The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2188) Lieutenant Themetre James Hammond, 2 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2022.1.1.26
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell, Australian War Memorial
Date made 26 January 2022
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC

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 Troy Clayton, the story for this day was on (2188) Lieutenant Themetre James Hammond, 2 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

2188 Lieutenant Themetre James Hammond, 2 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps.
KIA 12th June 1918

Today we remember and pay tribute to Lieutenant Themetre James Hammond.

Themetre Hammond was born in March 1893 in Sydney, to Michael and Anthea Hammond. Hammond’s father owned a large cattle station at Adavale in South West Queensland. He had three siblings, his younger brother Hector and his two sisters Orea and Mary. He received his education at Sydney Grammar School where he achieved excellent academic results. Hammond was also a well-known champion boxer in his youth, winning several state titles and competing abroad.

Themetre Hammond was 23 years old when he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 29 September 1916. He was assigned to the 13th Light Horse Regiment and embarked from Melbourne aboard troopship Omrah in January the following year. He reached England in March 1917 and spent several months training with the Light Horse around Tidworth in South-East Wiltshire. In August 1917, Hammond transferred to the 29th Training Squadron of the Australian Flying Corps and began training to become a pilot. He graduated in October and was appointed the rank of 2nd lieutenant. Shortly after his promotion, Hammond was transferred to the 30th Training Squadron where he spent several months at the school of aerial gunnery.

He arrived in France in April, and by May had been posted to 2 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps. By May, Hammond was flying missions over the Western Front as one of the newer pilots in the Squadron. In early June he took part in an offensive patrol over Cuvilly, in Northern France, when he was approached by six enemy aircraft. Hammond wrote of the attack:

“I was flying at about 5,000 feet. I selected one of the planes and dived on it, firing a burst of 100 rounds. I then zoomed and dived on the tail of another plane that was there, then flying nose down in a southerly direction. I fired 75 rounds and saw the observer collapse in the cockpit. The enemy aircraft went straight down in a nose dive.”

Though only new to the squadron, Hammond quickly became known as one of their pluckiest pilots.

The following day, he took off on another offensive patrol near the French town of Noyon, when his formation was attacked by a group of enemy aircraft. Selecting his target, Hammond chased an enemy plane down a few thousand feet, but soon lost sight of his formation. When the operation was finished, his comrades discovered that Hammond had failed to return. He was now declared missing in action.

Hammond’s disappearance was the focus of an ongoing Red Cross investigation. In connection with the missing Pilot, Captain Forrest, also of 2 Squadron, wrote:

“The theory we hold is that he, being a new man, did not realise how many Huns were there, and was so keen on getting his Hun that he went down and probably got some Huns onto him in doing so.”

A further report from an air mechanic in December 1918 confirmed Hammond’s fate. He wrote:

“Hammond left the patrol to attack Fritz’s machine which he shot down, but Hammond’s plane was then seen descending in flames…certain to be burnt to death.”

After several months of investigating it was determined that Lieutenant Themetre James Hammond had been killed in action, aged 25. Captain Forrest wrote of the squadron’s fondness for the young pilot, saying:

“I would like you to let his people know what a lot we thought of him. Although one of the newest members of the squadron he had already proved that he was one of the bravest we have ever had…The trouble was that he was too brave.”

No remains of Lieutenant Hammond or his plane were ever found. Today, he is commemorated on the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux and at the Arras Flying Services Memorial in Northern France.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among almost 62,000 Australians who died while serving in the First World War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Lieutenant Themetre James Hammond who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Meghan Adams
Researcher, Military History Section

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