The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Flight Lieutenant Paterson Clarence Hughes DFC, No. 234 Squadron, RAF, Second World War

Accession Number PAFU2014/343.01
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 15 September 2014
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 Nicholas Schmidt, the story for this day commemorates Flight Lieutenant Paterson Clarence Hughes DFC, No. 234 Squadron, RAF, Second World War.

Speech transcript

Flight Lieutenant Paterson Clarence Hughes DFC, No. 234 Squadron, RAF
KIA 7 September 1940
Photograph: P01397.001

Story delivered 15 September 2014

Today we remember and pay tribute to Flight Lieutenant Paterson Clarence Hughes, who died during the Second World War.

Paterson Hughes was born in 1917, one of 12 children of Paterson and Caroline Hughes of Numeralla, New South Wales. Pat attended Cooma Public School before the family moved to Sydney. He worked as a stock clerk in a jewellery store and in January 1936 was accepted into No. 1 Flying Training School Training Squadron at Point Cook, Victoria. He was described as “energetic and keen”. When asked why he wanted to join the Royal Australian Air Force, the 18-year-old Hughes replied: “[it] will be the thing in a couple of years”.

Pat Hughes graduated from Point Cook in 1936 and, along with 25 classmates, was selected to train in England with the British Royal Air Force under the Short Service Commission Scheme.

Upon the outbreak of war in 1939 Hughes was drafted into the Royal Air Force and was ultimately posted to No. 234 Squadron. As a member of RAF Fighter Command, Hughes flew combat operations in the Battle of Britain – the fierce aerial campaign fought between the RAF and the German Luftwaffe from July to October 1940. Numerically superior and battle-hardened, the Luftwaffe bombers regularly attacked British radar stations and RAF airfields, while British Hurricanes and Spitfires were set upon by large “sweeps” of Messerschmitt fighters. In September German bombers began striking cities and civilian targets, marking the beginning of what became known as the Blitz.

Hughes flew air-cover operations and patrols in various locations, including over major shipping ports on England’s south coast. He was an inspirational pilot and proved to be the driving force of his squadron over the long months of battle. Between mid-August and early September 1940, No. 234 Squadron shot down 63 enemy aircraft.

Hughes was the top-scoring Australian fighter ace. With 14 confirmed victories and three shared victories to his name, Hughes was also the sixth-ranked ace of Fighter Command. His double victory over two Messerschmitt Bf110 heavy fighters in August earned him the Distinguished Flying Cross.

This was to be a posthumous award. Hughes was killed less than three weeks later, on 7 September 1940, in a dogfight with a Dornier Do 17 bomber. Witnesses saw him
attack the German plane before colliding with the wreckage. Hughes had no chance to bail out of his stricken Spitfire before it crashed.

Hughes had married five weeks before his death. His wife, Kay, accepted the DFC on his behalf. Pat Hughes was buried at the Sutton-on-Hull (St James) Churchyard in
England. He was just a few weeks shy of his 23rd birthday.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with some 40,000 other Australians who died fighting in the Second World War. His photograph is displayed today beside the Pool of Reflection.

This is just one of the many stories of courage and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Flight Lieutenant Paterson Hughes,
and all of those Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation.

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Flight Lieutenant Paterson Clarence Hughes DFC, No. 234 Squadron, RAF, Second World War (video)