The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (404891) Wing Commander Gordon Panitz, 464 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War

Accession Number PAFU2014/034.01
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 3 February 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
Description

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 Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on (404891) Wing Commander Gordon Panitz, 464 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War.

Speech transcript

404891 Wing Commander Gordon Panitz, No. 464 Squadron, RAAF
KIA 22 August 1944
Photograph: UK0829

Story delivered 3 February 2014

Today we remember and pay tribute to Wing Commander Gordon Panitz.

Gordon Panitz, known as Peter to most of his family and friends, was born on 21 September 1915 in Boonah, Queensland. Peter's family ran a bakery for several years in Boonah and later moved to Southport on the Gold Coast, where Peter attended school. He was widely engaged with sporting teams and musical groups, playing the drums in the Southport State School orchestra.

Following in his father's footsteps, Peter was a master baker for six years. On 6 December 1940, he enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force at the age of 25. Panitz carried out his training at Archerfield and Amberley as a part of the Empire Air Training Scheme. He was awarded his flying badge in May and left Australia in August that year to continue further training in Canada and Britain.

Panitz served in Fighter Command in Britain with the night-fighter No. 456 Squadron RAAF in early 1942 and was promoted to flight lieutenant just over a year later. He flew de Havilland Mosquitoes with his navigator, Flying Officer Richard Sutton Williams, of Patonga Beach, New South Wales. Together they were responsible for successfully damaging 22 trains and wrecking many power houses, bridges, boats, wharves, and enemy aircraft. One of Peter's most commendable operations involved a successful attack on "six trains in six minutes", which established Panitz's reputation as a "train buster" in the British press and at home.

Panitz became flying instructor of No. 63 Operational Training Unit in December 1943 and moved to No. 60 OTU two months later. Wing Commander R.A. Mitchell remarked on his "pleasant personality" and "even temperament" and stated that Panitz was "an experienced, capable instructor" who set "an excellent example to those working under him". During this time, Peter married Helen Winton of Banffshire, Scotland.

Panitz's highly regarded leadership skills saw him promoted to wing commander in No. 464 Squadron RAAF in July 1944. He was also awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross at Buckingham Palace later that month for his "skill on numerous operational sorties on enemy" and his consistent display of "fine leadership, skill and devotion to duty".

Just over a month later, Wing Commander Panitz and Flying Officer Williams embarked on a mission to bomb railway communications near Dijon in France. Their Mosquito was flying extremely low when it struck the side of a hill. The aircraft was completely destroyed, killing both pilot and navigator. Panitz and Williams were buried together in the Bona Communal Cemetery in Nièvre, France. Panitz was just 28 years old.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with around 40,000 others from the Second World War.

This is but one of the many stories of courage and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Wing Commander Gordon Panitz, Flying Officer Richard Williams, and all of the Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation.

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (404891) Wing Commander Gordon Panitz, 464 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War (video)