|Place||Oceania: Australia, New South Wales, Wagga Wagga, Kapooka|
|Object type||Last Post film|
Australian War Memorial
|Place made||Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell|
|Date made||16 April 2015|
Second World War, 1939-1945
Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
|Copying Provisions||Copy provided for personal non-commercial use|
The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (N481536) Sapper Norman Rourke John Dilley, 1st Training Battalion, Royal Australian Engineers, Second World War
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 Craig Berelle, the story for this day was on (N481536) Sapper Norman Rourke John Dilley, 1st Training Battalion, Royal Australian Engineers, Second World War.
N481536 Sapper Norman Rourke John Dilley, 1st Training Battalion, Royal Australian Engineers
Accidentally killed 21 May 1945
No photograph in collection
Story delivered 16 April 2015
Today we pay tribute to Sapper Norman Rourke John Dilley, who was killed in the service of the Royal Australian Engineers in 1945.
Born in West Maitland on the central coast of New South Wales on 15 December 1910, Norman Dilley was the youngest son of Albert Ernest Dilley and Kathleen Mary Dilley’s four children.
We know very little of Norman Dilley’s early life. Having left school at a very young age, the young Norman Dilley worked as a carpenter. At the age of 26 he married Catharine Marjorie Dilley on 28 May 1937. Together they had two children. Their son, Neil Dilley, was ten years old at the time of his father’s death. Their daughter, June Dilley, was only four.
Although a carpenter by trade, Dilley had worked as a tool setter at the Rutherford Ammunition Factory before his mobilisation into the Militia. Called up in February 1945, Dilley was posted to the 1st Training Battalion, Royal Australian Engineers, at the large Australian Army training base at Kapooka. However, in the afternoon of 21 May that year, tragedy struck.
Crowded within a dug-out during a routine demolition training exercise on the preparation of hand charges were two groups: one of 22 trainees and two instructors; the other a smaller squad of three men and one instructor. Inside the dug-out was 110 pounds of explosives stored for day’s training exercise. In circumstances that remain unknown, the explosives ignited. In the explosion, 24 men were killed instantly, two died of injuries shortly afterwards, and two more were severely injured.
Dilley was one of those killed in the accident. He was 34 years old.
A mass funeral was held for the men in Wagga Wagga. Thousands of people lined the route of the funeral parade. The 26 flag-draped coffins were carried on four army trucks. The cortège included more than 100 military vehicles carrying members of the army and air force. The dead were buried in the Wagga Wagga War Cemetery.
Dilley’s name and those of the other 25 killed in the accident are listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with around 40,000 Australians who died 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 Sapper Norman Rourke John Dilley, and all of those Australians who gave their lives in the hope for a better world.
Dr Lachlan Grant
Historian, Military History Section
Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (N481536) Sapper Norman Rourke John Dilley, 1st Training Battalion, Royal Australian Engineers, Second World War (video)