The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (424297) Flight Sergeant Ronald Henry Hobbs, No. 460 Squadron, RAAF, Second World War

Place Europe: France
Accession Number PAFU2015/206.01
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 30 May 2015
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 (424297) Flight Sergeant Ronald Henry Hobbs, No. 460 Squadron, RAAF, Second World War.

Speech transcript

424297 Flight Sergeant Ronald Henry Hobbs, No. 460 Squadron, RAAF
KIA 4 May 1944
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 30 May 2015

Today we remember and pay tribute to Flight Sergeant Ronald Henry Hobbs.

Ronald Hobbs was the eldest of Nick and Lucy Hobbs’ three children, and was born on 8 November 1923. His father had served with distinction in the First World War, earning a Military Cross at Pozières and spending some time seconded to the Australian Flying Corps in 1918. Ronald was born in Bemboka, New South Wales, and attended Bega High School before moving to Canberra Grammar School. While studying at Canberra Grammar he served with the school’s Senior Cadet Corps and was a keen sportsman, playing cricket, football and tennis.

The Second World War began before Hobbs finished school. As soon as he had finished he enlisted for service in the Australian armed forces. He served with the 1st Survey Regiment of the AMF for several months before being accepted for service with the Royal Australian Air Force on 17 August 1942 at the age of 19.

Nearly four months after enlisting with the RAAF, Hobbs was sent to Canada to complete his training under the Empire Air Training Scheme. He was promoted to Flight Sergeant and became a promising navigator on Lancaster bombers. Hobbs was posted to Number 460 Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force for service in Europe, arriving in the United Kingdom in June 1943.

Eleven months later, Flight Sergeant Ronald Hobbs was part of a seven-man crew in a Lancaster on a mission to bomb the French city of Mailly. His aircraft failed to return, and efforts were made to find out the fate of the bomber and its crew.

Nick Hobbs, Ronald’s father, heard news that his son was missing, and believed to have been killed in action. Still unsure that his son was not a prisoner of war, he wrote to the RAAF to try to find out what had happened to him. Given his previous war service, he wrote, “Whatever the final news of my son may be, I can take it, as both he and I fully appreciated the risks.”

After many months, the news Nick Hobbs received was not good. Investigations at the scene of the crash, together with reports from local authorities and an investigation of French records, revealed that at 1 am on the night of 4 May 1944, the Lancaster bomber carrying Flight Sergeant Ronald Hobbs exploded near the village of Avant les Marcilly. Seven bodies were recovered from the wreck; three of them were identifiable. French civilians were allowed half an hour by the German military to hurriedly bury the bodies. The first body they identified, and the first they buried, was Flight Sergeant Ronald Henry Hobbs.

Today he is buried in the churchyard at Avant les Marcilly alongside his crewmates, including two other Australians, Flight Sergeant Dennis Ronald Barr and Pilot Officer Norman David Livingstone Lloyd.

Ronald Hobbs was 20 years old.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with some 40,000 Australians who died during 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 Sergeant Ronald Henry Hobbs, and all those Australians – as well as our Allies and brothers in arms – who gave their lives in the hope of a better world.

Dr Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (424297) Flight Sergeant Ronald Henry Hobbs, No. 460 Squadron, RAAF, Second World War (video)