AFA Remembers Fallen at Last Post Ceremony


The life and service of Flying Officer Edward Rowell was commemorated when Air Force Association (AFA) National Vice President Peter McDermott attended the Last Post Ceremony on 30 January.

Stories of bravery, service and sacrifice are told when the Last Post Ceremony is held at the end of each day at the Australian War Memorial (AWM) in Canberra.

Each evening, the AWM shares the story of an individual on the Roll of Honour which commemorates members of the Australian armed forces who died while serving. Each of the 364 Last Post stories told each year is researched by AWM historians.

At the ceremony last week, Peter had the opportunity to meet Elizabeth Rowell, the niece of Flying Officer Rowell, and hear her family’s story of sorrow at their loss.

AFA National Vice President Peter McDermott with Elizabeth Rowell, the niece of Flying Officer Rowell.

Flying Officer Rowell was lost over the North Sea on return from a bombing mission over Germany in 1944. He is listed on the Runnymede memorial which commemorates more than 20,000 airmen and women who lost their lives during World War Two in operations from bases in the United Kingdom, and north and western Europe, who have no known grave.

The ceremony heard that Edward, or Teddy, was born in Sydney in November 1921 and he attended high school in Lismore, Newcastle, and North Sydney before going on to work at the Bank of New South Wales in Cootamundra.

He was part of the Empire Air Training Scheme where he was one of 27,500 RAAF pilots, navigators, wireless operator/gunners, and engineers to join RAAF squadrons.

He did his elementary flight training in Australia then later in Ontario and in 1944 he joined a training unit at RAF Silverstone where he trained as a night bomber pilot.

In September 1944 he was posted to Number 467 Squadron, an Australian squadron under the command of the RAF which consisted of a mix of personnel from various Commonwealth nations.

On 23 October 1944, he was a pilot of a Lancaster four-engine heavy bomber tasked to carry out a bombing attack on enemy targets in south-west Netherlands.

Historians say that in the face of bad weather, and reinforced anti-aircraft defences, the RAAF squadrons involved lost three aircraft, had five more badly damaged and thought that many of their bombs had overshot the target.

Rowell’s aircraft never returned and Teddy, aged 22, was presumed to have died that day.

AFA Director of Communications Deanna Nott said every Last Post Ceremony was exceptionally special and moving for the descendants, families and AWM visitors who are able to lay wreaths and pay tribute to those on the Roll of Honour.

“Most importantly, the Ceremony is also the sharing of a unique and personal story, a reminder to us that every individual who served was part of a family, a community and had their own hopes and dreams,” she said.

“The Air Force Association regularly attends the Last Post Ceremony, because apart from paying our respects, it is another way we stay connected to family and community. We encourage our members to be involved whenever possible.”

You can register for a ticket via the Australian War Memorial’s website


Hornet has new home in WA

NEWS HEADLINES Once a proud member of the Royal Australian Air Force's fleet, F/A-18 Hornet A21-101 has now found a new home at the Air Force Association's Aviation Heritage Museum of Western Australia.   After years of dedicated service, A21-101 was retired from...

War Horse Tornado Gifted to Australians

NEWS HEADLINES Australians have been gifted a priceless piece of history, with the Royal Air Force (RAF) donating a Tornado GR4 to the Air Force Association (WA Division) Aviation Heritage Museum. The aircraft, with registration ZG791, has made its way all the way...

Administrative Appeals Tribunal Abolished

NEWS HEADLINESThe Government will abolish the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) and replace it with a new federal administrative review body. Key features of this new body will include: implementing a transparent and merit-based appointments process providing...

RAF Donates Tornado

NEWS HEADLINES The Royal Air Force has donated one of its retired Tornado aircrafts to Aviation Heritage Museum. Thank you to the Royal Air force for choosing to donate one of its retired Tornado GR4 aircraft to the Aviation Heritage Museum of Western Australia. The...

Govt Response to Royal Commission

NEWS HEADLINES  The Government has tabled in Parliament its formal response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide’s Interim Report. The Interim Report made 13 key recommendations which fall within three key themes: improving...

Ad Astra Podcasts – Listen Now

NEWS HEADLINESAn initiative by AFA and AFA NSW to capture the recollections and experiences of both retired and serving Air Force personnel. Listen as a wide range of former and current Australian aviators share their stories of life in the Air Force with...

AFA Restructure

NEWS HEADLINES  The Air Force Association’s national body, AFA Ltd, will restructure to form a smaller skill-based National Board of Directors and a Federation Council, the latter comprising representatives from each of the State/Territory Divisions. The decision to...

ADSO Sets Policy Objectives

NEWS HEADLINES    The Alliance of Defence Service Organisations (ADSO) has released a media statement outlining its policy objectives for 2022-25. Excerpt: "The Alliance of Defence Service Organisations (ADSO) welcomes the opportunity to announce its core Policy...