Navy remembers at War Memorial milestone

Published on LCPL Sebastian Beurich (author and photographer)

Topic(s): Last Post Ceremony

Royal Australian Navy Commander Kate Ryan salutes as a bugler plays the last post during the 1000th Last Post Ceremony held at the Australian War Memorial. (photo: LPCL Sebastian Beurich)
Royal Australian Navy Commander Kate Ryan salutes as a bugler plays the last post during the 1000th Last Post Ceremony held at the Australian War Memorial.

A sheen of rain covered the cloisters of the Australian War Memorial as Royal Australian Navy Commander Kate Ryan read a dedication to Flight Sergeant Lyndsay Arthur Bayley to the crowd of silent onlookers last month.

Flight Sergeant Bayley's life was the subject of the 1000th Last Post ceremony at the War Memorial on 14 January.

The Last Post Ceremony was started by the Director of the Australian War Memorial, Dr Brendan Nelson, in 2013 after visiting Ypres, Belgium, where a similar ceremony was held regularly to commemorate the memories of the British and Commonwealth soldiers who died in the First and Second World Wars.

Now, at the end of each day, as the War Memorial begins to close its doors, its guests gather in the cloisters for the ceremony.

Commander Ryan held the gaze of the crowd as she spoke of Flight Sergeant Bayley's life and how the 29-year-old navigator was killed in action in 1945 during a bombing run on Lutgendorf, Germany.

“The Lancaster on which Bayley was a crew member was shot down by anti-aircraft fire,” she said.

“Only one man managed to bail out, and spent the remaining weeks of the war as a prisoner of the Germans.”

For Commander Ryan, reading at the Last Post ceremony was a privilege, but a sobering reminder of the cost of war.

“I volunteered because I think it’s important to keep everyone informed of our predecessors and to make sure we will remember them,” she said.

“That’s what we say every day, but we have to make sure it actually happens.”

Any Defence member who is interested in participating in the ceremony, or anyone who would like to see a Service man or woman memorialised, can contact the Australian War Memorial by emailing lastpostceremony@awm.gov.au or calling (02) 6243 4575.