Former Nymagee resident Edward John Harland (better known as Ted) was honoured at the Last Post service at the Australian War Memorial (AWM) in Canberra on Thursday.
On the 75th anniversary of his death during his service with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in New Guinea in World War II, members of Ted’s family gathered in Canberra last week to honour and pay tribute to his memory.
The Leading Aircraftman accidently drowned while swimming in the surf off a beach at Tadji on New Guinea’s north coast.
He was just 20 years old.
Born July 1924, the youngest of six children for Thomas and Margaret Harland of Nimagee Station, Nymagee, Ted joined up at age 18. In October 20, 1942 he enlisted with the RAAF and in August 1943 was promoted to Leading Aircraftman.
He transferred to the No 1 Flying Boat Maintenance Unit at Bowen in Queensland later that year to service aircraft which included Catalinas, Martin Mariners and Seagulls.
In March 1944 Harland was posted to the No 7 Transport and Movements Office, a logistical support unit based in New Guinea and was sent to Lae as a fitter and emergency driver.
On March 8, 1945, following his day’s work, Harland and other members of his crew went swimming.
Around 4.30pm he and another serviceman found themselves in difficulties in the strong surf. Two other servicemen came to their aid however Harland was hit with a big wave and was lost from their grip and pulled under.
His mates were unable to find him and neither a search later that afternoon or the next day, could recover his body.
His family was notified that he was listed as missing presumed drowned.
His body was never found.
In honour of his service, Harland’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour at the AWM with almost 40,000 Australians who died while serving in World War II.
He is also remembered on the Lae Memorial in Papua New Guinea which commemorates 325 Australian Forces servicemen of World War II who have no known grave.
He has also been remembered in a memorial on a stained glass window at his old school, at St Stanislaus, Bathurst.
Leading Aircraftman Edward John Harland’s story is just one of more than 102,000 stories of Australian men and women who have given their lives in war and operations over more than 100 years.