Clifford Peel Last Post Ceremony

Date published

19 Sep 2019
Peel Family gathered around the portrait of Clifford Peel at the AWM

Today (Thursday, September 19) the Australian War Memorial honoured the legacy of a far-sighted young airman and war hero, Lieutenant John Clifford Peel, whose vision played a great part in the inspiration and design of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Members of Peel's family (pictured above) and RFDS Central Operations CEO Tony Vaughan and RFDS WA CEO Rebecca Tomkinson (pictured right) travelled to Canberra to be part of the Last Post Ceremony and lay a wreath in honour of him. 

Watch the Last Post Ceremony below.

Clifford Peel Image

Peel had been a Victorian medical student and a keen reader of Reverend John Flynn’s “Northern Territory and Central Australia – a Call to the Church” which he regularly and repeatedly studied.

In 1917, Cliff volunteered for the fledgling Australian Flying Corps at Point Cook in Victoria. While training in Australia, Cliff linked his interest in aviation to his medical studies. 

He wrote a letter to the Reverend Flynn, giving a practical description of how an aerial medical service could be established and outlined its cheap cost relative to an overland service delivered by truck or train. 

In time, Reverend Flynn went on to found the Aerial Medical Service, which became the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Highway airstrip

The Lieutenant J. Clifford Peel Airstrip, part of the Silver City Highway in Western NSW, commemorates Peel's early influence on the RFDS.