STROUT, Graham

Service Number: O31401
Enlisted: 2 January 1940, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Squadron Leader
Last Unit: No. 77 Squadron (RAAF)
Born: Adelaide, South Australia, 4 February 1921
Home Town: Fullarton, Unley, South Australia
Schooling: Unley High School
Occupation: Serviceman
Died: Killed in Action (flying battle), Samcheok, Korea, 7 July 1950, aged 29 years
Cemetery: United Nations Memorial Cemetery, Busan, Korea
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
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World War 2 Service

2 Jan 1940: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, SN O31401, Adelaide, South Australia

Korean War Service

25 Jun 1950: Involvement Squadron Leader, SN O31401
7 Jul 1950: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Squadron Leader, SN O31401, No. 77 Squadron (RAAF)

Last Post Ceremony AWM - Jul 2015

O31401 Squadron Leader Graham Strout, No. 77 Squadron, RAAF
KIA 7 July 1950

Story delivered 7 July 2015

Today we remember and pay tribute to Squadron Leader Graham Strout.

Graham Strout was born in Adelaide on 4 February 1921 to John Alexander Diggory Strout MM and Effie Strout. John had been awarded his Military Medal as a stretcher-bearer during the First World War.

Graham Strout grew up in Fullarton, and from an early age showed a real interest in aircraft and flying. In his spare time Strout built model aircraft and flew them at a local racecourse. He attended Unley High school, after which he was employed by Rosella Preserving and Manufacturing in Kent Town.

After enlisting in the citizen’s air force in December 1939, Strout was called up for full-time service in the Royal Australian Air Force on 3 January 1940. After his initial training he was posted as ground crew to No. 12 Squadron in Darwin. Towards the end of 1941 Strout applied to re–muster as aircrew and was accepted. From January 1942 he trained as a pilot, commissioned with the rank of flying officer in April 1944.

That October he was posted to No. 86 Squadron, RAAF, which was based at Bohle River in Queensland. Initially Strout flew the P–40M Kittyhawk fighter, and when the squadron was re–equipped in 1945 he flew P–51D Mustang Fighters. After the Second World War Strout was posted to Morotai, where he was accepted into the permanent air force on a short-term commission. Soon he was posted to No. 77 Squadron, RAAF, and sent to Japan as part of the occupation forces.

In 1947 Strout returned to South Australia and married his sweetheart, Nancy Bache. After the wedding he returned to Japan, and Nancy moved to the officers’ quarters at Iwakuni. By June 1950 Strout had been promoted to squadron leader and the couple was preparing to return to Australia.

On 23 June 1950 North Korean forces crossed the 38th Parallel, marking the beginning of the Korean War. No. 77 Squadron, flying P-51 D Mustang fighters, became the first Australian unit involved in combat operations. Strout led the squadron’s first combat operation, with all pilots returning safely.

On 7 July Strout led a flight of four Mustangs from Japan to Korea to attack a rail yard full of North Korean troops and supplies. Strout ordered his wingmen to follow him in the attack. The other aircraft completed their runs, but Strout was never seen again.

In December 1950 Flight Lieutenant the Reverend Esmond New and Sergeant Tom Henderson of the RAAF were sent to Korea to locate the bodies of Strout and another pilot. Aided by the South Korean Navy, the men went up to 25 miles behind enemy lines, where, with the help of local villagers, they located the body of Graham Strout.

Reverend New interviewed several witnesses, who saw Strout’s aircraft hit by ground fire shortly after jettisoning its fuel-drop tanks, after which it disintegrated in mid–air. The villagers had recovered and buried his body despite North Koreans threatening death to anyone approaching crash sites. The bodies were brought back behind UN lines, and in January 1951 Strout was laid to rest in the United Nations Cemetery in Pusan.

Strout’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with 339 others from the Korean War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Squadron Leader Graham Strout, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in service of our nation.

Michael Kelly
Historian, Military History Section
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 Meredith Duncan, the story for this day was on (O31401) Squadron Leader Graham Strout, No. 77 Squadron, RAAF, Korean War.

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