Flying Officer Colin Flockhart was typical of the many young men who enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force during the Second World War. A boy from the suburbs, he was 18 years old when he enlisted in 1942. Selected to become a pilot, Flockhart completed his training at schools in Australia and Britain – where he would master flying the Lancaster bomber. Training to join Bomber Command was a test of endurance and two years after his enlistment, Flockhart was ready to fly “ops” and was posted to No. 619 Squadron, Royal Air Force.
Just weeks after joining No. 619, Flockhart wrote a letter home to his family, intended only to be sent only in the event of his death. In it, he recorded:
Some impressions so that, if, by some chance, I should not finish my tour, you will know just how I feel about things and it may help to ease the suffering and sorrow you will endure at my loss. First of all let me say that I have enjoyed my Air Force service as I have enjoyed no other years of my life and I have been completely happy the whole time. I have travelled, made friendships and shared experiences which will stand me in good stead all my life … This war was inevitable and I could never have been content unless I did my share … I want you to know therefore that if I should die I shall not be afraid because my heart is at ease … I love you all very dearly. Please don’t think I'm pessimistic but I do realise what the odds are and I have seen too many of my friends pass on without leaving any words of hope or encouragement behind. Cheerio and keep smiling though your hearts are breaking.
On 7 January 1945, Flockhart’s Lancaster was returning from a raid on Munich when it collided with another aircraft – killing the entire crew of both – and his family duly received Colin’s heartfelt letter. Flockhart was one of the more than 4,100 airmen of the RAAF to be killed in RAF Bomber Command.