Hand painted souvenir plate from the Berlin Airlift : Warrant Officer H Blackman

Accession Number REL31117
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Plaster
Maker Unknown
Date made c 1949
Conflict Period 1940-1949

Handpainted souvenir plate with small metal hook on the back for hanging. The front of the plate is painted in yellow and depicts the ruined Berlin landmark of the Brandenburg Gate on the right and the medieval buildings of Lubeck on the left. Overhead a steady stream of aircraft fly overhead in both directions, with a Dakota painted prominently in the centre. In the foreground is the Royal Australian Air Force emblem of a wreath surmounted by a King's crown and surrounding the letters 'RAAF'. Below the emblem are the words 'OPERATION PLAIN FARE'. Around the top of the rim are the words 'The greatest bridge in the world' with the dates '1948/49' in between. Painted around the bottom of the rim is 'LUBECK-BERLIN-LUBECK'. On the back of the plate are numerous signatures scratched or written in pencil plus the painted inscription "Painted by Hand G.K."

History / Summary

Presented to Warrant Officer Henry 'Larry' Blackman by members of the Australian detachment to the Berlin Airlift. Blackman was born in Paddington NSW in September 1919 and joined the Royal Australian Air Force on 13 December 1937. After the Second World War, Blackman, a member of 86 Transport Wing Detachment, co-piloted Dakota aircraft as part of 'Operation Plainfare' in the airlift. The detachment participated from September 1948 to August 1949 and flew over 6000 hours, transporting 7264 tons of supplies and 8000 passengers. Blackman left Germany earlier then the rest of the Detachment as he was one of nine crew required to deliver Bristol freighter aircraft to Australia. He later served in Malaya and was discharged from the RAAF on 17 September 1951. He became a commercial airline pilot with Trans Australia Airlines and Air Niugini. He died in 1981.

The legible signatures on the back of the plate are of the following members of 84 Transport Wing Detachment:
Group Captain (Gp Capt) Harold Raymond Barber, Warrant Officer (WO) Keith Frederick Barnett, WO David Stewart Benson-Inglis, Gp Capt William Rex Berriman, WO Donald Marcus Clark, Air Marshal David Selwyn Evans, Flight Lieutenant (Flt Lt) Allan Stanley Maxwell George, Gp Capt Cyril Arthur Greenwood, Gp Capt Robert Selwyn Halewood, WO John Frederick Heyns, WO Hilary Robert Dacre Johnston, WO Sidney John Kahler, Squadron Leader (Sqn Ldr) Dudley Lionel Wyston Kuschert, Sqn Ldr Neil Raymond Lang, Wing Commander (Wg Cdr) Frederick Keith Muller, Flt Lt Gordon Page, Wg Cdr Noel Henry Peel, Wg Cdr Mervyn George Pegler, WO Wallace Elliot Pettersson, WO Roy Rosevear, Gp Capt Reginald Joseph Shadforth, Gp Capt Jack Straney and WO R G Williams.

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