Tropical summerweight bush tunic : Flying Officer A W Lehdey, 458 Squadron RAAF

Accession Number REL42369
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Uniform
Physical description Bakelite, Celluloid, Cotton 'Aertex', Cotton tape
Maker Air Ministry
Place made United Kingdom: England
Date made c 1942
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Lightweight unlined khaki aertex cotton short sleeved tunic with pair of pleated breast pockets with triple pointed flaps secured by black plastic small brown bakelite RAF buttons and a pair of patch hip pockets with plain flaps, four large black bakelite RAF buttons down the front with a small plain brown celluloid example at the throat. The epaulettes are each secured with a small black bakelite RAF button, and there is a cloth RAAF crest sewn above the right breast pocket. All buttons, with the exception of the throat button, are removable and secured at the rear with small brass loops. There is a small open slit vent reinforced with cotton tape under each arm. The rear is loosely pleated into the integral belt, which bears a rectangular bakelite buckle. There is an 'AM' stamp on the inner collar, while a previous owner has penned his details adjacent to this (1538389 Rooke).

History / Summary

Associated with the service of Flying Officer Arthur William Lehdey, who was born in Lithgow, NSW on 24 June 1914.

After obtaining his intermediate high school certificate, Lehdey worked as a shop assistant, rural worker and was working as a demolisher when the Second World War began. He enlisted on 11 October 1941 in Sydney and was accepted for aircrew training. After passing his initial training, Lehdey was posted to 5 Elementary Flying Training School at Narromine to begin pilot training, flying Tiger Moths.

Successfully passing this course, Lehdey was posted to Point Cook, Victoria in early May 1942 for flight training on Oxford aircraft. He was promoted to temporary sergeant in October and completed his course in November, before being posted to England for further flight training and conversion to Wellington bombers

Lehdey spent all of 1943 in England with various training and operational training units. In April 1944 that he was posted to the Middle East. He arrived in North Africa in May and was posted to 458 Squadron, then based in Italy, where he arrived in late June. He was immediately involved in operational flying in an anti-shipping and conventional bombing role. In August he took part in 458 Squadron's support of the Allied invasion of Southern France.

On 26 January 1945, 458 Squadron relocated to Gibraltar. For the remainder of the war, Lehdey flew escort duty for Allied convoys and continued to search for German submarines in the Western Atlantic.

After the end of the war in Europe in May, 458 Squadron was disbanded on 9 June. Lehdey embarked from England for Australia on 14 October, disembarking in Sydney on 4 November. He returned to Orange, NSW where he married Avis Hockey on 17 November. Lehdey was discharged from the RAAF on 21 December 1945.