Opas, Athol Louis (Sergeant, b.1920 - d.1942)

Accession Number PR04955
Collection type Private Record
Record type Collection
Measurement Extent: 2.5 cm; Wallet/s: 1
Object type Letters, Postcard, Album - Photograph
Maker Opas, Athol Louis
Place made Canada, Egypt, United Kingdom: England
Date made 1940-1942
Access Open
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain

Copying Provisions Copying permitted subject to physical condition

Collection relating to the Second World War service of 400354 Sergeant Athol Louis Opas, 458 Squadron and 108 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, Canada, England and Egypt, 1940-1942.

Wallet 1 of 1 – Contains two folders of material relating to Sergeant Athol Louis Opas.

Folder 1 of 2 consists of 15 letters [including associated envelopes and photograph], two postcards, one envelope, and one newspaper clipping relating to Sergeant Opas. This correspondence was written by Sergeant Opas to his brother, 255040 (10732) Flight Lieutenant Philip Henry Napoleon Opas, and his sister-in-law, Mrs Stella Rayzel Opas (née Sonenberg). The correspondence is dated between 8 October 1940 and 27 April 1942, and covers the period of Sergeant Opas’ embarkation, training in Canada and the United Kingdom, and service as a wireless operator and air gunner with 458 Squadron and 108 Squadron in England and the Middle East. In his letters, Sergeant Opas writes about his journey to Canada via New Zealand, the cold temperature in Canada, getting used to Canadian culture, playing ice hockey, competing in a boxing competition, having a Canadian sweetheart, training at the Wireless School and Bombing and Gunnery School, graduating as a sergeant, his journey to England, sightseeing, having leave in London, recreational activities, working well with his crew, getting lost while flying over England, preparing aircraft for operations, operational flights over Germany and France, being targeted by anti-aircraft fire and enemy fighter aircraft, being ill in hospital, travelling to the Middle East, air raids, leave in Cairo, and operational flying in Egypt and Libya.

Folder 2 of 2 consists of one log book of Sergeant Opas, containing entries dated between 17 February 1941 and 9 August 1942. This log book covers the period of Sergeant Opas’ training in Canada and England, and service as a wireless operator and air gunner with 458 Squadron and 108 Squadron in England and the Middle East. This log book contains details such as dates and times of flights aircraft types and numbers, pilots, and purposes of flights. Some of the recorded purposes of flights include wireless operator training, air gunnery training, cross country flights, bombing operations over Germany and France, transportation, aircraft tests, and operations over Tobruk and the Western Desert.

History / Summary

Sergeant Athol Louis Opas enlisted to the Royal Australian Air Force on 18 August 1940. He trained as a wireless air gunner in Australia and Canada, and completed his operational training in England. Between September 1941 and April 1942, Sergeant Opas served with 458 Squadron, based in England. With this squadron, he participated in bombing operations on strategic targets in Germany and France. Sergeant Opas went on to serve with 108 Squadron in the Middle East. On 12 August 1942, Sergeant Opas became missing during an air operation, and was presumed to have died. He is commemorated at Alamein Memorial, El Alamein, Egypt.