Pacific Star : Flight Lieutenant B L Bracegirdle, 75 Squadron, RAAF

Accession Number REL44324.003
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Medal
Physical description Bronze
Maker Unknown
Place made United Kingdom
Date made c 1946
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Pacific Star. Engraved reverse with recipient's details.

History / Summary

Brian Leighton Bracegirdle was born at Murrumbeena, Victoria in 1918. He moved to Canberra in 1931 when his father, distinguished naval officer Leighton Seymour Bracegirdle, was appointed Military and Official Secretary to the Governor-General. He later worked as a jackaroo and had already obtained flying experience with the Canberra Aero Club when he enlisted in the RAAF on 16 January 1939 with the service number 484.

Bracegirdle received his pilot training at Point Cook, Victoria, and was commissioned as a Pilot Officer in October 1939. He was then posted to 3 Squadron at Richmond, New South Wales, and was promoted to Flying Officer in April 1940. Bracegirdle deployed with his squadron to the Middle East in August 1940. The squadron served in North Africa in operations supporting 6 Division AIF through 1940. In early 1941 it covered the Allied retreat following Rommel's desert offensive. 3 Squadron was then sent to Palestine, and fought in the campaign which saw the capitulation of the Vichy French in July 1941.

Around this time Bracegirdle was invalided home with sinus issues, a serious concern for a pilot. He arrived in Australia on 1 September 1941. Bracegirdle was posted to 4 Squadron in Canberra until January 1942, during which period he was promoted to temporary Flight Lieutenant. He received training as an instructor while with the squadron and was subsequently sent to Point Cook to train pilots.

In May 1942 he was posted to 75 Squadron, which was based in southeast Queensland. Bracegirdle's duties saw him acting as a liaison officer between RAAF fighter units and the US Army Air Force units based in the region.

He was posted to Port Moresby in September 1942 as a controller with 4 Fighter Sector Headquarters. From February to October 1943 Bracegirdle commanded Port Moresby's fighter sector. He was promoted to Squadron Leader during this period.

In December 1944 Bracegirdle was posted to 11 Squadron at Rathmines, New South Wales, and was engaged in maritime patrols along the Australian coast.

In May 1945 he was posted to 42 Squadron at Melville Bay in east Arnhem Land. The squadron was engaged in mine laying and armed reconnaissance over the Netherlands East Indies until October 1945. Bracegirdle went on to serve in several administrative roles in the RAAF before being demobilised in 1949.

After leaving the air force, he was recruited into the newly formed Australia Security Intelligence Organisation in 1949, with which he served until his retirement in 1979. Brian Bracegirdle died in 2005.