Senator Linda Reynolds CSC representing the Prime Minister
The Honourable Amanda Rishworth MP Shadow Minister for Veterans
Keith Campbell OAM, President of the Bomber Command Commemorative Day Foundation
Dr Ron Houghton DFC, President of the Bomber Command Association of Australia
Air Marshall Leo Davies, Chief of the Royal Australian Air Force
Air Chief Marshall (Retd) Sir Angus Houston
Veterans of Bomber Command
The families who love and support you
Descendants of those who served in Bomber Command
Mr Kerry Stokes AC Chairman of the Council of the Australian War Memorial
Many Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a great honour for me to be invited by you to deliver this address on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the entry of the RAAF into Bomber Command. It is also daunting.
To stand before you who made this history and those who have written books about it - an audience that has forgotten more about the subject than I will ever know is somewhat nerve wracking.
I found in my research that your training magazine offered advice on ‘staying awake’ on raids.
Why aircrews going to Nuremberg and Cologne with formidable German ground and air defences needed such advice, is beyond me.
A five point check list for staying awake advised:
- Don’t eat too much at the flying meal – a moderate helping of soup, meat and veg, and sweet, and only have one cup of tea
- Don’t eat your aircrew rations for at least three hours
- Don’t be negligent about oxygen
- Wear the recommended clothing – not too much, not too little
- Caffeine tablets will help to keep you awake and are best taken when nearing the target on an average trip of 5 to 6 hours.
You were also instructed not to take Benzedrine.
Well, for the next 30 minutes you might need a liberal dose of caffeine!
When approaching this key anniversary and knowing how quickly your ranks are now thinning, we decided to offer this lunch to you. We would also offer it at no cost to you.
My staff asked if the ‘free’ lunch in Anzac Hall would be for veterans only.
I replied that no, we would offer it to everyone including partners, carers and families. I told our staff that anyone wanting to come to the event should be asked what his or her connection was so as to establish their bona fides.
They took me literally.
When I opened my ‘event brief’, having seen the list of VIPs, I turned to pages of quotes from those of you before me explain your connection.
Here is just some of what you said. It is not only humbling, it tells a powerful story:
- My father was a pilot with 106 Squadron, reported missing on 6th October 1944. Lancaster aircraft PD 214.
- I am a nephew of S/L G.W, Harding DSO, DFC, 105 Squadron RAF, Mosquito Pathfinders. Harding took over the role of Flight Commander in 105 Sqn after Sqn Leader W.W. Blessing DSO DFC RAAF was KIA in July 1944.
- Uncle Hilton Bell, my father’s brother was RAAF serving with Bomber Command. Killed over France 1944 in a Lancaster Bomber
- Son of Group Captain William (Bill) Brill 463 and 467 Squadrons
- My father, F/O Henry Coffey (430317) was a pilot with 467 Squadron.
- Daughter of veteran Gordon Sutherland Pyle. He received Legion of Honour medal posthumously
- My Uncle, Max Lack was a Tail Gunner 463 Sqn. Shot down 24th June 1944 whilst targeting V1 sites
- My Uncle was Pilot Officer (Billy Love)W.J Love DFC & Bar DFC
- My late father, Dr Vernon Stuart Howarth was a Medical Officer Squadron Leader attached to 464/467 based at Waddington
- I am the niece of Douglas Woods - Lancaster pilot who died 30 June1944 Service Number 420731. Uncle Doug died after his plane was shot on the way back to his airbase from bombing Caen. He was 22 years old and hadn't married - hence - his nieces and nephews are his only living relatives. I have part of his plane that was found in the field where the plane crashed after having its wing shot off.
- RAAF relative killed on operations in Feb 1944 - flew with 12 and 626 Squadrons.
- 467 Sqn navigator RW Purcell was my grandfather's uncle - shot down over Lille and killed 10 MAY 1944
- Flying Officer Douglas Austin Woods is on the Roll of Honour RAF 514 Sqn - my Father’s Brother
- My Father served in 462, 466 and 467 Squadrons - completed 37 missions
- My father, Max Johnson, Pilot, posted 467 Squadron 23 June 1944, his tour expired 17.1.45. Took ""S-Sugar" on its first daylight raid