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AIR FORCE October 29, 2009
WGCDR Jack Davenport was an
Australian war hero.
He saved the life of his navigator
who was unable to bale out when
their aircraft hurtled into a spin and
he pulled one of his pilots from a
furiously burning Beaufighter, with
ammunition exploding around them.
For saving that pilot's life,
WGCDR Davenport was awarded the
His story is the subject of a
book, Jack Davenport, Beaufighter
Leader, written by Canberra's Kristen
Born in 1920, Jack was 19 when
World War II began. After training
in Canada and Britain, he was post-
ed to 455SQN RAAF, initially with
Bomber Command flying bombing
runs to Germany in the Hampden.
The squadron transferred to
Coastal Command, attacking German
shipping, often at wave top level,
from Holland to Norway.
Later, it upgraded to Beaufighters
and, as commanding officer, WGCDR
Davenport oversaw the transition to
the new aircraft.
On July 15, 1944, he led one
of the largest and most successful
operations undertaken by Coastal
Command, the destruction of nine
enemy ships, and not a single aircraft
Jack exercised meticulous care in
training, and he constantly exhorted
his men to maintain precision forma-
This all paid off. Only one crew
-- two men -- died on any operation
Jack led after taking command of
Tribute to hero They were
455SQN. This was at a time when
Bomber Command was losing 60 per
cent of its aircrew killed in operations
After the war, Jack Davenport, AC,
DSO, DFC, GM, joined the Canberra
building firm that later became Monier
and managed a lot of public housing
contracts for "Monocrete" houses.
He worked with Monier until 1982,
at which time he was its managing
director and, for two years running,
was listed among Australia's top 10
Jack saw the company expand into
the USA, Asia and the Philippines.
He joined the RAAF Association
in 1946 and became a life vice presi-
dent in the 1970s.
Jack was the inaugural president
of 455 Squadron Association after the
war, a post he held until his death in
Jack Davenport, Beaufighter Leader,
Allen & Unwin, RRP $35 ISBN
AUSSIE SPIRIT: Top left, WGCDR Davenport photographed
during operational training at a RAF base in the UK.
LEADER REMEMBERED: Above, the cover of Kristen
Alexander's book. This follows her previous work on former
WWII Australian ace, GPCAPT Clive Caldwell.
By AIRCDRE Mark Gower (ret'd)
'ALWAYS THERE' by GPCAPT Graham
O'Brien is the only book to date dedicated
to documenting the history of Combat Sup-
Published by the Air Power Development
Centre (APDC), the book was recently
launched at RAAF Base Amberley (reported
in the last edition of AIR FORCE News).
GPCAPT O'Brien has masterfully
researched, documented and recorded the
contribution and evolving maturity of Combat
Support in the Air Force. He takes us from the
initial development of combat support dur-
ing the earliest days of the Australian Flying
Corps through to the modern day. He demon-
strates how combat support capabilities have
always been an integral part of the Air Force
and how they have matured in response to the
changing nature of air operations.
Always There is a very readable book. The
author has effectively combined historical
facts with personal stories. He has document-
ed not only the important contribution combat
support personnel have made in many opera-
tions, but also the human side of this capabil-
ity. In describing more recent air campaigns,
he has drawn heavily on the knowledge and
experience of the people who served, and this
ensures the book is balanced and accurate.
This publication is a must read for all cur-
rent and future combat support and air opera-
AIRCDRE Gower was Commander CSG from
August 2005 to June 2008.
Copies of Always There are available from APDC
for $26. Visit www.raaf.gov.au/airpower
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