Home' Air Force News : June 23rd 2011 Contents 21
June 23, 2011
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THE weather was kind to the ageing WWII veterans
as they gathered at RAAF Base Amberley Memorial
Gardens on June 5 for the annual service to remember
the service and sacrifices of allied air and ground crews
of Bomber Command.
During his welcoming address, Commander
Combat Support Group AIRCDRE Noddy Sawade
asked the veterans, now in their 80s and 90s, to stand.
Almost 20 accepted the invitation and were warmly
applauded by the audience of about 400.
Between Dunkirk in 1940 and D-Day in 1944,
Bomber Command, later supported by the American
8th Air Force, provided the only strategic attack
against the German forces on the Western Front.
About 125,000 aircrew from most parts of the
British Empire, France, Belgium, the Netherlands,
Norway, Poland and Czechoslovakia served in
Bomber Command. Among them were about 10,000
Bomber Command paid a fearsome price. In all,
55,000 personnel -- nearly half -- were lost. Australia
lost 3486 airmen killed in action and 546 killed in
In his commemorative address, XO 82WG
WGCDR Robert Denney said "the RAAF mem-
bers of Bomber Command were less than 2 per cent
of Australians enlisted in WWII, yet accounted for
almost 20 per cent of the deaths in combat. 460SQN
alone lost 1018 aircrew, which represents the com-
plete loss of the squadron five times over."
This was the third annual Bomber Command
memorial service to be held at Amberley and, in keep-
ing with the previous two services, members of war-
time air and ground crews reflected on their service
and their mates.
Ex-RAF airborne radar mechanic Geoffrey
Hutton, who served with 515SQN, part of Bomber
Command's Intruder Group, recalled waiting for
bombers to return after raids over Germany.
Allan Vial served as a bomb aimer and radar navi-
gator, completing 64 operational sorties as a member
of 35SQN (RAF Pathfinder Force) in the European
Theatre. He told the audience of nights over Germany,
selecting and marking targets for massed bomber
raids, and of aircraft and mates who failed to return.
Meanwhile, at the Australian War Memorial in
Canberra, DCAF AVM Geoff Brown told other vet-
erans and their families that a highlight for him as a
young pilot was to talk with veterans.
"It gave me much greater understanding of their
experiences and a far better appreciation of their con-
tribution to the Air Force and Australia," AVM Brown
"To fly one mission with Bomber Command was
an impressive accomplishment; to have flown repeat-
edly on operations speaks of steadfast dedication and
He said Bomber Command had left a long-lasting
legacy to Air Force.
"The cost in human lives was a sacrifice of
immense proportions," AVM Brown said.
"Thank you for your service, your contribution to
freedom and your willingness to sacrifice your lives."
WARM APPLAUSE: From left, members of
Bomber Command stand to an applauding
crowd at the commemorative service at RAAF
Base Amberley, and above, former members
Geoffrey Hutton and Allan Vial who relived
some of their memories. Photos: LAC Dan Pinhorn
SPECIAL WORDS: XO 82WG WGCDR Robert
Denney addresses the service at Amberley.
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