460 Squadron in Brisbane

I was in Brisbane for a work trip for the last week or so of January. It didn’t stop raining all week.

I had a short chance to stop by the Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith Memorial that is on the road leading to Brisbane Airport. Under a large curved roof, preserved in a glass ‘hangar’, is Smithy’s original Fokker Fokker F.VII/3m three-engined aircraft, the Southern Cross. It’s a very important part of Australia’s aviation heritage and it is fantastic to see the old aeroplane is being well looked after.

But what does this have to do with Bomber Command, I hear you ask? Well, if I’m honest, very little. But a short distance from the Southern Cross is a tree. Under the tree are three plaques dedicated to 460 Squadron, arguably one of the most famous of the Australian bomber units.

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Beneath one of the plaques is a representation of a boomerang, symbolising the motto of the Squadron: ‘Strike and Return’. Sadly, many of the airmen of 460 Squadron struck… but did not return. In fact, the Squadron suffered by far the highest casualty rate of any Australian unit in WWII: out of around 2700 airmen who served in the Squadron, more than 1000 were killed in action – 589 of those being Australians. 181 aircraft were lost on operations in the four years of the Squadron’s existence.

One of 460 Squadron’s aeroplanes survives. It is, of course, W4783 G for George, today forming the centrepiece of the Australian War Memorial’s Striking by Night sound and light exhibit. It is an extremely impressive memorial. And in Queensland, under a tree near Brisbane Airport, those three plaques also help ensure that the deeds of this Squadron are not forgotten.

© 2012 Adam Purcell

6 thoughts on “460 Squadron in Brisbane

  1. My grandfather was in the 460 squadron and helped to put this memorial for his friends that have come and gone. It makes you so proud that they will never be forgotten.

  2. Thank you for informing people about this memorial near Brisbane. My uncle was a 460 Flying Officer and was killed on a bombing mission over Germany. I live on the Gold Coast so will definitely visit there. Is it easy to find?

    1. Sure is Liz. On the way in to Brisbane Airport near the International Terminal you’ll see Kingsford-Smith’s aircraft the Southern Cross in its specially-built hangar to your left – there is a small carpark there (from memory it’s well signposted) and the 460 Squadron plaques are under a tree nearby.

  3. Very interesting.Our uncle John Fredick Summers was one who did note return. In the last 12 months I arranged for a plaque honouring his memory to be affixed to my grandparent’s grave in a small country cemetery near Mittagong,NSW. My uncle grew up in the area.

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