Guest Post: Bomber Command June Commemorations in Melbourne

This post written by Squadron Leader (Retired) Ron Ledingham, Shrine Governer, Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, who I worked with on the committee which organised the Melbourne event

The annual Victorian Memorial Bomber Command service was held at the Nurses Memorial Centre (NMC) St Kilda Road Melbourne at 2 PM Sunday 1 June 2014.

All up some 100 people attended and we all but bulked out the NMC facility. The Shrine of Remembrance was unavailable due to the significant extension works currently underway there so the nearby NMC facility was chosen instead. The NMC staff were very helpful and of great assistance.

Of interest, as we did not have the traditional direct support of the Shrine facilities, we ported all of the service music requirements, etc to a lap top computer and ran this through the NMC integrated IT network-worked well. We also introduced specific Bomber Command popular band music and pictures from the Bomber Command Memorial in London-all well appreciated by those attending.

The Shrine did provide direct support in the form of:

  • SQNLDR RAAF (Retired) Ron Ledingham, Shrine Governor, as the convener of the service on behalf of the Shrine Trustees.
  • Supply of 100 poppies.
  • Printing of a number of Order Of Service (OOS) booklets.
  • Printing and distribution of a flyer for the service particularly since it was being held off site from the Shrine.

We also received support from the Air Cadets and had some 8 boys and girls with adult escorts who held banners and basically assisted with seating of guests and general support during and after the service.

The list of dignitaries was most impressive including the Hon.Josh Frydenberg MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister who laid a wreath before departing to Canberra. Some 12-15 wreaths total were laid.

Wreathes at the Bomber Command Commemoration in Melbourne. Photo: Ron Ledingham

Wreathes at the Bomber Command Commemoration in Melbourne. Photo: Ron Ledingham

The service was opened and managed by Ron Ledingham . He explained why we were holding the service at the NMC in lieu of the Shrine and also pointed out that it was for this year only due to the extension works current being done at the Shrine.

There were three speakers being Wing Commander Peter Isaacson AM DFC AFC DFM (key speaker), Group Captain Terence Deeth as RAAF PAF Representative and the Hon Ted Baillieu, Chairman, Victorian ANZAC Centenary. All were very well received. Peter in particular was actively sought out by many after the service for signatures and conversations and delivered a very moving talk.

Peter Isaacson giving the Keynote Address Photo: Ron Ledingham

Peter Isaacson giving the Keynote Address Photo: Ron Ledingham

 

Group Captain Terrence Deeth, RAAF. Photo: Ron Ledingham

Group Captain Terence Deeth, RAAF. Photo: Ron Ledingham

The following people carried out official roles during the ceremony:

Key Guest Speaker                 Wing Commander P.S.Isaacson AM DFC AFC DFM

Chaplain                                     John Brownbill RFD KSJ

Jan Charlwood                          Daughter of Don Charlwood

Laurie Williams                        Ode

Jan Dimmick                             Bomber Command Poem

Brian Smith                               MC

Following the service light refreshments with hot finger food were provided.  This was also very well received and created a very interactive and friendly opportunity for people to mingle and catch up. A group photo was taken of all veterans present and many, many photos were taken.

Bomber Command veterans in Melbourne, June 2014. Robyn Bell, Committee convenor, front left. Photo: Ron Ledingham

Bomber Command veterans in Melbourne, June 2014. Robyn Bell, Committee convenor, front left. Photo: Ron Ledingham

The after service get-together proved to be just as important as the service itself and was considered by all to whom I spoke to be a key component and opportunity to care and share. I was personally approached by a number of people who really appreciated the service and efforts taken to pull it together as well as other questions and offers relating to the Shrine and memorabilia.

Overall it was a very moving and very well attended and received service function. The numbers were up by about 50% on last year even though it was held off site.

In 2015 the annual memorial service will return to the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance.

 

Words and photos (c) 2014 Ron Ledingham, on behalf of http://www.somethingverybig.com

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