Anzac Day in Sydney 2016

Something a bit different for Anzac Day this year: I had my photo light gear with me at the 463-467 Squadron Association lunch in Sydney, so I thought it a good opportunity to get some proper portraits of the six veterans we had with us.

Bill Purdy DFC LdH - 463 Squadron pilot
Bill Purdy DFC LdH: 463 Squadron pilot
Don Browning LdH: 463 Squadron wireless operator
Don Browning LdH: 463 Squadron wireless operator
Keith Campbell OAM LdH: 466 Squadron bomb aimer and PoW
Keith Campbell OAM LdH: 466 Squadron bomb aimer and PoW
Don Southwell, 463 Squadron navigator
Don Southwell LdH: 463 Squadron navigator
David Skinner, 467 Squadron pilot
David Skinner: 467 Squadron pilot
Alan Buxton: 617 and 467 Squadron navigator
Alan Buxton: 617 and 467 Squadron navigator

It was a good day, with three veterans marching on the amended route along Elizabeth St. There was a particularly Huxtable-shaped hole in proceedings however. Very sadly, for the first time in many, many years, when someone in the crowd yelled out “Hey, Don!”, the answer was not “which one??”

But while numbers were down for the march (and as I wrote last week I’m not sure how much longer this group will continue to take part), the following lunch had more than 50 people in attendance. And this was what led to probably my favourite moment of the day. At my table were a young couple who I’d not met before. Luke is a relation of the Southwells and he’d brought his partner Sharna along. I mentioned to them in conversation the significance of the little golden caterpillar badge worn by some aircrew, and suggested that if they find someone wearing one they should ask them about it. “Like him,”, I said, pointing to Alan Buxton who was sitting at the other end of the table. “Ooh,” said Sharna, “do you know his story?” I do, I said (he bailed out over the UK returning from a raid when all four engines in his Lancaster caught on fire), but as Alan was right there I encouraged her to ask him herself.

Shortly afterwards Sharna did so. This was the result:

1604 Anzac Day-159

As I left the lunch about 45 minutes later they were still there: Sharna and Luke listening intently as Alan told them why he has a golden caterpillar.

One more story shared to a new generation. Two more people who have heard first-hand something about life in Bomber Command. This is what it’s all about.

It was a lovely way to end the day.


(c) 2016 Adam Purcell


2 thoughts on “Anzac Day in Sydney 2016

  1. Wonderful Adam!!! May we please get a copy of the Keith photo for our 466/462 archives??? It’s super. Many thanks for the photos and the story. See you in June in Canberra. Thanks for your hard work.

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