Archive for the 'ANZAC Day' Category



ANZAC Day 2014 in Sydney

It started at a different spot than over the previous seven decades.

At a much earlier time.

And the trains weren’t running (or so we thought).

And it was raining.

And there were (of course) road closures in the CBD.

But we eventually made it to the start of the 2014 ANZAC Day march in Sydney last Friday.

(And it was still raining).

We found, in a large group of veterans and other hangers-on sheltering under one of Sydney’s tall office buildings, four familiar faces in front of the 463-467 Squadrons Association banner.

Clearly we’d found the right place.

Names

Left to right: Don Southwell (463 Squadron navigator), Don Browning (463 Squadron wireless operator), Don Huxtable (463 Squadron skipper) and Hugh McLeod (49 Squadron rear gunner)

The rain abated for a moment and, with a little bit of encouragement from the RSL marshals, the various banners of numerous Air Force associations formed up on Pitt Street. Bryan Cook (the young bloke on the right of the photo above) and I (on the left side of the banner) shuffled the banner sideways through the crowds, passing an Army LandRover in the back of which we found two more veterans we knew, wireless operator Harry Brown (106 and 467 Squadrons) and bomb aimer Keith Campbell (466 Squadron). We were marshalled into position as the rain started and the umbrellas came out once more. Don Southwell took the LandRover option, leaving us with three veterans for the march, with three people representing various other squadron members acting as carers. It was still raining.

As the rain dried up the march proceeded. Unfortunately we were in the middle between two different bands, each playing a different beat, and so marching in step was a challenge. We made it past the Cenotaph at Martin Place and half way down George St when one of our veterans – Don Browning -started wobbling a little and made the decision to retire. A carer detached from the column to assist. No great harm done however, and in the end Don made it to lunch before the rest of us, having procured a lift from somewhere.

Having completed the march, we carried the banner to the Pullman Hotel, across the road from Hyde Park, for what turned into a great lunch. In all fifty people attended, and as well as the six veterans who participated in the march we were joined by four more: David Skinner, Alan Buxton, Albert Wallace and George Douglass.

This is the third year that the Association has used the Pullman and they put on their usual fine show. The food was excellent and the service top-notch, but of course once again it was the conversation which really made the afternoon. Here’s Bryan talking to George Douglass:

Bryan Cook talking to George Douglass

…and Hugh McLeod:

Bryan Cook and Hugh McLeod

….and here’s my partner Rachel (who came along because she “wanted to meet all those old blokes you keep talking about”!) asking Alan Buxton about the significance of his little gold caterpillar badge:

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And even the veterans themselves, who know each other well, found things to talk about. Here, Hugh McLeod and Don Southwell examine Don Huxtable’s medals:

Hugh McLeod points out something on Don Huxtable's medals to Don Southwell

We gathered the veterans for a group photo (though one managed to evade detection in this photo):

Names

Back row: Alan Buxton, Don Huxtable, Hugh McLeod, Don Southwell. Front row: David Skinner, Keith Campbell, Don Browning, Harry Brown, Albert Wallace. Missing: George Douglass

Outside, the rain continued to pour down. But as the desserts were being served, the day cleared up into one of those magnificent, mostly blue-sky autumn days for which Sydney is so well-known. The most disappointing thing about the timing of that was that 463 Squadron stalwart Bill Purdy was unable to lead the planned Tiger Moth flypast, open cockpits and rain not being particularly good bedfellows.

Age is now, undeniably, wearying the veterans of Bomber Command. This was clear in the lower numbers of veterans taking part in the march, and indeed this is the key motivation behind the RSL’s move to change the format of the march in Sydney. Very few veterans are now under 90. It won’t be too much longer before, like the veterans of the Great War before them, there are no longer any originals left to march. But the number of people present at the lunch last Friday is encouraging. The interest from family and friends remains high and, while that continues, so too will the memories of these two Squadrons. And while we still have Bomber Command aircrew with us, occasions like these offer the chance to talk to and celebrate some of the most remarkable people I’ve ever met.

The 463-467 Squadrons Association ANZAC Day lunch, Sydney 2014

The Lunch

David Skinner talking to Keith Campbell

David Skinner talking to Keith Campbell

Geoff Nottage and Don Southwell

Geoff Nottage and Don Southwell

Rachel McIntosh and Adam Purcell

Rachel McIntosh and Adam Purcell

Don Huxtable's medals

Don Huxtable’s medals

 

Photographic portraits of all ten veterans who attended the lunch are on a separate post, here. Text and photos (c) 2014 Adam Purcell.

 

 

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Ten Veterans

At the 463-467 RAAF Squadrons Association lunch which followed the 2014 ANZAC Day march in Sydney last Friday we were privileged to have no fewer than ten Bomber Command veterans amongst the 50 or so people present. I’m still putting together You can find a full post about the day here, but for now here is a collection of photographic portraits, one of each veteran:

Don Browning

Don Browning

Don Southwell

Don Southwell

Don Huxtable

Don Huxtable

Keith Campbell

Keith Campbell

Alan Buxton

Alan Buxton

Albert Wallace

Albert Wallace

Hugh McLeod

Hugh McLeod

David Skinner

David Skinner

Harry Brown

Harry Brown

George Douglass

George Douglass

 

Photos (c) 2014 Adam Purcell

467 Postblog LXV: Tuesday 25 April, 1944

The crews who had attacked Munich last night only returned to Waddington between six and seven this morning. Consequently aircrew were rather scarce for most of the morning. It was therefore no surprise for Flight Lieutenant Jim Marshall and his crew when they returned from Ford this morning to find that a stand-down had been declared.

It was, of course, ANZAC Day, and a ‘smoko’ was organised to mark that auspicious date. Australians serving on other stations in the area were all invited and a crowd of some 500 had gathered by the early evening. “Needless to say”, wrote the officer compiling the 463 Squadron Operational Record Book before going on and saying it anyway, “a good time was had by all.”

Following the large effort the previous night most of the rest of Bomber Command was also stood down tonight. But some crews still sallied forth across the North Sea. Three Mosquitos attacked Cologne, 25 Stirlings laid mines off the northern and western French coasts, nine Wellingtons scattered leaflets over Northern France and a single Mosquito made a weather reconnaissance flight. No casualties resulted from the night’s operations.[1]

This post is part of a series called 467 Postblog, posted in real time to mark the 70th anniversary of the crew of B for Baker while they were on operational service with 467 Squadron at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire. See this link for an in-depth explanation of the series, and this one for full citations of sources used throughout it. © 2014 Adam Purcell

Sources:


[1] Night Raid Report No. 587

Event: ANZAC Day 2014 in Sydney with the 463-467 Squadrons Association, NSW Branch

ANZAC Day approaches again, and once more the NSW Branch of the 463-467 RAAF Squadrons Association are planning a luncheon to follow the Sydney March.

Note: There have been some significant changes to the ANZAC Day March in Sydney. WWII veterans willl now lead off at the front of the March. Descendents and family members are no longer permitted to march behind the Squadron banners with the veterans, but are encouraged to join in at the end of the march instead.

Because of the earlier start for the veterans, lunch has been brought forward. Here are the details:

  • Venue: Pullman Hotel Hyde Park (formerly the Sydney Marriott)
  • Includes: A two-course lunch with beverages
  • Time: Refreshments begin from 11.00am. Lunch to be served from 12:00.
  • Cost: $54 per person
  • RSVP by 10 April 2014 to David Southwell, davidrfs@icloud.com

This is always a great occasion and offers a chance to catch up with and pay tribute to veterans of these two fine Squadrons (and a few others). I’ll be travelling up from Melbourne for the day.

The real meaning of ANZAC Day

I read this article in the newspaper today and thought it worth a share.

From smh.com.au: From the Archives: ANZAC Day

It’s a lovely yarn of ANZAC Day comradeship, beautifully told by one of Australia’s most unique yarn-tellers, Peter FitzSimons. Well worth a few moments of your time.

 

ANZAC Day 2013

Sydney turned on an absolute sparkler for ANZAC Day yesterday. The sky was clear, blue and brilliant, it was warm in the sun (but with that delicious autumn chill to the air in the shade) and the air was almost perfectly still. Perfect conditions, then, for an ANZAC Day march.

I flew up from Melbourne early, catching the fast, clean and efficient (but horribly expensive) airport train into the city centre and arriving with enough time to spare to walk around and enjoy the atmosphere for a little while. The contingents from some current naval ships in particular, stepping off as I crossed Castlereagh Street, displayed some very impressive marching. I headed for Elizabeth Street and the usual starting point for the Air Force veterans.

At first, I couldn’t find many from 463-467 Squadrons. But then the banner arrived, safe in the care of Bryan Cook, and suddenly they all melted out of the crowd:Setting up the Banner

In all there were six veterans marching, with one more traveling along the march route in a truck provided by the Australian Army. They were Don Browning, Hugh McLeod, Don Huxtable, Bill Purdy, Don Southwell and George Douglass, with Harry Brown in the truck. As usual, shortly after setting off from Elizabeth St we reached King St… and stopped, again, for about forty minutes:

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I placed my end of the banner in the safe hands of veteran pilot and rear gunner Hugh McLeod for a few moments, and quickly snapped a photo of an animated conversation which was taking place between Bill Purdy, David Southwell and Don Browning (who had again come prepared for the long wait with his own walking-stick-with-inbuilt-stool):

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As much as we complain about the delay I’ve found in the last few years that it’s during this stop that some of the best conversation happens among those marching. And this year we were joined at this point by a group of people wearing kilts and carrying bagpipes and drums who inserted themselves into the column in front of us. They looked suspiciously like a pipe band… They turned out to be the Castle Hill RSL Pipe Band, who had already ‘done their bit’ making one round of the march course earlier in the day. But one of their members was also marching in memory of a relation with the 466-462 Squadron Association, which was the unit in front of us. So they decided to support him and ‘go round again’. All of which worked in our favour. They sounded superb, and at the end of the march I overheard Don Southwell exclaim, “That was the best march of recent years…. we were all in step!

A friend was watching the ABC Television coverage of the march and spotted us as we went past the cameras. He later sent me a photograph he had taken of his screen:

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At the conclusion of the march I tried to find the band to thank them for their music but they had done like pipers generally do and taken off in a hurry to the nearest pub. Meanwhile, we headed across the road for lunch at the Pullman Hotel, the same venue as has been used in the last couple of years. Once again, the food was great, the service attentive and the conversation outstanding. I was lucky enough to find myself on a table in the company of no fewer than three of our veterans (Don Huxtable, Hugh McLeod and George Douglass). At one point, Association President Don Browning was telling a story about a raid he was on, with appropriate deadpan asides added from Don Huxtable who had been on the same trip (“I recall the weather was awful… do you remember that Don?” “Fifty-foot ceiling, mate!”). When Browning related that his bomb aimer had called for them to go around again, I heard a grim chuckle from Hugh: “I’ve experienced that too…” There were stories flying left right and centre and it was a very enjoyable afternoon. We were again joined by the young musicians of the Australian Army Cadet Band, who played a few numbers and got a certain old pilot to drum along with them:

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In all, a really good day. There were lots of familiar faces to catch up with, and a few new people to talk to as well. I even met Col Edwards, whose uncle was Bob Coward, a 463 Squadron mid-upper gunner who was killed over Holland in 1944. Col first got in touch with me through the Lancaster Archive Forum and again through a comment on this blog. Bob Coward’s crew took a second dickie pilot along with them on one of their operations. The pilot? One Don Huxtable, who at yesterday’s lunch was sitting at the same table as Col, three seats along.

A few further photos from the day follow. Click on the image for full-size.

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A top day, and well worth the flying visit to Sydney. I’ll be back next year.

(c) 2013 Adam Purcell

Four posts in a week! There will consequently be a short delay before I publish the next update on SomethingVeryBig. Next post is due on May 10.

Event: ANZAC Day 2013,with 463-467 Squadrons Association NSW, Sydney

Arrangements for commemorating ANZAC Day on April 25 with the 463-467 Squadrons Association in Sydney remain much the same as usual.
The Association will assemble for the march at the corner of Elizabeth and King Streets in the Sydney CBD. The Banner should be in place from 1015.

Following the march, a lunch will be held in the Parkview Room of the Pullman Hotel, from about 1230 or 1300. Note this is the same venue as last year but the hotel has had a name change – it was formerly the Sydney Marriott, Hyde Park. Cost for the lunch is $55pp.
All are welcome. To book, email Association Secretary David Southwell at davidrfs@icloud.com.

I’m flying up from Melbourne for the day, and will be carrying one end of the Banner during the march. Looking forward to it.


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