This year marks 75 years since the Bomber Command began their major bombing offensive against German targets during the Second World War. Over one-third of Australian personnel who served with Bomber Command, some 3,486 aviators, were killed in action.
On the 3rd and 4th of June, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) partnered with the Bomber Command Association Australia (BCAA), Bomber Command Commemorative Day Foundation (BCCDF), and the Australian War Memorial (AWM) to deliver two significant events in Canberra to commemorate Bomber Command.
Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Leo Davies, was honoured to attend the Last Post and Commemorative Wreath ceremonies and meet with veterans and their families.
“Bomber Command is a significant part of Air Force’s history. To be able to remember those Australian aviators who served with Bomber Command and never returned, and hear the stories of those who survived, is a special opportunity,” Air Marshal Davies said.
“It is important to reflect on our aviation history in Europe, as we apply the same values and dedication on operations over Iraq today.”
An F/A-18 Hornet conducted a flypast over the AWM on both days linking history with current operational service of our airmen today.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston AK, AFC (Ret'd) and Honorary Patron of the BCCDF attended the services with his family.
“I have had a lot to do with the veterans of the Bomber Command through many, many years,” Air Chief Marshal Sir Houston said.
“I feel very strongly that it’s important we continue to support and recognise the contribution that Bomber Command made in World War Two.”
Close to 40 veterans attended along with widows and family members.
Siblings Ron Smith and Robynne Mitchell attended in memory of their uncle Flying Officer, Ron Feilberg who served in 466 Squadron.
“Flying Officer Feilberg was the pilot of the plane. He sacrificed his life to save his crew by ordering the crew to bail out,” Ms Mitchell said.
They were pleased to catch up with Tiana Walker Adair whose father, Flight Lieutenant Len Walker was also in 466 Squadron, flying with FLGOFF Feilberg.
“It’s so important to acknowledge their sacrifice – I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Ron (Feilberg). His action’s saved my father’s life and that of the crew,” Ms Walker said.
“The ambience of the AWM was very fitting to the occasion,” Ms Mitchell said.
In addition to the flypasts Air Force support included an Honour Guard from 460 Squadron, an all Air Force Catafalque Party from Australia's Federation Guard, music and bugler from the Air Force Band and ADFA Cadets to hold the Association Banner.
By Flying Officer Erika Seymour