Monday, July 2, 2012

Great Uncle Steve, we are so proud!

I'm sharing this news a little late, however I am so proud of my great Uncle Steve that I wanted to share this news article.  I am so thrilled that finally, in his later years he has been able to make this trip to London to see the Lancaster again, to witness the opening of a controversial memorial, to be with fellow veterans who perhaps have not spoken of their horrific ordeals until recent years.

Surprisingly I grew up thinking that there was noone in our family who fought in the wars. Yet my grandmother's brother was there serving with the Bomber Command.  He has only spoken of his experiences in the last decade and I am only really just coming to understand what he was actually involved in.

It is sad I did not know until now, but I am so very grateful that now I do know.

Tearful trip to UK for Bomber Command vets

During a special Australian service at an Air Forces memorial on the outskirts of London overnight tears flowed among an aged gathering as thoughts turned to thousands of fallen comrades.
About 10,000 Australians served with Bomber Command, with 3486 killed in battle, while a further 650 died in training accidents in the United Kingdom.
"In lonely cockpits at dizzy altitudes ... in fog, in deadly cold, in storms, on fire, in prison camps, in skin grafting hospitals, there are none deserving more honour. Today we remember their selfless sacrifice," Major General Mark Kelly told the gathering of about 100 veterans.
The veterans from across Australia are in London for the dedication of a memorial to Bomber Command by the Queen on Friday. It commemorates the 55,573 Bomber Command aircrew killed during the war.
"This is a very emotional day," Adelaide veteran David Leicester, 88, said.
"It really gets to me and I will find I have tears in my eyes for the whole week of celebrations. The playing of the Last Post and the national anthem of both countries gets right into my heart.
"When the Queen unveils the memorial on Thursday (local time), I can't even begin to think how I will react, with so much emotion."
Mr Leicester flew 68 missions with Bomber Command, mostly night-time bombing operations over German cities in aircraft including the Halifax, and Pathfinder Lancasters.
"One of the worst nights for me was March 30/31 1944 when 96 aircraft were shot down and a further number crash landed," Mr Leicester said.
"It was the worst night for Bomber Command casualties and we had a particularly bad time, returning on three engines and severe damage to the aircraft.
"It was a very rough landing, but we were the lucky ones."
Steve Flood, 88, from Stanthorpe in Queensland, flew as a air gunner in 30 Bomber Command operations for 467 Squadron over enemy territory in 1944.
"One was a raid to Revigny (France) which was only a small raid of 106 aircraft and altogether 24 were lost. (Squadron) 467 had six aircraft on the raid that night and only four came back."
While Mr Flood is looking forward to Friday's Bomber Command memorial dedication as a "fitting" tribute, the highlight of his trip to England will be a war museum visit where he will be reunited with the Lancaster aircraft affectionately called S Is For Sugar.
"It will be the first time since 1945 that I've seen her," Mr Flood said of the Lancaster.
"I was on board her one night when she lost 120 rivets out of her wing. I remember the pilot saying `we've been hit', but we still got back okay."


Jeanne said...

Oh yes, you have reason to be proud. Thanks for sharing this with us, Cee.

Anonymous said...

I was honored to meet your beautiful Uncle Steve whilst he was in transit at Sydney Airport On his return from the UK. It was the loveliest morning, and Steve touched my heart so much that I've shared my experience with everyone I could, and read every article I could find online. What a true gentleman. Thank you Steve for sharing your precious memories of your trip. Words can't express. It was an amazing morning shared with you and your comrades, a morning I will never forget. I am so proud to be an Australian. Thank you Steve

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