Wednesday, January 27

Australia Day 1943

Yesterday was Australia Day which has been celebrated by Australians as a holiday since 1939. The above photos feature my late father (deceased 1969) in a group portrait of eight RAAF members of a Glee Party performing at a concert at Australia House, London on Australia Day 1943. My father served as a bomber pilot in the Second World War and information below and the photos have been taken directly from the Australian War Museum archives.

Caption below the first picture : Their concert songs were received with great enthusiasm by the audience. Identified from left to right: pianist Pilot Officer (PO) Hamilton Roland Dacre Budd (pilot) from Broken Hill, NSW (died 1 August 1943 on operations over the Atlantic Ocean); Frank Sutton Walker (observer) from Wellington, NSW; Squadron Leader (Sqn Ldr) Harry Clifford Thrush (chaplain) from Adelaide, South Australia; Sqn Ldr Gordon Gladstone Wood (chaplain) from Wellington, NSW who conducted the choir (died 18 June 1944 in UK); Sergeant (Sgt) Charles Keith Byrnes (pilot) from Moree, NSW; George Claud Notman (observer) from Skipton, Victoria; PO Donald Zalva Pile (pilot) from Melbourne, Victoria (died 26 October 1943 in Scotland); and PO Leslie Walter Roper (pilot) from Melbourne (died 4 September 1943 on operations over Germany).

The subsequent fatalities listed above are a salutary reminder of the high death rate attributable to RAAF command in which my father flew Wellington Bombers. Losses of about 5% per operation gave little chance of survival after a stint of 30 operations.

Earlier on the 3rd January 1943 my father made 6 records for the BBC which took 3 hours to record and included light and popular numbers - ‘I'll Walk Beside You’, ‘Old King Cole’, ‘Pass Me By’ and the beautiful anthem ‘Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace’. The BBC were very pleased and called in some reporter to take pictures for the papers. My father’s diary mentions that Air marshal Williams made a special trip to the studios to hear the records and was very pleased.

In later life the war had influenced my father and my mother knew this and made allowances that today would seem inconceivable. If you would like to read a story about that click on the title or the link icon next to the title.
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The Crow said...

Lindsay, the story of your parents is beautiful. Not many marriages like that nowadays, sad to say. You were a fortunate lad to have them.


Seraphine said...

'i have a good idea,' he said, 'tomorrow, you can make a pot roast.'
your mother indeed was very compassionate.
if i could fly, i'd tip my wing to your mother. and to your father, who was special indeed to have warranted such compassion.
beautiful stories, lindsay. they speak as much to the quality your heart as to the quality of your beloved parents.

susan said...

I feel like you are old fashioned in a similar way as me. We both were deeply affected by the values and ideals of our parents in a violent but somehow more innocent time.

Mercutio said...

It's easy to see how this man helped to shape your character.
I like him already.

Happy Australia Day!!
You may take that as a belated wish, or very early for next year.
As for me, I'm waiting to see how much snow I have to clear from the car to clean the battery posts.
Australia Day is sounding better all the time....

lindsaylobe said...

Hi Martha, Susan, Sera, Mercutio & Nova-san (who commented against the original post)
Thanks for comments
Martha – I’ m pleased to be able to share such a story.
Sera – Nice thoughts and I’m sure you’re already spreading your creative wings in the blogosphere and reaching for the sky!!
That’s true as we witnessed a post war more innocent time notwithstanding the violence.
Thanks for your happy Australia Day greeting and comment.
I trust the weather is not too severe and you find the occasional silver lining.
Thanks for your visit and comment.

Seraphine said...

i have nothing intelligent to say tonight (no comments please!)lindsay, so i'll give you an e-hug instead.

Seraphine said...

i love how they are singing like they haven't a care in the world.

lindsaylobe said...

Good point Sera - In my father’s war diary he makes specific mention of the need to be a happy operational air crew, flying, eating, sleeping and entertaining together and, with losses 10 times that of the other services, dying together.

Best wishes

DVA Theatre Company said...

What a terrific find! Wouldn't it be great to get your hands on that recording. Isn't it amazing how the internet can create such a magical link to the past.
This photo reminds me that in the face of adversity music is good for the soul!
Nicla B x.

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Gary said...

Thanks so much for this post Lindsay. IT's a wonderful story and terrific to see the image of your father. Wouldn't it be great if you could post a link to the sound of him singing!

Gary said...

Just re-read the anniversary story that is linked.

Thanks again Lindsay. I witnessed several episodes in my home growing up that were similar - my mother not always so understanding... My dad, as you know, was also a combat pilot in the war.

Arriving home late and loud one drunken night, he was directed to the couch. While he was still in deep sleep, my mother went to work on him.

In the morning when dad went into the bathroom to relieve himself, he turned to look at this grey and groggy face. He was sporting exactly one half of his moustache. She had shaved the other half while he snored on the couch.

She never liked it, but he wouldn't shave it. He now shaved the remaining half and never made a word of complaint.

lindsaylobe said...

Hi Gary - a great story also of your flying ace father.
The war memorial has found the recordings in their collection. Sound preservation technicians are assessing the discs to see if the sound signal can be retrieved from them – much may depend on the condition of the discs, which can be highly variable in audio materials of this vintage.

I hope to report good news to you in the next week or so.

Best wishes

Jan said...

By a strange coincidence, I am researching the life of Gordon Gladstone Wood, the conductor in the photo. He was killed on 18 June 1944, along with 122 others, while attending morning service in the Guards Chapel, when a V-1 rocket glided down and hit the Chapel.

So good to see photos of him from happier times.

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