Born on the 25th of April

This Saturday will mark one hundred years since Australians and New Zealanders went ashore at ANZAC Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey.  It was not the first time Australians had been in combat during the Great War, and certainly would not be the last.

This short piece is not about the sixty thousand Australians who made the ultimate sacrifice during the First World War; nor about the heroic deeds of any of Australia’s 100 Victoria Cross recipients; nor about any relatives who served.

It is instead about one forgotten young man who died for his country a lot closer to home.

On 25 April 1918 – three years after the ANZACs went ashore at Gallipoli and during the final year of World War 1 – Harold Alexander Garden was born at Kilcoy, Queensland, to parents William and Jane.

According to the Queensland Government’s Births, Deaths and Marriages database, Harold married Florence Charlotte Litschner in 1939.

Harold enlisted with the Royal Australian Air Force on 17 August 1942 where he was assigned Service Number 78012.  He eventually ended up serving as a Flight Mechanic with No 8 Service Flying Training School (SFTS), based at Bundaberg.

One morning, at approximately 8:15, Leading Aircraftman (LAC) Garden was outside an Avro Anson training aircraft, starting its engine, while a Corporal Kenway was at the controls.  After starting the motor on the port side, LAC Garden went to the front of the aircraft, apparently to check some work.  In doing so, he came into contact with the propeller and was killed instantly.

It was 25 April 1944 – ANZAC Day – and LAC Garden’s 26th Birthday.

LAC Garden is one of thirty-one RAAF service personnel currently buried at the Bundaberg War Cemetery – over half of whom died while serving with 8 SFTS.

Over 2,600 members of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF) who were killed during or as a result of the Second World War are now buried in cemeteries around Australia, or are commemorated on memorials in Sydney and the Northern Territory as having ‘no known grave’.

Over the next few days, the actions of those who served and died at Gallipoli, in Europe, North Africa, New Guinea and during many other overseas wars and battles will be at the forefront of commemorative events and documentary telecasts.  Perhaps during this time of national remembrance, also spare a moment to think of those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice on the home front.

Grave of LAC H A Garden

Grave of LAC H A Garden

Thanks to David Barlow and Tiffany McNab for their assistance with this piece.

On This Day – 18 April 1944

Papua New Guinea

Four Beauforts from 8 Squadron departed Vivigani to take part in a search for an American aircraft in an area bounded by the approximate positions 08°20’S / 150°10’E; 09°00’S / 152°00’E; 09°50’S / 152°00’E; and 09°20’S / 150°15’E.

  • Beaufort A9-242 – FLGOFF Clarke
  • Beaufort A9-466 – FSGT Campbell
  • Beaufort A9-449 – FLGOFF Hubble
  • Beaufort A9-468 – FSGT Morgan

The aircraft covered 90% of the search area with nil sightings.

 

References:

National Archives of Australia:

  • 8 Squadron Operations Record Book (NAA: A9186, 21)

2014 Bomber Command Commemorative Day

The annual Bomber Command Commemorative Day will be held at the Australian War Memorial on Sunday, June 1, 2014.

The event has been held every year since 2008, and now ranks as the third busiest annual event at the Australian War Memorial (behind ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day).

The event will be held in the Sculpture Garden at 11 AM, with a Luncheon to be held after the ceremony. A meet and greet will also be held on Saturday, May 31.

Image
2013 Bomber Command Commemorative Day | Photo by Daniel Leahy

Despite rain during the event last year, it was great to be in attendance and well worth the trip if related to a Bomber Command veteran.

For further information, visit the Bomber Command Commemorative Day Foundation website.

On This Day – 11 April 1944

Papua New Guinea

Four Beauforts from 8 Squadron departed Vivigani, Goodenough Island to search for a missing Anson in the vicinity of Cape Ward Hunt.

  • Beaufort A9-243 – FLGOFF Wheatley
  • Beaufort A9-234 – FLGOFF Hubble
  • Beaufort A9-232 – FLGOFF Eddy
  • Beaufort A9-468 – FLGOFF Swaffield

The mission was completed with nil sightings.  It was later revealed that the Anson had landed at Nadzab.

 

References:

National Archives of Australia:

  • 8 Squadron Operations Record Book (NAA: A9186, 21)

On This Day – 16 February 1944

Italy

Kittyhawks from Nos 3 and 450 Squadrons took part in a bombing attack on the Monastery at Monte Cassino.

From the 3 Squadron ORB…

There was one operation to-day (1310 to 1510 hours.)  Led by Squadron Leader EATON.  The target was the much bombed MONASTEY [sic] at CASINO [sic].  The bombing was excellent all landing on the MONASTERY itself.

The 3 Squadron pilots involved were as follows:

  • Kittyhawk FS468 – SQNLDR Brian Alexander Eaton, RAAF 133
  • Kittyhawk FS450 – WOFF J Steel
  • Kittyhawk FS449 – WOFF Vincent Maxwell Thomas, RAAF 400944
  • Kittyhawk FS467 – FLGOFF Wallace Daniel Hogg, RAAF 420401
  • Kittyhawk FL332 – FLGOFF James Bruce Burchfield, RAAF 409662
  • Kittyhawk FS420 – FLGOFF John Lannin Doeg, RAAF 418090
  • Kittyhawk FS472 – FLGOFF Neil Gordon McKernan, RAAF 408752
  • Kittyhawk FS433 – FLGOFF Kenneth Gordon Irving, RAAF 409124
  • Kittyhawk FS476 – WOFF Clifford Rex Laver, RAAF 405484
  • Kittyhawk FL354 – WOFF Douglas Edward Short, RAAF 407460
  • Kittyhawk FS455 – FLGOFF Maurice Charles Supple Hayes, RAAF 401090
  • Kittyhawk FL329 – WOFF A MacDonald

McKernan, RAAF 408752   Irving, RAAF 409124
McKernan and Irving | Photos via NAA

The results from 450 Squadron were not as ideal…

At 1350 hours, 12 Kittyhawk IV fighter bombers, led by the Commanding Officer, Aus X 406265 S/Ldr K R Sands, DFC, were airborne to bomb Cassino Monastery, Italy.  The formation encountered heavy 9/10 cloud in the forward area, with very poor visibility, and was forced to return to base with bombs.

Pilots from 450 Squadron were as follows:

  • Kittyhawk FT948 – SQNLDR Kenneth Royce Sands, DFC, RAAF 406265
  • Kittyhawk FT946 – WOFF Alastair Douglas Mylne, RAAF 404980
  • Kittyhawk FX549 – FLGOFF Colin Edwin Johnston, RAAF 409413
  • Kittyhawk FX567 – FLGOFF Douglas MacKenzie Davidson, RAAF 402321
  • Kittyhawk FX547 – LT B O Pigott, SAAF
  • Kittyhawk FX532 – WOFF W G McConnochie, RNZAF
  • Kittyhawk FX556 – FLGOFF Reginald Alfred Hast, RAAF 401506
  • Kittyhawk FT943 – FLGOFF Raymond Gershon Goldberg, RAAF 407422
  • Kittyhawk FX550 – FLGOFF John Frederick Alexander Ellis, RAAF 408676
  • Kittyhawk FX542 – FSGT Thomas Henry Anthony Mallick, RAAF 412989
  • Kittyhawk FX557 – FLTLT Colin Watson Robertson, RAAF 400486
  • Kittyhawk FX545 – FSGT A J C Rogers, RNZAF

Mylne, RAAF 404980 Davidson, RAAF 402321 Hast, RAAF 401506 Ellis, RAAF 408676
Mylne, Davidson, Hast and Ellis | Photos via NAA

 

References:

National Archives of Australia:

  • 3 Squadron Operations Record Book – Sep 1943 to Jul 1946 (NAA: A9186, 9)
  • 450 Squadron Operations Record Book (NAA: A9186, 135)
  • Douglas MacKenzie Davidson’s Service Record (NAA: A9300, DAVIDSON D M)
  • John Frederick Alexander Ellis’ Service Record (NAA: A9300, ELLIS J F A)
  • Reginald Alfred Hast’s Service Record (NAA: A9300, HAST R A)
  • Kenneth Gordon Irving’s Service Record (NAA: A9300, IRVING K G)
  • Neil Gordon McKernan’s Service Record (NAA: A9300, MCKERNAN N G)
  • Alastair Douglas Mylne’s Service Record (NAA: A9300, MYLNE A D)

Websites:

RAAF Boston Crew Member to be Laid to Rest in Italy

On July 9 the Commonwealth War Graves Commission announced that the crew of RAF Boston BZ590 will be laid to rest at the Padua War Cemetery in Italy.

One RAAF serviceman – WOFF John Penboss Hunt – was a crew member aboard the aircraft.

The 18 Squadron Boston had departed Forli at approximately 20:54 hours for an attack on the river crossing at Taglio di Po before commencing an armed reconnaissance of the Po Valley. The aircraft failed to return, and it was believed the aircraft had been shot down by anti-aircraft fire.

The wreck was apparently known to locals, and some wreckage had been salvaged for its aluminium. In more recent years, a group of Italian enthusiasts decided to scour the site. Apart from human remains, they located a watch inscribed with WOFF Hunt’s name and a gold engagement ring believed to have belonged to another member of the crew.

Crew of Boston BZ590
Crew of Boston BZ590 | Photo via Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The crew members aboard the aircraft were as follows:

  • SGT Raikes, David Kennedy, RAF 1807677 (Pilot)
  • FSGT Perkins, David Millard, RAF 1801441 (Navigator)
  • FSGT Bostock, Alexander Thomas, RAF 1818442 (W/AG)
  • WOFF Hunt, John Penboss, RAAF 433038 (Air Gunner)

According the the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database, the crew is to be buried together in a collective grave (VI. B. 10-13).

View WOFF John Penboss Hunt’s Profile

See Also:

2013 Bomber Command Commemorative Day

The annual Bomber Command Commemorative Day will be held at the Australian War Memorial on Sunday, June 2, 2013.

The event has been held every year since 2008, and now ranks as the third busiest annual event at the Australian War Memorial (behind ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day).

The event will be held in the Sculpture Garden at 11 AM, with a Luncheon to be held after the ceremony. A meet and greet will also be held on Saturday, June 1.

We are hoping to attend this function, and look forward to meeting a number of veterans and family members!

For further information, visit the Bomber Command Commemorative Day Foundation website.