The Royal Air Force has always had a strong relationship with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), based on a long history of shared values, sacrifice, and achievements. During World War Two, 65 Australians lost their lives flying from RAF Coningsby, and at least 50 are known to have been decorated for gallantry.
75 years ago, today, 25 Lancaster bombers from 61 and 619 Squadrons took off from Coningsby on an operation to Augsburg in Southern Germany. The attack was successful but sadly two of the aircraft did not return. One of those aircraft, O for Oboe of 61 Squadron, had a crew of one Royal Canadian Air Force, three RAF, and three members of the RAAF. Six of the crew died.
By co-incidence, today also sees a liaison visit by two RAAF officers. As part of our ongoing exchange programme with the RAAF we currently have a RAAF pilot serving on a Typhoon squadron.
Station Commander, Group Captain Mark Flewin said,
‘It was a pleasure to host our Australian colleagues today. We continue to have a valued relationship with the RAAF, dating from bomber operations in the Second World War, through to current operations against Daesh in Syria and Iraq’
Royal Australian Air Force Advisor to the UK, Group Captain David Titheridge said,
‘The RAAF members of this crew had completed around 20 operations, including several against Berlin, at one of the most intense periods of operations. It is very appropriate on this 75th anniversary that we took a few moments to remember their sacrifice, the sacrifice of our Commonwealth allies that they were fighting alongside, and the part our forebears played as part of RAF Bomber Command’
The crew of O-Oboe (Lancaster LL775). The aircraft was attacked by a German night-fighter en route to the target. Six of the crew now rest in Choloy War Cemetery in France. Pilot Officer Greatrex was able to parachute from the aircraft at 2000 feet, joined up with the local French Resistance and returned to the UK in October 1944. Awarded the French Legion of Honour in 2016, Barnaby ‘Barney’ Greatrex passed away in February 2018.
FLt Johann Einarson DFC, DFM RCAF (Pilot) aged 23
Sgt Maurice Worth RAFVR (Flight Engineer) aged 20
PO Allan Collins RAAF (Navigator) aged 27
PO Barnaby Greatrex RAAF (Air Bomber)
FS Reginald Gill RAAF (Wireless Operator) aged 25
FS Phillip Jones RAuxAF (Air Gunner) aged 35
PO Herbert Rankin DFM RAFVR (Air Gunner) aged 22