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Official Newsletter

Gippsland Branch Royal Australian Air Force

Association Victorian Division

President Secretary Tom Lawless John Power 125 Farran Road 24 Pollock Street Hazelwood Sth 3840 Traralgon 3844 (03) 5166 1388 (03) 5174 3231

Patron Group Captain P. Cleary Lot 3 Red Gum Gully Boundary Road Briagolong 3860

Treasurer John Schulz 111 North Road Yallourn Nth 3825 (03) 5167 1495

Welfare Clem Jarvis 11 Western Park Drive Warragul 3820 (03) 5623 1866

JULY NEWS 2010

Greetings to you all, I hope you are managing to keep warm in this very cold

weather we are experiencing? Some of you not so well we are told. To George Dowsett, Clem Jarvis and Harry Prosser, hope you are all feeling better and that as the weather improves we will see you at the meetings again.

GENERAL MEETING: Our meeting on July 4th was attended by seven members with one visitor, with apologies. There was some serious discussion on a number of items, in particular the problems with membership and how to increase it. We also were asked to give some thought to the future direction of the Association and how monies can best be spent to meet its objectives. Any suggestions will be brought to the next meeting and if considered to have merit, referred on. All members whether present at the meeting or not should endeavour to participate in this exercise. Some discussion took place concerning 426 Air Force Cadets and our involvement. This is to be followed up with Traralgon RSL.

FUTURE ACTIVITIES: A suggestion was made at our previous meeting that as MTB are having difficulty in making a visit to our Branch due to health problems, that perhaps we could make a reciprocal visit to them. The matter was discussed at Sunday’s meeting and it was resolved to follow this up with MTB. It was suggested that perhaps a visit to Moorabbin, prior to proceeding to East Malvern, could be arranged. ‌/2


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It was also suggested that a trip to Walhalla may be of interest later in the year or early next year. This could incorporate the train trip as well. Morwell RSL are conducting a trip to Point Cook on 17th October. Any member who wishes to participate, please contact me prior to our next meeting.

A BOYHOOD EXPERIENCE: When I was a young boy my family lived in the Gormandale area about 25 kms south east of Traralgon. In those days aircraft were a rare sight. Occasionally one would fly over and apart from older members of my extended family who had been fortunate enough to see Kingsford Smith with his barnstorming flights, no one had seen an aircraft at close quarters. I was about nine when this particular incident I am about to describe occurred. At the time we lived with my Grandmother on Powers Hill. One afternoon I was wandering out the back of the house when I suddenly saw an aeroplane very low, following down a valley about 5 kms away to the west. It continued to fly down the valley getting lower and lower till it came out above the flats at Upper Gormandale. By this time its shadow was plainly visible on the ground. It now turned to follow Merriman’s Creek in an easterly direction. Still getting lower, it was by this time almost on the ground and a moment later I lost sight of it behind some trees. I ran around to the other side of the house to see if it had continued down the flat but could not see it so presumed it had stopped. I ran inside very excited to tell my Mum and Grandmother but I think they thought I was imagining it. However! Soon after, Dad arrived home from Traralgon, to tell us about the plane that had landed on the Gormandale Flats. It only stopped a short distance from the main road. In its careering path down the Flat from the time I saw it last, it took fences and all before its path. The cattle were terrified and with no fences to hold them, neighbours cattle all became mixed up. Farmers that night had a lot of work sorting out the mess. Miraculously the two crew members escaped injury and were able to walk from the plane. This happened about 2.30 p.m. Soon a large crowd of people alerted by phone and word of mouth, were gathering to witness this uninvited visit.

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-3I do not know the precise details of what occurred immediately afterwards but I think the Police from Rosedale had to guard the plane overnight. But before they arrived many souvenirs were taken. Next morning about 5.00 a.m. we were awakened by a terrific noise. Several aircraft were circling the area attempting to find a landing spot. Eventually, I think, they were able to land in the Flynn area, some distance from the site. Next day people from everywhere around came to see the aircraft. In later years I found out it was an Anson. Eventually the Aircraft was removed from the Flat and the farmers were compensated for the damage done. For about another year, aircraft wise, the area went back to sleep but when Bairnsdale, Wesdale and then East Sale became operational, aircraft were a familiar sight in the skies. BOOKS: I have just read a very interesting book my daughter brought back from France. Written by Alistair Horne, it is entitled “To Lose a Battle”. It is a very detailed saga of the fall of France in May/June 1940. If there is ever another war, lets pray the mistakes made then are never repeated. Another book I am reading is by Peter Fitzsimons, “Kingsford Smith and Those Magnificent Men”. A wonderful story, and very well written! As a young Trainee at Rathmines in 1950, I was one of a number who met the great P.G. Taylor. He was having maintenance carried out on his Catalina prior to a pioneering flight to Chile. A further book I have read of late is entitled “Over the Top”. It is actually the diary of an Australian Soldier from the Albury district. He kept this (not supposed to or course) throughout the War. It outlines in stark relief the appalling conditions the troops encountered in 1916-17, but there are also light hearted segments as well.

All these well worth a read if you can obtain them.

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THE LAST POST: The attached item is present with the kind permission of Fighter Squadrons. It appeared in The Blues Bulletin for May 2010. THE LAST POST If any of you have ever been to a ceremony when the ‘LAST POST’ was played; this may bring out a new meaning of it. But, do you know the story behind the song? If not, I think you will be interested to find out about its humble beginnings. Read on. During the night, Captain Ellicombe heard the moans of a soldier who lay severely wounded on the field. Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention. Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the Captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment. When the Captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead. The Captain lit a lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb with shock. In the dim light, he saw the face of the soldier. It was his own son. The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out. Without telling his father, the boy enlisted in the Confederate Army. The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked permission of his superiors to give his son a full military burial, despite his enemy status. His request was only partially granted. The Captain had asked if he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral. The request was turned down since the soldier was a Confederate. The Captain chose a bugler. He asked the bugler to play a series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of the dead youth’s uniform. This wish was granted. The haunting melody, we now know as ‘The Last Post’ used at military funerals, was born. The words are: Day is done Gone the sun. From the lakes From the hills. From the sky. All is well. Safely rest. Fading light.

Dims the sight, And a star. Gems the sky Gleaming bright. From afar. Drawing nigh. Falls the night. Thanks and praise.

For our days. Neath the sun Neath the stars. Neath the sky As we go. This we know God is nigh.

I too have felt the chills while listening to ‘The Last Post’ but I have never seen all the words to the song until now. I didn’t even know there was more than one verse. I also never knew the story behind the song and I didn’t know if you had either so I thought I’d pass it along. I now have an even deeper respect for the song than I did before. The above words appear to be the USA version but there are several variations in English used by Britain, Australia and New Zealand, etc. Any member having access to the internet can ‘Google’ up “The last post words”. (Editor)

Well that’s about all I have for this month except a reminder that our next General Meeting will be on SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 5TH 2010 at MORWELL RSL, commencing at 1330 hrs.

BEST WISHES AND TAKE CARE,

John


AFA (Vic) Gippsland Branch