An Air Force Cadet’s pilgrimage to the UK
In April, the Australian Air Force Cadets sent a small contingent to the UK to attend the opening of the new International Bomber Command Centre in Lincoln.
CAPTION: CCPL Sydney Searle (603SQN AAFC) with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Lancaster bomber at RAF Coningsby. The nose art depicts a kangaroo playing bagpipes, which is a replica of the artwork on a wartime Lancaster ‘L’ for Leader of No 460 Squadron RAAF, which flew out of RAF Binbrook. Photo supplied by CCPL Searle.
They were invited to join the Australian Branch of the Bomber Command Association on a tour of places significant to the Bomber Command effort during World War 2.
The only South Australian among them was Cadet Corporal Sydney Searle from No 603 Squadron (Riverland).
Since her return, CCPL Searle has given presentations to members of the Loxton RSL and her fellow cadets, and she wrote up a summary of her trip for the local Riverland newspaper.
After some sight-seeing on an iconic red double-decker bus, on Day 2 of their visit, “We went to the Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park where we laid wreaths and poppies on behalf of all who served”, CCPL Searle said.
They were then hosted for lunch at the RAF Club in Piccadilly.
Over the following days they visited various historic sites including Bletchley Park, the Pathfinder Force Museum at RAF Wyton, the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, and RAF Waddington south of Lincoln where they met some RAF Air Cadets.
CCPL Searle said they even had dinner at the famous Blue Bell Inn, which had been frequented during the war by members of No 617 Squadron, RAF (the ‘Dam Busters’), and on another day visited the Dam Busters’ wartime base at RAF Scampton.
In Lincoln they attended the International Bomber Command Centre opening ceremony on 12 April.
CCPL Searle said “After the ceremony had finished we placed poppies on the Walls of Names where all the 58,000 fallen were listed”.
These walls list the names of the men and women who lost their lives serving or supporting Bomber Command during WWII – every life lost in Bomber Command was considered equal in sacrifice so the walls do not list ranks held or decorations awarded.
Of the 10,000 Australian airmen who served with Bomber Command 3486 were killed in action.
Their names are listed on the Rolls of Honour at the Australian War Memorial.
Some also have specific plaques on local Cenotaphs and regional war memorials, or have streets named in their memory.
Now, these fallen Australian heroes are also listed by name on an international memorial to Bomber Command.
Flying Officer (AAFC) Paul Rosenzweig, 6 Wing Public Affairs & Communication Officer, said, “Many of the fallen came from South Australia, so it was fitting that a South Australian air force cadet had the unique opportunity to be among those paying respects on our behalf at the opening of the International Bomber Command Centre”.
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