Wartime valour remembered in Tasmania

The 81st anniversary of the Battle of Britain was commemorated in Hobart on September 11 at a remembrance service at St David’s Cathedral and on September 12 at a wreath-laying ceremony at the Hobart Cenotaph.

CAPTION: Commander Combat Support Group Air Commodore Veronica Tyler lays a wreath at the Hobart Cenotaph. Story by Flight Lieutenant Kate Davis. Photo by Sergeant Tanya Russell.

The Battle of Britain was arguably the world’s first major military campaign fought entirely in the air and by an air force barely older than the brave young men sent to fight and to defend Britain against invasion.

Between July and October 1940 this struggle was fought — day and night — over the skies of southern England by the fighters of the Royal Air Force and Commonwealth forces, against the German Luftwaffe.

Commander Combat Support Group Air Commodore Veronica Tyler attended both services on behalf of the Chief of Air Force.

“Royal Australian Air Force participation in these commemorative events provides an opportunity for serving members to recognise those Australian airmen who flew with the Royal Air Force and their support staff, in one of the greatest air battles ever fought,” Air Commodore Tyler said.

So important was the Battle of Britain to the defence of Britain, and to checking the momentum of the Axis forces, it inspired Winston Churchill to utter the immortal words “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”.

“Those few included a small number of Australian pilots, who joined airmen from across the Commonwealth to defend the same values that we in Air Force still defend today,” Air Commodore Tyler said.

“During these commemorations, we also pause to remember the men and women who have served with the Royal Australian Air Force over the past 100 years and especially those who paid the ultimate price in the service of their nation.”

Acting Commanding Officer of No. 29 Air Base Operations Squadron, Squadron Leader Paul Gough, said while the usual level of involvement has not been possible in the past two years due to COVID-19, this year provided a different perspective.

“This year’s commemorations offered a physical, tangible connection that felt surprisingly, desperately needed at this time, in the middle of a pandemic,” Squadron Leader Gough said.

“It is something to hold on to, a hand reaching back to the past in troubled times.

“It serves as a reminder to us all that reverence for those who served and who made the ultimate sacrifice is not automatic in our culture; it has to be nurtured and maintained.”

Chairman of the RAAF Association (Tasmania) Battle of Britain Commemorative Committee  Air Vice Marshal (retd) Peter Scully said the committee had been conducting a Battle of Britain service for more than 40 years.

“Several years ago, we were given the honour of having our event nominated as a formal Air Force Tradition, and the National commemoration,”” Air Vice Marshal Scully said.

“This year, with a lot of the mainland in lockdown, the organisation has been even more difficult.

“Of course, we missed all our mainland supporters, but my thanks go to the current Chief of Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Mel Hupfeld, for his continuing support, the Army Band Tasmania, 29 Squadron, the Australian Air Force Cadets, the Very Reverend Richard Humphrey and the RAAF Association Secretary, Deb Coulson, all who [again] offered their full support.”


 
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