Members of RAAF Base Edinburgh had the privilege of sharing in the 100th birthday celebrations for a World War 2 Air Force veteran on September 7.
CAPTION: Leading Aircraftwomen Erica Moy and Tahlia Kitchin, from 83 Squadron, and Lyall Ellers reflect on his Air Force service during his 100th birthday celebrations held at his home in Seacliff, Adelaide, SA. Photos by Sergeant Nicci Freeman.
Lyall Ellers was born on September 7, 1923 in Claremont, Western Australia, only two years after the fledgling Royal Australian Air Force was established. At 18, he enlisted in the Air Force on the same day – April 26, 1942 – as his brother John enlisted in Adelaide. A year later, Mr Ellers’ older brother Frederick joined, but was killed in a RAF Bristol Blenheim crash in India in 1943.
After undertaking flying training in Western Australia and NSW, Mr Ellers received his Wings in March 1943. He completed four separate tours in the Southwest Pacific Area Theatre flying Wirraways with 5 Squadron in Queensland, Boomerangs with 4 Squadron in New Guinea and 85 Squadron in Western Australia, and Kittyhawks with 78 Squadron in the Dutch East Indies.
While at 78 Squadron, Mr Ellers flew with and was the flight commander for Warrant Officer Len Waters – the RAAF’s only Indigenous fighter pilot in World War 2. In 1946, he discharged from the Air Force at the rank of flight lieutenant.
Mr Ellers’ family have particularly strong connections to the Air Force. Not only did he and his brothers all serve in the RAAF, but his son, Grant, completed more than 30 years as a RAAF air traffic controller and his wife and sister-in-law both served in the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force during World War 2.
To mark Mr Wellers’ 100th birthday, Assistant Senior Australian Defence Force Officer at RAAF Base Edinburgh Group Captain Greg Weller presented him with a Chief of Air Force letter of congratulations and an accompanying coin. He also received a coin and a framed image of a 100 Squadron Boomerang with a message of congratulations from Commanding Officer 100 Squadron Wing Commander Jason Easthope. Vice President Air Force Association (South Australia) Robert Black presented Mr Ellers with a copy of South Australian Eagles, a booklet on South Australian aviators who served in Air Force.
CAPTION: Lyall Ellers and Assistant Senior ADF Officer Edinburgh Defence Precinct Group Captain Gregory Weller with the 100 Squadron framed memento of a Wirraway, presented in celebration of his 100th birthday.
For young 83 Squadron aviators Leading Aircraftwoman Erica Moy and Leading Aircraftwoman Tahlia Kitchin, Mr Ellers’ birthday was an opportunity to learn about the history of their unit’s support to Army in World War 2.
“It was an invaluable opportunity to hear Lyall’s stories and experiences with flying Boomerangs as it relates back to the origins of 83 Squadron,” Leading Aircraftwoman Moy said.
For Group Captain Greg Weller, it is important for serving members to connect with Air Force veterans from earlier generations.
“We have been reaching out to those who have come before us,” he said.
“Those who not only want to say thank you for their service and being part of the remarkable legacy that today’s aviators have inherited, but to also help our younger and emerging veterans better understand and embrace that legacy.
“Knowing the challenges our forebears went through and the sacrifices they made in defence of our nation will help build our current and next generation of aviators to be better ready for the challenges of the future.”