RAAF Personnel enable veterans to attend bomber command celebrations
While personnel of No 3 Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at RAAF Amberley are typically trained for emergent medical evacuation scenarios, a 3AMES team enjoyed a change of pace to escort Australian WWII veterans to the opening of the International Bomber Command Centre (IBCC) in Lincoln, England.
Chosen for their capabilities in aviation medicine, the team of medics and medical officers escorted 16 veterans aged in their nineties and provided medical assistance and support throughout the ten-day tour.
The veterans included pilots, navigators, wireless operators and bomb aimers who worked on Lancaster, Wellington and Mosquito aircraft.
Organised by the Bomber Command Association in Australia, the veterans were finally able to witness the opening of the IBCC (a project six years in the making) and to visit RAF bases, museums and memorials across the United Kingdom.
Flight Lieutenant Lauren Browne said it was an honour to represent the RAAF, and to see the Veterans get the recognition they deserve.
“It’s taken a long time for them to get recognition after the war because while they did a lot of good they also did a lot of damage to civilian cities to enable the allies to win… only recently have these men and women received recognition,” FLTLT Browne said.
“It was also good to do our jobs medically and hear their stories as well. The veterans enjoyed telling their stories, passing them down to future generations.
“I think it was very therapeutic for the veterans to reunite with allies and tell their stories, talking about the friends they had lost, it was very emotional for them.”
From the 62 nations that served in Bomber Command, a staggering 57,861 lives were lost. Each of their names are now listed at the IBCC, which Corporal Michael Youngberry said left the veterans proud yet teary-eyed.
“The last photo we took in front of the memorial there were a few tears from the veterans,” CPL Youngberry said. “A few of the veterans put poppies in names on the memorial and told stories like ‘yeah this was my best mate going through school’.
“I mostly saw smiles and them enjoying the trip.”
The trip would not have been possible without funding from the Department of Veteran Affairs, which supported the veterans and their carers plus the cost of travel insurance by Defence Health, at no cost.