In her father’s footsteps – WWII Gunner Cynthia Cadd

This Saturday we reflect as a nation on the 100 years since Australian and New Zealand servicemen landed at Gallipoli during the First World War.

RSL Care is commemorating this significant milestone with celebrations honouring the contribution of Veterans who have served during all wars, conflicts, peacekeeping activities as well as current and past Reservists.

“We are honoured that so many Veterans choose to live in our RSL Care communities,” stated Acting RSL Care CEO Luke Greive.

Untitled“It is both humbling and inspiring to talk with these senior Australians as they share their reflections of their Service years, like Mrs Clifford who was a Gunner in World War II.”

Mrs Cynthia Clifford (nee Cadd), lives in RSL Care’s Fairview Community at Pinjarra Hills.

Cynthia’s father and four uncles all served in World War I, and following their legacy of service Cynthia joined the Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS) in October 1943 during World War II. Cynthia was in Western Australia at the time.  She spent four months at ‘Rookie School’ and then another six weeks training in Air Craft Identification and Predictor Operation for 3.7 Anti-Aircraft guns.

“I’ll never forget my first shoot; the four guns were fixed at once. I thought the noise was so horrific that I ran out of the predictor pit so fast heading up to the mess hut, but was brought back even faster to continue with my job,” Cynthia told us.

When the war in Germany was over, the gun sites were closed and Cynthia was sent to Melbourne aboard a troop train.  While in Melbourne at Camp Pell, Cynthia completed a clerical course and held many interesting jobs including assisting with processing prisoners of war.

Cynthia 2Cynthia eventually was posted back to Western Australian where she worked with the Army until September 1946, assisting with preparing Discharge Certificates for returned servicemen.  “It was great to reconnect with a lot of old mates I had not seen in years,” she said.

Even after her discharge from the AWAS, Cynthia continued to work as a civilian with the Army until moving to the eastern states with friends, travelling aboard on the ‘Duntroon’ which had been a hospital ship during the war.  “I had a wonderful time in the AWAS.”

RSL Care respects the contribution of all Australian ex-servicemen and women and most particularly wishes this week to remember – honour – celebrate the contribution of our Veteran residents and clients.

G for George – Australian’s most Famous Lancaster Bomber

G for George is one of Australia’s most famous Lancaster Bombers. Part of the squadron of 500 Lancaster’s that flew over Berlin and bombed it during WWII. The assault didn’t go so well between the horrible stormy weather and enemy fighter planes  (Messerschmitt’s being the most common) G for George was one of only two Lancaster bombers to return safely to allied airspace (the other being S for Sugar), and G for George came back with all of its crew members alive. Making a total of 89 bombing runs over its career G for George defiantly earned its wings and is probably Australia’s most well-known plane.

G for George

The Bomber was left to decay after its run during WWII and was forgotten at the Fairbairn Royal Australian Air Force base until 1954 upon which it was taken to the Australian war memorial and had been on display until 1999 where it went into restoration. The intent of the restoration was to keep it as authentic to its original form as possible. The Bomber is now fully restored and on display at the Australian war memorial for all to see.

A few people who were the crew of the plane consisted of Flying Officer Critchley: Pilot, Flying officer Samson: Wireless Operator, Flight Sergeant Armstrong: Navigator, Flight Sergeant Brown: Bomb Aimer, Shaw: Rear Gunner, G. Knott: Flight Engineer, and W.Starkey: Mid Upper Gunner. Though the crew may have rotated some members between runs.

Shoot for the Stars …

…and you never know just quite what you might achieve in life. That is exactly what Adolph Hitler had in mind when he sent his most trusted commander General Erwin Rommel to North Africa. The fortunes of his Axis partners Italy had been disastrous, Rommel however would soon become known as “The Desert Fox” a mark of the respect that Allied troops held for his abilities. It looked like Hitler’s plan would succeed!

General Rommel rolled back the British, losing all of the ground they had achieved against the Italians, pushing them back across the desert so far that they poured back into their bases in Egypt from where they had started the campaign against the Italians. At a point in the war where Germany and Italy controlled Europe and were seeking to dominate the Mediterranean Sea, Egypt was the prize, as it controlled the Suez Canal and Britain’s lifeline for resupply. Without the Suez all merchant shipping would be forced to take the long and more dangerous route around the Cape of Good Hope and the British base in Malta would be isolated.

On the cusp of achieving that goal, invading Cairo and siezing the shipping lanes, Rommel was at the limit of his own supply lines and needed to take the port of Tobruk in order to re-supply his army before he could continue any further. Hours before encircling the city and closing it off from any reinforcement by land, vital British artillery arrived to join the Australian 9th Division and British tank units under the command of Lieutenant General Sir Leslie James Morshead.

A schoolteacher, Morshead like many Australians answered the call to arms when their Nation needed them. As a young Lieutenant he landed at Gallipoli on ANZAC day 1915, and fought as a Major at the Battle of Lone Pine before becoming a Lieutenant Colonel on the Western front in Europe. An experienced commander he re-joined the AIF in WWII and found himself in charge of the defense of Tobruk.

Told that he had to delay Rommel for eight weeks so that the defenses of Egypt could be prepared, Tobruk not only held out it was finally relieved 240 days later and Rommel was now on the retreat. “The Rats of Tobruk” as Morshead troops had been named, were now part of Australian folklore and show that careful planning and preparation for success, principles that Leslie Morshead demonstrated, were far more important than wishful thinking and optimism alone.

“Lest We Forget”