© 2009 454 & 459 RAAF Squadrons
London Dedication Ceremony
On the 26th March 2009, Association members were invited via Pete Norford, Group Captain, Air Force Advisor – London, Australian High Commission to attend a dedication of RAAF plaques for 454, 459 and nine other squadrons at St Clement Danes Church (RAF Chapel) London. The badges join other Australian squadrons that flew in the European, Middle East and African theatres and are in recognition of the outstanding service and sacrifice made by those men and women.
In attendance were CDAF AVM Geoff Brown - Head of the Australian Defence Staff and Australian Defence Adviser to the UK, AIRCDRE Steve Martin represented the RAAF, while RAF CHAP Adrian Gattrill conducted the service. Also present were 20 RAAF personnel currently serving in the UK, and several UK VIPs including the Assistant Chief of the Air Staff, AVM Tim Anderson and the Marshall of the RAF, Sir Michael Beetham. Following the ceremony guests were then invited to Australia House for a function to celebrate the occasion.
MEMORIES OF THE DAY
Bryan Rostron – 459 (our Association’s UK Rep.) - [RAF] - “The ceremony went extremely well and the powers-that-be did the squadrons proud. They were there in force, the Australian High Commissioner and an awful lot of gold braid as well. Jill [Lord] will no doubt fill you in on the details but there were 27 veterans in total of which four were from our squadrons. Tom Hodgson and myself from 459 and Jack Stainton and Ken Rimmer from 454. For the actual dedication we had to stand at the back of the church together with other 23 veterans, representing 11 squadrons in total, so we weren't outnumbered! The actual plaques are very impressive and are carved out of Welsh slate and are embedded in the floor of the church. It was very nice to meet Jill and to be able to put a name to a face. She did a great job in representing the Aussie end of the Association and was able to collect a lot of literature which I am sure you will be able to use. For my part, it was great to meet people I have been writing to for years and never met - Dorothy Wood and Margaret Pirie amongst others.”
Tom Hodgson – 459 UK [RAF] – “It was a very successful day and the weather was kind, we started from Billericay to Liverpool Street and then on the underground to Temple Station. It was a long drag uphill to Aldwych and I had to stop several times to get my breath but before entering the church Bill (Longhurst) and I put our medals on then went in. There was lots of Vets from all the Aussie Sqdns. all proudly wearing their medals all trying to recognise their mates after 67 years. I did find Bryan Rostron and we had a long chat and sat together talking for some time and exchanged photos. I met a charming lady who asked me if I was Tom the Pom and it turned out to be George Gray`s daughter Jill and after another long chat and get together we all had our photos taken which as I said will pass on to Bill. It was a great service in the church and the history of all 11 RAAF squadrons was read out by G/ Captain P Norford and another Sqdn. Leader who both looked Fab in their uniforms and gold braid.
After some time we all went into Australia House for the running Buffet where tea, coffee, wine and Champers flowed freely, more speeches, more chats and more photos and after a very satisfying nosh up we said our goodbyes and made our way home. Bryan Rostron and I were the only two bods on 459 and there was a lot of Aussie families came over who were doing the trip on Friday to the Hendon Museum and a trip to Biggin Hill on Saturday."
The words of one family member who attended:
“Well done all you Aussie squadrons...
at last you have all been recognized for your support during WW2!”
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