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Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Page: 8847

Mr FRYDENBERG (Kooyong) (12:46): It is with great honour that I rise with colleagues on both sides of this House to pay tribute to the men and women of Bomber Command and to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the operations of Bomber Command.

We did not make this war, we did not seek it. We did all we could to avoid it. … We went so far at times in trying to avoid it as to be almost destroyed by it …

Hitler and his Nazi gang have sown the wind; let them reap the whirlwind.

It is with these sobering words to the Canadian Parliament in December 1941 that Winston Churchill steeled the resolve of his country and its people for the most bloody and important battle of their lives. History's pages now proudly record the victory that transpired but, as we know, it was a struggle all the way. The forces of darkness were skilful and numerous, willing to stop at nothing in pursuit of their goals. It was only through the bravery and the fortitude of those who fought on the side of freedom that we are here to enjoy this day.

No band of brothers was more important to victory or gave more of themselves than the airmen of Bomber Command. Of the 125,000 British, Australian and Allied airmen who spent time in Bomber Command, 55,537 of them, or 44 per cent, tragically lost their lives, with another 9,838 ending up as prisoners of war. Of the more than 10,000 Australian airmen who served in Bomber Command between 1939 and 1945, 3,486 died in action. Many of these men were trained by the Empire Air Training Scheme, which opened its instruction schools in Australia in 1940.

There are some remarkable stories of heroism by the Australians in Bomber Command, such as Group Captain Hughie Edwards, who won the Victoria Cross in 1941 for his actions on the battlefield. But I pay special tribute today to two men whom I am proud to call friends. The first, Frank Dimmick OAM, is a constituent as well as a friend. At 87 years of age, I know he has many more years to go under the tender stewardship of his beautiful wife, Jan. Frank flew four operational missions over Europe in Lancasters and flew three supply drops to the Dutch, where he dropped medicine and food, all as part of 460 Squadron Bomber Command and all before his 21st birthday, between the years 1943 and 1945. After this he was remustered back to Australia to join Australian forces as we prepared to take on the Japanese.

Another of my friends, Peter Isaacson AM, DFC, Air Force Cross, Distinguished Flying Medal, served in the Pathfinder force of Bomber Command between the years 1941 and 1945. Peter made the first flight ever from England to Australia, from east to west, in 1943 and flew 45 operational missions in Europe. Peter now is a remarkable 92-year-old who was one of 31 Australians who went to the recent unveiling by Her Majesty the Queen in London of a special memorial to Bomber Command. Peter was glowing in his tribute to the Department of Veterans' Affairs for their support in facilitating this visit.

Frank and Peter are two of many remarkable Australians who served in Bomber Command. It is therefore only fitting that the Australian War Memorial has a special monument dedicated to those thousands of Australians who served in Bomber Command. Their bravery, their heroism, their sacrifice will not be forgotten, for our freedom today is also theirs. I say to all those Australian servicemen who served in Bomber Command on behalf of our nation: thank you for your service, thank you for your sacrifice and thank you for your bravery. Lest we forget.