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Australian RAF veterans lay wreath at Bomber Command Memorial

Seventy years since they left these shores, a group of Australian Second World War veterans returned recently to join the national commemorations of VE Day.

The seven RAF veterans, aged between 90 and 97, made the emotional journey to pay their respects to the 39,000 Australians who did not make it home after peace was declared on May 8, 1945.

They attended services held to remember those comrades and all of those who lost their lives in the battle against Hitler 70 years ago.

Australian RAF veterans lay a wreath at Bomber Command Memorial.The seven also stopped to pay their respects and lay a wreath at the Bomber Command Memorial in central London.

This was a particularly poignant moment for one member of the group, Eric Barton, who had served with Bomber Command during the war against Germany.

Eric flew with 186 Squadron as a Lancaster pilot, completing 45 operational missions over Germany. He also took part in Operation Manna, the mission to drop food aid for the starving Dutch, in the last days of the war in Europe.
 
Eric was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for skill and fortitude in operations against the enemy in recognition of his bravery when he managed to fly his Lancaster and its crew home on just two engines when it was struck by enemy fire.

The Lancaster flew at just 200ft above sea level before making a safe landing.
 
Eric was joined by John Bell, Alex Kerr, John Shannon, Norm Ginn, Peter Jensen and Merv Reece at the wreath laying.

Their tribute remembers the sacrifice of thousands of Australians who stood shoulder to shoulder with Allied troops during the Second World War. Around 10,000 were killed in action in Europe, another 10,000 wounded and 8,000 detained in Prisoner of War camps.
 
The RAF Benevolent Fund continues to assist Australian veterans who served with the RAF.  In the last year, we spent more than £3,000 to help Australian veterans enjoy a dignified and independent retirement.
 
The RAF Benevolent Fund is responsible for the upkeep of the Bomber Command Memorial, in perpetuity. To find out more about the Memorial and how we fundraise for it, click here.
 

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