RAAF commemorative service held

78th Anniversary of the RAAF Station Bundaberg
Australian Air League Bundaberg cadets Ari Maatta and Coen Adams-Williams raise the Australian Flag at the 78th anniversary of RAAF Station Bundaberg with John Wilson OAM watching.over.

A RAAF commemorative service was held this morning to mark the 78th anniversary of RAAF Station Bundaberg, the RAAF 98th anniversary and 32 years of the Bundaberg RAAF Association.

Bundaberg RAAF branch president Michael Walker said in his address that in 1988 the branch organised the placement of a Neptune propeller at the Bundaberg Airport, it was unveiled and dedicated on 19 November the same year.

During this year’s RAAF Bundaberg commemorative service the Neptune propeller was rededicated after it was recently relocated to a more prominent position.

“This morning we ask almighty God to bless this propeller in the memory of all who served at RAAF Station Bundaberg so that their service and sacrifice for their country during World War II will be forever remembered,” Michael said.

Michael said from the vast history of the RAAF Station it was important to remember as he shared some details during the commemorative service.

“The airport was officially opened on the 12 December 1931 by the Minister for Trade and Customs the Honourable Frank Ford, as a civilian airport before it was renamed in 1936 to the Hinkler Airport after Bundaberg’s famous aviator Bert,” Michael said.

He said with the outbreak of World War II it was decided as part of the Empire Air Training Scheme to requisition the airport and develop it as a Royal Australia Air Force flight training school.

“Known as RAAF Station Bundaberg it was there was from October 41 to July 47,” Michael said.

“Seven units used the base through that time from 1941 to 47.”

78th Anniversary of the RAAF Station Bundaberg
Bundaberg Region Mayor Jack Dempsey lays a wreath during the RAAF Bundaberg commemoration service.

RAAF Station Bundaberg Units 1941-47

  • No 12 Elementary Flying Training School – 16.10.41 to 08.01.42
  • No 8 Service Flying Training School 14.12.41 – 25.07.45
  • No 71 (Reserve) Squadron Jan 42 – 26.01.43
  • No 66 (Reserve) Squadron 20.05.43 – 06.01.44
  • No 32 Squadron, Detachment 28.05.43 – 05.09.44
  • No 25 Radar Station 16.11.42 – 15.02.45
  • No 88 Operational Base Unit 01.06.45 – 26.04.46
  • No 88 OBU Care and Maintenance Unit 26.04.46 – 03.07.47
  • No 23 (CAF) Squadron (city of Brisbane) Bundaberg Flight 15.02.51 – 27.10.52
  • NEI Personnel and Equipment Pool 26.06.45 – 26.04.46

Mayor reflects on the past, looks to future

Bundaberg Region Mayor Jack Dempsey laid a wreath during the commemoration service and said it was important to remember the past while looking to the future.

“The future is the young cadets and our servicemen and women, and while we pay our respects here today, there is great opportunity for young people to still become involved,” Mayor Dempsey said.

John Wilson OAM said it was a good turn-out to commemorate the three big milestones.

“We are very fortunate to have the army cadets and the air league cadets here today and it’s quite vital to have the youth here to follow the services through,” he said.

78th Anniversary of the RAAF Station Bundaberg
Leone Wilson OAM and John Wilson OAM at the 78th anniversary of RAAF Station Bundaberg.

“We are very pleased by everyone’s attendance.

“In two years time it was will be the 100th anniversary and preparations are already under way for this.”

John was in the RAAF for 28 years and his wife Leone Wilson OAM also served for 12 years, and at one time the couple were stationed together at Penrith.

“I just loved it,” Leone said.

“I was in the clerical side of things, then I ended up chasing spares for aircraft and that was quite interesting as the aircraft would be grounded at the time.”

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