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Amis de France

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At 23:41 hours on 10 April 1944, Lancaster ND586 of 460 Squadron RAAF took off from RAF Binbrook to bomb the railway junction and marshalling yards at Aulnoye, France. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take-off and it did not return to base. It had been shot down over Vieux-Mesnil (Nord), killing all seven of the crew. The pilot, Flight Officer Arthur Harold Probert RAAF, a resident of Drummoyne, was at the age of 25 the oldest member of the crew.

Bernard Feutry, a resident of Vieux-Mesnil, has extensively researched the loss of the Lancaster ND586 which he has made available through a website. He has also supported the building of a memorial to honour these ‘amis de France’ which will be unveiled at Vieux-Mesnil on 28 April 2013.

Lancaster bombers played a significant role in the Allied campaign during World War II at an enormous personal cost with a fifty percent death rate amongst airmen. This remarkable wartime service is recounted in a recently released book, Lancaster men: the Aussie heroes of Bomber Command by Peter Rees.

The photograph, courtesy of Bernard, shows the original marker where the Lancaster crashed.

From bomber pilot to builder

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The 93rd Attack Squadron were known as the ‘Green Ghosts’. The Squadron flew Beaufighter Mk.21 aircraft which the Japanese nicknamed ‘whispering death’. So silent, they didn’t hear the Beaufighter till they were overhead. ‘By then it was too late’.

The photograph shows Lerryn Mutton astride his Beaufighter at Labuan, Borneo, cleaning his aircraft. Following World War II he served as Mayor of Concord and was MLA for Yaralla (Concord). He was an active member of the community, supporting a wide range of issues. Still, the years of war service were ones that remained close to his heart. A proud moment was representing Veterans at Sandakan Memorial in 1999 where he visited the grave of a fallen comrade.

Lerryn Mutton’s story is told in the recently published book, Lest I forget. The publisher, Patricia Skehan will talk about the book at Concord Library on Thursday, 18 April 2013 at 1pm.