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Veteran inspires squadron

By Pilot Officer Shanea Zeegers

World War 2 Bomber Command veteran, 101-year-old Ray Merrill, recently presented RAAF Base Edinburgh with a special gift.

Mr Merrill donated framed photographs, a biography and a signed letter written by General Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe during World War 2 (and later the 34th president of the United States), which is now on permanent display in the officers’ mess.

Flight Lieutenant Robin Karumba, from 462 Squadron, said the memento will inspire aviators visiting the mess, and remind them of the service and sacrifice of those who served during World War 2.

“It was a great opportunity to compare and contrast the evolution of Air Force culture after having Ray share his experiences with his old unit,” Flight Lieutenant Karumba said.

“Ray’s escapades and ability to relate to aviators who have a different mustering made him the most interesting person in the room.”

Born in Port Augusta, Mr Merrill enlisted into the RAAF on Anzac Day 1943, at the age of 20. After completing his training, he deployed to Britain as a tail gunner, flying Lancaster and Stirling aircraft with Royal Air Force’s 218 Squadron.

He completed 36 missions for Bomber Command on various operations, including Operation Glimmer, which supported the D-Day Landing on June 6, 1944, by tricking German forces into thinking the landings would occur at Calais rather than Normandy.

During one mission, incendiary bombs crashed into Mr Merrill’s aircraft from a plane above. Showing immense courage, he jumped from his position and quickly freed them from the fuselage throwing them out of his aircraft. For this action, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), representing ‘skill and fortitude in operations against the enemy’.

Mr Merrill missed the opportunity to receive the award from the King of England at Buckingham Palace due to another ‘priority’. His favourite greyhound had the inside track in a race at Sheffield and was unbeatable. The dog won but left Mr Merrill in trouble with his commanding officer for failing to go to Buckingham Palace. He eventually received his DFC in Australia.

462 Squadron honours Mr Merrill on a daily basis, with a conference room named after him. Commanding Officer 462 Squadron Wing Commander Duncan Scott said seeing Mr Merrill was a reminder of the squadron’s heritage.

“It gives us the need to honour the service and sacrifice of our past serving members,” Wing Commander Scott said.

Image and story courtesy Department of Defence https://www.defence.gov.au/news-events/news/2024-01-02/veteran-inspires-squadron

 

 

 

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