Today marks the centenary of the formation of the Royal Australian Air Force, and over the years I have had the privilege to meet some of those who served. In particular, today, I remember my friend Calton Younger, who served as a navigator with Bomber Command during the Second World War and became a prisoner-of-war. I had the honour to publish Cal’s book ‘No Flight From the Cage’ which I would argue is one of the best POW memoirs of the war.
Cal was a great cartoonist and he drew a picture of his fellow navigators who trained with him at No. 27 Operational Training Unit. All ten would be lost on operations with only Cal and one other surviving.
Also remembering Cal’s Australian pilot Russ Jones, who stayed in their stricken 460 (RAAF) Squadron Wellington the night they were shot down in May 1942, and was killed. Here’s an excerpt from ’No Flight From the Cage’.
‘I had time while we were still straight and level to grab Russ’s parachute and dump it on his knees, release George Houghton from the front turret, hand him his parachute, clip on my own. then go back to Russ and clip on his. ‘Is there any hope, Cal?’ he asked. I told him no and just then the Wellington went into a steep dive. It was screaming. Russ sat with a serene smile on his face, resigned to going down with the stricken plane. I, too, felt calm and happy to stay with him. He shouted over the noise, ‘Jump, Cal.’ I thought it was futile but had nothing to lose, so I jumped.‘
Cal’s other pilot, Australian Bill Clegg, was also killed on operations in August 1942.
To all those who died in service with the Royal Australian Air Force, we will remember you.