News

Bomber recalls his war years

BEFORE AND AFTER: Corporal Jack Bell before the war (left) and as a prisoner-of-war. Photo contributed.
BEFORE AND AFTER: Corporal Jack Bell before the war (left) and as a prisoner-of-war. Photo contributed. Contributed.

REMEMBRANCE Daytoday marks the month 72 years ago that Corporal John "Jack" Bell came to Evans Head to undertake gunnery training at the RAAF's No.1 Bombing and Gunnery School.

The world was preparing for war and Jack was no exception, having joined the Royal Australian Artillery in 1936.

"This was the time when Hitler was 'rattling his sabre', as it were, and all realised that war was inevitable," he said.

"The government started a recruitment drive so I re-enlisted in early 1939."

Jack trained at Evans Head for four weeks, learning how to shoot at targets from an aeroplane, in preparation for their entry into the war.

Jack became part of a formidable flying force known as Bomber Command in the British RAF.

They flew many missions into Europe with the aim of bombing strategic sites used by the enemy, to help undermine their strength.

Jack was one of 10,000 Australians that served with Bomber Command during World War II, and while he survived the war, nearly 3500 didn't.

On January 23, 1942, Jack's brother Laurie's birthday, their squadron was shot down over Libya at around 10am by the German 15th Panzer division.

"They just blew us out of the sky," he said in a radio interview with Eddie McGuire for this year's Anzac Day.

"Not having parachutes, we had to crash, I was injured ... and the navigator was killed."

For the next three years, three months and three weeks, Jack was a prisoner-of-war.

"I was reported to my mother and father as 'missing in action, believed killed'," he said.

"Some six months later our neighbour in Toowong was listening to the Vatican's broadcast of prisoners and he heard my name, rank and number given out.

"You can imagine the relief to my family."

President of Evans Head Living Museum Richard Gates said that as yet there was no Australian memorial to recognise the bravery of Australian soldiers who served in Bomber Command.

"Jack Bell was typical of many people that trained at Evans Head where they were promised RAAF squadrons when they went overseas, only to find out they didn't exist and so had to fly with the RAF," he said.

"Evans Head would be an appropriate home for a Bomber Command memorial as more than a thousand who trained here were killed in battle.

"We think that's deserving of getting a recognition for Bomber Command."




Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

3 easy dinner recipes your kids will love, and so will you

No Caption

THERE is a middle ground! Dinners fit for kids and adults.

How to reduce your child's risk of food allergies

ABOUT 90% of food allergies are caused by just seven foods.

5 good mental health habits for kids (and parents)

CRYING OUT FOR HELP: The demand for counselling support for children and young people is increasing.

FORMING good habits early is critical for your child's mental health.

Smack or no smack - where do you stand?

THE debate is reignited - is smacking acceptable?

Susie O'Neill: Why I stopped smacking my children

Swimming legend Susie O'Neill says she has stopped smacking her kids.

“I (smacked) because that’s what I knew growing up."

Introducing a step-parent into the family

Introducing a step-parent into the family can be stressful for the children, as well as the new parent.

THERE is no easy way to introduce a step parent into the family.

Fight is on for rugby league legend Niko after stroke

Niko with his wife Carolyn and children Aiseah (16), Noah (8), Jonah (4) and baby Laisa.

“When the kids' names are mentioned he seems to respond"

The day it snowed on the Northern Rivers

Snow clouds over Mount Nardi, July 3, 1984.

It happened once, so it could happen again

Your chance to see the world’s largest crystal

Naren King with The Enchanted Cave, the world's largest  largest amethyst geode, which is now at its new home at the Crystal Castle.

This 20-tonne amethyst is on public display from today

Latest deals and offers

Justice Lucy McCallum

Justice Lucy McCallum

Justice Lucy McCallum says she reduced Oliver Curtis's sentence due to comments...

$1 million cannabis seizure

Police discuss a huge cannabis seizure and the arrest of seven men.

Perisher has 50cm of snow

Resort to open after 50cm of snow.

Smiggin Holes and Blue Cow to open after 50cm of snaow falls in Perisher valley.

OPINION: Should we give up the great Aussie dream?

Generic housing Rural View.

First home buyers are struggling big time

Commercial Property June 16 edition

SNAPPED UP: A sushi shop in a106sq mground-floor tenancy with a 43sq moutdoor area in Southport Central Towers on the Gold Coast has sold for $954,000.

RealCommercial edition June 16, 2016.