Rank & Name: F/O Don G Howard - RAAF
Date of Death: Still Flying


October 1941: Initially Don had planned to go into the Navy with one of his work colleagues at Shell (both were junior clerks). Over lunch one day, they discussed signing up and came to an agreed conclusion that neither of them fancied joining the army. They both had previous experience on yachts and they had heard about a 6 month program that got you into the Navy as a “petty officer”. The following day they went into Melbourne city to visit the Naval Offices on Bourke st. They carefully filled out the necessary paperwork and upon inspection the petty officer informed them that they weren’t old enough to begin the course (as they were both 18) and that they’d have to wait till they were 21 to join. This wasn’t good enough for either of the boys and after leaving the office they tore up the applications. They decided the air force was all that was left and on the same day, they joined the RAAF. On this day, Don met Roly Hall (who also served with 59 Squadron) and the start of a life long friendship began. They were all posted to initial training at Somers (Victoria, Australia) together and later Don and Roly overseas. At their initial training, for the first month they had to live in tents until they eventually graduated to the huts. There was a group photo taken at the end of the course and of the 40 in the class, 10 were killed during the war. Although it doesn't sound like many, it also meant that 4 out of 10 men didn’t make it home to Victoria...

The two unidentified airmen are Sgt Dave McGregor - WAG and Sgt Jock Smellie - Engineer

December 1943 : Don and Roly had finished their training and were posted from Canada to the UK. The RAF had recently decided that missions on Coastal units were far too long (12-16 hrs on average) for just one navigator, so a 2nd was added to each crew. It appears that this change took effect on 59 during late Oct. 1943. On the 26th, F/S J.B Jenkins and crew fly the first mission on the Squadron comprised of 9 crew - including 2 navigators. This change steadily increased into 1944 although many crews still retain only 8 members up until April but by May it appears that all crews are flying with a 2nd navigator. The captain of Don's first crew was F/L Ian Henry (view crew page) and their first mission together is dated the 19/12/43. Ian and his crew had been operating with 59 Sqn since October of 1943. The ORB notes that Ian Henry was posted in on the 23/10/1943.


Don recalls his first flight in a Liberator. A training flight:

Having been shown by Joe what had to be done in a relatively short time, I was then able to relax and look at the country over which we were flying. Ireland is a beautiful land, very green as one would expect with lots of undulating green fields. In spots there were lovely mountains and rugged coastlines.

The main runway at Ballykelly ran North/South and when taking off to the North. and almost as soon as being airborne, one had to turn left to avoid a large rugged mountain with big cliff faces which was quite close. The Mountain was called Binevenagh and there was a saying amongst the Irish locals - 'If you can see Binevenagh, it's going to rain.. and if you can't see it.. it is raining!..."

Operational: 13th Feb. 1944 - Liberator Mk.V "E" FL.972 - Duty: A/S Patrol - Time up: 0507 - Time Down: 1753 .

"On the way to the a/c on that first flight, the captain had sat in the front of the truck with the WAAF driver whilst the rest of the crew sat in the back. It was pitch black and I could hardly see anything. I was wondering what I'd gotten myself into, I barely new the rest of my crew who’d been formed well before my arrival... so I was the ‘new kid on the block’ so to speak. In the dark Bill Twyman, the eldest member of the crew at 31 and also an Australian started to sing quietly to himself. The song it self wasn't anything of note but this moment, in the dark barely able to see, amongst all the fear, the doubts and anxiety of being so far away from home, it was very emotional...

I was told to watch the first navigator (Joe Moat - who took the first shift) and ask any questions I had. I thought to himself as I watched “I can do this, no problem”...


Roly Hall folds his wings... Sadly Rolly Hall passed away in 2012 in Melbourne, Australia. Don still lives in Melbourne with his wife of many years, Marie. (below) Roly and Don celebrate the end of the war in Europe, at Jack Dempsey's Bar in New York. Both he and Roly had finished their operational tours and had been sent to America to await postings to training units when Germany surrendered.


The captain of Don's first crew was F/L Ian Henry (view crew page) and after Henry was promoted to S/Ldr and ended his operational tour, his co-pilot (F/L Reekie) formed a crew and Don was invited to join. He flew 32 sorties with Reekie before he left 59 Sqn in April of 1945 to become a navigation instructor at 16 HCU at Aldergrove in Northern Ireland.

Don is a member of The Odd Bods, an organisation started by Australian airmen that flew in British squadrons (or non RAAF controlled units) during WW2, who felt that they did not have an organisational body or unit here in Austalia that adequately represented them. Thus the Odd Bods was formed.


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