By Christobel Mattingley
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No. indd 45 2/4/07 3:16:04 PM Battle Order 204 proportioned, so much bigger and more powerful with her four engines than any aircraft he had yet seen. She banked and turned so effortlessly on her long elegant wings. Although David had aspired to be a fighter pilot, he was realistic. With Bomber Command’s high casualties, most of the new aircrew would probably be sent to fly heavy bombers. Now he hoped he would be allocated to Lancasters. ‘That’s the kite I want to fly,’ he told himself. ’ On his 21st birthday David took eight friends, including Tasmanians Peter Lord, Ian Vickers, Gordon Lawson and Ron Leonard, to dinner at the best hotel in Wellington.
Indd 22 2/4/07 3:15:56 PM 2 Name, Rank and Number Life at No. 1 Initial Training School at Somers on Westernport Bay was very different from living at home. After David’s temporary stint in the army, sleeping in a tent with five others was not a new experience. But being woken by the sound of the bugle playing ‘Reveille’ was very different from an alarm clock chirring. The new intake quickly learned the refrain Oh how I hate to get up in the morning, singing with particular gusto the line threatening revenge on the pup who woke the bugler up!
On 21 May 1943, with a total of 182 flying hours, he was presented with his Wings at a graduation ceremony at Point Cook, which his parents attended. At a celebratory dinner at the Hotel Australia in Melbourne, the menu, drawn up as a flight plan with typical Air Force humour, included a weather forecast: Very wet night. Depression expected tomorrow morning. Tomato juice was 90 Octane. Roast lamb was cross-country killed, and the dessert was Bombe Australia (no dummy runs permitted)! indd 39 2/4/07 3:16:00 PM Battle Order 204 David with his parents and brother Brian at home, Launceston, 1943 When David was notified he had a week’s preembarkation leave, many emotions and thoughts he had pushed to the back of his mind while concentrating on training surged to the fore.
Battle Order 204 by Christobel Mattingley