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Vale Flt Lt Donald Charlwood

Graham Marshall - Sunday, August 26, 2012

Flight Lieutenant Don Charlwood has died aged 96.

Flt Lt Charlwood is an Australian war hero who flew as a navigator in Lancaster bombers during WWII.

He wrote two classic accounts of the experiences of the young men serving with Bomber Command - No Moon Tonight and Journeys into Night. Together, these vivid and moving accounts are considered among the finest works on the experience of the air war over Germany.
 
Donald Ernest Cameron Charlwood was born on September 6th in 1915 near Melbourne.  He spent his childhood in Frankston, Victoria, attending the local high school.

Don Charlwood joined No 103 Squadron at Elsham Wolds in Lincolnshire in 1942.

The squadron was equipped with the Lancaster Bomber.

Over coming months, Flt Lt Charlwood and his crew attacked many major industrial cities, including Turin, Munich, Essen and Berlin.

Opposition from the Nazi's was intense, and on almost every occasion at least one crew from No 103 failed to return.

Flt Lt Charlwood was fortunate to have survived his tour of operations.

Of the 20 men who had qualified as navigators with him, only five survived the war.

At the end of his tour with No 103, Charlwood was commissioned and became an instructor at a bomber training unit.

In February 1944 he was repatriated to Australia, where he served for the rest of the war.

On his return to civilian life, Charlwood worked for 30 years as an air traffic controller, first at Melbourne airport, then as a selection and training officer.

In 1992 he was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia .

For many years Charlwood was an active advocate for a memorial to the 55,500 men who died in Bomber Command, and he asked a friend to represent him at the recent dedication by the Queen of the Bomber Command Memorial in London.

He died just 10 days before the ceremony.

Don Charlwood married Nell East, a Canadian schoolteacher, in 1944; she survives him with their son and three daughters.

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