The Lane Cove RSL Sub Branch invites a relative of a Lane Cove war hero to speak about their relative. This year Geoff Oakes spoke about his brother Flight Sergeant Ronald Mansfield Oakes.
102 years ago today, our father – Sapper Dudley Oakes – was one of the first ashore at Gallipoli.
Dad survived the war passing away aged 88 in 1979 having fathered six children of whom Ronald was the eldest.
When our mother passed away in 1935 Ronald and my other elder brother John went to live with an Aunt who lived in Kenneth St Longueville.
The rest of us lived with Dad at our home in Willoughby.
Two months short of turning 19, Ronald enlisted into the Air Force Reserves and then transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force in May 1942 as an Air Gunner.
This was followed by 10 months of training in NSW, Queensland and Victoria before he deployed to England in March 1943.
Once in England, Ronald was posted to 196 Squadron of the Royal Air Force and after being trained on Wellington bombers they flew operational sorties on enemy ports and industrial centres in Europe.
The Squadron were then trained in Stirling bombers and carried out various transport, glider-towing and supply-dropping flights as well as parachuting Commando and Special Operations Executives (SOE) into enemy occupied territory.
In late 1943 he was posted to 115 Squadron of the Royal Air Force and trained to fly and fight in the Lancaster bomber.
His Flying log Book notes that he was the Mid Upper Air Gunner and throughout November and December they flew missions from their base in England across to Berlin in Germany.
On the night of 14 January 1944, his aircraft was one of 500 Lancasters tasked to fly from their Base at Little Snoring to the target at Brunswick in Germany. In a straight line it was some 650 kilometres but the actual flight path would have been much more as they needed to avoid German night-fighters and Anti-Aircraft guns.
Ronald’s aircraft did not return, believed shot down.
His body and those of his crew – the pilot was from New Zealand, two were from Australia and four from England – are buried in a collective grave in the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery at Hanover Germany.
Ronald was a couple of weeks short of his 21st birthday.
Bomber Command had the highest casualty rate with 59% of aircrew either being killed, wounded or taken Prisoners of War.
Rest in Peace
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