WHEN Peter Munro of Belhus attended the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Atlantic he had time to find his brother’s plaque at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
Mr Munro, who in 2015 received the highest award France can bestow – the Legion of Honour – said finding his brother Kelvin Gordon Munro’s plaque and then attaching a poppy to it meant a great deal to him.
While with the Royal Air Force’s No. 35 squadron (Pathfinder), his brother, an engineer, was killed in a master bomber over Germany in March 1945 at the age of 28.
Another brother Donald Munro was 23-years-old when he was captured on Crete and then imprisoned for four years in Germany.
Mr Munro was 18-years-old in 1943 when he joined the Royal Australian Air Force.
In the latter half of 1944 he was based overseas from where he undertook 36 operation sorties as a tail gunner in the Battle of Atlantic, which had started in September 1939 and continued until Germany surrendered in May 1945.
On June 10, 2015 the Ambassador of France Christophe Lecourtier awarded medals to 10 World War II veterans, including Mr Munro, at Anzac House.
The Australian War Memorial website says the Royal Australian Air Force’s No. 10 Squadron was the only Australian squadron to serve continuously for the duration of World War II in Europe.
“Formed at Point Cook on 1 July 1939, 10 Squadron was initially equipped with a motley collection of seaplanes with the intention that these would shortly be replaced with six new Shorts Sunderland flying boats,’’ the website said.
“At the end of July 1939 a small group of squadron personnel proceeded to the United Kingdom for training on the new aircraft which, it was planned, they would then fly back to Australia.
“While these personnel were in Britain the Second World War was declared and on 7 October 1939 the Australian Government ordered the squadron to remain there to assist the British war effort.
“The squadron was initially based at Pembroke Dock in Wales and was brought up to strength with drafts of personnel from Australia.
“Part of 15 Group, Coastal Command, it became operational on 1 February 1940.
“The squadron’s primary role throughout the war was to locate and destroy German submarines but its flying boats also proved useful for air-sea rescue and transport missions.
“In 1940 it predominantly escorted Allied convoys passing through the north-western Atlantic Ocean.
“The Bay of Biscay became the focus of the squadron’s operations in 1941, where it hunted German submarines moving from bases in France to the Atlantic.
“Its most intensive period of operations was during 1943.
“Numerous submarines were attacked in the bay, resulting in the sinking of two, but the squadron also lost seven aircraft.
“The squadron set a record for the number of patrol hours flown in a single month – 1143 – in February 1944 but by this time, submarine activity in the bay was on the decline – 10 Squadron returned to convoy escort duty in 1945.’’
The squadron ceased operations on June 1, 1945, having sunk six submarines since February 1940.
By Anita McInnes