Australian, New Zealand pilot heros honoured

7th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

NOYERS-BOCAGE, France, June 6 (AFP) - Prime ministers Helen Clark of New Zealand and John Howard of Australia paid tribute Sunday to the bravery of their countries' pilots and other forces who played a small but significant role in the invasion of France 60 years ago.

NOYERS-BOCAGE, France, June 6 (AFP) - Prime ministers Helen Clark of New Zealand and John Howard of Australia paid tribute Sunday to the bravery of their countries' pilots and other forces who played a small but significant role in the invasion of France 60 years ago.

Clark recalled that the New Zealand pilots flew in their own unit, 486 Squadron Royal Air Force, which was formed in 1942, facing "exceptional danger and high loss of life" because of the nature of their mission, including rocket attacks on German VI and V2 missile emplacements.

Although the Australian and New Zealand war effort was focussed on the Pacific, about 7,500 soldiers, sailors and airmen from those countries took part in the liberation of Europe.

They were collectively remembered in this small Normandy village at a memorial to the 151 pilots of Typhoon fighter-bombers killed in the conflict, of whom several were Australians.

The Typhoon was widely used for risky, low-level rocket attacks.

Prime Minister John Howard of Australia said both his country and New Zealand were peace-loving and sought to be in harmony with everyone, but they had "never been reluctant to fight for a just cause."

He added, "if ever there was a just cause, it was the liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany."

Five Australian veterans and 11 New Zealanders attended the ceremony, including a celebrated New Zealand pilot, John Pattison, who shot down two German aircraft during the invasion and was himself shot down twice.

Howard said the Normandy invasion "became the necessary precondition to the ultimate destruction of Nazi Germany."

He did not mention the fact that Australia had sent troops to Iraq in support of the US-led invasion there, but said the war had occurred because nations ignored "a gathering storm."

© AFP

Subject: French news

 

0 Comments To This Article