GG attends RAAF reunion
IT WAS fortunate for Evans Head that when Australia's Governor General Quentin Bryce was a young girl, she played on the same Brisbane street where Jean Haughton-James lived.
It was Mrs Haughton-James, 93, who personally invited Mrs Bryce to the commemoration ceremony at Evans Head Aerodrome on Saturday.
When the Governor General arrived in a cavalcade of three white cars with husband Michael Bryce, she was greeted by a hot blustery wind and the applause of a 3000-strong crowd.
Little plastic Australian flags embedded around the memorial plaque blew wildly in the wind as if they, too, were welcoming Her Excellency.
The 70th anniversary reunion of the Number One Bombing and Gunnery School acknowledged the 1100 men who trained at Evans Head and were eventually killed in war.
It also acknowledged all those who served at Evans Head air base.
Page MP Janelle Saffin, representing the Minister for Veteran Affairs, reminded guests what the day was about.
“Today is about respect,” she said.
For the 20 ex-service men and women who attended Saturday's ceremony, it was a time to reconnect with their past.
For Mrs Haughton-James, Evans Aerodrome, the biggest RAAF training base in the Southern Hemisphere, is full of fond war memories.
As one of only eight women who served at the Evans Head air base during WWII, she had to drive everything from ambulances, tip trucks and transport trucks when all the men had been sent to war.
“It was unheard of, women driving trucks in those days,” Mrs Haughton-James said.
“We had a very busy schedule.”
Mrs Haughton-James remains involved with the base as patron of the Evans Head Living Museum and the Memorial Aerodrome Committee.