With 2015 marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, a Coonabarabran family has chosen to commemorate the service career of their patriarch in a historic display.
The late Noel Knight, a navigator in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and grazier from “Tannabah”, Coonabarabran, has been immortalised in a framed exhibit that combines both images and text.
The display was initiated by Noel’s son and daughter-in- law, Tony and Marie Knight, “Berrumbuckle”, Coonabarabran, with the assistance of Noel’s wife, Sally Knight.
Tony and Marie were able to source an enlistment photograph of Noel, as well as an image of a Lancaster bomber in flight, and had a badge re-designed and printed to match original insignia.
These visual details are complemented by a summary of Noel’s achievements during his time in the RAAF.
Serving in the 460 Squadron RAAF Binbrook and 626 Squadron RAF Winkenby, Noel completed 27 missions between July 1943 and January 1944 in Bomber Command, including eight on the ‘Big City’ - Berlin.
At 31, he was the oldest in his seven-member crew, but earned the highly- regarded Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) honour on 2 June, 1944 for his “high skill, fortitude and devotion to duty”.
Tony said Noel used to joke that he was only awarded the DFC because he never got his team lost.
“I think dad found it difficult being older at first because he had to get back into the act of learning again, but he had a very good brain,” Tony said.
“He always spoke openly about his missions and understood the politics of the time as well.”
Noel noted these experiences in a journal, which formed the basis for Paul Davey’s 2012 book, ‘Noel Knight: Warrumbungle Warrior in Bomber Command’.
“It’s amazing to think about what Noel did - they didn’t have any of the equipment they have these days,” Marie explained.
“He was doing all the navigating by the stars, but the thing is, he was in the opposite hemisphere!
“We need to encourage other families to put their stories together...before the stories are gone.
“Who else is going to make heroes out of our local guys?”
The display on Noel Knight has been donated to the Coonabarabran RSL Sub-branch and will be mounted alongside memorabilia of other local ex-servicemen and women.
Tony, Marie and Sally Knight, recently presented Coonabarabran RSL sub-branch president, Kevin Barrington (right), with a unique display encapsulating the career of Flight Lieutenant, Noel Knight, who served as navigator on-board a Lancaster bomber during World War II.