454 and 459 RAAF Squadrons
Flying Officer Albert 'Bert' George HARDING
454 RAAF Squadron
Service No: 405160
Date of Birth: 23 Feb 1919
Place of Birth: SANDGATE, QLD
Date of Enlistment: 2 Feb 1941
Date of Discharge: 18 Oct 1945
Rank: Flying Officer
An email from Doug Roberts dated Feb 2007
"Firstly I would like to congratulate you and your committee members to keep 454/459 Association going! It is very much appreciated by the "Poms" who are still around.
I was a very happy member of Bob Parkin's crew on 454. Alas! Bob died some twenty years back. Our Nav. was Bert Harding and he is living at a Retirement Village in Qld. I last saw Bert and his wife Gloria when I came on a visit in 1983. Our crew met under the clock at Brisbane Racecourse with our wives - and my wife Margaret won the first race!, she has not won since! No doubt you probably know more about Ron Akhurst - but in case nobody else has said:
It was 25th July '43 - I think? It was a "special" job. An operation laid on we reckoned to satisfy Lord Beaverbrook's son who commanded a Beaufighter Squadron. Eight of our Baltimores rendezvous with the Beaufighters, however Ron Akhurst piloted one of the Balts. He made it bank on one engine with the help of his Navigator who had a canon shell in his leg, if I remember rightly they "ditched" in failing light. The ditching was of text book order, but with the coming of dawn they found that they were about 100 yards from the Nth African shore!! For this Akhurst got a DFM.
The photo of the crashed Baltimore is AG 952 which Bob Parkin and crew flew the next morning in an attempt to locate survivors. On our return to base there was an extensive sandstorm - but we were out of fuel. Bob found a gap in the sandstorm and tried to land - but the gap closed and in trying to put the aircraft down he "bounced" and tried to "go around again", but the tanks were dry! How Bob got the aircraft from climbing altitude (he reckoned about 80 feet) TO NOSE DOWN ON IMPACT NOBODY WILL EVER KNOW. Bert, Frank and I all thought that Bob had saved our lives! Parkin was a great character and a first class pilot. I have a tremendous find of stories but I would hate to bore people.
Very sincere regards, Doug Roberts. "
F/O (now S/Ldr) Bob Parkin taken when we were
detached at Derna June '43.
L-R: John Bert, Doug Roberts, & Bert Harding