Flight Lieutenant Donald Roy PARKINSON

459 RAAF Squadron

Service No. 401245

Date of Birth: 29 Oct 1913

Place of Birth: Albury, NSW

Date of Enlistment: 05 Jan 1941

Date of Discharge: 06 Dec 1945

Rank: Flight Lieutenant

Date of Death: TBC

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Crew Hudson Mk IIIA FH266 W:
  • W/O Donald Roy Parkinson (Pilot)

  • F/SGT Alec "Sam" W. Sampson (RAF)

  • F/SGT George Henry Brown Treeby 

  • F/SGT Peter Fleming Wallace

Crew Hudson FH314 R:

  • F/SGT Alec "Sam" W. Sampson

  • W/O George Henry Brown Treeby

  • WOP/AG Peter Fleming Wallace

Below is an extract from Desert Scorpions "A history of 459 Squadron RAAF 1942-1945" by Leon Kane-Maguire - Page 296

 

Despite that disappointment, moral at Gumut base remained high, especially as work on the runway was at last complete and the squadron could look forward to less interference with operations from the weather.

 

Upgrading of the messes with Nissan huts was also well advanced and airmen began using them during the month.

 

Anti-submarine patrols and convoy escorts continued in December. The largely-unsug duties received some well-earned publicity when in early December the squadron was visited by an RAAF Public Relations Officer, Flying Officer Robertson.

 

He has provided a lively account of a convoy escort patrol flows by Don Parkinson and his crew on 3 December 1943 in Hudson 'R' FH314

I found myself in a ‘cattle truck’ on my way to Wing Ops for the briefing. The Ops Officer gave us the course and speed of the convoy and the position in which we could expect to find it next day, when we were due to take over the patrol. Dinner followed, then we went to our tents to ‘get some sleeping hours in’ in preparation for an early call. The call came at one a.m. and fifteen minutes later we were facing a breakfast of bacon and eggs, bread and jam and a brew of that steaming-hot-tea which seems to make a miraculous appearance at any hour of the day or night in the desert.

Climbing into our aircraft, Don and the rest of his crew made a last-minute check to understand why this squadron has the lowest flying-accident rate of all the units in its Group and probably in the whole of the Middle East.

Presently the engines are brought to life and as they warm up, Don checks the cockpit over once again. At last he is satisfied. We taxi out to the end of the flare path. We turn into the wind. Don opens the throttles and we’re away. The last of the goose-neck flares disappears beneath us. Sam pencils an entry in his log book, “Airborne 0238 hrs”.

The quarter-moon had set before our take-off; we can barely see the wingtips of our aircraft. A few stars flicker faintly, otherwise we are suspended in an inverted bowl of complete and utter darkness. But when Pete tells Don that the convoy is between eight and nine miles away, slightly to starboard, we know that he’s as certain of that as he would have been were he gazing at the ships in broad daylight. The appliance which enables him to speak with such certainty has been the means of sending many a night-prowling U-boat to the bottom of the sea …

The finding of the convoy marks the beginning of a long and – for the crew – wearisome patrol. Relieving each other at intervals, Pete and George in turn keep their eyes riveted on the magic box, [or] they peer through the astro-hatch, on the alert. Sam keeps a careful check on our position and gives periodical instructions for alteration of course, as we pass to and fro above our important charge. Unable to relax even for a moment, Don sits in the dim cockpit, his eyes roving restlessly over the instrument panel, checking up on this, testing that.

We hit the fringe of a storm, which tosses us up and slaps us down, as though we were but a play-thing in the hands of an over-exuberant child of the gods. There is even dirtier weather ahead, but Don skillfully avoids it, while still keeping in close touch with the convoy …Somebody fishes a tin of boiled sweets out of his pocket and passes them round. Thermos flasks are produced, and cups of tea poured. Don curses mildly when he discovers when he discovers that his has milk in it. More sweets. More tea.

Dawn was tingeing the eastern sky when we caught the first blurred outlines of the ships which we had been circling for so many hours. Before we approach too close, Pete fires a recognition signal and George flashes a message on the Aldis lamp. The leader of the warship escort signalled in reply. Then we counted the ships. Yes, they were all there, twenty-six of them, all safe and sound and we derived not a little satisfaction from the knowledge that R for Roger had helped keep them so.

The leaden sea was changing to silver-grey when we handed over our charge to our successor and Sam gave Don his course for home. As we turned away from the ships I imagined that I could hear a voice down there saying, “Thanks chaps”.

 

Sep received the 2006 ‘Order of Australia’ medal for Community work in the Newcastle area.

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