Air of honour: World War II veteran recalls his air force service
A VETERAN air gunner who flew in raids across Germany during the grips of the Second World War, considers himself one of the lucky ones who made it home.
Born in Coffs Harbour in 1924, Hilton Young joined the Australian Air Force shortly after his 18th birthday.
Months after completing training in Australia, Hilton embarked on his official posting to England.
"We took a ship from Australia - halfway down to the Antarctic, then the top of the Atlantic to Scotland," he said.
"They were dangerous waters - they were still sinking ships."
His posting was to Lincolnshire's RAF Binbrook airport in the 460 squadron - comprising mostly Australian personnel.
Its motto was "strike and return".
"We flew over, all over Germany from Munich to Chemnitz," Hilton said.
"We received our orders at 9am and nearly all of the raids were at night.
"The Germans had radar - as soon as we left they knew we were coming."
Flying in the Lancaster aircraft, the squadron's missions included the bombing of Dresden in February, 1945.
Hilton said it was camaraderie and resolution that saw many in the squadron through.
"The (personnel in the) 460 squadron was replaced so many times," he said.
"There were a lot of collisions but (when we were flying) we never got worried about it. There was not much point was there."
In 1945, Hilton returned to Australia on leave when news the war had ended came through.
Hilton - aged 21 at the time - said life had to move on.
"No one had any money in those days. You had to get back into life," he said.
In 1948, he married his wife Marjorie and together they had three children.
Hilton was employed in public works and was one of many who built the sewerage system through Coffs Harbour.
While he seldom marches on Anzac Day, Hilton said it was important to remember the sacrifice of those who lost their lives.
"There are never any winners in war," he said.