Interview with Phillip Adams on Late Night Live

On September 4th, I had the privilege of being interviewed by Phillip on the 70th Anniversary of the RAAF Expedition to Russia. It went very well and reconnected us to Chris Sorensen who was a veteran of the trip.

To hear the interview click or paste this link into your browser:

Last Updated (Sunday, 23 June 2013 01:59)


Newsflash 2

The MOD UK have decided not to accept applications from members of Commonwealth services for the Arctic Star or Bomber Command Clasp.  They may or may not advise relatives. If you want the Australian application form email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Last Updated (Sunday, 23 June 2013 01:57)


Newsflash 1

To celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the RAAF Expedition to Russia a set of 8 heavy laminated two sided placemats have been created. They tell the story in maps and 48 photos. The set is $24 incl P&P

Last Updated (Sunday, 23 June 2013 01:39)


Bomber Command Association in Australia

BCAA is a veterans organisation formed to give a focus point for the families of veterans of RAF Bomber Command.  They have recognised that as unit members pass on and the old associations close, relatives are cast adrift.

The rules of membership are very loose and encompassing. They take in veterans of almost any unit of any force and the families of those veterans.

Their purpose is to maintain the memory of the 56,000 men killed including 4,050 Australians in Bomber Command during World War II.  To that end, they have built the Bomber Command Memorial in the Grounds of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.  Each year they organise Bomber Command Memorial Day functions in Australian cities.

Membership is inexpensive and an excellent quarterly newsletter is sent out detailing history and future events


For information contact Geoff Raebel via these pages


RAAF in Russia - New edition out now !

Precis:RAAF in Russia Book
This is the story of a mission to save Britain by one of the great flights of World War 2. It is an exciting book of Australians at war and mateship with Russian allies on the Eastern Front.

It tells of the epic flight of 32 obsolete Hampden bombers forcing a passage across occupied Norway and Finland beyond their maximum range to operate from the Eastern Front in September 1942.

Britain was in great danger, France, the Low Countries, Norway and Singapore were all gone.  The Suez Canal, India, Australia and the Pacific were under threat.  Above it all was Stalingrad and Russia, if Russia was lost it would give Germany the renewed vigour to flood back onto Britain and conquer her.
On direct orders from Winston Churchill 455 (RAAF) and 144 (RAF-Canadian) squadrons were ordered to Russia at short notice to sink the battleship Tirpitz if it tried to attack the vital convoy PQ 18.
For the aircrews in their Hampden bombers, trying to sink the Tirpitz was near-suicidal, Coastal Command expected to lose 25% of the force, precisely the rate they eventually lost on just the ferry flight getting to Russia.

The Australians found the Eastern Front near Murmansk difficult and dangerous, being bombed on every clear day.  The Russians however were fine and grateful hosts fighting a brutal war in a brutal country.
This book deals with the formation of 455 Squadron, the Hampden bomber, operations in the Arctic, the great flight to Russia, the Australian experience and the fate of the Tirpitz.  There are over 100 maps, contemporary photographs and a roll of the RAAF men who took  part.

In 1942 with Russia on the verge of collapse Convoy PQ18 had to be fought through to Murmansk against the "Ice Palace" U-boats, the Luftwaffe and the Tirpitz and her consorts. The Tirpitz one of the world's most powerful battleships tied up the British Home Fleet just by being poised in Norway.

The squadrons recently transferred from Bomber Command had only just converted to torpedo bombing.The flight from Scotland to Russia was beyond the theoretical range of the Handley Page Hampden. Flying on 1919 vintage maps they had to transit two occupied countries and arrive over the Eastern Front with "dry tanks".

It was one of the epic flights of WW2 with Australia losing its youngest squadron leader.

This book draws together, how Australia entered WW2, the formation of the 455 Squadron RAAF, a technical review of the Hampden bomber, why Russia entered the war with the Allies and the story of Australians in Russia.

A great book for the veteran or the young reader alike.

List of Plates and Illustrations - Newspaper reports that might have been - Preface - Foreword - CHAPTERS: The formation of 455 (RAAF) Squadron - The Handley Page HP52 Hampden - Russia enters the War - 151 Wing: Paving the way - RAF support for Operation Orator - Tirpitz - The Russian Convoys - 455 Squadron Moves to Russia - Life in Russia - The Hand over and departure - Epilogue - APPENDICES: BBC Radio Transcript: With the Australian Forces in Britain - Dates relevant to 455 Squadron and the Russian Campaign - Composition of Convoy PQ18 455 Squadron Members of the Russian Expedition - 455 Squadron Aircraft of the Russia Expedition - Flight Times - Surviving Hampdens today - Bibliography - Index

The Book:

Perfect bound with a gloss cover - 150 pages - 128 pictures - 6 plates including maps



Author Biography

Geoff Raebel, RAAFinRussia.comGeoff Raebel was born in Melbourne in 1947 in the shadow of World War II.  His parents were trying to put back together a young love after almost five years of separation and his mother watching other girls become widows.

His father Bob was damaged by war experience and the phobia of cold earned in Russia.  The family tracked up and down the East coast of Australia for fifteen years while his father Bob sought a warmer place and his Mother Marj a cooler one.  In that time Geoff went to 13 schools in three states.  At the end of that his brother Nelson had elected to stay in Queensland and Geoff was settled in Sydney.  Inevitably Bob and Marj split up and ironically they both ended up in Queensland.

Geoff, always a "would be" engineer and "wanna be " flyer had a memory for experience and stories.  Those first 17 years were a treasure trove of experience.  Flying, sailing, time on farms, exploring the Brisbane River and Hervey Bay and with a father in the Wide Bay Regiment an understanding of military and shooting.  Finally he worked during school holidays for an aircraft wrecker.  It was a different age.
At the end of High School he got a job with de Havilland Marine.  It was a free and easy job and gave access to most of de Havilland's hangars and access to senior managers who had transferred from the aircraft side.  One in particular had been a Tiger Moth rigger during WW2 and as a boy had been at Mascot with half of Sydney to see "Smithy" land after the aborted Tasman mail flight.  Geoff learned to fly with a de Havilland offshoot, Hoxton Park Flying School in 1966.

Frank Bailey an early ultralight promoter and manager of de Havilland Marine head-hunted Geoff into his new business with Pongrass Marine.  From there he drifted into boat sales, then chandlery sales, then fibreglass boat building ostensibly as a bookkeeper.  In reality he was also learning the trade.

During a recession in 1974 he trained as an accountant but only worked at it for eighteen months before going overland through Asia on the hippie trail to London.  It was a grand tour 20 months long and taking in most of Europe,Nepal India, Afghanistan and Iran.

Coming back to Australia, he put in a five year stint with British Leyland converting from accountant to IT specialist.  From there he went into Office Automation and IT with NSW Railways and most of its iterations.

In 1990 his father called him back to aviation "Only 10 hours and you can convert your PPL into an Ultralight ticket".  It was a con but he soloed in 10 hours after 25years.  Today as a member of Sydney Recreational Flying Club he is a volunteer instructor.  He has also gained a commercial coxwain's ticket and takes charter sailing cruises on Sydney Harbour.

As an Author he has written, "The RAAF in Russia" and "Australian Yachtsman". He is editor of the Bomber Command Association of Australia newsletter.  Writing is something of a passion as well as an old MG TD called "Charlie".


455 Squadron - Beaufighter era

Sourced from Flight Lieutenant David Whishaw DFC's book "That Airman!"   David joined 455 as his first operational unit in August 1943 in the Hampden era.

We joined and found ourselves allotted separate rooms and three of us shared a WAAF batwoman to do all our domestic ministrations.  We didn't get into the air until 9th September when we started local, single engined flying, low level, bombing, formation, cross country, formation and avoiding action, dusk and dark landings, dead reckoning (DR) navigation by day, Night DR and a two hour low level Navex over the North Sea. Apart from being an hour late and having sent an unacknowledged SOS, the nav was spot on.

Sent on our first Rover patrol over Norway just after takeoff the port motor started backfiring. The Hampden was marginal with one engined performance but fully loaded with a torpedo it was really controlled descent.  Worse he needed to turn left toward the dying motor.  They got back safely.

The Hampden was not an ideal aircraft for ship busting off Norway

To be continued