Captain Allan Lodder (RAAF)

Allan Lodder was born in the family home of his maternal grandmother Sarah Morris in Silkstone Queensland, on 24 May 1923 to parents Reginald and Gertrude Lodder. In 1929 the family moved to Bundaberg where Allan’s father had employment with Wyper Brothers, as manager of their joinery factory. The family again moved, this time to Gladstone, in 1937.  After working in the building and joinery industry in Gladstone for some years, Allan' s father established Enterprise Joinery Works in Herbert Street in 1946.

Allan began his working life at Gladstone Co-operative Dairy as a laboratory technician, and continued to work there until he commenced training for the Royal Australian Air Force in Sandgate.

Alan commenced his aircrew training at 8 Initial Training School at Sandgate in May, 1942 on 28 course at 18 years of age, he then completed his six months of training at Kingaroy, subjects studied were electrical science, theory of flight, signals, morse code (send and receive 12 words per minute), aircraft recognition, navigation, use of firearms drill and physical training. On completion of the course Allan was selected to proceed onto pilot training, this was a great thrill for Allan as everyone wanted to  be a pilot. From here the ones that had been selected for pilot training, travelled by train to Narrandera, NSW to No 8 Elementary Flying School to train on DH82 Tiger Moths.

Due to the fact that Allan's group had arrived two weeks before they could commence flying training they were transported by tender to a satellite landing field at Bundidgarie near Grong Grong each day to assist ground staff to handle aircraft on the ground and refuel, at the days completion the students were driven back to the main drome by tender. The instructors and some pupils of 27 course would fly the aircraft back to Narrandera. One day when Allan's course was leaving, instructor Ken Gregor and his pupil, Colin Pickworth flew over the tender and then climbed to 200 feet and did a stall turn, without enough height to fully recover he crashed into Allan's tender, killing fellow course pupil, Gerald Ryan.

Allan suffered bad lacerations and a dislocated left arm and after a half hour wait for the ambulance was taken to Narrandera General Hospital before been transferred several days later to No 1 RAAF Hospital at Forest Hill, Wagga Wagga. The wound then became infected with Gas Gangrene which needed several operations, two blood transfusions and skin grafts. After several months Allan was sent to a sheep station called "Wisconsin" for convalescence for two months before the doctors passed him as being fit to carry on his training.



Allan (on right) rests at the No 1 RAAF Hospital Wagga Wagga in 1942


Due to the fact that Allan had lost five months he was now on No33 course, his first flight was on the 15th February 1943 and Allan did his first solo flight on the 1st March. Allan remembers the marvellous feeling to climb away over the hangers and he also remembers singing as loud as he could. On competition of No33 course Allan was posted to No 8 Service Flying Training School based in Bundaberg Queensland, he flew a Anson twin engined aircraft the first flight being on the 14th April and met up with his old mates from 28 Course, Joe Herman and Rex Breusch who had almost finished their courses. Allan completed his last training flight on the 28th July and was very proud to be presented with his pilots wings and promoted to Sergeant Pilot.

We were then given several weeks pre-embarkation leave before we were sent to Bradfield Park, Sydney for a short time and then we boarded an American ship "USS Mount Vernon" to San Francisco, then by train across the USA to Camp Miles Standish, near Boston. After several weeks Allan boarded the "RMS Aquitania" at New York enroute to Greenock Scotland, from here Allan travelled by train to Brighton, (the RAAF personnel and dispatch base in England). Allan then spent about 2 months on some more ground studies, navigation, aircraft and ship identification, machine gun, shot gun and pistol shooting.   

RMS Aquitania

Allan's next posting was to Fairoak's 18 EFTS Chobham to fly Tiger Moths again to become used to map reading over England which is certainly different to Australia. We were camped at Fairoak's and each day we were driven by tender to Smith's Lawn, Great Windsor Park where we did our flying. At the end of December we returned to our base at the Grand Hotel, Brighton until my posting to No 15 Advanced Flying Unit at Babdown Farm, Titbury Gloucestershire on Auspeed Oxfords.

Early in June I was posted to No 21 Operational Training Unit B Flight on twin engined Wellington Bombers at Moreton in Marsh near Oxford. I picked up my crew here, Navigator, Wireless Operator, Rear and Mid Upper Gunners and Bomb Aimer. Most of our flying was done from the satellite drome at Estone. Our first experience of being attacked by the enemy was over Cain and Bayeaux, France a few days after D Day. Luckily we evaded a night fighter with evasive corkscrews. On return to England our home drome was closed under fog so we had to divert and land at Newmarket, where we had to stay for several days.

On completion of the course my next posting was to No 1664 HCVU (Heavy Conversion Unit) at Dishforth, Yorkshire flying Halifax MKs 2 and 5 four engine bombers. Near the end of the course while on a night bombing exercise I had my port outer engine catch fire, after emergency drills we had put the fire out and were on our landing emergency approach on 3 engines when the other port engine lost its power, luckily I was coming in with plenty of height in the amber light and managed to put the aircraft down safely. The CO called me to his office the next day and promoted me to Pilot Officer from Flight Sergeant and wrote a green endorsement in my log book for "meritorious" flying.

My next posting was to 462 Squadron 4 group Bomber Command stationed at Driffield Yorkshire with our first flight on the on the 9th November with a flight check of our new drome with F/LT (Fingers) Finley. My crew consisted of:

Sgt Ted Winters - Navigator RAF from Bournemouth

Sgt Pete (Zoot) Naylor - Bomb Aimer RAF from Leeds

Sgt Cos Casterton - Rear Gunner RAF from Manchester

Sgt Jock McGarvie - Mid Upper Gunner RAF from Prestwick Scotland

Sgt Hollins - Flight Engineer RAF from Manchester

Sgt Cec Foster - Wireless Operator RAAF from Shorncliffe Qld


Op1 16th November 

My first flight was as a second pilot with Flying Officer Rate to gain experience of a daylight raid on Jülich. A frightening experience in daylight with so many aircraft dropping bombs at the same time, with lots of anti aircraft fire over target in daylight, you can see too much of what is going on with yourself in the middle. Flying Officer Rate was shot down several months later.

Op2 21st November

This was a night attack on an oil refinery at Sterkrade at 19,000 feet. We were coned with a searchlight over the target, a very harrowing experience but luckily I managed to get out of their arc light and head for home. On arrival back in our base area, we could not pick up Driffield drome and our fuel was running low so I diverted to a special large crash drome at Cornaby. This was a worrying time as I had my crew with parachutes at the escape hatches ready to jump if we did run out of fuel, but we did manage to make it with a few minutes fuel left.

Op3 28th November

An industrial target at Essen, flying at 20,000 feet with only light flak.

Op4 30th November

The target was railway junctions at 19,000 feet with moderate flak, bombed on sky markers.

Op5 2nd December

(Halifax serial letter-F)

The target was Hagen railway marshalling yard, flying at 14,000feet, we experienced ice in the clouds.

On the 5th December I went on 7 days officers kitting out in London and then on the 6th December I traveled to Woking Methodist Church where I married Eileen Mercer. I missed my train connection and was 10 minutes late at the church !!! We spent the week of our honeymoon at the "Hotel Windermere" in the lake district. I had met Eileen earlier in 1943 at a dance at Chobham Community Hall.

Op6 18th December

Aircraft (Halifax serial letter-G)

The target was Duisburg railway and communication centres. We flew at 20,000 feet 10/10 cloud with moderate icing.     

Op7 21st December

Aircraft (Halifax serial letter-G)

The target was Cologne railway marshalling yards. We flew at 18,000 feet, 10/10 cloud, sky markers with moderate accurate flak with some close bursts but no damage.

On the 29th December I flew my aircraft "C" Charlie down to our new base with 100  group at Foulsham in Norfolk.          

Op8 2nd January 1945

Aircraft (Halifax C for Charlie MZ-467)

My first trip with 100 group in the Frankfurt area, I carried an extra crew member for window manning.                          

Op9 6th January 1945

Aircraft (Halifax C for Charlie MZ-467)

Special operations bomber support in the Cologne-Portmund area at 18,000 feet.

Op10 14th January 1945

Aircraft (Halifax C for Charlie MZ-467)

Special operations bomber support to Mannheim. We experienced heavy flak and thick searchlights.

Op 11 28th January 1945

Aircraft (Halifax J for Jane MZ-913)

Special operations bomber support, we bombed Mainz at 20,000 feet, temperature was minus 42 degrees Fahrenheit. We had thick snow on our runway on return to Foulsham.

Op 12 1st February 1945

Aircraft (Halifax C for Charlie MZ-467)

Special operations bomber support over Mannheim at 20,000 feet. Temperature was minus 36 degrees Fahrenheit. There was moderate flak and searchlights. We were hit by anti aircraft fire over target on our starboard  wing causing a hole in fuel tank 4, damage to starboard flaps and undercarriage and a burst tyre. When I landed the flat tyre caused the aircraft to swing  off the runway and become bogged.

Op 13 2nd February 1945

Aircraft (Halifax J for Jane MZ-913)

Special operations flying at 20,000 feet over Mannheim. Temperature was minus 29 degrees Fahrenheit. We experienced light icing, close flak but no damage.

Op 14 8th February 1945

Special operations flying at 20,000 feet over the Ruhr area. We experienced cloud to 21,000 feet, light icing and the temperature was minus 35 degrees Fahrenheit.

Op 15 10th February 1945

Aircraft (Halifax C for Charlie MZ-467)

Special operations flying over the Ruhr area again. We flew at 20,000 feet temperature was minus 42 degrees Fahrenheit. This was a very quiet and safe trip.

Op 16 30th March 1945

Special operations over Stode on Elbe, Hamburg flying at 20,000 feet with temperature at minus 35 degrees Fahrenheit.

Op 17 2nd April 1945

Aircraft (Halifax C for Charlie MZ-467)

Special operations to Stade aerodrome, Hamburg. There were thick searchlights and my port outer motor was feathered 50 miles of the English coast. I landed at back at base on three engines.

Op 18 15th April 1945

Aircraft (Halifax C for Charlie MZ-467)

Special operations to the Lechfeld-Munich area. We bombed the Lechfeld aerodrome at 18,000 feet.                                 

Op 19 16th April 1945

Aircraft (Halifax C for Charlie MZ-467)

Special operations to the Augsburg area. We were shot down by a German fighter from underneath, I went straight out of control and was on fire, the only member of the crew to escape by his own efforts was Casterton, my rear gunner. I do not know what eventually happened, but I'm certain the aircraft exploded and Pete Naylor and myself must have been blown clear, the remainder of my crew were killed.

I regained consciousness falling through the cold, dark night with the target indicator flares above me. I remember feeling my chest for the parachute and found it was still intact. I must have pulled the rip cord and remember feeling the silk cords pulling out of their pockets, then everything went red and next thing I hit the ground in a forest, while saying a prayer being thankful that I was on the ground alive. I could hear other aircraft gradually fade away as they headed back to England.

I walked in the direction of my burning aircraft to see if I could find any other crew survivors with no success, so I set hoping to walk south to Switzerland. I eventually came across a path which lead to cart tracks and came upon a small village where the people took me into a house and gave me clean cloth and oil for my burns, they were very kind and eventually carried me to a horse and cart and took me to Kloster Holzen which was being used as a German Field Hospital, about 25 miles north of Augsburg.

I do not remember most of the detail for the first week apart from being very well looked after by the Nuns, Doctors and other German soldiers. Early in May the American advance eventually captured the area and they took me out by ambulance through a field dressing station hospital at Crailsheim. From here I was flown back in a DC3 aircraft with other wounded to England, near Swindon. The Red Cross met us on arrival and sent telegrams home to Eileen. This was the first news they had that I was alive.

From Swindon I was taken by ambulance to hospital Cosford near Wolverhampton. On the 8th of May the war was finished in Europe. The Doctors reset my ankle and dressed my burns and the Commanding Surgeon gave me a Whisky in celebration. A couple of days later Eileen came up to me in the hospital and we managed to book a room at an Inn at the village and Eileen used to push me each day in my wheel chair back to hospital for treatment. After a while with my left foot in plaster I graduated to crutches and was granted a few weeks leave, after this I was sent to physiotherapy at Loughborough College for several weeks.

On completion of this I was sent to Mongewell Park, a beautiful mansion on the banks of the Thames River for convalescence. Squadron Leader Russell the Pardre that married us at in Woking arranged for Eileen to accompany me on the ship home. I still needed assistance as at the time I was still on crutches, however by the time all the arrangements were finalised I was mobile again.


We sailed from Liverpool on a Bullard line ship called the "Umtali" and arrived back in Sydney via Las Palmos, Durban, Perth, Sydney.  We then traveled by train to Brisbane then Gladstone.