YOUR STORY: I was born in July 1940 in Kingaroy - the first child of Hector and Elise Nichols.
Dad (Hec) enlisted in the RAAF in Kingaroy and was classified as a navigator. He went overseas in 1943 and luckily came home in late 1946.
Hec and two other Aussies, pilot Reg Eisenhauer and bomb aimer Keith Dare, were seconded to the RAF and flew in a mixed crew in Special Operation Executive RAF Squadron 624 and, when 624 was disbanded, RAF Squadron 148 until the tour expired.
Hec was a very meticulous person and started writing 'Special Duties' during the war from his log book and navigation charts; thus his book is true in every respect - names, places, dates, times all correct. It is a history of the period he was "on squadron".
It is told from the point of view of the crews who flew those planes - Halifaxes, with four Roll Royce engines (known as Hallibags), converted to drop supplies and spies to the underground fighters in German occupied France, Germany, Poland, Yugoslavia and Greece.
These Hallibags had no GPS so navigation was basic but had to be accurate for success. Hec finished the book after he returned and I remember his disappointment when it was not published because of the Official Secrets Act.
He died aged 54 on October 6, 1968. My story is the battle to have this story known. This began after I was married.
Starting a family is a costly business as everyone knows but by 1996 we had saved enough to have the story published in a small quantity.
Since publication, things have come to light that have amazed me. I have been contacted by relatives of Squadron members from England, Canada, New Zealand and Australia and I have obtained Squadron Records that are in such detail you wouldn't believe.
My particular interest is with the Australians who flew and I can tell you which crews they were in, when they flew, to what target, whether the sortie was successful, and whether the aircraft returned.
In late 2015, my wife and I had a second edition of Special Duties published - this time with a hard cover, an index, more pictures and more text.
All in all, a far superior book and, in my opinion, a more thrilling and brilliant story has never been told.
The new edition's cover features a painting by Jack Absalom of Broken Hill who was inspired after reading the first edition.
Here is an excerpt from Special Duties Second Edition, page 11, reproduced with permission:
"My voice had not shaken, I knew, but in that instant I experienced a sudden fear, and even now I can vividly recall the stark feeling that suddenly surged through my mind. It was a feeling that had nothing to do with the mechanics of the aircraft. It was a fear that too much might depend on the answer to my sums; that there would be no time to check the answers I would get; and that they must not-must not-be wrong!"
To purchase the $30 (plus postage) publication, phone Graham Nichols on 0419 774 117 or go to High Street News, The Book Tree, Lucky Charm Clifford Gardens, Highfields News or Terry White Chemist Highfields.
Submitted by Graham Nichols