Evans Head Aerodrome, circa 1940.
Evans Head Aerodrome, circa 1940. Contributed

WW2 veterans return to Evans Head airfield

THREE Second World War veterans returned to their former training ground at Evans Head at the weekend to mark the 77th anniversary of the Royal Australian Air Force Station Evans Head.

The airfield, now an iconic part of the coastal town's history, was established in 1936 as an emergency landing ground before being turned into the No 1 Bombing and Gunner School in 1939 as part of the Empire Air Training Scheme.

The three veterans trained and served at the base during the Second World War.


Evans Head Living Museum president and reunion organiser Dr Richard Gates said it was a chance for veterans to reminisce about things they might not have thought about for a long time.

"They (the veterans) all tell you that there is a genuine sense of being with family when they come to Evans Head," he said.

"Often there's an emotion component that goes with it, some sadness and a sense of humour.

"From a museum's point of view, we learn a lot more about the veterans and their history when they're here over the course of the weekend."

Returning veteran Joy Silvertsen worked as a steward in the officers' mess during the war and looked after the crew of Q for Queenie - a Lancaster Bomber which crashed at Evans Head during a war fundraising tour.

Once the bomber was repaired Ms Silvertsen took the first flight of the mended aircraft as a "thank you" from the crew.

She went on to be the housekeeper for the South African Embassy for many years and has prepared meals for many notable people including former prime ministers Harold Holt and Bob Menzies.

Aub Coote is another veteran who returns for the reunion every year with his wife Barbara.

Mr Coote was a Casino boy who trained at Evans Head during the war and has since spent his life in the air as a chief flying instructor and commercial pilot. The sprightly 91-year-old has just had his pilot's licence renewed.

Veteran Frankie Johns is a country singer and actor who served with 32 squadron, which lost a Hudson Bomber near Broken Head in July 1942.

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