Sons' tribute to Dad's war service
A FORMER Grafton resident’s warts-and-all account of his war-time career as a fighter pilot and then prisoner of war during World War Two has been published posthumously by his two sons.
George John ‘Gus’ Officer wrote the account of his exploits after he retired to Grafton in 1975.
His sons, John and David, decided to privately publish the book, called Six O’clock Diamond, which came off the presses earlier this year.
Unfortunately Gus never saw the book in its final form as he died in 2006.
Six O’ Clock Diamond tells the story of a young man from Warrnambool in Western Victoria who joined the Royal Australian Air Force in 1941.
Eventually he was posted to 450 Squadron RAAF ‘the Desert Harassers’ flying Kittyhawks against the Messerschmitt 109s of the Luftwaffe and the Macchi 202s of the Italian Air Force.
Gus was shot down on Melbourne Cup Day 1942 by German ace Lieutenant Fritz Geisshardt and narrowly escaped with his life from a burning Kittyhawk by parachute.
Gus was captured by a German patrol and he spent the rest of the war as a prisoner in Italy and Germany until his liberation by the Russians in April 1945.
His story contains humour, frustration, sorrow at the inevitable loss of life and – above all – the exhilaration and pride of being a member of 450 Squadron.
Gus’s descriptions of living conditions in a prisoner of war camp leave nothing to the imagination and the story of his liberation and trek westwards from the Elbe River to the Americans is a fascinating account of the state of the Third Reich in April and May of 1945.
The Daily Examiner has a copy of the book to give away. All you have to do is answer the question: On what day was Gus Officer shot down in 1942? Write it on the coupon below and return it to a Daily Examiner office.
The winner will be announced next Wednesday. To purchase the book go to http://www.sixoclockdiamond.com.au/index.html