Lancaster Bomber Command
Sanders DFC Out Of The Darkness
The Examiner - August 27, 2011
Tales of survival from deadly skies By Noel Shaw
Flying over Nazi occupied Europe with Britain's Bomber Command was a deadly assignment.
Six airmen out of every 10 were killed.
Launceston boy Max Sanders was one who survived.
At the age of 19 he was a Lancaster navigator, one of a crew of seven.
Those who survived 30 operations were stood down from any more operational flying. Max flew on 31.
He would recall; " We were sick of it - sick of being shot at and sick to death of the cold".
He had been to Glen Dhu primary school and the Junior Technical College.
He joined the Air Training Corps and enlisted in February, 1943.
There followed training at Australian flying schools and more in the UK.
He was posted to the Canadian squadron at Britain's most northernly Bomber Command airfield, Middleton St George.
He was fortunate to be compatible with his fellow crew members, with whom he remained throughout his tour.
We see the skill with which their pilot, John Andeson, and Max Sanders's navigating in the dark, got them safely home. time after time.
They were in thousand-bomber raids. They were hit many times.
Once one of their own bombs from a plane above "sheared off the tip of our starboard wing", but mercifully didn't explode.
Over the Rhur Valley flak struck their ammunition racks, spraying bullets all around the back half of the interior of the fuselage. "It was a miracle none of
them hit the crew.
On September 29, 1944, they were over the Rhur Valley again and were limping home with two port engines shot out and a third beginning to fail,
fearing they would have to ditch in the sea.
But they just made it.
You think of those words of Don Charlwood, another Australian navigator with Bomber Command, in his book Journeys into Night:
"A girl's voice rises with that sweet instructions: 'Clear to land', No woman's voice in our lives will welcome us more warmly home."
Then the day came when Max was sent for and handed "a letter from the Air Chief Marshall telling me that I had been awarded the
Distinguished Flying Cross".
Max Sanders' remarkably clear recollections and Frank Madill's now well-practised writing skills make an exciting reading, reliving each of the
operations and recreating what life was like for these brave young men.
max Sanders returned home to marry his sweetheart and still lives in Launceston.
It's an all tasmanian book, lavishly illustrated; a credit to Bokprint, Launceston.