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Flying Officer Charles Louis Brimblecombe 425592 RAAF

Charles Louis Brimblecombe, 425592 RAAF, at enlistment on 25 April 1942 (photo from NAA Service File).
Photo from the National Archives of Australia: A9300, 425592.



Charles Louis Brimblecombe 425592 RAAF, known as Lou. As he is still in civilian clothes, this photo was probably taken at his enlistment on 25 April 1942.

Lou Brimblecombe was classified as Air Craftman 2 (A.C.2) on enlistment. He was promoted to Leading Aircraftman (L.A.C.) on 18 July 1942.

He later became the Navigator in the crew piloted by Flying Officer Noel Victor Hibberd, 425653 RAAF (brother of F/Sgt M.J.Hibberd, 435342 RAAF, sole survivor of Halifax NA240 Z5-V, 462 Squadron).

Photo from a negative in NAA Service File.

Links to Photos; Lou's RAAF Service History; his Log Book data; Honours and Awards, Memoirs; Lou's life after WW2;
and his pre- and post-war connections to the Hibberd brothers.


L.A.C. Charles Louis Brimblecombe, 425592 RAAF, 1943 (photo from NAA Service File).
Photo from the National Archives of Australia: A9300, 425592.






L.A.C. Charles Louis (Lou) Brimblecombe 425592 RAAF.

This photo from Lou's Service File was in an envelope marked R.C.A.F. It is therefore assumed to have been taken sometime after his posting on 7 March 1943 to No. 2 Air Observer's School (2 A.O.S.) Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, for training as a Navigator while attached to the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Photo from NAA Service File.


L.A.C. Charles Louis Brimblecombe, 425592 RAAF, and fellow trainee Navigators, 1943, at 2 A.O.S. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, in front of an Anson training aircraft.

L.A.C. Charles Louis (Lou) Brimblecombe 425592 RAAF and fellow trainee Navigators, sometime in the 2nd quarter of 1943, at No. 2 Air Observer's School (2 A.O.S.) Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. An Anson aircraft, used for their training, is behind the group.

Lou is in the back row, 3rd from the left, as indicated by the blue arrow. He was posted to 2 A.O.S. on 7 March 1943 and received his Navigator's badge and Sergeant's stripes on 23 July 1943.

Photo supplied by and used with the permission of the Brimblecombe family.


Signatures of trainee Navigators, 1943, at 2 A.O.S., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, with Anson aircraft (L.A.C. Chares Louis Brimblecombe, 425592 RAAF).

Signatures of trainee Navigators, as written on the back of the previous photo (taken in 1943 at 2 A.O.S. Edmonton, Canada, in front of an Anson training aircraft). There are 26 men in the photo, but only 24 signatures (excluding that of L.A.C. Charles Louis (Lou) Brimblecombe 425592 RAAF).

It is not known which signatures match which person, nor if the signatures are in any sequence to match positions in the photo.

Of the 26 in the photo, there appear to be 24 Airmen (23 A.C.2 and 1 Corporal) and 2 Officers.

Photo supplied by and used with the permission of the Brimblecombe family.


Sgt Charles Louis Brimblecombe, 425592 RAAF, 1943 (photo from NAA Service File).
Photo from the National Archives of Australia: A9300, 425592.


Sgt Charles Louis (Lou) Brimblecombe 425592 RAAF.

This photo, also from Lou's Service File, was also in the envelope marked R.C.A.F. It is also assumed to have been taken while he was posted to 2 A.O.S. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, but after he had completed his training as a Navigator. On his uniform, his Navigator's badge and Sergeant's stripes can be seen, both of which were received on 23 July 1943.

Photo from NAA Service File.




514 Squadron, R.A.F., Waterbeach, 1944, with Pilot Officer Charles Louis Brimblecombe, 425592 RAAF, standing on the port wing.

514 Squadron, R.A.F., Waterbeach, 1944.

In the 514 Squadron photo above, Pilot Officer Charles Louis (Lou) Brimblecombe, 425592 RAAF, is standing on the port wing, in the group behind the port-inner engine, 5th from the left in that group with his hand visible at his waist, as indicated by the blue arrow.

P/O Charles Louis (Lou) Brimblecombe 425592 RAAF had been posted to 218 Squadron, Woolfox Lodge, on 16 May 1944 with Pilot, Flying Officer Noel Victor Hibberd, and crew. Initially flying in Stirling aircraft but later converting to Lancasters, they carried out 12 Ops in 218 Squadron before Noel Hibberd was hospitalised, leaving the crew without a Pilot.

Lou received his Appointment to a Commission at the Rank of Pilot Officer on 4 October 1944. The crew was posted to 514 Squadron, Waterbeach, on 17 October 1944, where there was a Pilot without a crew. They went on to complete a further 18 Ops with this Pilot, flying Lancasters. (This Pilot, W/O Officer later F/O Les Sutton, R.A.F., had been shot down on his first Op with another crew, but had successfully evaded the Germans with the assistance of the French Underground, and had returned to the Squadron. His full name and R.A.F. service number are not known).

After completion of his Tour (30 Ops), Lou was posted to 1668 Conversion Unit at R.A.F. Bottesford, Lincolnshire, on 19 February 1945 to commence duties as an Instructor, flying in Lancasters.

Photo supplied by and used with the permission of the Brimblecombe family. Original photo by Gale & Polden Ltd., Aldershot for the R.A.F.



RAAF Officer's Certificate of Service, dated 17 January 1946, for Flying Officer Charles Louis Brimblecombe, 425592 RAAF.

RAAF Officer's Certificate of Service, dated 17 January 1946, for Flying Officer Charles Louis (Lou) Brimblecombe 425592 RAAF. Lou was discharged from Active Service on 7 December 1945, upon demobilization. The size of the original Certificate is approximately 7½ by 9½ inches (~ 192mm by 241mm).


Charles Louis Brimblecombe, formerly 425592 RAAF.





Charles Louis (Lou) Brimblecombe, formerly 425592 RAAF, in his later years.

Photo supplied by and used with the permission of the Brimblecombe family.




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Service History

Information from WW2 Nominal Roll website.

Name – Charles Louis BRIMBLECOMBE
Service – RAAF
Service Number – 425592
Date of Birth – 23 December 1923
Place of Birth – Brisbane, Queensland
Date of Enlistment – 25 April 1942
Place of Enlistment – Brisbane, Queensland
Next of Kin – James Brimblecombe (father)
Date of Discharge – 7 December 1945
Rank at Discharge – Flying Officer
Posting at Discharge – 9 Aircrew Holding Unit

Information from Australian Archive Series A9300.

Some RAAF records vary by a day for similar entries. Recorded here are the earlier dates if such discrepancies occur. Please also read Lou's Memoirs in a later section, which give his personal reminiscences of his RAAF service and Ops. Differences sometimes occur between Lou's remembered dates and those on his Service Record. (My comments are bracketed in italics.)

Name – Charles Louis BRIMBLECOMBE
Date of Birth – 23 December 1923

21 Jan 1942 – Enrolled in the Air Reserve, Group V Air Crew, Reserve Badge No. 9119, at No. 3 Recruiting Centre (3 R.C.), Brisbane, Queensland. Age 18 years, single, birth 23 Dec 1923 in Brisbane, British subject, Methodist, no previous Service or dismissal, employed as farm hand, no civil convictions, address "Lolworth", Kingsthorpe, Qld. Medical Certificate undated – height 5ft 8in; chest 34in expanded 37in; weight 147lb.; vision 6/6 and 6/5; Medical Classification A1B & A3B.

4 Apr 1942 – Medical Examination at 3 R.C., Brisbane, age 18 years and 4 months, with details similar to that of 21 Jan 1942, but with the addition of physical description:- complexion dark, eyes brown, hair brown; small scar on right ankle; no vaccination marks. Medical Classification A1B & A3B.

25 Apr 1942 – Enlisted in the RAAF Citizen Air Force at 3 R.C., Brisbane Qld. Allocated RAAF Attestation Number 425592. Single, with Next of Kin listed as J.C.Brimblecombe (father) of "Lolworth", Kingsthorpe via Toowoomba Qld. Education at Gowrie Mountain State School, and Queensland Agricultural High School and College (Q.A.H.S.C.) with Junior Certificate attained after Junior Public Examination by Queensland University. No apprenticeship; no civil convictions; no previous Service, dismissal, discharge or rejection; enlisted for the duration of the war and 12 months thereafter.
25 Apr 1942 – Appointed as Air Craftman 2 (A.C.2) on Enlistment.
25 Apr 1942 – Mustered as Aircrew V.
25 Apr 1942 – Posted to No. 3 Initial Training School (3 I.T.S.), Sandgate Qld., in No. 27 Course.

14 Jun 1942 – Re-mustered as Aircrew V (P) at 3 I.T.S., and after relocation to Kingaroy Qld., changed to No. 28 Course.
14 Jul 1942 to 18 July 1942 – 5 days Special Leave, 3 I.T.S.
18 Jul 1942 – Re-mustered as Aircrew II (P) at 3 I.T.S.
18 Jul 1942 – Promoted to Leading Air Craftman (L.A.C.) at 3 I.T.S.

3 Sep 1942 – Posted to No. 8 Elementary Flying Training School (8 E.F.T.S.), Narrandera N.S.W., as Trainee Pilot.

13 or 14 Dec 1942 – Posted to 2 I.T.S., Bradfield Park, Sydney.
14 Dec 1942 – Re-mustered as Aircrew II (O) at 2 I.T.S. (O = Observer).
1 Jan 1943 – No. 33 (O) Course at 2 I.T.S., Result "Pass".

2 Jan 1943 – Posted to No. 2 Embarkation Depot (2 E.D.), Bradfield Park, Sydney.
2 Jan 1943 – Re-mustered as Aircrew II (N) at 2 E.D.

8 Feb 1943 – Attached to Royal Canadian Air Force (R.C.A.F.) for training under the Empire Air Training Scheme (E.A.T.S.)
8 Feb 1943 – Embarked from 2 E.D. Sydney for Canada in U.S.S. "Hermitage".
2 Mar 1943 – Disembarked at San Francisco, USA under Attachment to R.C.A.F., travelled by train to Canada.
2 Mar 1943 – Posted to No. 3 Manning Depot (3 "M" Depot) Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

7 (or 9 or 10) Mar 1943 – Posted to No. 2 Air Observer School (2 A.O.S.) Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, training in Avro Ansons.

23 Jul 1943 – Awarded Air Navigators Badge.
23 Jul 1943 – Re-mustered Air Navigator, Category "N", R.C.A.F.
23 Jul 1943 – Promoted to Sergeant (T), R.C.A.F.
24 Jul 1943 to 30 July 1943 – 7 days Special Leave.

3 or 4 Aug 1943 – Posted to No. 1 "Y" Depot, Canada. (One document records this Depot at Lachine (Quebec), however another records it at Halifax (Nova Scotia). Lou's Memoirs mention a month in Halifax, Nova Scotia, from where they departed by ship to the UK.)
25 Aug 1943 – Attached to R.A.F.
25 or 26 Aug 1943 – Embarked from Canada, on H.M.T. "Queen Mary" for UK.

1 Sep 1943 – Disembarked Greenock, Scotland; travelled by train to Brighton.
2 Sep 1943 – Posted to No. 11 Personnel Despatch and Reception Centre (11 P.D.R.C.) Brighton, UK.
14 Sep 1943 to 20 Sep 1943 – 7 days Privilege Leave.

5 Oct 1943 – Posted to No 3 (Observer) Advanced Flying Unit (3 (O) A.F.U.) at Halfpenny Green near Birmingham, UK. for Short Course No. 147 in Navigation, flying in Avro Ansons. Result "Pass".

16 Nov 1943 – Posted to 26 Operational Training Unit (26 O.T.U.) Little Horwood, in Buckinghamshire, flying in Wellingtons. Crewed with Pilot Noel Victor Hibberd (then Sergeant).

23 Jan 1944 – Promoted to Flight Sergeant (T), 26 O.T.U.
3 Mar 1944 to 8 Mar 1944 – 6 days Privilege Leave.

10 Mar 1944 – Posting to 1657 Conversion Unit (1657 C.U.), Stradishall in Suffolk, flying in Stirlings. Pilot Noel Victor Hibberd.
10 Mar 1944 – Attached to 31 Base. (These last 2 entries were dated in another document as 24 March 1944, but this may be related to the next entry.)
10 Mar 1944 to 24 Mar 1944 – Attached to R.A.F., Feltwell, Methwold

15 or 16 May 1944 – Posted to 218 Squadron, also known as Gold Coast Squadron, at Woolfox Lodge, Leicestershire, initially flying in Stirlings, but in August 1944 converted to Lancasters. Their Pilot Noel Victor Hibberd was hospitalized during October, leaving the crew without a Pilot. (Ops at this Squadron are listed in a later section.)
18 Sep 1944 to 23 Sep 1944 – 6 days Privilege Leave, 218 Sqdn.

3 Oct 1944 – Discharged from RAAF on being granted a Commission.
4 Oct 1944 – Granted Commission as Pilot Officer, RAAF, General Duties, Navigator. Details on his Officers Sheet are similar to those on his previous Airman sheet, with however the addition of the name and address of a friend in Canada as "Person to be notified in case of Casualty".

17 Oct 1944 – Posted to 514 Squadron, Waterbeach, near Cambridge, flying in Lancasters. Pilot Les Sutton. (Ops at this Squadron are listed in a later section.)
11 Nov 1944 to 16 Nov 1944 – 6 days Privilege Leave, 514 Sqdn.
26 Nov 1944 – "Movement" to 3 Group, 514 Squadron, 3 Group, on receipt of Appointment to Commission.
30 Dec 1944 to 4 Jan 1945 – 6 days Privilege Leave, 514 Sqdn.
4 Feb 1945 to 17 Feb 1945 – 14 days Privilege Leave, 514 Sqdn.

19 Feb 1945 – Posted to 1668 Conversion Unit (1668 C.U.), Bottesford, Lincolnshire, as Instructor, screening Navigators under training in Lancasters.
12 Mar 1945 – Attended a Court Martial "Under Instruction" at Bottesford, as M. not P. (Further details are not known, but at the rank of Flying Officer, he may have been under training for possible future attendances at Courts Martial. It has been assumed that P = Prisoner, and M = Marshal. If anyone can provide more information, please make contact.)
2 Apr 1945 to 7 Apr 1945 – 6 days Privilege Leave, at 1668 C.U. (F/Sgt M.J.Hibberd of 462 Squadron and the rest of his crew were on leave from 3 Apr to 9 or 10 Apr 1945, but it is not known if members of either crew crossed paths in London. As detailed in other pages on this website, F/Sgt M.J.Hibberd and his crew were shot down on 10 April 1945. Brimblecombe's former pilot, F/O N.V.Hibberd, older brother of M.J.Hibberd, embarked for Australia on 11 Apr 1945 after extended sick leave.)

4 Apr 1945 – Promoted to Flying Officer, at 1668 C.U.

29 May 1945 to 5 Jun 1945 – 8 days Privilege Leave, 1668 C.U.
23 Jun 1945 to 6 Jul 1945 – 14 days Privilege Leave, 1668 C.U.

13 Jul 1945 – Posted to 9 Air Crew Holding Unit (9 A.C.H.U.), R.A.F. Gamston.
19 Jul 1945 to 3 Aug 1945 – 16 days Privilege Leave, 9 A.C.H.U.
4 Aug 1945 to 17 Aug 1945 – 14 days Privilege Leave, 9 A.C.H.U.
18 Aug 1945 to 31 Aug 1945 – 14 days Privilege Leave, 9 A.C.H.U.

7 Sep 1945 – Posted to 11 P.D.R.C., Brighton, UK.

23 Sep 1945 – Embarked from Southampton UK on H.M.T. "Andes" via Suez Canal for Australia.
17 Oct 1945 – Arrived in Melbourne Australia, trans-shipped to H.M.T. "Stratheden" for Sydney.
19 Oct 1945 – Disembarked Sydney.
19 Oct 1945 – Posted to No 2 Personnel Depot (2 P.D.)

20 Oct 1945 to 27 Oct 1945 – 7 days Recreation Leave, 2 P.D.
28 Oct 1945 to 28 Nov 1945 – 30 days Disembarkation Leave, 2 P.D.

28 Nov 1945 – Reported to 3 Personnel Depot (3 P.D.), Sandgate, Qld.
5 Dec 1945 – Statutory Declaration signed at 3 P.D., Sandgate Qld., which noted RAAF overseas service of two years and eight months (embarked Sydney 8 Feb 1943 and disembarked Sydney 19 Oct 1945), and thereby claimed 38 days War Service Leave.

7 Dec 1945 – Appointment terminated, discharged upon demobilization from RAAF at rank of Flying Officer, 3 P.D., Redbank, Qld. The final Leave Entitlement of 7 days Recreation Leave, 38 days War Service Leave, and 30 days Re-Establishment Leave, a total of 75 days, was received as payment-in-lieu on discharge.

17 Jan 1946 – RAAF Officer's Certificate of Service No 9963 issued (Certificate shown in previous section).
1 Feb 1946 – RAAF correspondence covering despatch of the RAAF Airman's Certificate of Service and Discharge (10614A), and the Officer's Certificate of Service, addressed to C. L. Brimblecombe at Kingsthorpe, via Toowoomba, Qld.
18 Feb 1946 – Receipt for these 2 Certificates of Service signed by C. L. Brimblecombe.

21 Jan 1948 – Receipt for Commission Form, signed by C. L. Brimblecombe, at "Lolworth" Kingsthorpe, Qld.

Character and Trade Proficiency – all recorded as "V.G." – L.A.C. Aircrew II P at No 8 E.F.T.S. Narrandera N.S.W., Dec 1942; L.A.C. Aircrew II (O) No. 2 I.T.S. Bradfield Park N.S.W., 31 Dec 1942 (or 1 Jan 1943); Sgt Navigator 10 Nov 1943; Sgt Nav B 3 Dec 1943; F/Sgt Nav B 3 Oct 1944 (last three did not record posting, but dates indicate probably 3 (O) A.F.U., 26 O.T.U., and 218 Sqdn when Commissioned).

Form P/P.8 General Conduct Sheet – all "Certified No Entry" for each of the following postings:- No. 3 I.T.S. Sandgate Qld., 3 Sep 1942; No. 8 E.F.T.S. Narrandera N.S.W., 14 Dec 1942; No. 2 I.T.S. Bradfield Park N.S.W., 1 Jan 1943; No. 2 E.D. Bradfield Park, N.S.W., 8 Feb 1943; No. 11 P.D.R.C. Brighton, UK, 5 Oct 1943; T. Wing, Halfpenny Green, UK, 16 Nov 1943; 26 O.T.U. 10 Mar 1944; 1657 C.U., 15 May 1944; 218 Squadron, Methwold, undated.
Form P/P.8 Service Conduct Sheet – Certified No Entry by Air Officer i/c Records R.A.F., 21 Jun 1945.

Summary of Aircraft in which flown – Tiger Moth, Anson, Wellington, Stirling, Lancaster, Oxford.
Summary of Ships in which sailed – U.S.S. "Hermitage" (Sydney to San Francisco); H.M.T. "Queen Mary" (Canada to UK); H.M.T. "Andes" (UK to Melbourne); H.M.T. "Stratheden" (Melbourne to Sydney).
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Log book – transcribed from scanned copies of the original pages, as written by Lou Brimblecombe. More details on his Ops are included in Lou's Memoirs (see later section). Listed in the following tables are 30 Ops, with day Ops in black, and night Ops in red. "Mining" was the laying of mines in ports, estuaries or waterways to destroy or impede enemy shipping. Bomb loads have been recorded as "number by size" e.g. 20x500 = twenty 500lb bombs. Non-operational flying has not been included, unless of special interest. Squadron Operational Record Books have not been accessed.
(Comments, corrections and additional details are bracketed in italics. The meaning of some abbreviations are not known. If you can assist, please make contact.)

No. 2 A.O.S., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, with various pilots, day and night flying in Avro Ansons:- Familiarization, Air Exercises, Photo Flights. The course covered Navigation, Maps & Charts, Magnetism & Compasses, Instruments, D/F. W/T., Meteorology, Photography, Reconnaissance, Signals, Armament, Air Exercises Navigation, Air Exercises Photography, Aircraft Rec. Passed with 70.25%. Duration 8 Mar 1943 to 23 Jul 1943.

No. 3 (O) A.F.U., Halfpenny Green, UK, with various pilots, day and night flying in Avro Ansons:- Local Map Reading, Cross Country Navigation Exercises. Passed. Duration 5 Oct 1943 to 16 Nov 1943.

26 O.T.U. Wing, and 26 O.T.U. Little Horwood, as 2nd Nav, later as Nav in 'B' Flight, and in 'D' Flight; initially with various Pilots and co-pilots, mainly with Pilot Noel Victor Hibberd (Sgt, then F/Sgt); day and night flying in Wellingtons:- Cross Country, Dual or Solo pilots, H.L.B., Fighter Affiliation, Special Exercises, N.F.T. Duration early Dec 1943 to 1 Mar 1944.

1657 C.U., Stradishall, Suffolk, UK, 'B' Flight; initially with various Pilots and co-pilots, but mainly with Pilot F/Sgt Noel Hibberd; day and night flying in Stirlings:- Cross Country, N.F.T., Fighter Affiliation, Circuits and Landings, H.L.B., I.R., or a mixture of those exercises. Duration 7 Apr 1944 to 10 May 1944.

218 Squadron, "Gold Coast" Squadron, Woolfox Lodge, Leicestershire; 'A' Flight, Pilot Noel Victor Hibberd; 12 Ops.

Date Hour Aircraft ID or Serial Pilot Duty Remarks Day Night Op
07/06/44 2245 Stirling 291 F/S Hibberd Nav Special Exercise (Was this connected to aftermath of D-Day landings?) 4h 15m  
10/06/44 2355 Stirling 481 F/S Hibberd Nav Op. Mining; Belgium Coast   2h 20m 1
14/06/44 2250 Stirling 233 F/S Hibberd Nav Op. Mining; Brest (French coast, Brittany) 5h 00m 2
16/06/44 2300 Stirling 133 F/S Hibberd Nav Op. Mining; Fresian Is. (sic, Frisian Is., islands in North Sea off Dutch and German coastline) 3h 55m 3
29/06/44 2225 Stirling 233 F/S Hibberd Nav Op. Mining; St. Nazaire (French coast, Loire estuary)   7h 05m 4
08/07/44 2225 Stirling 632 F/S Hibberd Nav Op. Mining; Brest (French coast, Brittany) 4h 40m 5
20/07/44 2135 Stirling 207 F/S Hibberd Nav Op. Mining; Lorient (French coast, Brittany)

6h 45m 6
29/07/44 1805 Stirling L F/S Hibberd Nav Op. Bombing; Foret de Nieppe, F. B. Store; 20x500 (sic, Forêt de Nieppe, French Flanders, Flying Bomb Store) 3h 30m   7
29/08/44 2115 Lancaster 911 F F/O Hibberd Nav Op. Stettin; Incendiaries and He (Baltic coast, now Szczecin; He = ?;
longest Op of tour, via southern Sweden)
9h 45m 8
05/09/44 1750

Lancaster 234 C

F/O Hibberd Nav Op. Le Harve (sic, Le Havre, French coast, Normandy, Seine estuary)

3h 45m

06/09/44 1650

Lancaster 234 C

F/O Hibberd Nav Op. Le Harve (sic, Le Havre, French coast, Normandy, Seine estuary) 3h 30m 10
11/09/44 1635 Lancaster 911 F F/O Hibberd Nav Op. Fischer Tropsch Plant (sic) Kamen, Ruhr 3h 45m   11
17/09/44 1020 Lancaster 256 J F/O Hibberd Nav Op. Boulogne (channel coast of northern France) 2h 45m 12

Other day and night flying at 218 Squadron, Woolfox Lodge, with Pilot Noel Hibberd included:- air tests; X.C. and local X.C. (cross country); H.L.B.; C.&L. (circuits and landings); Ferrying to & from Methwold, Feltwell, Mildenhall; F/A Fighter Affiliation, G.H.B. D.N.C.O.; Air firing D.C.O. Duration 18 May 1944 to 3 Oct 1944.

514 Squadron, R.A.F., Waterbeach, 'B' Flight; Pilot Les Sutton; 18 Ops (plus 1 recall and 2 aborted).

Date Hour Aircraft ID or Serial Pilot Duty Remarks Day Night Op
30/10/44 0900 Lancaster
W/O Sutton Nav Op. Wessling, Reinische Oil Plant, Ruhr, 1x4000, 16x500; Aircraft damaged by flak (sic, Wesseling, Rheinische Oil Plant) 4h 45m   13
01/11/44   Lancaster LM728 U W/O Sutton Nav H2S practice; D.C.O. 2h 45m    
02/11/44   Lancaster PB419 N W/O Sutton Nav Op. Homberg – Ruhr, Synthetic Oil Plant; 1x4000, 6x1000, 6x500; Slight flak damage 4h 40m   14

PD265 G

W/O Sutton Nav Op. Solingen – Ruhr, Steel factories and town; 1x4000, 6x1000, 6x500. 4h 40m   15
06/11/44   Lancaster
PB482 P
W/O Sutton Nav Op. Coblenz, Town and Marshalling Yards; 1x4000, 12 Clusters, 2 T.Is (sic, Koblenz, Rhineland; Clusters assumed to be Incendiary Clusters, and T.Is – Target Indicators).   5h 15m 16
08/11/44   Lancaster
W/O Sutton Nav H2S practice; D.C.O. 2h 20m    
09/11/44   Lancaster
W/O Sutton Nav H2S x-country; D.C.O. 2h 50m    
20/11/44   Lancaster
LM728 U
F/O Sutton Nav Op. Homberg – Ruhr, Synthetic Oil Plant; 1x4000, 16x500; landed Woodbridge. (Woodbridge near Suffolk coast)     17
21/11/44   Lancaster
LM728 U
F/O Sutton Nav Woodbridge to Base, D.C.O. 20m    
27/11/44   Lancaster
PD265 G
F/O Sutton Nav Op. Cologne – Ruhr, Marshalling Yards; 1x4000, 16x500. 4h 35m   18
30/11/44   Lancaster
LM684 O
F/O Sutton Nav Op. Osterfeld – Ruhr; Coking and Benzol Plant; 1x4000, 16x500. 4h 00m   19
02/12/44   Lancaster
F/O Sutton Nav Op. Dortmund – Ruhr, Hanza Benzol Plant; 14x1000. 4h 00m   20
12/12/44   Lancaster
F/O Sutton Nav Op. Witten – Ruhr, Hydro Electric Plant; 2 Fighters seen. 4h 35m   21
15/12/44   Lancaster
F/O Sutton Nav Op. Siegen, Recalled (Ruhr) 2h 35m    
16/12/44   Lancaster
F/O Sutton Nav Op. Siegen, Abortive (Ruhr) 2h 25m    
23/12/44   Lancaster
F/O Sutton Nav Op. Trier, Tactical target, Communications Centre; 1 Flak hole; 1x4000, 5x1000, 3x250 (Rhineland, near Luxembourg border. This was also Lou's 21st Birthday.) 4h 25m   22
27/12/44   Lancaster
F/O Sutton Nav Op. Cologne, Gremberg Marshalling Yards; 7x1000, 7x500. (Ruhr) 4h 40m   23
06/01/45 1600 Lancaster
F/O Sutton Nav Op. Neuss, Marshalling Yards; 1x4000, 14x500. (Ruhr)   4h 20m 24
07/01/45 1700 Lancaster
F/O Sutton Nav Op. Munich, Abortive; Mid-upper U/S and intercom U/S
(U/S = unserviceable)
  4h 20m  
13/01/45 1150 Lancaster
F/O Sutton Nav Op. Saarbrucken, Marshalling Yards; 1x4000, 10x500, 4x250 (sic, Saarbrücken, near French border) 5h 50m   25
13/01/45   Lancaster
F/O Sutton Nav Exeter to Base (reason for landing at Exeter not recorded) 1h 10m    
15/01/45 1135 Lancaster
F/O Sutton Nav Op. Langendeer, Coking Plant; 1x4000, 10x500, 4x250; 2 holes
(sic, Langandreer – Ruhr, assume holes were flak holes?)
5h 00m   26
16/01/45 2350 Lancaster
F/O Sutton Nav Op. Bochum – Ruhr, Krupp's Wanne Eikel Works (sic); 1x4000, 10x500, 4x250   4h 50m 27


1700 Lancaster
F/O Sutton Nav Op. Duisberg – Ruhr; August Thyssem Oil Works (sic); 1x4000, 9x500, 3x250 (sic, Duisburg)   4h 45m 28
28/01/45 1015 Lancaster
F/O Sutton Nav Op. Cologne, Marshalling Yards (Ruhr) 5h 35m   29
29/01/45 1015 Lancaster
F/O Sutton Nav Op. Krefeld-Uerdingen, Marshalling Yards (Ruhr) 5h 10m   30

Other day and night flying at 514 Squadron, Waterbeach, with Pilot Sutton included:- air tests D.C.O.; X.C. (cross country); C.&L. (circuits and landings); H2S practice and X-country D.C.O. Duration 24 Oct 1944 to 29 Jan 1945, when Lou Brimblecombe's Tour was completed.

Total 30 Ops, 12 in 218 Squadron, and 18 in 514 Squadron.

1668 Conversion Unit (1668 C.U.), Bottesford, UK, Instructor, flying in Lancasters with various pilots; day flights only; Screening Navigators in X-country and Air Tests; 17 Jun 1945 in Lancaster Q with Pilot F/Lt Reeve and ground crew on a daytime sight-seeing flight over the Ruhr at 2,000 ft (5hr 30m); 23 Jun 1945 Communication flight in an Oxford. Duration 28 Feb 1945 to 10 Jul 1945.
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Honours and Awards

1939-45 Star
France and Germany Star
Defence Medal
Returned from Active Service Badge
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Memoirs – Please click on C.L.(Lou) Brimblecombe Memoirs (PDF file) to read the full copy of Lou's Memoirs (Copyright 2005), which include his childhood, Gatton College education, and life before and after the war until about 1953. The following extract from the Memoirs covers Lou's War Service in the RAAF from April 1942 until late October 1945. Other than the addition of a header, a footer and a watermark in the full document, and a few spelling corrections, this extract and the full document are both as written by Lou. Quote .....

"I became interested in the Air Force at seventeen and remember going to a fete held on Croxley (a nearby property) where I talked at length to Peggy Paterson who had an uncle in the Air Force.  I had always been interested in planes and that discussion made up my mind to follow suit.  I had to do an aptitude test in Toowoomba which did not prove a problem and then travel to Brisbane for a medical.  After passing that I was placed on the Air Force reserve and did lessons by correspondence mainly on navigation until I was called up on Anzac Day 1942."

"One was very much a new chum to Air Force life but soon learned to fit in and handle the new conditions.  The first base was at Sandgate where we did initial training and were sorted out to do various jobs.  Most of us wanted to be pilots.  The camp moved to Kingaroy at this time and as I had lost time through measles had dropped to the next course and spent some time at Kingaroy.  We did lectures in flight navigation; signals; meteorology etc.  From there I was posted to Narrandera to pilot school.  My main trouble here was lack of confidence and also a bout of mumps which lost me a month of training and broke up flying training.  Along with some other slow pupils we were given a final test and most of us were re-mustered to navigators.  They had heaps of recruits who wanted to be pilots so could keep the numbers up without wasting time on slow pilots.  Success depended on the type of instructor; some did not care much for slower pilots whilst others were very good and helped the slower ones.  My first instructor was of the former type and I would have benefited by a more kindly one who was prepared to help.  However as things turned out navigation was a good position in the crew and I must admit I came to enjoy the job.  At pilot training we flew Tiger Moths, a reliable twin wing aircraft which could absorb the punishment we trainees put them through.  After dropping out as a pilot, re-mustered aircrew were posted to Sydney to await movement to Canada under the Empire Air Training Scheme.  After pre-embarkation leave a group of us left on an American ship en route to San Francisco.  I was just nineteen and at the time did not realize one had to be that age to go overseas.  Having never been on a ship this was a massive step for an inexperienced young fellow."

"After about a week we put into Pago Pago to pick up American hospital cases to go back to the USA.  These troops were marines with problems of tropical illness.  Another week took us to Honolulu where we had a few hours ashore. In 1943 there were only two hotels compared to the concrete jungle seen on a trip to the United States in the late 1970s.  Another week of sailing saw us pass under the Golden Gate Bridge at San Francisco.  The food on the sea trip was very good as the Americans looked after that part of the war and were not short of ice-cream and turkeys."

"On leaving the ship in America we were put on a train to Canada travelling up the west coast to Vancouver. The size of the engine on the train was impressive, compared to the ones I had seen at home.  The first snow we saw was in the northern states of America, but I will always remember the deep falls of snow we were to meet in Canada.   As we were travelling in March it was the end of their winter and the deep snow had not started to melt.  The trees were different to those at home and gave the hills and mountains a softer appearance, not the harder dry look of the eucalyptus of home.  We changed trains in Vancouver and travelled through the Rocky Mountains.  Terrific scenery was to confront us and having never seen snow before I was impressed with the white coat over everything and the thick layer of snow on top of the buildings.  At Kamloops in the Rockies I remember a girl in a light dress, while we Aussies were curled up with the cold, naturally she was used to the conditions as we hot climate people were not."

"After about 1½ days on the train we arrived in Edmonton where the navigation school was, to do our new course.  The barracks were well built to cope with the conditions of the region.  Some of us had trouble in the early part of the course but thanks to a very good instructor we managed to pass-out about five months later as navigators."

"One thing that impressed me was the change of seasons from winter to spring.  Naked trees came into bud and burst into leaf in contrast to our types of trees and everything had to grow quickly due to the short season.  We did not see any cropping land as the course was concentrated and we did not get extended leave.  We got on well with the people of Edmonton as they were mainly of English/Welsh extraction and not French as in eastern Canada.  We had a cricket team of sorts and played social games with the Canadians after the snow melted and the ground dried.  In winter the bowling alleys were popular and we played both five and ten pin bowls.  We did lectures on navigation and meteorology, signals etc and had to fly and navigate from one point to another both day and night.  I liked the practical navigation but lectures tried one but I admit I was never a good studier."

"We flew in Avro Anson aeroplanes with civilian pilots most of whom had been bush pilots in Canada before the war.  The country was flat prairie land but we had railways, roads and small towns to get positions to navigate from, also lakes, rivers etc helped find our positions.  We also had night exercises to navigate by the stars which was called Astro navigation. We did not use Astro on operations as it turned out later.  I enjoyed the practical navigation and always enjoyed coming up to a turning point on track."

"After 5 months we ‘passed out’ as navigators, most of us sergeants, some were commissioned of course and became officers.  After pass-out we headed east across Canada and most of us headed down to New York for four days of leave and crossed to USA at Niagara Falls and down to New York.  The Falls were truly impressive and it is not hard to this day to recall their size and magnitude.  We saw some of the sights of New York and I remember going to a circus at Madison Square Gardens.  Another area still clear was Central Park, a green area in a large built-up area.  Even in 1943 the large number of taxis was a sight at the traffic lights but one had never been in a city of that size."

"From New York we travelled back to Canada and moved east again to Halifax, Nova Scotia to assemble for the trip over the Atlantic to England.  After a month waiting at Halifax we boarded the Queen Mary which was then set up as a huge troop ship of some 70,000 tons.  We were thought to be part of around 20,000 troops on that crossing.  We sailed without escort and after five days pulled into Greenock in Scotland.  The ship was very fast and travelled in a zigzag pattern to avoid submarines waiting on course for us.  On that trip two meals a day with the large numbers to feed and we even shared bunks – so much for wartime travel."

"From Greenock we boarded a train and went across England to Brighton in the south which was a staging base for Australians.  We were here about a month and went to an advanced flying school for a short course in navigation.  This school was at Halfpenny Green near Birmingham and introduced us to conditions in England and once again we flew in Avro Ansons.  From advanced flying school we set off for the Operational Training Unit where we were to crew up with other members of aircrew.  This was at 26 OTU at Little Horwood, about 30 miles north-west of London.  As we left the train I met up with Noel Hibberd.  He and I had been in the same classes at Gatton College for three years and as he was a pilot and I a navigator we decided to fly together.  We had also entered the Air Force in Sandgate, Queensland on the same day so we were crewed up before we got to the station.  At the OTU they put us all in a room and let us choose who we would fly with – pilots, navigators, bomb aimers, wireless operators and two gunners plus an engineer.  Our crew was the Australians, two Englishmen and two Scotsmen.  This seemed to work out quite well but if someone could not get on, that person could be changed.  We did our operational training on Wellington twin-engine bombers, a reliable aircraft which in the early days of the war had been one of the main aircraft.  At the OTU we flew about eighty hours on navigation exercises landings for the pilots and fighter affiliation for the gunners.  When we had time off we went to the local pub or village and on leave we usually went to London to see the sights and visit Australia House.  The Australians would use this as an assembly point in the hope of meeting someone we knew.  This rarely happened for me as I knew only the ones we trained with in Canada, and as they were spread over a fair bit of England chances were not good.  At least one saw blue uniforms and felt he was with his fellow countrymen.  Years later I was to see a photo of my wife’s brother and I said I have seen that face in Australia House.  He was a fighter pilot sitting on his own and I was farther down the room on my own and to this day I will swear that was the face in the photo.  One night Hibberd and I went to the local for a walk and a beer and on coming out of the pub we struck what was known as a ‘pea-souper’.  The fog had come down and combined with the smoke from coal fired heating had made it impossible to see.  We were not inebriated as some may think but with an inverted temperature these fogs just sat and things did not move.  We navigated home by holding together and as the road had a footpath, I walked in the gutter with Noel on the footpath and we navigated back to the base."

"From OTU we moved to Heavy Conversion Unit where we flew in four engine planes.  These were Stirlings with four radial engines, large cumbersome aircraft which had once been lead bombers until Lancaster and Halifax bombers replaced them.  They were inclined to struggle for high altitude when loaded.  In these we did more circuits and landings for the pilot, some bombing exercises and a couple of cross country navigation trips for the navigator.  This was at Stradishall, not too far from London again.  We completed about four hours here and were then posted to a squadron and the serious side of all the training we had been through.   We were attached to No. 3 Group of Bomber Command and had trained at OTU and HCU units of that group.  This group was based in south-east England, just north of London and consisted of several squadrons on various bases in that area."

"After the conversion to four engine aircraft we were posted to No 218 Squadron as a trained crew ready for the serious side of air warfare.  We arrived at 218 Sqdn just before the invasion of France on 15 May 1944.  As we were a new crew we did not fly in operations in the early days of the invasion of France.  218 Sqdn experienced crew flew a diversion to the actual invasion and simulated another invasion going in to the Calais area while the real invasion was going on further to the south.  This was done by flying a box type of track moving forward at the approximate speed of a real naval convoy.  This confused the German intelligence and held forces away from the true operation.  218 Sqdn was called the Gold Coast Squadron and was supported by the then Gold Coast along with gifts of cigarettes and other amenities to help along the way.  This squadron was flying Stirlings on operations which were mainly mining of the French ports which were bases for the German submarine fleet.  These were trips where only a few aircraft flew and whether we sank any u-boats we were not to know, but it was all part of the larger scene and kept the Germans busy as they would have to get these mines out of the shipping lanes or suffer losses.  These were large mines about a ton in weight so could cause considerable damage."

"We did quite a few cross country trips to sharpen us as a crew, get us to know our area and probably sharpen me up as a navigator.  The better we worked as a crew the more alert you were and chances of survival increased.  Our first operation was 10 June and was a short mining trip to the Belgium coast, I guess to break us in gently.  After that we went on mining runs to Brest, Frisian Islands, St Nazaire, Brest again and also to Lorient on the French coast towards Spain.  We also bombed a Flying Bomb depot by day on Stirlings dropping 20 x 500 pound bombs.  These flying bombs were pilot-less early jet propelled missiles aimed at London to cause as much panic and disruption as possible.  Apart from killing civilians I doubt they helped the war effort all that much for the Germans."

"Squadron life was relaxed as we did not have parades very often and we usually assembled at our various sections to keep in touch.  Each section had its leader and it was his job to keep his personnel at top notch.  Of course experience was once again the best teacher.  We had leave every 6 weeks and most of us went to London to see the sights etc.  I remember going to Madame Tussaud's Wax Works and marvelling at the likeness to real life subjects.  They had a wax usher who would be mistaken for a real live person."

"We Australians always checked in at Australia House for contact with other Aussies and maybe meet someone we had trained with.  We would visit the Codgers Club where Australians liked to congregate and the visitor's book would have contained so many Australian signatures."

"During August 1944, 218 Squadron converted to Lancaster bombers which were faster and able to lift a larger bomb load over a longer distance.  Stirlings left the scene after being the first of the heavy bombers used by Bomber Command.  We did circuits and landings, short cross countries and some bombing practice to get used to flying in the Lancaster.  Near the end of August we did a raid on Stettin on the Baltic coast, flying in over the south of Sweden to the target.  This raid took 9 ¾ hours and is the longest I was on during the tour of operations.  During September we did three support operations to help the armies take the channel ports of Le Havre and Boulogne.  The heavy bombers pulverised the German positions, and made the task of the army much easier.  Around the middle of September our pilot Noel Hibberd took sick and went to hospital, so we were a crew without a pilot and at a loose end.  Towards the end of October we were posted to 514 Squadron at Waterbeach as they had a pilot without a crew, they made us a complete crew again.  This pilot, Les Sutton had been shot down on his first trip with another crew and evaded the Germans with the French underground forces and when the armies overran the area came back to his squadron.  He was an Englishman and we got on well with him.  He was 12 trips behind us as we had done 12 missions with 218.  We did a couple of cross country trips to get used to one another as a crew and then started on the rest of the operations to complete our tour.  514 Sqdn had started operations on 1 November 1943 so was a new squadron formed during the expansion of the bombing effort against Germany.  This squadron operated not far from Cambridge and we would say we had been to Cambridge even if it was only for a feed."

"Our first operation with Les Sutton as pilot was at the end of October.  It was on an oil plant in the Ruhr as at this time the German oil industry was under persistent attack and Bomber Command played a large part in this area.  The Americans operated by day and would have also attacked these targets.  Over the next 3 months we were to complete the rest of the 30 operations which at that time constituted a tour of operations.  The relief as we reached that figure was profound and one just wanted to get away from operations and relax."

"Our pilot had not done a complete tour and had to continue with someone else.  I learned later that he also finished and survived the war.  These targets were oil refineries, steel works and railway yards in the main with bomb loads averaging 12,000 pounds, often with a large percentage of incendiaries to burn oil plants, houses etc.  One of these trips was on my 21st birthday, it being a relief to complete that operation."

"On completion of the tour and after a period of leave I was posted to a training unit and flew with new crew to check the navigator of the crew.  Most were fair quality navigators, but occasionally we had to speak to some to work harder.  I remember one whom I had words with, for he remarked that the war was over as far as he was concerned as the Germans gave up in early May.  I thought that was very poor as he being English had no thought of helping us in the Pacific area.  I walked away in disgust.  In that theatre of war we lost 4050 Australian aircrew helping England to defeat the Nazis.  The attitude of some English personnel towards the people from the so called colonies was to make us to feel below them.  My attitude had always been to do my job, get the war over and return to Australia.  Some of the new crews were very good but some were average or worse and would have struck trouble on operations."

"During the month of June I had the good fortune to fly with Flight Lieutenant Ron Reeve, an Aussie, on a sightseeing trip over the Ruhr with ground staff aboard to show them what the bombers they serviced had achieved.  It was a great trip to fly about 500 feet above the ground over those hot places from previous experience.  The damage had to be seen to be believed and it proved to me at least that the bombers had contributed a great deal to the overall war effort.  On the 10 July I flew for the last time in England and from then to October we passed time in England on extended leave waiting for a ship back to Australia.  I spent a lot of that time at the Anchor Hotel, just west of London.  These people were a cockney Englishman, and his wife who was French, and their young son.  They lived in the area of Yiewsley where our second pilot came from, and billeted four Australians for most of the war.  We travelled with ration cards and I would give them to her when we went there on leave.  We made friends with the locals who came to the pub and played darts with some of them.  My leave was extended several times until in late September an order came to embark for Australia.  With farewells to the “Anchor” family I proceeded to Southampton from where the Aussies assembled then boarded the Andes for Australia.  This was a fairly new ship and made the run through the Suez Canal to Australia in three weeks.  The trip could be described as boring as we had nothing to do except eat and sleep.  Finally after a smooth run we reached Melbourne in late October.  The weather there was very cold, and NSW and Queensland airmen were glad to embark on the Stratheden and sail to Sydney.  We then went by train to Brisbane.  While in Sydney a WAAF came to our group and she was Barbara Brimblecombe, a cousin of mine, and we had a few minutes together.  The next day we were in Brisbane and were taken to Sandgate where mother was waiting to see me.  I did not know someone would be there and so after 2 ½ years, met family again.  After a night at New Farm with Mum's people, we left by train for Toowoomba where Dad was waiting and thence to Kingsthorpe and the dairy farm where brother Jim was.  He had been in the army and was wounded at Buna in New Guinea and eventually left the army unfit for service and father had applied for his early release to help on the farm."

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Life after WW2 – Lou's Memoirs cover the first 30 years of his life, up to the meeting of Mary Bell at Bowenville on the Darling Downs in southern Queensland. Sadly Lou died before he completed writing his life story, however his family has supplied the following summary of his later life in central Queensland.

Lou married Mary Bell in September 1953 at Bowenville Homestead. In 1960 they sold their Darling Downs property and moved to ‘Mt Lowe’, Capella, in the Central Highlands, where they grew grain and ran cattle. Mary and Lou had two sons, who both became farmers in the Capella area. Lou has five grandchildren. In 1985 Lou and Mary retired to Eungella, a rainforest area west of Mackay, where Lou enjoyed his favourite hobby of wood-turning, especially using local timber such as cedar. Mary and Lou moved to the coast near Sarina in 2003 to be closer to medical services and they lived there until Lou passed away in February 2005 in his eighty-second year.

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Pre- and post-war connections to the Hibberd brothers.

As mentioned in his Memoirs (link to full version in previous section), Lou Brimblecombe was a student at Queensland Agricultural High School and College (Q.A.H.S.C.), also known as Gatton College. Quote ..... "After scholarship I was given a choice of Gatton College or Ipswich Grammar to further my studies and I chose Gatton as they had practical work as well as theory and for the next three and a half years I enjoyed life at college. I was not good at study and must confess the action of sport appealed much more to me.  I enjoyed the practical work which covered all aspects of farm work.  In my last year at Gatton, half way through I contracted pneumonia and lost a couple of months of classes.  I could not see how I would catch up and so ended my college days." .....

When he arrived at 26 O.T.U. Little Horwood in the UK, Lou also mentioned (quote) ...... "I met up with Noel Hibberd.  He and I had been in the same classes at Gatton College for three years and as he was a pilot and I a navigator we decided to fly together.  We had also entered the Air Force in Sandgate, Queensland on the same day so we were crewed up before we got to the station." They had both enlisted in the RAAF on 25 April 1942, with Lou's RAAF Service Number 425592, and Noel's 425653. Noel's birth date was 24 December 1922, whereas Lou's was 23 December 1923.

From Q.A.H.S.C. records, Noel Hibberd was enrolled at the College for four years from 1937 to 1940 inclusive, graduating with a Diploma in Agriculture in late 1940. From his memoirs, Lou would have been enrolled at the College from 1937 through to mid-1940. Noel Hibberd's younger brother Max was enrolled from early 1940 to March 1942 (when the College was taken over by the US Army), and Noel and Max were both billeted in Shelton House. Due to the overlap of their enrolments in 1940, it is probable that Max (a first-year student) would have been acquainted with Lou, either as a friend of his older brother, or as a 4th-year student. Enrolment numbers at the College in the 1930s and 1940s were such that most students would have known each other by name.

After the war, Lou had applied for land grants by ballot, under the solider settlement scheme, quote from his Memoirs .....   "A short course of two months duration was run at Gatton College where I had been for three years before joining the Air Force.  One could call it something of a holiday but it passed the time until the ballot started." ..... Lou received his land in the ballot in 1948. Max Hibberd had re-enrolled at Gatton College in February 1946 as a War Rehabilitation student, and graduated with a Diploma in Animal Husbandry at the end of 1947. It is likely that he became reacquainted with Lou during Lou's short course attendance at the College.

Max Hibberd was employed by the Queensland Department of Agriculture & Stock, based in Clermont on the Central Highlands from 1957 to the end of 1965. During the early 1960s, in his work capacity as Cattle Husbandry Advisor, Max visited the Brimblecombe property "Mt. Lowe" at Capella. He took his wife and young children with him on at least one occasion, as recalled by one of Lou's sons. Noel Hibberd and his English War Bride Muriel also visited Mt. Lowe on several occasions, the last time being in March 1973. (Noel died on 20 May 1974.) It is not known whether Lou and Max maintained contact after the transfer away from the district of Max Hibberd and his family in late 1965.

Contact between the Brimblecombe and Hibberd families was re-established in 2012. My thanks are extended to Lou's family for supplying photos, Lou's Memoirs, his RAAF Service File, copies of his RAAF log-book and other information, and for their permission to use it on this web page.
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