Saturday, January 19, 2013

(AUS.414694) Flight Sergeant Donald Bernham Kairton - Course 62

Soon after his November 8, 1941 enlistment in the Royal Australian Air Force, Donald Bernham Kairton was presented with a wrist watch by management and staff of The Cairns Post. Kairton worked as a reporter with the newspaper. In his spare time, he was a drummer with his brother’s orchestra, known as Kairton’s Dance Band. Upon completion of elementary flying training in Australia, Kairton and his fellow airmen embarked at Brisbane June 23, 1942, arriving in Canada August 9. Seven days later some of the Australian pilot trainees arrived at No. 6 SFTS, Dunnville. On September 10, 1942, Squadron Leader John Sorsoleil, Chief Ground Instructor at No. 6 SFTS Dunnville, 'awarded' Kairton 7 days confined to barracks for the following charge: “ … did appear on the 0745 Working Parade improperly shaven.” Donald Kairton was awarded his pilot’s flying badge December 4, 1942 during a wings parade held at the station. He sailed from Halifax for England twelve days later. Upon completion of advanced flying and operational training, Flight Sergeant Kairton was posted to No. 19 Squadron, February 5, 1944. The Squadron was flying the North American Aviation Mustang Mk. III. On June 14, 1944, the No. 122 wing commander wrote to Kairton’s father. “By the time you receive this letter a telegram will have arrived informing you that your son, F/Sgt. Donald Kairton, is today missing from Air Operations over enemy territory. The Squadron was flying on offensive operations when a column of enemy transport was sighted. The Squadron went in to attack. The last that was seen of your son was when his aircraft was seen straffing a lorry. It is then presumed the aircraft was struck by enemy flak and crashed into the ground. Although a good search was instigated no parachute was seen. Donald was one of the Squadron's most popular members. He was always happy and cheerful and his merry sense of humour kept the Squadron laughing under many difficult circumstances. He was a very good pilot and his deeds of bravery and determination to face and destroy the enemy were a byword in the Squadron. The Squadron has lost a true friend and a man that can never be replaced.” On August 30, 1944, M. Bade, Mayor of Le Gue de la Chaine wrote a letter to the Office of Civil Affairs. “At 0630 hours (C.E.T.) on 14.6.44 a British fighter, hit by German flak, crashed in flames in a small wood in the territory of the commune of Le Gue da la Chaine. The pilot was killed instantaneously and we were able to remove his body from the aircraft before it was completely burnt out. From a few personal effects found on the body or near the aircraft(including a wrist watch with the name D.B. Kairton engraved on the back), it was possible to identify the pilot. The day after the accident the body was taken to the town hall, which was converted into a chapelle ardente and a guard of honor was formed by the town councilors ex serviceman and repatriated prisoners. A funeral service was held on Friday 16th June. The whole population of the commune paid homage to this courageous airman. The burial took place in the cemetery of our village.”
Photo: June 11, 1944 Flight Sergeant D.B. Kairton ready to leave with another load of bombs for a target in the invasion area. Three days later he was killed in action. (AWM)

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