Air Crew Europe Star eligibility

Original entitlement conditions

Entitlement to the Aircrew Europe Star was clarified in a recent letter to Jim O'Riordan from the Department of Defence:

"The Aircrew Europe Star was awarded to aircrew members who, between 3/9/39 and 5/6/44, completed two months service at an operational unit engaged in flying from United Kingdom bases over Europe after completing two months qualifying service for the 1939-45 Star, i.e., four months operational service. For the purpose of this regulation, aircrew service in an operational unit includes service with an Operational Training Unit where a member of aircrew is required to make an operational sortie involving definite risk of enemy action. The balance of service at such a unit from the date of the operational sortie onwards shall count as qualifying service."

What is the "Designated European Theatre of Operations" and why a 5 June 1944 cut off date?

Last March we decided to write to the Director of Administrative Review - Air Force to obtain clarity on two (2) points viz:-

  1. Exactly what is the "Designated European Theatre of Operations" referred to in Section 2a of Special Gazette No S274 dated 18 July 1996.
  2. The Official reason for stipulating the 5 June 1944 in Section 1 of the Gazette in lieu of 8 May 1945.

The following response was received:-

  1. The European theatre of operations is defined in the attached Air Board Order A 101/1946.

    This Order comprises 5 pages of very small print but, for aircrew personnel serving in Bomber Command, it clearly states that eligibility for the 1939-45 Star requires service of a minimum of two (2) months (60 days) in an operational unit and carried out at least one (1) operational sortie during the period 3 September 1939 to 8 May 1945. Units other than those operating in the Pacific and Burma Star areas are to be considered as non-operational after 8 May 1945. Service with an operational training unit or at a general reconnaissance school, when required to make an operational sortie involving definite risk of enemy action. The balance of service at such unit or school from the date of the operational sortie onwards shall count as qualifying service.

In view of the above it seems that not much as changed from 1946 when the original Air Board Order was gazetted.

  1. The cut-off date of 5 June 1944 relates to the qualifying period for the Air Crew Europe Star. From "D" Day, aircraft operations moved OUT of the United Kingdom and into Europe. It would have been ANOMALOUS for non-operational personnel in the form of ground crew and air crew supporting aircraft operations in the United Kingdom to continue receiving the 1939-45 Star AFTER operational crews in the United Kingdom ceased to be eligible for the Air Crew Europe Star.

Ed: even a fair dinkum Bush Lawyer couldn't unravel that last sentence. The final comment was "I trust you will find this information helpful".

Your Secretary has been requested to write to the appropriate Minister pointing out the shortcomings of this response.

Why the France and Germany Star and not the Air Crew Europe Star?

Senator the Hon. Robert Hill
Parliament House, Canberra, ACT. 2601

Dear Senator Hill,

I have raised the question of my entitlement to the Aircrew Europe Star, complete with France and Germany clasp, for some years, and to date I have been bumping my head against a brick wall.

I refer to a letter of 29th April 2001, from the Prime Minister's office, which I tore up in disgust, wherein it was stated on line 10 that the "France and Germany Star was for ground crew". I am amazed that many aircrew veterans who flew on operations over France and Germany are wearing a medal France and Germany Star which according to the letter we are not entitled to wear.

Aircrew veterans do not wear an Air Crew Europe Star and ribbon because they were not in time to qualify, despite the fact that they were in time to die as AIRCREW OVER EUROPE. Our Government has never seen fit to give the veterans the medal which they so rightfully earned? Why should our Government accept that aircrew who flew before a certain date are entitled to the Aircrew Europe Star (a specific award) whilst those who came only days or weeks later flying the same operations were denied the Aircrew Europe Star?

Medals have always been an issue and one which Governments always seem to sidestep. The survivors of the Bomber Command operations in Europe were entitled to the following medals:



Seems the aircrew part added as an afterthought, although not very relevant.

It is apparent that any Air Force mustering serving in Europe was entitled to the same medals as the aircrew of Bomber Command. It is difficult to compare the service dangers of the flying across enemy occupied territory for which those who flew before D–Day and qualified for the AIRCREW EUROPE STAR to that of pushing a pen across a piece of paper while flying an office desk for which they and the aircrew after D–Day received the FRANCE GERMANY STAR. Aircrew all did the same flying, this discrimination is of the highest order and was brought about mainly by the age factor, or more importantly when they arrived and started on operations.

Following D–Day and for some months after 6th June 1944 the Bomber Command casualties were greater than the casualties suffered by the British 2nd Army, so any Government worth its salt would have seen that those airmen who served in this area were suitably rewarded in their campaign awards.

If the Parliamentarians can have the big party to remember, the Army can have a big party for its 100 years, and the Vietnam veterans have special recognition, what is lacking for the ex–flyers of Bomber Command to receive a measure of recognition?

Our record is on the board, written in blood, sweat and tears, but do we have to wait until we are 100 years old before we are recognized in Australia?

Seems like another episode of the Anzac story, "wait till most of them are dead before they are given any recognition". Bomber Command veterans were 2% of all Australian volunteers in the 2nd world war and almost 23% of the casualties.

The airmen, the cream of this country, following Dunkirk, together with their fellow counterparts in Bomber Command, bore the brunt of the war against Germany and but for them England may not have survived as a nation. Every one of them was a volunteer and were sent to the theatre of war at the Australian Government's direction. Even after their homeland was being threatened the Australian Government was still sending aircrew to the European theatre of war, where many of them received white feathers from Australia as a token of cowardice because they had apparently deserted the fight against the Japanese.

As Bomber Command veterans we returned to an Australian indifference, which still exists today. Why, we ask, have Bomber Command veterans not been recognized and been given their just entitlement medal and ribbon for the record and history they carved in blood over Germany for five long years. Why even the Lancaster "G" for George in the Canberra Museum nearly wasn't there due to the official indifference.

Yours faithfully,

Laurie Woods

Reply, 7th February, 2003 - change to 1939-45 Star eligibility conditions

I seem to have waited two years or so for a reply. I sure am glad I didn't fly with these people or I would be sprouting wings now instead of waiting for a little satisfaction on ribbon entitlement for which I qualified. There would be some couple of hundred Australians who are also entitled and should have their medals adjusted but of course at our age we are dying off like flies so a little longer and we will all be gone and their will be no need to fix our dissatisfactions.

There is also the complaint from most airmen who flew in Bomber Command that there is no specific medal for this service. (Acknowledged as the most dangerous and deadly of all time).

At last satisfaction and proper accreditation 60 years later.

Office of the Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister assisting the Minister for Defence

Mr Lawrence Woods, DFC

Dear Mr Woods

Thank you for your letter of 23 February 2003 to the Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Robert Hill, concerning your eligibility for the Air Crew Europe Star. This matter falls within the portfolio of responsibilities for the Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence, the Hon Danna Vale MP, who has asked me to respond on her behalf.

Under the Government's medals policy, the conditions governing the 1939-45 Star have been amended so that the award may now be issued to a member of air crew who engaged in aircraft operations, for a period of, or periods amounting in the aggregate to, two months or more in the United Kingdom during the period that commenced on 3 September 1939 and ended 8 May 1945.

I am pleased to advise that, under these revised conditions for the 1939-45 Star, a subsequent review of your service confirms that you qualify for the 1939-45 Star by virtue of your service with 4 Advanced Flying Unit from 9 November 1943 to 3 January 1944 and again with 27 Operational Training Unit from 4 January 1944 to 9 April 1944. Due to these changes, your eligibility for the 1939-45 Star is now assess as having occurred earlier, placing your position to qualify for the Air Crew Europe Star for a sortie flow on 22 March 1944.

Your entitlement now is the 1939-45 Star, the Air Crew Europe Star with Clasp France and Germany, the Defence Medal, the War Medal 1939-45 and the Australia Service Medal 1939-45.

In regard to claiming the Air Crew Europe Star, the current regulations require that you return the France and Germany Star before the Air Crew Europe Star and Clasp can be issued.

Of course an easy solution would be to promulgate a new order!!!

Aircrew Europe is to be issued to all those airmen who carried out operations over Europe and be worn as a decoration then followed by the 1939–45 star (which saw some adjustments, till the powers that be, rectified the problem), then Bomber Command medal followed by the usual campaign and victory Medals?

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