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image icon John Curtin at RAF bomber station, UK, 1944

John Curtin at RAF bomber station, UK, 1944
John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library


This is a black-and-white photograph of Australian Prime Minister John Curtin (on the far left, wearing a herringbone coat) and two airmen farewelling bomber crews at the Royal Air Force bomber station at Waddington near Lincoln in the United Kingdom in May 1944. The Prime Minister is using the 'V for Victory' sign. The three men are shown standing in front of a vehicle, and two other men are partially visible in the background on the far right.

Educational value

This resource is useful because it:

  • This asset shows John Curtin, Australian Prime Minister from 1941 to 1945, watching bombers take off from Waddington airfield - Curtin travelled to the United Kingdom in May 1944 to attend the Commonwealth Prime Ministers Conference, and took the opportunity to visit RAAF squadrons stationed there; he had an evening meal with the airmen and heard them being briefed for that night's bombing raid over France, before watching them take off.
  • This asset shows Curtin giving the 'V for Victory' sign as he watches the departing aircraft - this sign was made famous by British wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill and it became a symbol of encouragement and belief in eventual victory among the people of the Allied nations in their fight against the Axis nations; the airman on the right, Group Captain D Bonham-Carter, is giving a 'thumbs up' sign, which, at the time, meant 'good luck'.
  • This asset reveals the importance Curtin attached to the role played by the airmen in the battle against Germany - Curtin stood alongside the runway in the cold twilight to watch the Lancaster crews take off and was obviously moved by the experience, insisting on staying at the airfield until the last plane departed; when the Lancaster crews reached the enemy coast on the outward run, a message was flashed to all the planes reading 'Good Luck, Curtin'; all the airmen whom Curtin had seen off returned safely.
  • This asset shows examples of uniforms worn by airmen in the Second World War, as well as the heavy winter coat that John Curtin wore during his visit to the United Kingdom.