Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

City Destroyed Haunts War Hero

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

City Destroyed Haunts War Hero

Article excerpt

Byline: Anne-Louise Brown

ANYONE shopping at Bli Bli's Erbachers fruit shop yesterday may have noticed a man with a beautiful British accent selling Anzac Day badges by the door.

Few would have guessed that man, Peter Ashenden, was a war hero who flew Lancaster bombers for the Royal Air Force during the Second World War.

"I joined the RAF in 1941 in Canterbury, England. I grew up in a small village nearby and wanted to defend my country. I was only 18," 85-year-old Peter said.

"In 1943 I started operations as an air-force flight engineer, and was involved in the battle of Berlin.

"It was terrifying and I had to take every moment as it came.

"You didn't make plans in those days. I lost lots of great friends in the war.

"In those times you just came to accept that if you were 19 you would be lucky to see 20."

Peter said the most devastating thing he saw during the war was London from the air after The Blitz.

The city he loved - the heart of the country - was a heap of smouldering rubble.

"Seeing London in that state was heartbreaking and is a sight etched in my memory. It was a city destroyed."

After the war ended, Peter was awarded the RAF's Distinguished Flying Cross and in 1947 moved to Australia with his family.

Relocating to Australia was a prospect that excited Peter, as many of his wartime mates had been members of the Royal Australian Air Force.

"Before the war broke out, we'd been planning to move to Australia, but that was put on hold. When we arrived, I settled in Leeton and worked as a rice grower."

Later in life, Peter and his wife, Jill, relocated to the Sunshine Coast, calling Peregian Springs home.

Peter, who has five children, 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, is proud of serving his country.

He said he was glad younger generations had developed an interest in Australia's Anzac tradition. …

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