CHAPTER2 – ANZAC DAY COMMEMORATION AT SOLYMÁR, 2013 – HUNGARY

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The Commonwealth War Cemetery was established  at Solymár in 1947. There are 13 Australian and 6 New Zealand servicemen buried there. They were the members of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF), serving jointly with the British Royal Air Force (RAF). Their planes were downed in the closing  phase of World War II.Allied planes were sent over to Hungary in 1944-45 to weaken the Nazi was effort, especially during the siege of Budapest, which was one of the most hard-fought battles of the war. The 19 men who are buried here in Solymár were all killed in the timeframe of seven months in ’44. On April, 16. 1944 a plane of RAF squadron no.142 was downed near Gyál, 2 Australians, John Boden and Fred James were among the six.man crew killed.

All the way across the Ocean Ms. Elizabeth Capelin traveled from Australia to Hungary to be for the first time on ANZAC DAY at Solymár where her uncle lays in the Hungarian soil. This Chapter is  about the “Book of Life” of Sergeant John Stuart Boden,  her uncle.  Did not wished to summarize the storyteller words of Ms. Capelin, so asked her after the Service at the Australian Ambassador’s Residence to share her deeply sad emotional thoughts with my readers. She was please to do so and just received it to update it. Also here is to see the video recorded of her speech at Solymár: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqoSA0ucycA

Below can read a “long story” of  the “short life” of  Sgt. John Stuart  Boden  which  it is worthwhile to read it to the bottom line.

Quote: “Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen. Good Morning.  I am Elizabeth Capelin from Australia.

It is with great pride and honour that I tell you the story of my uncle, Sgt. John Stuart Boden, a Royal Australian Air Force Flight Sergeant, who is buried here after he and his crew were shot down over Hungary during World War 2.

John is here because he was the Navigator of a crew from the 142nd Squadron, part of the RAF Bomber Command. They were based in Amendola, Italy, and on the night of the 16th April 1944 they were detailed to bomb the marshalling yards at Gyál, near Budapest, here in Hungary.  Nothing was heard from them after take-off and they failed to return to base.

A Hungarian gentleman saw the aircraft go down near Laszlo Farm and it was the identification tags of my uncle, John Boden, and the other Australian onboard, Fred James that identified their plane.

The members of this JA 127 Wellington bomber crew wereRAF    Flt. Sgt Kenneth Turley, 1st Pilot, RAF    Flt Sgt. Douglas Stunt, 2nd pilot, RAAF  Flt. Sgt John Boden, Navigator, RAF    Sgt. Clifford Hitchcock, Air Bomber, RAAF  Warrant Officer, Fred James, Wireless Operator Air, RAF    Sgt. James Wood, Air Gunner.

They all perished that night. In death, as in life, they remain here today as a crew, having shown great bravery and paid the ultimate sacrifice for their countries and for peace.

John Boden was not only an uncle. He was also a loved and cherished eldest son, a big brother, a nephew, a cousin, a best friend, a husband, a colleague and a mate.  The sadness of his loss was felt on every one of these levels. He had so much to live for and his life was cut short at the age of 21. John Boden was a tall, fair-haired, fit young man.  He was the eldest son of Kathleen and John Boden, and the first Australian generation of Irish extraction.  He grew up with his sister, Mary, my mother, and his brother, Richard, in the rural town of Casino in northern NSW.  Here his father ran a drapery business, and he and his siblings enjoyed a carefree childhood.  They holidayed at their beach cottage at Evans Head, where extended family and friends would gather over the summer holidays.  My mother has passed on many stories of the antics and fun that took place there, and how John enjoyed surfing, swimming, and various sports. Following his schooling in Casino and two years boarding at The Scots College in Sydney, he studied Engineering at the University of Queensland for a year before enlisting in the Royal Australian Air Force on 22nd May 1942. His initial air force training was at Bradfield Park in Sydney after which he embarked from Melbourne in September 1942 on an American troop ship, the “Poelau Laut”.  It was a non-stop 25 day voyage across the Pacific Ocean to San Francisco, and then a train trip to Winnipeg in Canada, where he was a member of the No. 61 Navigator course at the Empire Training School, graduating in February 1943. After some leave in New York City, John boarded another troop ship, the “Queen Elizabeth”, arriving in Scotland before travelling by train to Bournemouth in Southern England. Once in Great Britain, John’s training continued with time spent in West Freugh in Scotland at the No. 4 Air Operations Squadron, which was a training school for navigators, observers and bomb armers. More than two months followed at the No. 21 Observer Training Unit at Moreton-in-Marsh in England where night bomber crews were trained using Vickers Wellington aircraft. With the 142nd Squadron John flew in both the British North Africa Force and the Central Mediterranean Force.  He completed 12 bombing missions from Amendola, in Italy, night bombing German supply lines in Northern Italy and across the Balkan countries.  In his log book the 13th mission, his last, is recorded in someone else’s hard-writing and it reads “Budapest – Missing”. In my search for a broader picture of who John was, I have made some incredible discoveries.  First, I stumbled upon a letter in an Australian newspaper that led me to a man called Stuart Austin who lives in Australia.  He is the nephew of Kenneth Turley, the RAF 1st pilot in John’s crew. The realization that our uncles had flown together has resulted in us sharing information to piece together our family histories. Sadly, the last entry in Kenneth Turley’s log book is written in the same handwriting as John’s, and also reads “Budapest – Missing”. My second discovery was John’s wife. John fell in love with a young English girl, a driver in the RAF, called Ethel Syratt, known as Pat, whom he met at a dance in Bournemouth after arriving in England. They spent every possible moment together whilst John was in England, and at the end of his training they married in September 1943. Their 10 day honeymoon was spent in London after which John flew out of England and, sadly, Pat never saw him again. At the end of the war, Pat remarried, moved to Australia and began a new life.  After a lot of searching I was very excited to find Pat, aged 90 and living in Queensland.  She was equally as excited to be back in touch with our family.  We have met together and she has shared with me so much about John. We keep in touch and I now have both a lovely new aunt and a friend. My third finding was an 89-year-old gentleman called Don Cruden, a navigator who was in the same RAAF intake as John, and so he mirrored John’s training from Sydney to Bournemouth, via Canada.  He didn’t know John well, but has been extremely generous with his detailed descriptions of their war-time experiences, and has kindly answered my many questions. And finally, I have spoken to the wife, the sister and a son of John’s best friend from his childhood in Casino.  I have found that John’s memory lives on in the Every-Burns family as well as our own. Many members of my family, along with the new contacts I have made, have shared anecdotes, photographs and letters about John.  They have all touched my heart with their generosity and interest in helping me to tell John’s story. Amongst my mother’s treasures of her lost brother is a recording of John’s voice on an old Red Cross record, which I have had re-mastered on a CD.  Hearing his voice for the first time was amazing.  It melted away the years and it was as though John was here with us still. We aren’t the first in our family to travel from Australia to visit this place, but this time John’s story has been told at an ANZAC service, and I would like to thank the Australian Ambassador to Hungary Mr. John Griffin, for this wonderful opportunity.  It is of great comfort to the families of these Australian and New Zealand men buried here that their sons are remembered and cared for so far from home.  Thank you to those who look after this solemn sanctuary and to those who arrange this ANZAC service every year.

John Stuart Boden has not been forgotten. After 69 years and 9 days he still lives on in the hearts and minds of his family, the families of his friends, and all those who loved him. Like so many others who served their country, John is a true hero and will forever remain so. Lest We Forget.”

Chapter3 … to be continued, introducing the Rossmoyne Senior High School  performing in Hungary on the ANZAC DAY Commemoration 2013 at Solymár.

Update, snaps, video by Aggie Reiter

5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Chris on 05/05/2013 at 10:59

    A wonderfully complete summary by the reporter, Very much appreciated by a senior Australian citizen who regards Anzac Day as a vital link with the past for all the younger Aussies who have never had to experience the hostilities of wartime and hopefully never will…..The attention to detail in this article is outstanding and again thank you so very much…………Chris…..Victoria, Australia.

    Reply

    • Good D’day Chris,
      Thank-you for taking your time to respond from so…so far away. Yes, I think we should all keep our happy and sad memories alive, cause they will stronger us and most of all to show to the next generations which road not to step on. Regards from a former Sheila.

      Reply

  2. Posted by Stuart on 17/07/2013 at 03:58

    Thank you for this posting, I am Kenneth Turleys, nephew and it is wonderful to hear Elizabeths talk at the service. I hope to visit Uncle Ken next year. They really are hero’s, and are not forgotten. Stuart.

    Reply

    • Thanky Stuart for rolling by and to hear ya enjoyed my video of a touching ceremony. Yes Elizabeth’s words really caught my heart as well. Hope to meet ya next year, even though the Australian Embassy in Budapest has closed this month and they were the main organizers of the ceremony 😦
      Take Care Mate … Best wishes from Budapest … Aggie

      Reply

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