Family pride at airmen’s honours

Two new memorials at the Rushworth War Memorial recognise two of the town’s war heroes.

Busts of  Air Marshal Sir George Jones and Air Vice-Marshal Frank McNamara were unveiled in front of 400 people at a ceremony on Monday.

Dignitaries from the RAAF, Army, Navy and the Returned Services League all attended.

Air Marshal Jones enlisted as a private to serve at Gallipoli before commissioning as a pilot in the Australian Flying Crops. 

He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his aerial combat skills at the Western Front.

In 1921 he re-enlisted in the newly formed Royal Australian Air Force and served as Chief of Air Staff from 1942 to 1952 before he was knighted in 1953.

Air Vice-Marshal McNamara was the only Australia airman to receive the Victoria Cross in World War One.

He was awarded the VC after seeing a fellow squadron member stranded by a crashed planed on near Gaza. 

After landing his own plane with a leg injured by shrapnel, Air Vice-Marshal McNamara  repaired the squadron member’s plane under Turkish gunfire and flew 70 miles to to the Australian base in El Arish.

He was also one of the original 21 commissioned officers named at the establishment of the Royal Australian Air Force in March, 1921.

Air Vice-Marshal McNamara daughter Anne Marland attended the ceremony with he family.

“I admire him terribly for what he did. He was doing his job and was bought up to care for people and wouldn’t let somebody die if he could save him,” she said.

“He was a very modest man and never really talked about is VC.

“This would mean an awful lot, he would be absolutely amazed at the effort Rushworth has made. As a family we are very touched.”

Air Marshal Jones’ grand-daughter Rosemary Ruddell said her grandfather didn’t speak about his wartime experiences a lot.

“As I got older, I grew to appreciate him more. He told me some pretty horrific stories,” she said. “He was invited by Hawke to go to Gallipoli but he never wanted to go back there. He became very opposed to war.”

Ms Ruddell said Air Marshal Jones was a humble man.

“I knew him as my grandpa. He was always a country boy with those good old-fashioned country values,” she said.

Town’s years of planning pays off

THREE years of planning and research culminated in the Rushworth RSL unveiling two new war memorials dedcated to local airmen Air Vice-Marshal Frank McNamara and Air Marshal Sir George Jones.

Rushworth RSL president Bill Barlow said he was thrilled to see the bronze busts unveiled.

“It’s sensational. It's been a long time in planning these statues are a permanent reminder and memorial to two legends from our town,” he said.

“It was only about 10 years ago we thought we should do something about putting a permanent memorial to them.

“I am grateful for the support received by the Air Force, Australian Defence Force and local community.”

Mr Barlow said the unveiling fit in well with the centenary of Air Vice-Marshal McNamara receiving his Victoria Cross.

“It was an extremely brave thing he did, knowing he flying into a danger that he might not have come out of,” Mr Barlow said.