Air-Vice Marshall Donald BennettPrint Page
A monument commemorates the life of Air-Vice Marshall Donald Bennett, founder and commander of the Pathfinder Force, who was born in Toowoomba. The plaque was placed in its position in 1987 to mark the spot where Air Vice Marshall Bennett would watch aeroplanes take off as a child.
Air-Vice Marshal Bennett was born in Toowoomba in 1910 and attended Toowoomba Prep School. He was an outstanding aviation pioneer, pilot, navigator, wireless operator and engineer. He joined the Royal Australian Air Force in 1930, transferring to the Royal Air Force from 1931 to 1935. In 1936 he joined Imperial Airways and piloted Mercury, a Short Mayo seaplane, on record non stop flights from Iceland to Canada, and Scotland to South Africa. He still holds the long distance record for seaplanes for the latter flight of 9,650 miles in 42 hours. In 1938 and 1946 he was awarded the Oswald Watt Medal. He co-founded the Atlantic Ferry Organisation, rejoined the RAF in 1941, and was Air Officer Commanding Path Finder Force from 1942 to 1945. He was the youngest officer promoted to Air-Vice Marshal in 1943. His awards include Commander of the British Empire, CBE, and Distinguished Service Order, DSO.
In January 2010, an application to have the plaque moved to the Milne Bay Military Museum at Chermside, Brisbane was made to Toowoomba Regional Council but council did not support the move.
In 2011, the brass plaque was removed and a replacement historical plaque was provided by the museum. Council workers seized the original plaque after noticing the contractors on site. A Toowoomba Regional Council spokesman said council owned the plaque and it could not be relocated without permission. Milne Bay Museum Curator Barry Wallis said the plaque was paid for by the RAAF and Pathfinders and the museum believed they were the rightful owners. The original plaque is believed to be held by the Museum.
|Address:||Mutze Street, Airport Gardens, Toowoomba Aerodrome, Wilsonton, 4350|
|GPS Coordinates:||Lat: -27.544491|
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
|Actual Monument Dedication Date:||Monday 14th September, 1987|
To the memory of Air Vice-Marshal D. C. T. Bennett C.B., C.B.E., D.S.O., F.R.Ae.S.
1910 - 1986
Toowoomba born - attended Toowoomba Prep. School
Outstanding aviation pioneer
Pilot - Navigator - Wireless Operator - Engineer
Founder of Path Finder Force R.A.F. 1942 - 45
Unveiled 14th September 1987 by His Worship the Mayor Ald. Clive Berghofer M.L.A.
Toowoomba City Cuncil
R.A.A.F. Association Toowoomba
Path Finder Force Assn. in Australia