View Full Version : Flight Lieutenant Tony Tubbenhauer, RAAF: a hundred years young

9th Aug 2021, 07:40
Itís not often we have the good fortune to be able to congratulate a former bomber pilot on his hundredth birthday, but today I am happy to do just that. Although I have never met Tony face to face we have been in frequent online correspondence for some 15 years.

Tony Tubbenhauer was born on 9 August 1921 in New South Wales. He joined the RAAF in Sydney in November 1940 and by January 1941 was learning to fly Tiger Moths at 6 Flying Training School at Tamworth. Two months later he progressed to Ansons at 3 Service Flying Training School at Amberley, Queensland, as a newly fledged Pilot Officer.

He served with the RAF during World War 2 when he flew 18 different types of aircraft and did 77 operational flights on two squadrons, 244 (Blenheims at Sharjah from April to December 1942) and 203 (Baltimores in North Africa, 1943).

This began by a rough voyage in the "Queen Mary" from Sydney to Suez in September 1941. October found him flying up the Nile in an Empire flying boat on his way to 70 Operational Training Unit at Nakuru, Kenya, to convert to Blenheims, first the old Mark I and then the slightly newer Mark IV. In February 1942 he left with Gordon, his navigator, and Bill, the air gunner, for Iraq. While waiting for some Blenheim IVs to be made more or less airworthy for 244 Squadron, he was pressed into service to fly a variety of aging aircraft with the Communications Flight at Habbaniya, including the Gladiator, Audax and Valentia. In April 1942 Tony set off in a Blenheim IV, with two others, to Sharjah on the Persian Gulf to join 244 Squadron. He stayed there until December, hating the place for its extreme discomfort. Apart from the Blenheim (Marks IV and V, the ill-reputed Bisley) he flew the station hacks, two old Vincents.

December 1942 found him in a Hudson on his way to join 203 Squadron in Egypt, without a break from combat duties. On Christmas Eve 1942 he "learned" to fly the Baltimore by standing behind the pilot for a circuit, then going off on his own. Make or break! Then he moved, with 203, to Benghazi in Libya. He left there in November 1943, and by January 1944 had taken up the offer of a flying instructor course at Norton in Southern Rhodesia, where he flew Oxfords, Cornells and Harvards.

After Norton, he again flew by Empire boat from Durban to Cairo in March 1944, and was posted to 75 Operational Training Unit at Shalufa, Egypt (Baltimores, Oxfords and even a Defiant). He returned to Sydney by slow boat in September 1944, having wondered more than once if he would ever see it again. From there to 7 Operational Training Unit at Tocumwal, New South Wales, in December, where he learned to fly Liberators, and later taught others to do so. May 1945 found Tony at 1 Aircraft Performance Unit Test Pilots' Training Flight at Laverton, Victoria, where he flew a Wirraway and a Mitchell in addition to the Liberators, before a return to Tocumwal where his very last flight was in September 1945.

Tony returned to civilian life with his new wife, and together they pioneered diving off the Queensland coast.

So, I want to thank Tony for all he did in those fateful years, and for the great pleasure I have had reading his exciting posts in the years I have known him, as well as to wish him many happy returns in his well-earned retirement in Queensland!

For more details and some of his photographs, see: