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Berlin Airlift


Operation Plain Fare

In 1948, the Chifley Government of Australia offered a RAAF transport Squadron to assist in the airlift to Berlin.

The then Communist Government in the USSR had decreed that Berlin was to be isolated and starved out so that Russia could take complete control of the city. Up till then it had been under partitioned control of Russia, USA Britain and France. The USA, Britain and the other Allies decided to completely resupply Berlin by air so as to avoid having to fight the Russians or to give in to them.

Hand-painted souvenir plate with small metal hook on the back for hanging. The front of the plate is painted in yellow and depicts Berlin landmarks including the Brandenburg Gate. Overhead a steady stream of aircraft fly overhead in both directions, with a Dakota painted prominently in the centre.

In the foreground is the Royal Australian Air Force emblem of a wreath surmounted by a King's crown and surrounding the letters 'RAAF'.

Below the emblem are the words 'OPERATION PLAIN FARE'.

Around the top of the rim are the words 'The greatest bridge in the world' with the dates '1948/49' in between. Painted around the bottom of the rim is 'LUBECK-BERLIN-LUBECK'. On the back of the plate are numerous signatures scratched or written in pencil.

No.86 Wing from Richmond supplied 41 Dakota aircrew members under the command of Squadron Leader C. A. Greenwood.

Stationed at Lubeck in Northern Germany, the first mission occurred on 15th September 1948 when Squadron Leader Greenwood airlifted 7,300 pounds of flour from Lubeck to Berlin.

Australian crews of the RAAF operated from 15 September 1948 to 29 August 1949. In this time they carried 6964 passengers and 15,623,364 pounds of freight. This involved 6,041 flying hours in 2062 sorties.

A number of Australian aircrew members on exchange duty also flew with No. 24 Squadron (Commonwealth), RAF.

Berlin was "saved", the Russians eventually dropped their claims and things returned to normal. Eventually the Berlin Wall fell and later so did the Communist regime in Russia and most of her Soviet States.

  • It was a huge win for democracy, without any shooting.

A medallion collected in Berlin during the airlift. Donor:Brian Isfeld


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Digger History:  an unofficial history of the Australian & New Zealand Armed Forces