Born and raised in Sydney, Dick Dakeyne survived 48 missions and 500 hours flying over Japanese enemy territory during World War Two, both as a gunner and radar countermeasures operator. Most of his service was spent living and flying with US Army Air Force bomb squadrons based at Fenton airstrip 140 kilometres south of Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia.
Dick’s account describes living with the Americans and flying in B-24 Liberator long-range heavy bombers, on record-breaking missions lasting up to 16 hours. Death surrounded him, with the loss of fellow servicemen from Japanese ack-ack (anti-aircraft) guns, machine gun fire from enemy planes, and bombing raids on northern Australia. Aircraft were lost from the hazards of flying vast distances over empty oceans, through tropical storms and into massive weather fronts.
For his military service and bravery, Dick was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) from Australia. The United States also offered him one of their highest awards, the Medal of Freedom. However, the Australian Government’s policy at the time barred Australians from receiving this American award, and on Dick’s behalf, refused acceptance.