ISAACSON, Peter Stuart

Service Numbers: 401068, O35959
Enlisted: 8 December 1940, Melbourne, Victoria
Last Rank: Flight Lieutenant
Last Unit: RAAF Headquarters
Born: London, England, 31 July 1920
Home Town: Toorak, Stonnington, Victoria
Schooling: Brighton Grammar
Occupation: Publisher
Died: Natural causes, Melbourne, Victoria, 7 April 2017, aged 96 years
Cemetery: Springvale Garden of Remembrance & Crematorium, Victoria
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World War 2 Service

8 Dec 1940: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Aircraftman 2, SN 401068, Melbourne, Victoria
9 Dec 1940: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, SN O35959
6 Nov 1942: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Pilot Officer, SN 401068, No. 460 Squadron (RAAF), Air War NW Europe 1939-45
30 Mar 1943: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Flight Lieutenant, SN 401068, No. 156 Squadron (RAF), Air War NW Europe 1939-45
21 Feb 1946: Discharged Royal Australian Air Force, Flight Lieutenant, SN 401068, RAAF Headquarters

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Biography contributed by John Edwards

"Isaacson completed forty-five sorties with Bomber Command, when the likelihood of surviving an operational tour of thirty missions was never more than 50% and, at times, much less. Promoted to acting flight lieutenant, he was chosen in May 1943 to captain Lancaster Q-for-Queenie on a landmark flight from England to Australia across the Pacific Ocean, and then from Melbourne to New Zealand and back, non-stop in both directions. He was awarded the Air Force Cross on 27 August 1943 for this mission, the citation noting that it was "the first occasion on which an aircraft has flown to Australia by this route and the direct flights between Melbourne and New Zealand are the first of their kind".

The Lancaster was brought to Australia so that it could serve as a template for local production of the type, but this never took place and it was instead used for exhibition flights to encourage purchase of war bonds. On 22 October 1943 Isaacson flew Q-for-Queenie under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, flouting a 1931 regulation that prohibited such activity; the Lancaster remains the largest aircraft to have been flown under the bridge. Isaacson gave his crew no warning of what he was about to do and when asked later why he did it, replied "Because it was there". It was, however, reported at the time that he undertook the stunt to support the war loan effort for which he and his crew were actively fundraising. Notwithstanding the publicity the escapade generated for war loans, Isaacson recalled that when he landed at Mascot afterwards:

I was threatened with a court martial. Two authorities wanted to court martial me: Eastern Area in which the crime was committed and Southern Command to which I was attached at the time. I was told later there was a great fight among the bureaucrats of each of these commands as to which would court martial me. Apparently they could not agree on which should be the prosecutor and the idea either lapsed – or maybe is still being pursued by the successors to each of these commands!" - SOURCE (