Roberts Dunstan leaning against the rear turret of a Lancaster bomber
|Born||5 November 1922
|Died||11 October 1989
|Service/branch||Second Australian Imperial Force
Royal Australian Air Force
|Years of service||1940–1945|
|Battles/wars||Second World War|
|Awards||Distinguished Service Order|
|Other work||Minister of Water Supply
Minister of Public Works
Roberts Christian Dunstan DSO (5 November 1922 – 11 October 1989) was an Australian soldier and airman of the Second World War. He was noted on his return to Australia after the war as a one-legged air gunner who had served with RAF Bomber Command. He later served as a Member of Parliament.
Second Australian Imperial Force
Dunstan was born in Bendigo, Victoria on 5 November 1922. He joined the Australian Imperial Force aged 17 on 3 June 1940. After training he was sent to the 2/8th Field Company in North Africa as a reinforcement. In January 1941, near Tobruk, he was wounded in the knee and had his leg amputated. After resting in Egypt he was returned to Australia and medically discharged.
Royal Australian Air Force
Not happy with his short service, Dunstan attempted to join the Royal Australian Air Force as an air gunner. In 1942 he trained at Port Pirie and, promoted to Sergeant at the end of his course, he embarked for Europe. Dunstan was assigned to No. 460 Squadron RAAF at RAF Binbrook, Lincolnshire, England as a Lancaster rear gunner. He flew his first operation on 11 June 1943 to Düsseldorf. In October he was commissioned as a Pilot Officer, and later was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his efforts as a "Cool and skilful Air Gunner despite handicap of one leg". During one raid on Kassel on 22/23 October 1943, the plane in which he was flying was hit by two incendiary bombs dropped by another Lancaster, which was off course. The damage caused by this accident cut off the oxygen supply to Dunstan and the other gunner, Flight Sergeant Hegarty. As a result of the oxygen starvation that both men suffered, neither saw the approach of an enemy night-fighter, whose attack badly damaged the Lancaster, one cannon shell passing through the rear-gunner's turret. The aircraft managed to return home and make a crash-landing at Bisham, the crew escaping unhurt. Dunstan soon completed a full tour of 30 operations and returned to Australia in August 1944. He was discharged from the Royal Australian Air Force on 2 October 1945.
Politician, journalist and film critic
Dunstan received some attention from the media as a one-legged air gunner who had completed a full tour of 30 missions. He wrote about his experiences in a book, The Sand and the Sky, and took a job as a journalist and film critic with the Melbourne Herald. Between 1956 and 1982 he served as a Liberal Party member in the Victorian parliament representing Mornington. He also held the posts of Minister of Water Supply and later the Minister of Public Works. Dunstan died in Melbourne on 11 October 1989.
- Falconer, Jonathan (2003). Bomber Command Handbook 1939-1945. Stroud, England: Sutton Publishing. pp. 203–204. ISBN 0-7509-3171-X.
- "Who’s who in Australian Military History - Flight Lieutenant Roberts Christian (Robert) Dunstan, DSO". Australian War Memorial. 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-24.
- "Dunstan, Roberts Christian (Army)". World War II Nominal Roll. Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 25 October 2009.
- "Recommendation for the award of the Distinguished Service Order to Robert Christian Dunstan" (PDF). Index to Recommendations for Honours and Awards: Second World War. Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 25 October 2009.
- "Air combat reports—Image details—Dunstan, Flying Officer" (fee usually required to view full pdf of original combat report). DocumentsOnline. The National Archives. 23 October 1943. p. 3. Retrieved 26 October 2009.
- "Dunstan, Roberts Christian (RAAF)". World War II Nominal Roll. Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 25 October 2009.