Gilbert Jan OAM | 95 | Royal Australian Air Force

Gilbert Jan OAM | 95 | Royal Australian Air Force

Served 5 years.

Leading Aircraftsman (LAC), Radio Technician / Operator (Wireless maintenance mechanic).

Postings: Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong, Borneo, Vietnam and Darwin.

Medals and citations: 

  • Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) - for service to the Chinese community, particularly through historical and cultural activities on behalf of Australian ex-servicemen and women of Chinese descent
  • 1939/45 Star
  • Pacific Star
  • Defence Medal
  • War Medal 39/45
  • Australian Service Medal 1939-45
  • Centenary Medal
  • Liberation of Philippines
  • Certificate of Recognition for the International Year of Volunteers 2001

Primary job: Radio operator / technician and electronics on Catalina Flying Boats.

  • He wanted to join the defence force because he was patriotic - keen to serve his country as soon as he could. Gilbert enlisted just after his 18th birthday. At the time the army wouldn’t let people of Asian descent join, even if they were Australian born, so he joined the RAAF.
  • Gilbert initiated and compiled a list of some 500 Australian ex-servicemen and women who served in WW1, WW2 & subsequent conflicts, who were of Chinese or part Chinese descent. This list is with the Australian War Memorial, Canberra & various museums. The names are engraved on a granite monument at the end of Dixon St, corner Liverpool St, Chinatown Sydney.

What effect did your military experience have on your life? Gilbert was always grateful to the English for rescuing him at sea after he had survived the plane crash.

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