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Airman with a big heart

He was known as a Lancaster man, but he was also a rugby player and a surfer. There were many strings to Cyril Nethery's bow.

To be called a Lancaster man meant he was part of the squadron that flew missions involving low level night attacks over Europe during World War Two. While as flight-lieutenant, he did 20 missions during the war, it was his post-war flights he found the most rewarding.

Cyril with his wife Val. Courtesy Findagrave

"One of the most rewarding and joyous things I have ever done was fly POWs back to England from the camps in Europe," he was quoted as saying.

"The gratitude they showed was beyond belief."

Cyril came from a large Catholic family but lost his father at only 13 years old. Then at the outbreak of war, he was underaged so his mother wouldn't sign the papers to allow him to enlist, as she already had four boys fighting.

When he was 21 years old, against his mum's wishes, he joined the RAAF and was selected for flying school. After completing basic training in Australia, he then headed to Europe, making it back safely after the war.

His compassion and kindness, not just to POWs, but also to people back home, was shown through his help of Indigenous and underprivileged families through his work with St Vincent de Paul. He was recognised for his service to the community by being awarded a Member of the Order of Australia medal.

Cyril continued to play rugby union and was also a volunteer firefighter. He had signed up with the Labor party and was a member of the Wooloware branch, supporting the reforms of Gough Whitlam.

Cyril's headstone at Woronora Memorial Park. Courtesy Findagrave.

Cyril died peacefully at the grand old age of 96 years, with his family by his side. His final resting place is at Woronora Memorial Park.


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