Tag Archives: Highest

Surviving WWII bomber pilot awarded highest French military honour

Posted December 08, 2015 14:39:29

WWII veteran Godfrey Flack with the French Legion of Honour Photo: Godfrey Flack, a former WWII Lancaster bomber pilot, flew 40 bombing missions over Germany in the early 1940s. (ABC News: Peta Carlyon)
Map: Hobart 7000

A 94-year-old Tasmanian war veteran has been presented France’s highest military award, the Legion of Honour, in an emotional ceremony in Hobart.

Godfrey Flack flew allied Lancaster bombers over Germany during World War II in more than 40 missions, at a time when it was considered almost impossible to survive so many combat operations.

Many of Mr Flack’s comrades survived only a handful of missions and never returned.

In a moving ceremony at the Hobart Town Hall, the French Ambassador to Australia, Christophe Lecourtier, paid homage to Mr Flack’s service as “an adolescent youth” at 20 years of age.

“That year, 1944, you entered legend, you became a hero,” he told an emotional Mr Flack.

“You were no longer a fighter, you had become a liberator.

“You were no longer merely a man, but a living symbol of our common values, the spirit of resistance, the spirit of liberty, the spirit of mateship.”

French Ambassador awards the Legion of Honour Photo: French Ambassador to Australia Christophe Lecourtier awards the Legion of Honour to Tasmanian war veteran Godfrey Flack. (ABC News: Peta Carlyon)

Mr Flack fought back tears as he accepted the award.

“We only did what we could, for whatever group we could whatever represent, or acknowledge,” he said.

“I will say thank you very much to all the people who have become my friends, and all the people … I ever knew.”

We will need new men and women, just like this one, to defend our values, to defend our communities, and that’s unfortunately a never-ending story.

French Ambassador to Australia Christophe Lecourtier

After the ceremony, Mr Flack recalled growing up in Queenstown and driving trucks while harbouring a deep desire to join the Air Force.

He did not originally go to school or attend university, but eventually completed his studies at the top of his class.

“We’re so proud … people come back from the war, they have their problems and their families have got to deal with it too,” his son Patrick Flack said.

“But he’s been positive for us.

“He’s done for us what he did in the war, nothing’s ever a drama.

“He just looked after us and made us stand up, and be accountable, same as he did.”

Mr Lecourtier said Mr Flack’s exceptional service was a reminder of the challenges France and Australia would continue to face, particularly in light of the recent Paris terror attacks.

“Today’s ceremony resonates in a way with what’s happening in the world, not only in France, because we see that probably, unfortunately, this century is no less dangerous than the previous one,” Mr Lecourtier said.

“We are still united, because of the values that we share, because this value is our inner way at stake.

“We will need new men and women, just like this one, to defend our values, to defend our communities, and that’s unfortunately a never-ending story.”

WWII veteran Godfrey Flack Photo: Tears welled in the eyes of Tasmanian WWII veteran Godfrey Flack as he was awarded the French Legion of Honour. (ABC News: Peta Carlyon)

Topics: world-war-2, history, veterans, defence-and-national-security, awards-and-prizes, human-interest, defence-forces, hobart-7000

Agen Sabung Ayam

Violent threats against Tasmanian principals highest in nation: survey

Posted December 03, 2015 11:37:51

A teacher gives instructions to her pupils in a classroom. Photo: The Education Union says it is unclear why rates of violence against Tasmanian principals are escalating so much. (Anne-Christine Pouloulat, file photo: AFP)

A national survey has identified 60 per cent of Tasmanian principals received violent threats this year, the highest price in the nation.

Nationally, the Australian Catholic University found one in 3 principals surveyed had experienced physical violence in their work.

In Tasmania, 114 principals completed the survey.

Their results showed rates of actual violence had increased from almost 27 per cent in 2011 to 42 per cent this year.

Terry Polglase of the Education Union told 936 ABC Hobart the figures had been worrying.

“There is a concerning trend, our price of improve of assaults is the greatest of other states,” he said.

“Appear it really is something that we want to look at – what has been causing this more than the final four years.”

He said in main schools the violence came mainly from parents and in high schools students have been far more likely to be the perpetrators.

“You have to appear, socially, appropriate across the board, what is causing that, you know, what is going on in Tasmania?” he mentioned.

“Also, we need to look at what is going on in our support of the schools, the [spending budget] cuts that occurred final year, you know when you take two teachers out of the schools, you put principals on classes and have them obtaining less time to deal with issues, meet with parents and so on, you know, men and women get angry.

“Undoubtedly for Tasmania we need to have to appear at the effects of what we are actually carrying out within our policies.”

Mr Polglase mentioned the physical school environment also left principals vulnerable to violence.

“The atmosphere isn’t precisely best is it? You know, open doors, stroll into the office, somebody is angry, we now take away glass dividers, we try and have open communication, we try to do all the right factors to guarantee we are as welcoming as possible inside our schools.”

The survey also asked principals who they turned to for help, such as spouses, colleagues, physicians and senior staff.

Mr Polglase said most principals would not turn to far more senior colleagues.

“They just will not admit to folks above them that there is an concern and as a result their pressure levels are via the roof and that is sad for a system, it says one thing really poor about the culture that is going on inside our systems and our schools, we like to say items are great but they are not,” he said.

Topics: assault, teachers, tas

Agen Sabung Ayam

Brussels Remains on Highest Alert Level as Manhunts Expand


Belgian soldiers patrolled the Grand Place in Brussels on Sunday. The United States Embassy continued to advise citizens to “remain at home” and avoid public gatherings. Credit Yves Herman/Reuters

BRUSSELS — The Belgian authorities for a second day on Sunday maintained the highest possible alert level, virtually locking down the capital as they extended their hunt for a widening number of suspects linked to the Paris massacres and who were poised, they feared, to carry out an imminent new attack.

“We fear an attack similar to the one in Paris,” Prime Minister Charles Michel told a news conference on Sunday evening. “A number of individuals could launch an attack on several locations in Brussels simultaneously.”

“We have indications that the targets of such an attack will be areas that attract large crowds like commercial centers,” he added.

Belgium’s interior minister, Jan Jambon, said that the threat was wider than that posed by Salah Abdeslam, a suspected Paris attacker who is still at large, suggesting that the Paris attacks may have involved a far broader network than originally thought.

“There are a number of suspects,” Mr. Jambon earlier told a Sunday program on the Belgian broadcaster VRT. “That’s why we’ve put in place such a concentration” of security measures, he added. “We are following the situation minute by minute. There’s no point in hiding it, there is a real threat.”

A former French intelligence official close to the investigations said that the Belgians were now looking for eight to 10 people who are heavily armed with weapons and explosives, in addition to Mr. Abdeslam, a resident of the heavily immigrant Molenbeek district of Brussels that was home to several of the Paris attackers.

Several Belgian media outlets reported that the police had arrested four people on Saturday evening, one wearing a suicide belt. Geert Schoorens, a magistrate at the federal prosecutor’s office, said on Sunday that he could “neither deny nor confirm” those reports because investigations were ongoing.

For a second day, the government put the country’s threat level at 4, the highest possible. The United States Embassy in Brussels continued to advise citizens to “remain at home” and avoid public gatherings. The authorities announced that schools and subways in Brussels would remain closed on Monday as well.

A railway station under the headquarters of the European Union’s executive remained sealed off on Sunday and all traffic on the Brussels metro system was suspended. Soldiers with automatic weapons patrolled shopping malls. Several big stores stayed closed. A massive Sunday market near the Brussels-South railway station that usually draws as many as 50,000 shoppers was canceled.

Prime Minister Michel said on Saturday that the threat level had been raised because of “information, relatively precise, of a risk of an attack similar to the one that unfolded in Paris.”

Bernard Clerfayt, the mayor of Schaerbeek, a commune of Brussels, was more loose-tongued. On Sunday, he told the Belgian television network RTBF that “there are two terrorists on the ground in the Brussels region.”

Brussels was under such high alert that Mr. Jambon said he requested some football matches be canceled so that the reserve federal police, who usually enforce the security during matches, could be deployed in the capital.

At the same time, the French authorities on Sunday published a new call for witnesses related to the attacks in Paris and the raid in Saint-Denis last week, appealing for more information about the suicide bomber who was the second of three attackers to detonate explosive vests outside the Stade de France.

The call for witnesses, published by the French national police on Twitter, included a picture but not a name, and asked anybody who had information on the individual to contact the French authorities. The second suicide bomber detonated his vest near Gate H of the stadium, killing no one.

The first detonated his explosives near Gate D, killing one person. A Syrian passport for a 25-year-old individual named Ahmad al-Mohammad, from Idlib, Syria, was found near his body, but the French authorities believe that the passport may have been stolen.

On Friday, the Paris prosecutor’s office said that fingerprints for both the first and second bombers were taken at the same check for migrants in Greece on Oct. 3. The third bomber, identified as Bilal Hadfi, a 20-year-old French citizen living in Belgium, detonated his explosives on the nearby Rue de la Cokerie but did not kill anybody.

The appeal for help and the extraordinary security measures in Brussels came amid fresh revelations around another suspect, Abraimi Lazez, a 39-year-old Belgian of Moroccan descent, who was arrested on Thursday and charged with helping Mr. Abdeslam after his return to Belgium following the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.

The authorities arrested Mr. Lazez after finding a handgun and an unspecified amount of blood in his car, his lawyer, Sokol Vljahen, said. Mr. Lazez, who grew up in the same Molenbeek neighborhood as some of the Paris attackers, denied any link to the attacks, his lawyer said.

Mr. Abdeslam was stopped by French police officers on Nov. 14 during a routine traffic check as he drove back to Brussels with two friends, both of whom have since been arrested, a few hours after the Paris attacks. He had a criminal record, but no warrant linked to his file, and he had not yet been linked to the attacks, so he was allowed to drive on.

One of the two men traveling with him and now under arrest has since told police that Mr. Abdeslam had been wearing a big jacket, “with something underneath,” according to the suspect’s lawyer, Carine Couquelet. While he did not know what it was, the lawyer said, the sight of it “made him scared.”

According to Mr. Lazez’s lawyer, his client never met Salah nor Ibrahim Abdeslam, his brother who died in Paris when he detonated a suicide vest. Mr. Lazez was not friends with Abdelhamid Abaaoud either, he said. Mr. Abaaoud, another Molenbeek resident, was the presumed ringleader of the Paris attacks and killed in a police raid just north of the French capital on Wednesday.

Mohamed, a third brother of the Abdeslams who was detained briefly after the attacks but released, appealed for Salah to turn himself in.

“We wish for him to turn himself in,” he told RTBF television in an interview on Sunday. “To answer us. For our family, for the family of victims, for all the others. We prefer to see him in prison than in a cemetery.”

He denied any knowledge of his brothers’ plans, even though he said that all three “got along well” and had the usual “banal conversations you have with brothers.”

He said he had not paid attention when the attitudes of his two brothers began to change six months ago. “They started praying,” Mohamed said. “Or they stopped drinking alcohol, but it’s not a radical change. For me it’s the sign of people who wanted to chasten themselves, and to be more respectful of their religion.”

When asked whether his brother, Salah, may have been reluctant to participate in the attacks, Mohamed said: “It is my hope that he stepped back at the last minute.”

“Maybe he saw or heard something that made him turn back. After, did he kill victims? Was he at the exact location? Was he there until the end? We don’t know.”


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