Don Charlwood AM (1915 - 2012)

(Photo: CAHS collection)

Donald Ernest Cameron Charlwood was born on 6 Sepotember 1915 and grew up in Frankston, Vic. With the outbreak of war in 1940, Don enlisted in the RAAF. After training in Canada, he was posted to Britain where he served as a navigator on Lancasters in Bomber Command. In the winter of 1942-43 his crew was the only one on their squadron to complete a 'tour' of thirty operations.

After the war, Don returned to Australia and joined the Air Traffic Control branch of the Department of Civil Aviation. He worked as a controller until 1952 when he became an instructor at the Department's Central Training College in Melbourne. From 1954 his work concentrated on the selection, training and staff movement of air traffic controllers. This work took Don throughout Australia and New Guinea, and to the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand. Don Charlwood was responsible for recruiting a whole generation of Australian Air Traffic Controllers.

In addition to his work in air traffic control, Don Charlwood is a successful author. His first book, No Moon Tonight, appeared in 1956 and was a fictionalised account based on his wartime experiences with Bomber Command. It is still regarded as one of the best works dealing with the bomber war. He has also written All The Green Year, another best-selling novel, An Afternoon of Time and The Wreck of the Loch Ard. His two-volume autobiography Marching As To War and Journeys Into Night appeared later.

In 1967 Don Charlwood also published Take-Off to Touchdown: The Story of Air Traffic Control, a popular account of Australia's air traffic control system. This book was updated and re-published several times.

Click here to see some photos of Don Charlwood in Essendon Briefing in 1948-49.

In January 1992 Don Charlwood was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to literature.

Don Charlwood passed away on 18 June 2012 at the age of 96.

Listen to Don's recollections of ATC training in 1945 (718 KB MP3 file)

Below: Don Charlwood talking with CAHS President Roger Meyer at the Airways Museum, 13 December 2006.


Don Charlwood Roger Meyer

Right: The cover of the 1972 edition of Take-Off To Touchdown

(Phil Vabre collection)

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