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The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel

MEDIA RELEASE

Monday, 3 February 2020

Flight Lieutenant's ID tags return home after 76 years

THE identification tags of one of Australia’s Second World War servicemen were today reunited with family members, 76 years after his death in Europe.

Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester said he was honoured to present the family of Flight Lieutenant Kevin Fell’s family with his identification tags, fittingly at the Australian War Memorial.

“Flight Lieutenant Fell was praised as a brilliant pilot with zeal and determination to get on with the job and I was honoured to present his relatives with his identification tags, which were discovered in France,” Mr Chester said.

“The tags were recovered from a previous local Red Cross headquarters and in 2019 were returned to the Sir John Monash Centre at Villers-Bretonneux by the French Remembrance Committee in Héricourt.

“The Office of Australian War Graves then began the difficult task of tracking down Flight Lieutenant Fell’s descendants and by October the identification tags began their journey home, with their final leg being completed today.”

The identification tags were presented to Flight-Lieutenant Fell’s half-brother and nephew, both also named Mr Kevin Fell, and half-sister Mrs Gai Winter.

Flight Lieutenant Fell’s half-brother Kevin said ‘although we never knew him, my sister Gai Winter and I both witnessed as growing children the grief experienced by our father, Lindsay James Fell, and his pride and love for his eldest son. We remember also today his young widow Elsie Fell, who never remarried, and the loss of her beloved husband. And how we heard from people in Forbes of a smart, energetic young man who laughed a lot’.

Kevin Fell, the nephew, said ‘the fact that two family members were named after him shows how highly regarded he was by all sides of our family. I still recall as a small child seeing him in uniform at a family event, perhaps a farewell before he left for the war’.

Both men acknowledged that their family’s experience of loss is one that was shared by tens of thousands of Australian families in the Second World War. Though the recovery of the identification tags brought a renewed sense of loss to the family, they also felt pride in the bravery and sacrifice of their family member.

On 15 March 1944, Flight Lieutenant Fell joined a large-scale attack on the German industrial centre of Stuttgart when his Halifax failed to return to base in Yorkshire, and later that year in June the British embassy confirmed his death.

“The news of Flight Lieutenant Fell’s tragic death confirmed his wife and family’s fears, and rocked his community of Forbes – they were grief stricken,” Mr Chester said.

“I thank Flight Lieutenant Fell for his service and sacrifice and his family who shared the effects of loss and sacrifice.

“Later this year on 15 August, we will mark the 75th Anniversary of the end of the Second World War. I encourage all Australians to commemorate the service and sacrifice of the service men and women in their community, just like the town of Forbes will remember Flight Lieutenant Fell.”

On Tuesday, 17 March at 11pm, Flight Lieutenant Fell’s name will be projected onto the exterior of the Hall of Memory at the Australian War Memorial.

ENDS

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Rachel Tharratt: 02 6277 7820
DVA Media: 02 6289 6466

Office of the Hon Darren Chester, Canberra ACT

Open Arms — Veterans and Families Counselling provides support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families. Free and confidential help is available 24/7. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 1800 011 046 or +61 8 8241 4546) or visit www.OpenArms.gov.au