Born in Swan Hill in Victoria on 17 February 1920, Charles was the son of Michael and Doris Adair. He attended the local state primary and high schools, and his hobbies and sporting interests included horse riding, swimming, boxing and football. After finishing his studies, he became a drover.
Adair enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force in August 1940 and was made a member of the service police. In July 1941, he applied to become air crew, and trained as a wireless air gunner. However, according to the training report, understanding Morse code “got the better of him”, so he transferred to the bombing and gunnery school to become an air gunner.
During this period of training, in January 1942, Adair married Joyce Beryl Bassett in Brisbane.
A year later, he embarked for overseas service, arriving in England in March 1943. As part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, he was one of almost 27,000 Royal Australian Air Force pilots, navigators, wireless operators, gunners, and engineers who joined Australian and British squadrons in Britain throughout the course of the war.
Adair undertook further specialist training before being posted to No. 467 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force. As part of Bomber Command, No. 467 Squadron flew the four-engined Avro Lancaster heavy bomber.
On the night of 23 September 1943, the Lancaster DV 233 in which Adair was rear gunner left England on a bombing operation over Germany. Its primary target was the industrial city of Mannheim in the country’s south-west.
The bomber was attacked by a German fighter plane, and the fuselage and engines were set on fire. The pilot ordered the crew to bail out, before the aircraft crashed near the Goddelau Railway Station, 50kms north of Mannheim. Five of the seven crew were taken prisoners of war.
The badly burned body of Adair, aged 23, was found in the tail of the aircraft. The pilot also perished though his body was never found.
Flight Sergeant Adair was buried at the local cemetery but later reinterred in the Durnbach War Cemetery, in Bavaria, Germany.
Emma Campbell, Researcher, Military History Section
Image: Crew of "M" for Mother, a Lancaster aircraft belonging to No. 467 Squadron RAAF in Bomber Command. The Squadron is based at RAF Station Waddington, and this crew is just preparing to take off on a raid over Berlin, 14 September 1943. 11615 Sergeant (later Flt Sgt) Charles Edward Adair is third from the right. Read more about this image - https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C252518.