Peter Stuart Isaacson AM, DFC, AFC, DFM

Peter left BGS to start  working as a messenger boy for The Age at the age of 16. Three years later,  in 1940  he joined the RAAF. After completing his training  in Australia and  Canada, he was  posted to the UK. Peter completed 45 sorties with Bomber Command, when  the likelihood of surviving  an operational tour of 30 missions was  never more  than  50 percent and,  at times,  much  less. Peter was  awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal in November 1942  for “many successful night attacks on the enemy.” He was  awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on 30 March 1943  for his actions during a raid on Berlin. His citation read:  “One night in March 1943,  this officer was detailed for an attack on Berlin. Following the attack and while still over the target area, his aircraft was  hit by anti- aircraft fire and  severely damaged. The mid-upper turret frame  was  twisted,  the perspex and  2 engine cowlings blown off, the aileron controls damaged and the aircraft forced  down to 4,000  feet.  On the return  journey  the aircraft was driven off the route and held in a cone of searchlights for 15 minutes; during this time a further loss  of height  down to 900 feet occurred. In the face  of this perilous situation Pilot Officer Issacson, showing coolness, resolution and  skilful airmanship, succeeded in flying his aircraft back  to base. This officer is an outstanding captain of aircraft who has  a fine record of many  successful operational sorties.” In May 1943,  Peter was  chosen to captain Lancaster Q-for-Queenie on a landmark flight from England to Australia  across the Pacific Ocean, and  then  from Melbourne to New Zealand and  back,  non-stop in both directions. The Lancaster was  brought to Australia  so that it could serve as a template for local production of the type, but this never took place and  it was  instead used for exhibition flights to encourage purchase of war bonds. On 22 October 1943  Peter flew Q-for-Queenie under the Sydney Harbour Bridge,  flouting a 1931  regulation that prohibited such activity. The Lancaster remains the largest aircraft to have been flown under the bridge. Isaacson gave his crew no warning  of what he was about to do and  when  asked later why he did it, replied “Because it was  there”. His wartime  commission was  terminated in February 1946  and  he transferred to the RAAF Reserve. He served as an honorary aide-de-camp to Queen Elizabeth II from 1963  to 1965. After working as aviation  correspondent for The Argus in Melbourne, Peter set  up his first newspaper, the Advertiser, in 1947  and  established Peter Isaacson Publications the same year. Over the years, the Advertiser consolidated with other local papers to create the all-encompassing Southern Cross, a paid suburban paper spanning the southern suburbs of Melbourne. Peter also  published Sunday Observer and  various business and  industry  magazines. In 1993,  the Southern Cross was  sold to APN News  and Media.  Peter gave up his day-to-day duties to become a director  of APN. He continued publishing until 2003. In June 1991  Peter was  appointed a Member of the Order  of Australia  “for services to the print media and  the community”. Peter is a Life Governor of the Victorian Shrine of Remembrance, having  previously served as a Trustee from 1956  to 2000,  and  Chairman from 1983  to 2000.

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