… are in the Australian War Memorial collection in Canberra, as are his jacket, cap and medals. You can also read an entry about Shannon in the online exhibition, Fifty Australians:
a cross-section of Australians – sometimes a leader, a hero, or even a rogue – who saw war and its effects. Some of these men and women gave their lives, others became renowned for their wartime courage or example, while others, affected for better or worse, emerged to face the peace where they would make their own particular mark. Each has a fascinating story.
Some of these people, such as the cricketer Keith Miller, may be familiar to non-Aussies. Many more are not, but their stories add to our wider knowledge of just how deeply the scars of war are etched on us all.
I knew Dave Shannon. I was delivery-boy for a local chemist in Widmore Green and was at St. Cecilia’s almost every day of the week. He, his wife, and the kids were there almost as often, helping Leonard and Sue. Other Dam Busters would come down and spend the weekend so Leonard and Sue could get some rest occasionally. Dave was managing Cheshire’s Interflora shop up in Hendon. Like a lot of the other ‘Busters’ it was the only job he was offered after the war, nobody wanted ‘a suicide-merchant’ on their staff. My best mate’s dad flew the rear turret of a Lancaster the last 2 years of the war and even HE called them that when I told him I knew the lads!
“I knew flowers from home, I used to earn cash after school by working for local farmers and nurseries,” Dave muttered to me, “I HATE b###y flowers, I’m not even going to have any on my grave!”
But, every evening, this same man read all details he could find on one flower-type, so he could give his customers the very best help he could in looking after their gardens, he was up before dawn at the auctions buying the day’s flowers, not only for him but also other florists in London, as buying bulk got them better prices. The days he was hung-over (he had his dark days and loved a pint) his competitors would buy his flowers for him! He always turned-up, but a bit late, groaning like a bull.
David Shannon sought-out every single nursery in Britain, making personal visits to see what they had to offer (via my mate’s dad I found one near Keston in Kent that he’d not been able to find as it was hidden behind a farm on a wagon-track. Clutching the rough sketch I’d been given Dave and I drove there and, after a bit of argy-bargy, me running down rabbit-trails and jumping over hedges, found it). Dave was a very thorough man. His business knowledge doubled the take for ALL the British Interflora shops – he was actually known as Mr. Interflora – and trebled the take for Cheshire’s shop. He could have retired a millionaire if he had worked for himself, but he and Anne remained loyal to the Cheshire’s, even though it ment his family lived above the shop.
His crew told me there were two reasons they survived the war: Luck… and David Shannon.
A remarkable man, and a good friend, a shoulder for a young teen to lean on in times of need. Unfortunately, he also had a LOT of contacts up in London …and heard things.
“I know what you’ve been up to, laddie. Cool it or get your ar## kicked!”
There was also a reason why his crew called him ‘Boy’ off-duty – and ‘Sir’ in the air!
It was a privilage to have known him.