Having just experienced another Anzac Day in Australia, I heard the term ‘Biscuit Bomber’ for the first time. Anzac Day is a bit special for us as a family, albeit that we have no actual connection to the day. But being a commissioned officer in the SANDF (South Africa) and being married to a general’s daughter, ‘war’ is more than an idea or tangential memory; it is a lived experience.
I always wish I could achieve with words what the sounds of the Last Post does with emotions.
On the Sunday service following Anzac Day, I heard the term Biscuit Bombers and for some obscure reason this immediately made me think of what I saw the previous afternoon when our local park footy team played Aussie Rules. But before I get ahead of myself, back to the war.
During the war, rations were scarce because all supplies were unloaded at Port Moresby from a small wharf that was ill-equipped to handle the volume of cargo and was subject to frequent air attack. Using native carriers was impractical, because in the eight days it would take to complete the walk, the carrier would eat much of the cargo.
Building roads would have been impossible given the time constraints and the terrain.
Planes could land at local airstrips or drop supplies by parachute, and that became the preferred method.
The famous Douglas DC-3 transport aircraft and the crews manning them became known as “Biscuit Bombers”.
The Biscuit Bombers dropped supplies along the various tracks or into clearings hacked out of the jungle.
The job was hot and dangerous.
They operated without harnesses and without protective gear. They weren’t shot at, but some of these crews were lost in the process.
When I was in the Army, we were taught to appreciate the support crew (being one of them myself) – which outnumbered the frontline troops by 7:1 we were told.
Think about the impact on the troops in the jungle if they did not get their ‘biscuits’.
And at the local park footy, the same applies. Even for that game at that level, there are at least eight to ten officials required to make one match happen. Not counting the runners, the medics and the canteen volunteers and raffle ticket sellers. Without them, the game would not happen.
Without the Biscuit Bombers, the war would not happen.
And in every organisation you have your biscuit bombers. The foreman in the warehouse. The executive assistant. The junior designer. The security guard.
It may vary, but often the sales crew are the glamour folks. They bring in the dough. And act like it. The organisation evolves around them. They are the frontline troops.
In retail organisations it may be the area managers or the merchandisers who get the accolades – biggest bonuses and first in line for promotion.
But without the biscuit bombers, there wouldn’t BE an organisation to strut around in.
Real leaders know that if you want to take home the chocolates, you must make sure that biscuit bombers are empowered to do what they need to do too.
How does your organisation treat the biscuit bombers?
Dennis Price: Co-founder at www.yearone.solutions