Fighter Squadrons Branch

Vale Au Revoirs

RAAF PLT 77 Sqn Korea

Died 27 Jun 2020 Aged 96


5 April 1924 - 27 June 2020
Age 96 years

Our friend and veteran colleague Jim Mitchell has passed away aged 96 years. Jim was the oldest surviving 77 SQN WWII pilot and was a prominent member of the 77 SQN Association.

Jim was an 18 year old teenager when he enlisted on 26 June1942 and did his elementary flying training at Benalla, gaining his wings on Wirraways at Deniliquin. By September 1943 he was training to be a fighter pilot at 2OTU at Mildura.

In late January 1944 he travelled by troop train, with thousands of others, from Spencer Street Station to Townsville and thence to Garbut Airfield. From there he joined 84 Squadron on Horn Island before the Squadron moved back to Darwin pending an attack from the Japanese, then back to Horn Island ten days later.

No. 84 Squadron was a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) fighter squadron of World War II. It was established in February 1943 and was part of the defences of the Torres Strait area from April 1943 until May the next year.

In June 1944 Jim joined 77 Squadron based at the time on Los Negros Island. He island hopped with them until November when he returned to Australia to the Central Flying School at Point Cook to do an instructor’s course graduating in February the following year. The last four months of the war were spent at Deniliquin as Staff Instructor. Date of discharge 14 May 1946 from 38 Squadron.

At war’s end he volunteered to fly as a co-pilot on C475 returning Australian prisoners of war.

Survived by his three children Judy, Beverley and Colin and loving grandfather & great grandfather.

WW2 Pilots in the clouds once more - ]im‘s reunion with the P40 Kittyhawk

No. 84 Squadron Kittyhawks over Thursday Island in 1943

Rest In Peace James Henry Mitchell
Good and True Australian


John Alex Seaton

RAAF Pilot 77 Sqn Korea

Died 13 Apr 2020 Aged 92


06356 John Alex Seaton MBE 
21 Apr 1927 - 13 Apr 2020 
Age 92 years

It is with great sorrow and respect but with pride in his service and fondness for him that we salute our good friend and colleague, John Seaton who passed away peacefully. John was just eight (8) Days short of his 93rd year. 

John Alex Seaton, born 1927 in Launceston, Tasmania. Applied to join RAAF at the start of the Korean War, 1950, whilst working for Shell in Territory of Papua New Guinea, but was not accepted until his Shell contract was completed in early 1951. 

Commenced flying training with No 8 Pilots Course in January 1952 at Archerfield Queensland (No. 1 ITS) and then onto Uranquinty, NSW (No 1 BFTS) then Point Cook (No 1 AFTS). Graduated December 1952. 

On graduation John was posted to No 2 (F) OTU, Williamtown. Operated on P51 Mustang and Mark 30 Vampire before posting to No 77 Squadron, to Iwakuni, Japan and then on to Korea on Mk 8 Meteors. 

Completed 49 missions before Armistice on July 27, 1953. Remained in Korea until October 21, 1953, then posted to Iwakuni to assist Gus Goy at Conversion Unit. 

Posted back to Australia on November 7, 1953. Long leave until February 10, 1954 then to No. 11 FIC at East Sale. Graduated QFI June 7 of that year and posted to No. 1 BFTS, Uranquinty as instructor on DH82, Tiger Moth and Wirraway. 

After 18 months at ‘Quinty’ John was posted to Antarctic Flight on November 14, 1955. Six weeks at Pt. Cook on Beavers and Austers (wheels, skis and floats) then down to Antarctica December 26, 1955. 

He spent 15 months away from Australia, 12 months at Mawson doing wide range of flying duties like photographic, transport of personnel, exploration, depot laying, etc. Whilst on an exploratory photographic flight on November 28 1956 he had the amazing good fortune to find the Lambert Glacier, the largest glacier in the world. 

Three months leave on return from Antarctica, then posting to 75 Squadron, Williamtown June 18, 1957. 

Joined Qantas at end of 1957. Six years employment including two and a half years in TPNG, followed by three and a half years on B707 out of Sydney. 

To General Aviation in 1964 operating out of Sydney, then to Solomon Islands in October 1966 as Chief Pilot and General Manager until 1977. 

Flew part-time with Aquatic Airways at Palm Beach until June 1985. 

Last flight in command June 16 1985 in a Cessna 150 at Warnervale, NSW thus ending the profession of flying having flown 27 different types of aircraft over 34 years.  

After the career in aviation he was employed in the building industry and in small business management, retiring finally aged 72. 

In addition to his MBE, he was also awarded the Polar Medal and the Air Medal (US). 

No 8 Pilots Course                       RAAF Base Mawson

Rest In Peace John Seaton 
Good and True Australian








Died 24 Jan 2020 Aged 93

Squadron Leader

18 Jun 1926 - 24 Jan 2020
Age 93 years

It is with great sorrow that we report the passing of our good friend and colleague 'Dinny' O'Brien who passed away last Friday after an extended period of health and medical challenges which he unabatedly addressed with determination and purpose.

Brief Service Timeline
1944 - Joined RAAF July
1945 - Served at 8OTU Parkes NSW to Dec 45,
1946 - Crew Conversion Unit & 75 Sqn WLM,
1947 - Fitter 2A (Airframe Fitter) Course
1948 - 81 Wing BCOF Japan to Dec 48,
1950 - 77Sqn Japan/Korea Jul 50 - Oct 51,
1951 - 2OCU & 481Sqn WLM
1954 - Promoted SGT, 78 Wing and 2 OTU
1957 - OTS Rathmines
ARDU & CAC to Dec 60,
Mirage Project Paris Jan 61 to May 64,
2OCU/75/481 Sqns WLM - Aug 69,
75 Sqn Butterworth - Sep 70
1977 WLM - Sep77 Resigned

Vincent Joseph O’Brien, known to the world as “Dinny”, a nickname he was given when he first arrived at Williamtown in 1946, was born in 1926 at Cowra, New South Wales.

After leaving school he joined the local Air Training Corps in 1942 and remained a cadet until joining the RAAF at Sydney on 18 July 1944 Basic (Rookie) Training, initial Engineering & Trade Training (Flight Rigger) was completed at Cootamundra, Adelaide and Ascot Vale.

First Operational posting was to No 8 OTU, Parkes, NSW, working on Spitfires until the end of WWII. After a brief period at No 5 SFTS, Uranquinty, was posted for discharge to Bradfield Park, Sydney. Signed a two year contract to serve in the Interim Air Force then posted to 31 Squadron, Williamtown which was abandoned and he was transferred to Crew Conversion Unit (CCU) to work on Mosquito, Wirraway & Mustang aircraft in March 1946. Remained at Williamtown until May 1947 then completed Fitter 2A (Airframe Fitter) course at Wagga.

Shortly after returning to Williamtown was posted to 481 (M) Squadron at Bofu and Iwakuni, Japan, as a member of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) where he remained until December, 1948. Whilst in Japan Interim Air Force contract expired and was “conned” into joining Permanent Air Force (PAF) for twelve years. Returned to Williamtown and remained with No 78 Wing until posted to No 77 Squadron at Iwakuni, arriving on 7 July 1950. Dinny’s tour of duty was fifteen months after which he was posted back to Williamtown in November 1951.

Went over on the Westralia, landed at Labuan, Iwakuni and Bofu for 3 months. They went to Tokyo month around doing guard duty, which was great fun, the Yanks taught them how to march. It was the 65th Infantry Battalion of the USA Army.

While with 77 Squadron he served at Pohang, Hamhung, Pusan and Kimpo in both North and South Korea, working on Mustang, Meteor and DC 3s. Promoted to corporal in November 1950 while at Hamhung. Returned to Williamtown, per the Kanimbla which was like a cattle truck – absolutely terrible, to 78 Wing and 2 OTU,
and promoted to sergeant in November 1954 and remained there until posted to Officer Training School, at Rathmines in September 1957.

Postings after being commissioned included ARDU and 21 Squadron at Laverton then RESENG CAC, Fishermans Bend, Melbourne. In January 1961 he was posted to the staff of the Mirage Project and remained with the project in Paris until returning to Williamtown in July 1964. The remainder of Dinny’s service with the exception of a tour as SENGO 75 Squadron, Butterworth, Malaysia in 1969/70, was spent at Williamtown at various Units including 2OCU, 75 and 481 Squadrons. Dinny took early retirement in September 1977 , having served for thirty three years.

Dinny married in April 1950 ten weeks before going to Korea. His son Craig was born at Newcastle in November 1952 and daughter Jane was born in July 1962 at Paris, France. He was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1974 and awarded the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977.

One of Dinny’s claims to fame is that he was one of the few ENGOs not to be posted to HQSUPCOM, HQOPCOM or Air Office but he did enjoy many attachments to Darwin, Townsville, Bali, Sale, Wagga, Learmonth etc. and rounded off his Air Force career with two years in the RAAFAR at Williamtown 1981/1983 as DCO during the formation of No 26 Reserve Squadron.

Interview by Dr Chris Clark - Corporal Airframe Fitter No 77 Squadron RAAF, Korea 1950-1951

Rest In Peace Dinny O'Brien
Good and True Australian


John (Doug) Edwards

RAAF O17732 Pilot 75 SQN, 3SQN

Died 18 Sep 2019 Aged 75

O17732 Group Captain

qfi qtc

11 Feb 1944 - 18 Sep 2019
Age 75 years

It is with great regret that we advise the passing of a great mate and colleague, Doug Edwards, who passed away Wednesday 18 September 2019.
Doug had been silently fighting leukaemia for some time and this turned into Acute Myeloid Leukaemia about 12 months or so ago. He was transferred into palliative care at the Wesley hospital in Brisbane to better control his pain, but eventually the cancer got the better of him


Doug began his RAAF career when he joined No 46 Pilots Course at Point Cook, Vic. Following Graduation in June 1963, he was posted to Williamtown for Sabre Conversion in Aug 63 with No 18 OCU Sabre Course.
On completion of the Sabre Course he was posted to No 75 Squadron, also at Williamtown. In late 1964 the Squadron was involved with the detachment of eight Sabres to Darwin, deployed to meet the Indonesian Confrontation occurring at the time. Also at the time, 75 Squadron pilots were being systematically selected to undertake Mirage Conversions. During the ensuing juggling of pilots, Doug also managed time with 76 Squadron until 23 Aug 1965, when, as a FLGOFF, he joined No 4 Mirage Course.
In May 1967 Doug was selected to participate in 'Operation Fast Caravan' - the task transferring 75 Squadron from Williamtown to Butterworth to replace the ageing Sabre force.
Subsequently to his return from Butterworth in late 1969, Doug completed a Flying Instructor Course at Central Flying School, RAAF East Sale then in 1970 began a two year tour as QFI with No 2 FTS at RAAF Pearce, WA.
During 1974-75 he was OPSO in No 3 Squadron - again in Butterworth and following that was posted for overseas service as Assistant Air Atttache in Washington, USA for the period 1977-78

In 1983 Doug was promoted to Group Captain to take the post of CO Base Squadron Williamtown for the period 1983-84 followed by a posting for the period 1985-86 to Officer Commanding RAAF Base, East Sale from where he retired.


Rest In Peace - a Top Guy - Doug Edwards

A Good and True Australian

Robert (Bob) Macintosh

RAAF O37576 PLT 77 Sqn 9 Sqn 5 Sqn

Died 03 Sep 2019 Aged 90

FROM RAAF pilot in three wars to a flying religious minister in the Australian bush, Bob MacIntosh became widely known and respected across many communities.

He flew Meteor fighter planes in South Korea and Iroquois helicopters in the Malaya and Vietnam conflicts, and was also involved in many peacetime emergencies.

Bob grew up in the Sydney suburb of Northmead, where his father was a public works engineer. He won a scholarship to Kings College before starting an engineering degree.

However, Bob had been bitten by the flying bug and because of the prohibitive cost of private lessons decided to join the RAAF in October 1951.

Helped by his aptitude for maths, he quickly progressed through pilot training, flew Vampires and Mustangs, and within 18 months was training in Meteors in Japan.

Bob arrived in South Korea in May 1953 and the war was “called off” in July. But in two months he flew many sorties with 77 Squadron.

He said North Korea’s MiG-15s were superior to the Meteors, especially at altitude. This meant the Meteors were mainly used for their accuracy against ground targets.

Back in Australia, he married Jenny, whom he had met before going to South Korea. He then trained in Iroquois helicopters in the US and saw action in counter-insurgency operations in Malaya.

He was among pilots who went straight on to Vietnam where he was involved in two key engagements among his many sorties.

At the Battle of Long Tan in 1966, he was kept grounded as the “dust off” helicopter, despite the desperate need to resupply our troops.

One of his fellow pilots dropped ammunition at the 11th hour, saving them from annihilation.

Instead, he flew in that night under pitch black conditions guided by the light of a single pencil torch to pick up the most badly wounded.

In Operation Bribie the following year, Australian troops landed unaware on a hornets’ nest of Viet Cong and were badly outnumbered.

Bob’s Iroquois was among the “racetrack” of helicopters which flew in under heavy fire to evacuate the surviving soldiers, including 27 wounded.

At one stage a sitting duck on the ground, Bob said it helped that the Viet Cong had been trained to aim in front of helicopters. His is now at the Australian War Memorial.

Bob returned to Australia to train helicopter pilots. Previously, they had been sent to the US so Bob had to write the syllabus from scratch, have it certified, and train pilots all at the same time. He was awarded an Air Force Cross in 1969 for this work, one of his 16 war and peacetime decorations.

Bob used his Vietnam experience plucking wounded soldiers from the jungle by cable and winch to rescue survivors from the roofs of houses.

He had started out in South Korea as an agnostic, but the constant ground fire and tracer bullets was a factor in his reading the Bible from cover to cover, and having often fiery arguments with the padres.

By the end of that war he had adopted non-denominational religious beliefs. Jenny was a practising Anglican but that church’s refusal to give him communion led him to adopt the Uniting Church.

When he reached 50, the mandatory retirement age for flying wing commanders, Bob studied at theology college. His first posting at Bordertown did not start well. His lesson on Jonah and the whale was met with outrage from the conservative parish which believed in the tale’s literal truth. Over the next three years they were reconciled and eventually came to admire their preacher.

When the church sought a minister/pilot for Meekatharra, an enormous parish in WA that had its own plane, Bob and Jenny took up the challenge.

They spent 10 years serving the needs of small towns, stations, mines and Aboriginal communities across the northwest of Australia.

After his second retirement, Bob became deeply involved in the veterans community, was vice-president of the RAAF Association in SA and president of its Mitcham branch.

He received a medal of the Order of Australia in 2015 for his work in the community.

He is survived by Jenny, four children, 15 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren.

John Price

RAF PLT 77 Sqn Korea

Died 15 May 2019 Aged 89

AVM John Price CBE DL



                                             “Tail Rotor Price”

Air Vice Marshal John Price, who died aged 89 in May 2019, was one of many RAF pilots who  flew with  77 Squadron in Korea.   He joined the Squadron in December 1952 after flying Vampires in Germany.  John also came to Williamtown on exchange at OCU.

John Price joined the RAF as a cadet at Cranwell in 1948 and his early flying tours were with 11 Squadron in Germany and then 77 Squadron RAAF in Korea.  He later switched to helicopters as OC 110 Squadron, returning to fixed wing when he commanded RAF Laarbruch.  He was DofOps (Strike) during the Falklands imbrolglio and finally ACAS (Ops)

I have to include a story told after his death by another helicopter pilot that explains John’s nick name which he kept all his career.

In July 1964 he was on Basic Helicopter Course (Sycamores) -  Watching the fun from the crew room was a chopper pilot and other trainees.   As XG507 came into view it started  flaring and sinking, and flaring , and now the tail stinger is almost on the ground.  At this point I should have said to crew room  I say chaps this looks pretty sporting what-ho but being a Sgt pilot I probably said F$$% hell he’s crashing, as by now the tail-rotor was furrowing the turf and splintering.

The Sycamore now yawed to the right on its wheels and proceeded at some pace across the grass towards the airfield boundary, shedding the rear cabin doors in the process, eventually stopping, followed very shortly afterwards by a fire engine, ambulance and a staff car, probably OC Flying.  Now thinking about this I could not think why the aircraft had scuttled off in the direction it did.   “Old Duffer” searched the records and the accident report stated that “the student (JWP) was on his FHT and doing an engine off landing blah blah etc etc so when we did EOLs after entering auto when stabilised one pulled the idle cut off and the engine stopped, restart when safely on the ground so, if you are still with me, no torque, no tail rote, aircraft yaws to the right.  Bristol Sycamore HR 14 XG507 was written off 16/7/1964.  Crashed on take-off at Ternhill after pilot error  -  another report notes damaged in heavy landing at Ternhill, whilst with CFS - aircraft retired.

John is fondly remembered by his many friends in the RAAF and stories abound about his activities on his various motor bikes,  in fact motor bikes feature largely in most people’s memories of him.


Contributed by Lesley Gent AO

Brian Chunky Ball

RAF PLT 77 Sqn Korea

Died 15 May 2019

BRIAN JAMES “ Chunky” BALL     579588 (RAF)

Taken from a group Squadron Pilots photograph 1953

Photograph Richard Gilham

Wing Commander Ball passed away in May 2019 after a struggle with cancer.  Not long before his death I was happy to facilitate contact for him with old “mates” from Korean days.   Jake Newham kept up a correspondence until his passing which his daughter, Lindi, said he appreciated very much.  The photographs he received particularly enjoyed.

Brian James Ball joined the RAF as an aircraft apprentice.    He won a cadetship to RAF College Cranwell – 49 entry.[1]  He received promotion from Flying Officer to Flight Lieutenant with effect 5 October 1952.[2]

“Chunky” Ball arrived at Kimpo and 77 Squadron on 2 April 1953[3] and the following day, accompanied by FlgOff E A Arnott took his first ride in 77-851. This was an introduction recce that was interrupted due to bad weather.[4]    Halestorm  (77-851) was famous for being the plane flown by George Hal when he shot down a MiG on 27 March 1953.

Crashed on take off 29 August 1953 [5] - A77-857 - pilot B J Ball.  The crash was caused by a chrome metal ring about 1.5” in diameter and 1” across the flat which normally was fitted to the left throttle grip, and rotated in sympathy with the right throttle twist grip.   His rudders jammed, and the ring found later between the right pedal and the boot-slide.[6] 

Brian left Kimpo on 26 September 1953 on completion of Operation Tour.[7]

FltLt Ball was awarded a DFC which was promulgated Tuesday 11 May 1954:[8]

“The Queen has been graciously pleased to approve the following award in

recognition of gallant and distinguished service in Korea

Distinguished Flying Cross

Flight Lieutenant Brain James BALL (579588) Royal Air Force.”

He was promoted in July 1958 to Squadron Leader[9]  and to Wing Commander with effect   1 July 1963.[10]  At one stage Brain was DRQFI at Cranwell.[11]  He and his family spent some time in Canberra where he completed a Staff Course.

After  thirty years service, on 31 October 1978, Wing Commander B J Ball took retirement from the RAF.[12]

          DFC_  We were flying over the target and it was clear to me we were going to miss it.  We were too high.  I left the formation and dived down to 600 feet avoiding the flak.  The target was a white building.  I hit the target and returned to the formation.  Thus the mission was successful.                                           

Australian War Memorial  P00402.006

Back Row: Squadron Leader Neville McNamara   

Foreground: Flying Officer L. Schwaiger (RAF)

Centre Row:  U/K, Flt Lt K Williamson (RAF)  & Flt Lt Brian Ball (RAF)


[1]  AVM John W  Price (Retd)

[2]  London Gazette  28 October 1952

[3]  Unit History A50 sheet 425 – NAA p647

[4]  Unit History A51 NAA p658

[5]  ADF Serials

[6]  AVM Jake Newham (Retd)

[7]  Unit History A50

[8]  The London Gazette 11 May 1954 p.2765

[9]  The London Gazette 1 July 1958 p.4143

[10]  The London Gazette 28 June 1963 p.5637

[11]  AVM  John  W Price – RAF (Retd)

[12]  The London Gazette 7 November 1978 p.13295


Contributed by Lesley Gent AO




Leslie Norman Clarke Dunn

RAAF O315910 GD PLT 3,75,76,77 SQNS 2OCU

Died 23 Dec 2018 Aged 77



I am Dave Bowden a long time friend of Les and have been asked to talk about his life in the Royal Australian Air Force.  Like many of his friends here today, Les was a career member of the RAAF.  While he had many jobs he only had one boss.

Les joined the RAAF as a direct entry aircrew in January 1963.  He underwent the usual initial officer training which is closely tied to flying training at Point Cook in Victoria and then at Pearce in Western Australia.  He graduated from No 49 Course with his wings in May 1964 and distinguished himself by being awarded the Academic Prize.  Like all initial graduates, he held the exalted rank of Pilot Officer.  He was posted to fighters at Williamtown in NSW where the more colloquial term for a novice pilot was BOGGIE which was short for BOG  RAT Pilot.  In the Air Force everyone has to start on the bottom rung.

Now Williamtown, which is the home of fighter flying, is where many life long friendships, relationships and memories were forged. We all worked, lived, played, progressed, and were influenced in life through the ups and downs that were our lot in this large organisation.  For a young man this was a very exciting phase of life.  Les was flying the F86 Sabre aircraft which is generally regarded as the classic jet fighter aircraft.  Painted helmets, scarves, orange flying suits, g suits and lots of moving hands were all part of the scene.  Loud claims of ‘kill’ in mock combat were not unusual but the rule was - no film no kill.  Les was a member of No 76 Squadron at Williamtown and later No 77 Squadron in Butterworth Malysia. 

Squadron commanders were all very large characters and had a significant influence on the life of a young fighter pilot like Les.  Mind you squadron life was pretty full with night flying, deployments to distant bases such as Darwin and Singapore for exercises and then there was Mess life, Dining In Nights, Squadron parties, wine bottling and of course raising a family.   Les met Stef while in Pearce and they later married when at Williamtown.  Their two sons Geoffrey and Christopher were born (I think) in Malaysia and like so many service families moved around a lot.  Christopher joined the Air Force although you may now find him in a Qantas uniform.

In 1968 Les converted to the French designed Mirage III where a number of people here today were his course mates.  On graduation Les was posted to No 76 Squadron and later to No 75 Squadron in Butterworth..  While at 75 Squadron Les set a unique record that still stands today.  Rivalry between fighter squadrons was always pretty intense.  This was always part of the fighter culture – in combat if you do not win you die.  Well there was this famous RAF Squadron (No 74) based in Tengah Singapore.  They flew an unusual twin engined aircraft called the Lightning.  I say unusual because it had its two engines placed one above the other and were generally regarded as fuel guzzlers and very difficult to work on as the engines basically held the front and back of the aircraft together.  Now not only was there inter squadron rivalry but here we had the French Mirage flown by the Aussie Air Force and down the road there was this English Lightning squadron with is proud history forged in both the World wars. Its logo was a tiger head and its motto was FEAR NO MAN.  Over the years a challenge developed as to who could fly the fastest time from Tengah Air Base in Singapore to Butterworth a distance of about 300 miles.  Both aircraft were capable of flying at Mach 2 (twice the speed of sound).  Well in February 1971 Les Dunn set the record that still stands today.  His time from brakes release Tengah to overhead Butterworth was 24 minutes 13 seconds which beat the Lightning time by - 4 seconds.  While they may have feared no man they learnt to fear Les Dunn.  I can imagine the comments around the Tengah bar that night- damn those colonials and their French designed fighters.

Les flew with all the fighter squadrons and as a result of his abilities was selected to undergo the pinnacle of fighter training.  He became a Fighter Combat Instructor (FCI) and in that capacity he stayed at No 2 Operational Conversion Unit to instruct novice fighter pilots on the Mirage.  He returned to squadron operations and then spent the early 1980s at Butterworth on the Headquarters. 

Life in Butterworth was very enjoyable as you were required to employ local staff to help around the house with cooking, cleaning and gardening while in your off duty time you played cards, golf, tennis, swimming and enjoyed a very hectic social life.

By now the Air Force was calling Les to move into higher level policy and planning areas which meant moving to Canberra and ‘ that bureaucratic environment’.  Life in Air Force Office Canberra was quite alien to squadron life but you had to adapt to the environment in which you operated.  I think one of the more significant staff postings for Les in Canberra was as Staff Officer to the Deputy Chief of Air Force.  His boss, Sir Neville McNamara, was later to become the Chief of Defence Force and they shared a long and very close relationship. 

In 1981 Les graduated from the Joint Services Staff College which was a 6 month development course held in Canberra.  The College was at Weston Creek and was more commonly known as the ‘sewerage farm’ because of a large processing facility just down the road.  By 1984 Les was working overseas in Washington DC as the RAAF member of the international Air Standardisation Coordinating Committee which links major western Air Forces on interoperability matters.  

Back in Australia Les was promoted to Group Captain and appointed Officer Commanding of the Base Squadron at Williamtown.  To put this in perspective Les was the Mayor of this large base.   This covered a very wide range of responsibilities and activities.  Under his command were cooks, fire fighters, air traffic controllers, married quarters and service police.  Les managed this very demanding job with his usual calm, confident and effective style.  As is the case for all senior officers Canberra eventually called and Les returned there to work in the Facilities and other Project Management areas until his retirement.

After retiring in the mid 90s Les became involved in coordinating and controlling the very active flying program of Air Shows Down Under at Avalon and various side events such as air displays at the Grand Prix in Melbourne.  Throughout his long and distinguished Air Force career, his wife Stef (who in died in 2006), ably supported him.  Les subsequently met and married Carolyn.  For the past 7 years she has been his constant companion and support.

My colleagues would agree with me when I say his characteristics were sincerity, reliability, commonsense, balance, honesty and good humour.  His contribution to the RAAF and its reputation and those who worked under him, was significant.  We, his friends and colleagues, have been enriched through knowing and working with Les.  We will miss you Les – fly safely. 

Viv Shearn

RAAF GD Pilot 77 Squadron

Died 05 Sep 2018

Vale Hartley Vivian Shearn  DFC  AFC

With great sadness we wish to advise you that our friend and colleague Viv Shearn passed away on 5 September 2018. 

Viv was a very much liked and well-respected man, a great pilot and officer who served his country in an exemplary Air Force career.

The Funeral will be held at Berry Funeral Directors, 198 Magill Road, Norwood, SA at 1000 hours, Thursday, 13th September 2018.  It will be followed by refreshments and then everyone is invited to the burial at Centennial Park.    A Tiger Moth will fly over around 1300hrs

High lights of Viv's Air Force career are here.


Vale Viv Shearn 
Good and True Australian




Viv Shearn enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force on 18 July 1940 in Perth.  He embarked for Canada to complete training as a pilot on 27 November 1940. 

After gaining his Pilot’s Wings he was sent to the United Kingdom arriving in May 1941.

After completing operational training he was posted to 457 Squadron flying Mk1 and later Mk 5B Spitfire aircraft.  He left 457 when the Federal Government recalled a group of pilots, headed by ‘Bluey Truscott, to form 75, 76 and 77 Squadrons.  This was in March 1942 after the Japanese had attacked mainland Australia by bombing Darwin.

On his return to Australia Viv Shearn became an original member of 77 Squadron in Perth.  The Squadron initially operated from what had been part of a local golf course and is now Perth Airport.

In July 1942 he moved north, initially to Darwin, and then on to Milne Bay and Goodenough Island with 77 Squadron. 

In 1944 he returned to Australia and was posted as a Test and Ferry Pilot to No 1 Aircraft Depot at Laverton.

in November 1952, after the outbreak of the Korean War, Viv was posted to Iwakuni and Korea.  After an operational tour in Korea he returned to Australia in July 1953.

Over the next five years Viv was associated with the Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) at Laverton and the Air Trials Units at Edinburgh and Woomera. 

In the 1960 period he became involved with the Maritime World as a P2V5 Neptune skipper with No 11 Squadron at Richmond.

Viv Shearn left the RAAF after a distinguished flying career in October 1970.  His Honours and Awards include:  Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Force Cross, 1939-45 Star, Air Crew Europe Star, Pacific Star, Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-45, Australian Service Medal 1939-45, Australian Active Service Medal 1945-75 with Clasp Korea, Korea Medal, Australian Defence Medal, Air Efficiency Award and Returned from Active Service Badge.

Viv’s DFC citation is as follows:
Flight Lieutenant Shearn joined 77 squadron on 19 December 1952 and since that date has flown 157 missions. For the greatest part of his tour, his appointment has been that of Flight Commander. This officer has planned and led many successful attacks against the enemy. The thorough manner in which he has assessed every detail of the impending raid has enabled his formations to hit heavily defended targets with the minimum of loss. On the 5th June 1953, this officer planned and led an attack by 16 aircraft against an anti-aircraft training battalion, far into enemy territory. The target consisted of nine 76mm anti-aircraft guns, three heavy machine guns, and a considerable quantity of small arm weapons and 32 buildings. Flight Lieutenant Shearn personally selected as his target the anti-aircraft pits and attacked them first with such success that the remaining 15 aircraft attacked the target and evaded without any aircraft receiving damage. The final assessment revealed that 30 buildings and several gun emplacements had been destroyed. Flight Lieutenant Shearn’s eagerness to fly on operations has been a fine example and inspiration to his fellow pilots and reflects great credit on himself and the Royal Australian Air Force.

Vale Viv Shearn 
Good and True Australian

RAAF 022046 GD Pilot

Died 23 Aug 2018 Aged 95


Jack Cornish graduated as a pilot in early 1943 and was then posted to a transport squadron in Adelaide flying to Darwin and out to various places from there.

After a few months he was posted to number 33 Squadron at Milne Bay for 12 months operating around PNG, Pacific islands, and the Phillipines.

After the war transport aircraft were very much in demand, he participated in the evacuation of POWs from Singapore and helped open up the route to Japan.

At the time he was thinking of returning to civilian life suddenly he was offered a permanent commission, leading to service in UK and which involved about six months on the Berlin airlift.

Finally back in Australia he was selected to fly the Queen when she came out to Australia. Other appointments included Air Trials Unit, OC RAAF East Sale, tour in Malaysia, Royal College of Defence studies, Director Operational Requirements, Chief of Air Force Personnel and retirement at age 57.

Moving back to Lake Macquarie he became a director of the Newcastle Permanent Building Society for seventeen years.
John was a Foundation Board Member of Fighter World, Williamtown.


Vale John Gladstone Westley Cornish
Good and True Australian




Fred Barnes


Died 05 Aug 2018 Aged 93


Fred was a liked and well-respected man, a great pilot and officer. A brief summary of his career:

Fred joined the RAAF 1943, served in 77 Sqn 1945;

British Commonwealth Occupation Force (77 Sqn) 1946-49;
77 Sqn Korea 1950-51 (awarded US Air Medal 1950);

Aircraft Research &Development Unit, Woomera, SA, 1951-54 (test pilot flying Pika for Jindivik Project);

On exchange with USAF 1954-55, served with 479 Fighter Wing flying F-86F and F-100A;

Commanding Officer 3 Squadron (Sabres) 1956-57;

Attended RAAF Staff College 1958;
Personnel staff 1959, then involved on Mirage Project 1962;

Commanding Officer 20CU 1963-65;

Deputy Director of Operational Requirements 1965-66;

Air Attache Paris 1966-67;

Air Staff Officer, Butterworth 1968-71;

Attended Royal College of Defence Studies, London, 1972;

Director General Personnel Air Force 1973-76;

Officer Commanding RAAF Williamtown, NSW, 1976-77;

Air Officer Commanding Support Command 1977-79;

AVM Barnes was Deputy Chief of the Air Staff from 1979-1981.



Vale Frederick William Barnes

Good and True Australian



Click here for profile 




Milt Cottee


Died 01 May 2018 Aged 91

With deep gravity we mourn the passing of our wonderful friend and colleague, Milt Cottee.
Milt died this morning, 1st May 2018, in Claire Holland Hospice Canberra, after a long battle with liver cancer.

Milt spent a brief period in the RAAF from 1944, but was discharged as the War ended. While at Sydney University he rejoined for pilot training, receiving his wings at East Sale in 1949. On posting to ARDU the perplexed CO Gel Cuming sent him and fellow pilot Ray Trebilco to a series of operational units to 'gain enough experience for test pilot training.

Following 18 hours of Mustang conversion at 21 Squadron, Milt was posted to 77 Squadron at Iwakuni Japan. It was planned to soon return to Australia, but when war broke out in Korea, Milt was on the first Mustang mission in South Korea.

After 50 Mustang missions he moved back to Sale for QFI training, and then to 22 Squadron Sydney, where he instructed on Wirraways and Mustangs, and later flew the Vampire 30 and 35. In 1954 he was a CFS instructor on Tiger Moths, Wirraways, Dakotas, both Lincoln and Vampire Mks.

But in late 1954 he went to ARDU for two flights in the prototype Sabre 901, and then by RAF Hastings from Mallala to UK for ETPS training in 1955. He spent several years at Boscombe Down on development testing, including the RAF Comet 2C, Valiant, Victor and Vulcan, including RAF hot weather trials in Libya and later trials at Edinburgh and Woomera while he was at Air Trials Unit in 1960-61, before he was posted back to ARDU.

Milt completed RAAF Staff College in 1965 as new wing commander, and then took command of 36 Squadron flying C130As, followed by a posting as F111 Project Manager in Washington in 1969.

Later Milt worked in Air Force Headquarters Operational Requirements Division, before moving to the Reserve to take up a managerial role in the French OFEMA defence company, before moving to General Dynamics Corporation where he actively marketed the F16A to Australia, as well as many other important products such as Phalanx.

In his latter years Milt was an active supporter of the Australian Flight Test Society, especially the history of test pilots since WW2.


Vale Milt Cottee
Good and True Australian


RAAF Eng Aero

Died 24 Apr 2018 Aged 92

Sadly we advise the passing of our good friend and colleague Max Bevan.

In 1943, Max Bevan joined the RAAF and qualified as an Aircraft Technician in the days when flying machines were held together with fabric and glue.

In 1945 he saw service in South East Asia and the Pacific islands until the end of hostilities when he left the service, but not long after, owing to shortage of work, he rejoined by passing an entry trade test, thus avoiding repeat Rookie courses.

In 1949 he was sent to Japan as member of No 481 (Maintenance) Squadron, 81 Wing (Occupational Forces). Following this he was posted to 77 Squadron in Korea.

Max was later commissioned and began service in the Engineering Branch as a qualified ENG AERO.

His career included postings at Richmond (Neptune Aircraft), Staff positions at Support Command and CO Maintenance Squadron East Sale. He resigned as a Wing Commander in 1973.

Max was a well liked, very well respected individual and competent operator as an Engineer Officer.


Vale WGCDR Max Bevan
Good and True Australian


RAAF Flight Mechanic 77 Sqn

Died 13 Aug 2017

Vale Jim Halliday,  WW 2  Flight Mechanic, Sep 42 - Jan 46, Life Member and past President of 77 Sqn Association 1985 to 1992.

The Association owes Jim a big debt as he was one of the very early members..  He was made a Life Member in appreciation of his efforts for the Association.   Both he and Betty have been among our most solid members and have travelled far and wide to attend functions,  WA included.  

Vale Jim Halliday: Good and True Australian


Jim wrote the following about his life.


by Jim Halliday


To celebrate my 18th birthday I enlisted in the Air Force.  Two weeks later I found myself in Sydney’s Bradfield Park, armed with a knife, fork and spoon, an enamel mug and a cut lunch to begin my new life.  It was here I had a medical, wrote out my will, had an aptitude test and was fitted out in an Air Force blue uniform.

It was decided  I had a natural propensity for mechanics for which I was duly trained at Ultimo Technical College while being billeted at Coogee Bay Hotel which had been commandeered by the military for the duration (it was a hard life!!)  I subsequently spent many months training in Tocumwal for overseas service. 

In February 1944 I joined 77 Squadron at Goodenough Island and stayed with them to Los Negros, where our cook got a MID for feeding us while under enemy attack  ( I got dengue fever) then Noemfoor, Moratai and finally Labuan Island, Borneo.  It was termed island-hopping, no hopping about it !!  Every piece of equipment, ammunition, workshop gasoline, tents, kitchen stores, etc had to be loaded onto trucks and driven onto the waiting L.T.Ds.  That was a driving lesson in itself, for it was all hands on deck for loading and unloading …. Some of the cruising was pleasant!

On August 13th 1945 after 18 months in the South West Pacific Islands, my overseas service came to an end.  The Adjutant  called the roll, then announced the following men were going south, meaning HOME.  My name was among about the dozen or so called out, then the Adjutant told us we had 30 minutes to get ready.  Some bright spark at the back yelled out “what will we do in the other 25? Sir”. 

I arrived back in Sydney ten days before my 21st birthday.  I was discharged in February 1946 after a very happy extended leave.

RAAF Pilot 77 Squadron

Died 08 May 2017 Aged 94


Group Captain Gordon Harvey DFC RAAF

Fighter pilot and Korean War POW

North Korea is well known today for its ruthless and at times brutal regime. If anything, it was even harsher during the Korean war. Allied POWs were severely mistreated, suffering physically and mentally and sometimes dying as a result.

Six RAAF pilots and an RAF colleague flying with 77 Squadron in the war became POWs. Unlike many others, all seven survived the bashings, forced marches, malnutrition and other inhuman treatment routinely inflicted on POWs by their fanatical captors and lived to tell their tale.

Gordon Harvey was one of the six RAAF POWs. He was at Iwakuni in Japan when the war broke out on 25 June 1950, flying Mustangs with 77 Squadron as part of the Allied occupation forces. From there he flew on the squadrons first mission over the north escorting USAF B-29 bombers attacking a communist airfield during the first week in July.

The squadron soon switched to the ground attack role for most missions. This was demanding and dangerous work that took a steady toll on aircraft and pilots, but his luck held, he survived seven months of ground attack and was awarded a DFC for his part in this work.

Then, on 19 January 1951 during a 12 aircraft attack on the Chinese Army HQ at Pyongyang, his engine was hit by ground fire and lost power. He calmly announced he was going to belly land this aircraft, did so and climbed out unharmed.

Running low on fuel, the other Mustangs called for a rescue helicopter and returned home. Some time later a USAF Mustang arrived, provided some top cover and dropped a note saying a helicopter was on the way. But it was almost dark and no helicopter arrived. A dawn flight by the squadron next day found his downed aircraft with signs of activity around it, but no pilot. Gordon Harvey was now a POW and would remain so for 32 months.

His first five weeks in captivity were very severe, being spent in a North Korean prison they called Poks Palace after the ruthless major in charge. They rose at 5:30 each day, went to bed at sunset and were given only two meagre meals of rice or sorghum and some weak vegetable soup each day.

In late April he escaped, along with two Americans. Recaptured, they were treated so badly one of the Americans died. Gordon was put in a two metre deep hole for 45 days until all the prisoners were moved to a Chinese camp near the Yalu river. Here the physical treatment was a little less harsh, but they were forced to attend political lectures for eight hours a day and appear attentive or face punishment.

Despite all this abuse he recovered, was soon fit to fly again, and went on to a long RAAF career. In this he was no doubt helped by a quiet but determined manner, and high professional and personal standards. Ex-RAAF chief Jake Newham recently described him as: one of the finest; upright in every sense and a great pilot.

This view is borne out by his post-Korea career that included commanding both 76 and 77 Squadrons, a tour with the fledgling Malaysian Air Force helping it get established; an exchange tour with the USAF flying F-100 Super Sabres and time as the air attach in Paris.

In all, he spent three years and a month in Korea seven months fighting the Communists and 32 months being mistreated by them. The war ended in 1953, 64 years ago, and would be unknown to most Australians were it not for the outrageous behaviour of North Koreas communist regime.

As it is, there are almost daily reminders of that while Korea is still divided and the north is still run by ruthless fanatics, South Korea is democratic and free - thanks in no small part to men like Gordon Harvey.

May he rest in peace.




Gordon was one the finest: upright in every sense, and a great pilot.

He fought in the Korean War from the outset with No 77 Squadron flying Mustangs

He was shot down and captured attacking a target in Pyongyang in Jan 1951 from which he spent some two and a half years as POW and was released on 29 Aug 1953.

Gordon commanded both 76 and 77 Squadrons:
- as a SQNLDR - No 77 Squadron from 14 April 1958 to 1 February 1960.
- as a WGCDR - No 76 Squadron from March 1964 to April 1966.

He will be remembered as a leader with diligence, purpose and fairness to all under his command.

A34229 Eng

Died 23 Oct 2016 Aged 86

Korean Veteran serving there 1953 to 1954 as an LAC Engine Fitter



Vale Paul Shimmen.  Good and True Australian

O21661 RAAF Photographer

Died 08 May 2016 Aged 85

Vale William Francis MURPHY (aka "Spud").  He died at Werribee,  Victoria, on Sunday 8th  May, 2016, aged 85 years.  

After joining the RAAF on 7th February, 1949, and undergoing recruit training at RAAF, Richmond, NSW, and training as a photographer at the School of Photography, RAAF, East Sale, he served at various postings, mainly Central Photographic Establishment Laverton, before being posted  to 391  Wing, Iwakuni Japan. As a Sgt photographer (A21661) he served two tours with 77 Squadron at  USAF base, Kimpo.

He remained in the RAAF, retiring as a Squadron Leader in 1968.  He leaves a widow of over 60 years, Una, and two adult children and their families.

All had a lot of time for Bill.  He worked tirelessly on the new Point Cook Memorial.  He always had an encouraging word or two to settle people.   

He was a loyal supporter of 77 Squadron and the Association.

His ill health over the last couple of years was a concern to all who knew him.

Korea Airframe Fitter 77 Sqn

Died 24 Aug 2015 Aged 81

Dinga served as an Air Force Apprentice, then Airframe Fitter and then Flight Engineer.  He then had a career in Qantas.

Dinga served with 77 Sqn in Korea from Jul 1954.  He also served with 36SQN during Vietnam.

Dinga was a valued member of 77 Sqn Association.  He was always willing to cheerfully and actively contribute.  He will be missed.

Our condolences are extended to his wife Gwen, daughter Carolyn and all his family.


Farewell Dinga 
Good and True Australian 



Died 11 Feb 2015 Aged 88

Joined RAAF 1943, trained under EATS in Aust. & Canada, graduated as Sgt Pilot 1944 and based in New Guinea and Darwin;
Converted to Mustangs 1946, then served with 78 Sqn;
Flew Mustangs in Japan 1948;
First RAAF mission in Korean War 1950;
Commissioned 1950 (MID, US DFC & Air Medal);
Served with 3 Sqn 1951;
Flying Instructor Course 1955;
CO 75 Sqn 1956,
Formed Meteorites (first official RAAF aerobatics team);
CFS 1957;
Exchange posting with USAF 1958, flying F-100 and F-104;
Chief Fllying Instructor 2 OCU;
CO 76 Sqn;
RAAF Staff College 1962;
Director Operational Research;
Led Operation Fast Caravan 1967 (Deployment of Mirages to Butterworth)
CO 75 Sqn (Mirages) Butterworth, Malaysia, 1966-68;
OC RAAF Contingent Ubon, Thailand, 1968;
Principal Staff Officer & Senior Admin Staff Officer, HQ Support Command 1969;
OC RAAF Williamtown, NSW, 1973-75;
Royal College of Defence Studies 1975;
RAAF Director General Tactical Fighter Project, 1976-77;
Commander IADS 1977;
Chief of Air Force Ops. 1981-82 , Retired RAAF 1982;
Director Australian War Memorial 1982-1987


Bon Voyage
James Hilary Flemming
Good and True Australian


Died 07 May 2014 Aged 91

Air Chief Marshal Sir Neville Patrick McNamara, KBE, AO, AFC, AE (17 April 1923 – 7 May 2014) was a senior commander of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). He served as Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), the RAAF's highest-ranking position, from 1979 until 1982, and as Chief of the Defence Force Staff (CDFS), Australia's top military role at the time, from 1982 until 1984. He was the second RAAF officer to hold the rank of air chief marshal.[1][2]

Born in Queensland, NevilleMcNamara joined the RAAF during World War II and saw action in the South West Pacific, flying P-40 Kittyhawks. He also flew combat missions in Gloster Meteors during the Korean War. In 1961, he was awarded the Air Force Cross for his leadership of No. 2 Operational Conversion Unit. He gained further operational experience heading the RAAF presence in Ubon, Thailand, in the late 1960s. Promoted to air commodore, Neville McNamara was Commander RAAF Forces Vietnam, and Deputy Commander Australian Forces Vietnam, in 1971–72, for which he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. As Deputy Chief of the Air Staff in 1976, he was named an Officer of the Order of Australia. Knighted while CAS in 1980, he retired after completing his term as CDFS in 1984.


Farewell Sir Neville McNamara
Good and True Australian

RAAF Pilot 77 Squadron

Died 01 Dec 2013 Aged 87


Barry joined RAAF in 1950 Pilot training on Tiger Moths and Wirraways before going to Williamtown for Mustang conversion in preparation for service in Korea 1951. However, that plan was cancelled and instead, Barry went to Middle East Cyprus and then to 78 Wing, 75 Squadron Malta as a Sergeant Pilot.

Flying British Vampires, he formed an aerobatic team with Vic Oborn, Les Reading and Tony Armstrong. In Malta he took part in a 700 aircraft Coronation Flypast.

In June 1959, Barry founded the original No 78 Wing Sabre Aerobatic Display team. Team members included Barry with Mick Parer (drawn from No 77 Squadron) and Peter Dart and Ted Radford (drawn from No3 Squadron) with Dennis Stenhouse as standby. This team performed in Manila, Philippines in Nov 1959.

Among his qualifications, Barry qualified as a Category 'A' Instuctor at Central Flying School and graduated from No 6 Fighter Combat Instructor Course at Williamtown in Sep 1960.

In 1961, following approval for the formation of a new Sabre Aerobatic team in No 75 Squadron, Barry was appointed leader of the new “Black Diamonds” Aerobatic Team with John Pyman (No 2), Mick Parer (No 3), Maurie Baston (No4) and Major Steve Shiner USAF (No 5 - the solo demonstrator). Performances by this team displayed sequences based on new ideas and past experience, along with discussions with Major 'Fitz', the leader of the USAF Thunderbirds formation display team. [Refer article pp 6-7]

Barry was a dedicated and loyal operator, was held in high esteem by his peers and enjoyed the camaraderie of the service. One such anecdote involved Barry, in a happy but somewhat inebriated state, where he had the misfortune, whilst driving service car, to not just prang the vehicle but he deftly selected the prang site to be outside a Police Station and neatly included several police vehicles as his target!

Barry also served in Butterworth and Ubon.

RAAF GD Pilot 77 Squadron

Died 24 May 2013 Aged 87

Joined the RAAF in 1943. In Korea, he flew 98 combat missions in Mustangs and 90 in Meteors. He was noted for his repeated dive bombing, rocket and strafing attacks from dangerously low-levels. He damaged one MiG-15 and had the honour of flying the last Mustang mission and the first Meteor jet mission for the RAAF.
He was one of the four signatories to this famous painting “Meteor Strike” by Frank Wootton.
Les Reading served as a squadron pilot with No 75 Squadron of No 78 (F) Wing
which was based in Malta 1952-1954. Here he flew as a wing solo of the first
RAAF jet aerobatic team, newly equipped with de Havilland Vampires and which
demonstrated in Tunisia, Libya, Cyprus and Malta.

Les Reading commanded three RAAF fighter units including 77 Squadron before retiring as a Group Captain.

Distinguished Flying Cross
Defence Medal
War Medal 1939-45
Australia Service Medal 1939-45
Korea Medal
United Nations Service Medal - Korea
Australian Active Service Medal 1945-75 with Clasps ‘KOREA’ ‘MALAYSIA’
General service Medal 1945-75 with Clasps ‘BORNEO’ ‘MALAY PENINSULA’
Australian Service Medal 1945-75 with Clasps ‘JAPAN’ ‘SE ASIA’ ‘MIDDLE EAST’
Defence Force Service Medal with First and Second Clasps
National Medal with First Clasp
Australian Defence Medal
Pingat Jasa Malaysia
United States Air Medal
Returned from Active Service Badge


A great man and a great friend.

Died 11 Jan 2013

One of the first to join the ATC when it was formed in 1941.  Enlisted when he turned 18 and trained as a Flight Rigger (Airframe) at 7 SFTS at Deniliquin.  Was accepted as Air Crew but decided to stay in ground crew and see more action!!  Served with 77 Squadron at Morotai Island and Labuan.  See Swift to Destroy.  Bruce was made a Life Member of the Association in appreciation of his work from its formation.



Bruce was one of the original members of 77 Squadron Association and contributed a lot to its development and success. The Association was proud to make and have him as a life member.

Farewell Bruce

Good and True Australian




Died 22 Dec 2010 Aged 94yrs



During World War II he served with the 31 Squadron and 77 Squadron in the Royal Australian Air Force. In 1953 he was instrumental in establishing the 77 Squadron Association which became the Kittyhawk Squadrons' Association. In 1979 the name changed to the Fighter Squadrons' Branch of the Royal Australian Air Force Association.


Died 25 Sep 2010 Aged 60yrs


Died 10 May 2009 Aged 86yrs


Ross Glassop passed away on 10 May 2009 he was 86.

During WW2 Ross Glassop did a tour with 4 Squadron flying Boomerangs in New Guinea. He received a DFC for his operational achievements during the period.

After the war he was appointed to the position of Chief Flying Instructor at No 2 OTU Williamtown. At the time 2 OTU was engaged converting pilots to the Mustang for tours of duty in Japan with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF). Many of these pilots later flew Mustangs in the early stages of the Korean War.

In 1951 he went to Korea and was awarded a bar to his DFC. He commanded RAAF Darwin in the mid 60 period and became well known to the people involved with the 81 Wing Sabre Detachment. In addition, he will be remembered by the 1960/70 Butterworth crowd as the OC of Ubon in 1964. In 1966-69 he commanded 78 Wing in Malaysia.

Ross Glassop had a long and distinguished RAAF career. He will be remembered for all the right reasons.

RAAF GDPLT 77 Sqn, 75Sqn

Died 31 Aug 2008 Aged 43yrs

RAAF 77, 3,75,76, 79 Sqns

Died 05 Mar 2007 Aged 82yrs

Rod Hanstein completed his training in the Empire Air Training Scheme in Canada in 1945. on return to Australia at the conclusion of WWII he undertook a short spell as a specialist navigator instructor at Point Cook after which he was converted to Mustang Fighters at No.2 Operational Training Unit, followed by a posting to Malta. In Malta he was part of the RAAF fighter wing comprising 75 and 76 squadrons where he began to fly Vampire jet fighters.
He married Adele Hanstein in 1952.
In 1954 Rod converted to Meteor fighters and began ground duties as commander of Air Training Corps in Melbourne and aide to the Commonwealth Games.
In 1959 Rod moved to head a fighter squadron which was equipped with Sabres. This lead him to Butterworth, Malaysia and to war where he was commander of 3 Squadron. During this time he had a close brush with death when his Sabre went into an uncontrollable spin. Rod ejected from the fighter and landed successfully.
He was then posted to Thailand where he commanded 79 Squadron and Ubon Base where he worked with the U.S. Forces against Communism.
On return to Australia Rod was appointed Assistant Director of Operations at Headquarters in Canberra and was awarded the rank of Wing Commander.


RAAF GD Plt 77 Squadron

Died 12 Dec 2006 Aged 86 yrs


Click to Read his Tribute From President

RAAF 75Sqn, 77 Sqn

Died 25 May 2006 Aged 82 yrs

RAAF O 221397 GDPLT 77 Sqn

Died 15 Dec 2005 Aged 59yrs


Died 25 Nov 2005

Served with the Army in New Guinea until his age (16) was uncovered and he was sent home.  When he turned 18 he joined the RAAF, did basic flying training and went to Canada under the ETS, WW2 ended before he saw combat and he went back to civilian life only to re-join the RAAF and was posted to Iwakuni.  He flew in the first combat mission in Korea.  Had two tours in Korea and flew in total 244 missions.    He was awarded the DFC and Mentioned in Despatches.  He also received the USA DFC and the US Air Medal.   Dick left the RAAF in 1955


Farewell Dick 
Good and True Australian 


O21144 GD Plt

Died 23 Jul 2005 Aged 77

Education: Canterbury High School, NSW;

Air Cadet RAAF College. Pt. Cook 1948-51;

Served 77 Sqn Korea 1952. Awarded DFC and US Air Medal;(DFC Citation - DFC promulgated on 7 Jul 1953 reads “For outstanding service as a member of the 77th Interceptor Fighter Squadron, Korea.  Had flown 139 sorties against the enemy.”)

On exchange RAF 1952-55;

Pers. Asst to CAS 1957-59;

Attended RAAF Staff Coll. 1959;

Commanding Officer 76 Sqn (as a SqnLdr) 1960-61,

Flight Commander 3 Sqn Malaya 1961-63;

Staff Duties 1963-66;

OC RAAF Contingent Ubon, Thailand, 1965;

CO 1 Sqn 1967;

with 2 Sqn Vietnam 1967 (Acting CO),

Mentioned In Despatches 1968;

Officer Commanding 82 Wing 1969-70;

Staff Duties Dept. of Air 1970-72;

Attended Royal College of Defence Studies 1973;

Senior Training & Air Staff Officer HQ Support Command;

Air Attache Washington 1975-78;

Chief of Air Force Materiel Supply;

Deputy Chief Air Staff 1981-83;

Asst CDFS 1983 (retd.);

Director Australian Aircraft Consortium 1984-86,

M.T.G. (Aust.) 1987-89;

Bill was widely regarded and a popular leader amongst the entire Fighter Community and the wider RAAF Community.

Vale Bill Hughes: Good and True Australian


Bill was widely regarded and a popular leader amongst the entire Fighter Community and the wider RAAF Community.

Vale Bill Hughes: Good and True Australian

RAAF GD Pilot 77 Sqn

Died 15 Jun 2005


Died 18 Dec 2001



Air Commodore Derek Randall ("Jell") Cuming OBE, AFC and Bar

. .Born 12 February 1917, Jell Cuming entered Melbourne University in 1938, commencing a degree course in Mechanical Engineering. At the end of his first year he learned of a vacation offer by the Royal Victorian Aeroclub - for the deposit of One Pound, the Club would provide an hour of flight familiarisation in a Moth aircraft, and he would be considered for inclusion among six finalists to be subsequently assessed by the then CFI at Point Cook, one George Jones who later became Chief of the Air Staff, RAAF.

Jell not only made the six finalists, but was selected as the most promising by George Jones. This earned Jell the sum of one hundred pounds, which he proceeded to spend on further Moth flights, acquiring some 25 hours.

Out of funds, the prospects for further flying were bleak until one of his University contemporaries suggested he apply to join the Citizen Air Force. He did, and along with two other Air Cadets, he joined No 21 Squadron at Laverton, Victoria, on Boxing Day, 1938.

21 Squadron had only one QFI and since Jell had the princely total of about 25 hours, the QFI concentrated totally on the two ab initio pilots-to-be, sending Jell off to practice various sequences. This lasted until September 1939 when they were posted to 1 Flying Training School, Point Cook.

The outbreak of WW II interrupted normal training and brief periods were spent at Newcastle Aeroclub and RAAF Richmond, before returning to Point Cook to graduate in March 1940. Although his enlistment arrangement made provision for him to complete his degree course in the event of war being declared, Jell chose not to take this option and he continued with the RAAF.

The next three years were spent on operations in the Pacific before he returned to Laverton (1 Aircraft Depot/ 1 Aircraft Performance Unit). Here his engineering aptitude was put to good use in flying and evaluating captured Japanese aircraft. During this time he showed the rare ability to talk with people on a person to person basis, regardless of rank difference, and he became renowned for trouble shooting and problem solving for RAAF aircraft. Whilst at 1 Aircraft Performance Unit he flew a great many experimental and exploratory flights. One notable example was the evaluation of the feasibility of using a Mk 8 Spitfire to tow three 8-man gliders for covert insertion. In 1944, he was awarded the Air Force Cross.. . . .In 1945, he completed #3 course, Empire Test Pilots School at Farnborough, UK, winning the McKenna Trophy as dux of the course.

He returned to Point Cook to join the Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) and remained with that unit when it moved to Laverton in October 1948. In the previous month, Jell transferred from General Duties/ Pilot Branch to the Technical Branch of the RAAF. His continuing experimental flying included the evaluation of the ARL designed "Suction Wing" glider. This aircraft had a wing with a "tadpole" cross-section with slots and manifolds for a suction system to control boundary layer. A side valve V8 engine drove the suction pump. He discovered that when the V8 failed, the aircraft had the gliding angle of a broken brick. 

In early 1950 he was awarded a Bar to his AFC and he spent the remainder of that year in UK completing the RAF Staff College course. At this stage, he had flown nearly 4,000 hours in command on 62 different types of aircraft.

A further period followed at ARDU until mid 1954 when he commenced a series of staff appointments.

This last period at ARDU included organising and supervising difficult instructional courses in the basics of test flying for other pilots at the unit, managing exploratory flight test programs, and mounting and managing Australia's entry in the London to Christchurch Air Race, in which he flew one of the two RAAF Canberras, and for which he was awarded the OBE.

This period also saw this tale become set in concrete - Jell was returning to Laverton late one afternoon in his own car and wearing civilian clothes and duly stopped at the guard gate. As the airman on guard duty approached, Jell identified himself with the words " Wing Commander Cuming ". The airman guard responded with " Thanks mate, I'll keep an eye out for the bastard "

It was also during this period that Jell's reputation spread well beyond the boundaries of Laverton and he became something of a legendary figure, with his name recognised throughout the RAAF and his expertise accepted widely.

His relationship with his pilots, however, was something very special. Air Commodore V.J.Hill (Retd), an ETPS graduate who worked for Jell for some years, expressed the situation succinctly when, on being told of Jell's departure, wrote:

. ." Of his private circumstances I can't recall knowing anything. But as to his professional life during and after my time at ARDU, I held him in a mixture of awe and affection. We probably all did: awe at his empathy with aircraft of any type, at his papal infallibility in R&D matters, at his brilliant mind; and affection for the way he imbued in us a feeling for belonging to his special clan of pilots with responsibilities, skills and privileges. And so often he stood between us (me for sure) and the likely consequences of our follies. A sort of wise and kindly uncle with a proprietary interest in those for whom he held some hope."

Former Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal J.W.Newham (Retd), offered these words (in part) when advised of Jell's departure:

. ." Then GpCapt Cuming was CO of 481 Maintenance Squadron at Williamtown in the mid 1960s during my two postings at the base. Over that period, I got to know him well, and to like him for the good reason that he was a genial and honest character, also a thorough professional both as a pilot and the senior engineer on the base. . . In the early 1970s, AIRCDRE Cuming was Senior Engineering Staff Officer at Headquarters Support Command; I was briefly CO ARDU then OC RAAF Laverton. The same easy close working relationship was established, with me receiving the best of the arrangement. Jell was as ever essentially practical and straightforward; one could confidently rely on good advice; he never let me down nor imposed rigid rules on my task in either job. It was an honour to have met and worked with a great RAAF officer."

Jell's down-to-earth approach provided a valuable input into the Australian contribution towards solving the structural problems of the F-111 in the late 1960s. During that period, Harry Walton recalled:

. ." Jell came to Washington when we were there in 1968. I always remember his comment when we were both walking down the street and an airliner flew overhead en route to Andrews or nearby. We both looked up and he commented that he could recognise an aviator because they always looked up at a passing aircraft no matter how many times they had seen it before. I also remember the day he flew the F111 for the first time at Fort Worth. I believe it was an A model, and he commented on the surprise of the pilot he flew with to his request to fly it upside down. "

Jell retired from the RAAF in February 1975.

During his retirement, he became a gliding enthusiast, owning his own aircraft and competing at National level regularly at Waikerie and Narromine. His ability to fly with incredible precision for extended periods enabled him to make his mark on these events. (On a personal note, I only flew with him once, in 1963,as safety pilot in a dual Vampire while he practiced instrument flying. During a steep turn, I had the temerity to lean across and tap the altimeter - it appeared to be stuck. His voice on the intercom said something like "do you have a problem ?". The altimeter was quite serviceable.)

He was a long time member of the Flight Test Society of Australia, and although he noted more than once, " I finished my test flying before telemetry was even thought of ", he nevertheless was a regular attendee at the Society Annual Symposium and was comfortable in the company of pilots much younger than himself. To borrow further from Air Marshal Newham, " In his puckish way, he would turn the conversation to serious matters mostly involving flying and seek views, then proffer another point of view, most instructive in its content and clarity. This was his way of engendering a spirit of inquiry and deeper consideration of all sorts of issues, in short, a warning about the dangers of slavishly accepting the status quo or the obvious. "

Many of us knew him personally and are familiar with the anecdotes, which abounded about his exceptional ability as a pilot, test pilot and character. This had us holding him in a sort of universal regard, which was never challenged in the places where these things are best discussed.

We have not had many legends in Australian aviation. On 18 December 2001, we lost one.

Ron Green. .President. .Flight Test Society of Australia

RAAF O14698 GDPLT DCAS 1987-90

Died 31 Aug 2001 Aged 65yrs


Died 10 Nov 1998 Aged 73yrs

RAAF O33260 GDPLT 77Sqn

Died 15 Jun 1998

RAAF Jan. 1945 as aircrew trainee, transferred to language trg (Japanese); served as linguist in Japan with 381 Sqn and Combined Services Interrogation Unit 1946-47; flying trg 1948; served with 77 Sqn Japan & Korea 1949-51, completing two combat tours (US Air Medal 1950 & MID 1951), commissioned 1950; completed Russian language course Pt.Cook 1952-53; 2 OCU 1953-54; sent to UK for advanced linguistic studies 1954-56; Air Trials Unit, Woomera, SA, for flying duties in connexion with Jindivik project 1957; attended RAAF Staff Coll. 1960; flying duties with 77 Sqn Butterworth, Malaysia & Ubon, Thailand 196164 (temp. CO 1962-64); attended US Armed Forces Staff Coll. 1965, then performed int liaison duties with Air Attache Washington 1966-67; CO 2 OCU 1968-70; Defence Attache Tokyo 1970-73; Dir. Pers Services 1973-74; attended Royal Coll. of Def Studies London 1975; OC RAAF Butterworth, Malaysia, 197677; Dir-Gen. Operation Requirements Air Force 1977-79; AOC Support Comd 1979-80; Chief of Air Force Personnel 1981-82 (retd.)

RAAF GDPLT 77Sqn, 76 Sqn

Died 26 Dec 1993

RAAF O 33119 GDPLT HQOC 1978-79

Died 07 Sep 1990 Aged 68yrs

RAAF 1941 -1979
RAAF 1941, served with RAF (3 Sqn in Europe, 180 Sqn) 1941-46; BCOF Japan (77 Sqn, HQ BCAir) 1948-50; 77 Sqn Korea 1950-51 (awarded US Air Medal 1950); CO 76 Sqn & CO 378 Sqn Malta 1952-54; attended RAAF Staff Coll.; CO 22 Sqn 1958, 75 Sqn 1959-61; Staff Offr, Dept. Air 1964-66; OC RAAF Townsville 1966-67; Task Force Air Comdr Vietnam 1968-69; Staff Offr HQ Op. Comd 1969-71; Dir. Joint Ops & Plans, Dept. of Def. 1971-74; Comdr of Air Component ANZUK Singapore 1974; Comdr IADS Malaysia-Singapore 1975-77; Chief of Air Force Ops 1978; AOC Op. Comd 1978-79 (retd.)


Good and True Australian

RAAF O11391 GDPLT 77 Sqn

Died 12 Jul 1985 Aged 62yrs

b. 3 Apr. 1923 Toowoomba, Qld; educ. Toowoomba Gram. Sch; joined RAAF 1942, served as fighter pilot in SWPA 1943-44, with 84 Sqn and 77 Sqn (comm. 1944); Flt Comdr 78 Sqn 1951-52; 77 Sqn Korea 1952 (US Air Medal); attended RAF Staff Coll. 1953; CO 25 Sqn Pearce, WA, 1955-56; CO Base Sqn Pt.Cook 1957-58; CO CFS 1959-61; CO 2 OCU Williamtown, NSW, 1962-63; HQ Far East Air Forces Singapore 1963-66; Comdt RAAF Staff Coll. & OC RAAF Fairbairn, ACT, 1966-67; OC RAAF Williamtown 1970; OC Butterworth, Malaysia, 1970-72; OC RAAF Pearce 1973-75; Chief of Air Force Pers 1976-79 (retd.); d. 12 Jul. 1985 Brisb.


Died 17 May 1967

Veteran. POW Korean War. Later CO 75Sqn. Passed away as a result of a Mirage Accident.


Aged 55yrs?