Vale Au Revoirs
RAAF GD Pilot
Died 24 Feb 2020 Aged 96
A celebration of Laddie's life will be held on Thursday 12 March in the Activity Room of the Independent Living Centre (opposite the cafe) at Goodwin Retirement Village, 35 Bonney Street, Ainslie from 2:30 pm.
Leigh “Laddie” Hindley grew up in the 1930s in Goulburn, NSW. Finishing school in 1941, Laddie decided to join the Australian Imperial Force and was sent to Victoria to start aircrew training.
He was then posted to the Elementary Flying School base at Temora where he learned to fly on the DeHavilland Tigermoth. He then went to Uranquinty for further pilot training, where he began flying the Wirraway trainer. Four months later in 1943 he passed the training course and was given his pilot wings and the rank of Sergeant.
He then went to Mildura for the Operational Training Unit (OTU) where he learnt to fly his first fighter – the P-40 Kittyhawk. He gained skills such as dive bombing, strafing and dogfighting. After he was qualified on the P-40 Kittyhawk he was assigned to 80 Sqn at Townsville.
In February 1944 the squadron was deployed to the Pacific Campaign in Papua New Guinea. Laddie came face to face with the horrors of war and losing friends. He participated in many bombing missions and combat air patrols which inflicted damage to the well entrenched Japanese military. In November 1944 his posting to the squadron ended and he was transferred to RAAF Point Cook to be trained as an instructor.
Post war, he was sent to RAAF base Richmond to join the Test and Ferry flight unit. New NAA P-51 Mustangs were being sent to RAAF units in Horn Island and Borneo. Laddie flew these some of the Mustangs to their new units. He then joined a fighter affiliation unit at RAAF base Tocumwal until the wars end in September 1945. Post war he did a 5 year electrical trades course.
In 1951 the RAAF advertised for aircrew and Laddie again leapt at this opportunity to return to the skies. He was given refresher training and posted to 87 Sqn Photo Reconnaissance RAAF base Fairbairn, Canberra. He flew missions taking photos for mapping and surveys in NSW and WA.
In 1951 he was posted to an exchange RAF unit in Singapore where he undertook more command training.
He returned to WA after finishing the exchange and did more Mosquito photo work, including around PNG. In 1953 the squadron was decommissioned and Laddie returned to RAAF base East Sale for more flying instructor work. He was reposted to his former airfield of Uranquinty to train new pilots. By 1956 he had done further administration work as Officer in Charge of aircrew training in Victoria and had also completed some more flying at Tocumwal.
In late 1961, Laddie took up training on the new UH-1B Iroquois/Huey helicopter then being introduced into RAAF service. He was posted to RAAF Amberley for initial training and went to the USA to learn how to fly the Huey. In 1962 he returned to Australia to 9 Sqn at RAAF Fairbairn. Training was conducted for aircrews on the new helicopters and they soon proved their worth in rescuing people from flooded towns and helping with civil repairs.
By 1964 the war in Vietnam was heating up and Laddie submitted a plan to train RAAF aircrew in case they were to be sent to the warzone. Hueys and their crews went to PNG and Malaysia for tropical training. He was then posted to 5 Sqn at RAAF Butterworth On returning home he was again back to 9 Sqn.
With the war escalation in Vietnam, the Hueys went to provide support for the Army. Laddie was sent to South Vietnam in 1966.
The most common role was moving of troops around the province and assisting the SAS on insertions and extractions. He was present at the Battle of Long Tan and was part of the RAAF air support to D Company, 6 RAR who were fighting the Viet Cong. He and other pilots dropped off supplies and ammunition to ground troops. He completed his tour of South Vietnam and retuned to RAAF Fairbairn as flight commander. In December 1967 he was tasked to search for then Prime Minister Harold Holt, missing in the ocean off Victoria.
Laddie retired from the RAAF in February 1968 and did his CPL licenses. He was much in demand due to his extensive helicopter flying experience and went to fly in PNG. For the next 9years he flew in PNG as a contracted pilot moving geologists/mine staff around for mine surveys, ferrying parts and supplies around in helicopters such as the Bell 47, Bell 206 and Lama.
In 1978 he returned to Australia flying around NSW and WA doing varied missions in Hughes 500. In one task he flew to Witternoon, WA where he landed, unknowingly in an asbestos dust cloud stirred up by the rotor downwash. He finished flying in Australia in 1981 and again went to fly in PNG for the Police Dept where had dangerous and tough missions. He left the PNG Police work and was back into mining support from 1986 until 1989 when he finally ended his flying career, at age 66. The end saw over 18,000 hours plus many varied aircraft and helicopter types in his log books.
Laddie’s book “The Joys and Dangerous of an Aviation Pilot” was written at nearly 90 years of age and is extremely candid and powerful with very interesting insights into how dangerous and intense wartime and civil flying can be. The book published by the Office of Air Force History, was a winner of the 2012 RAAF Heritage Award. This is an amazing outcome, for when it is considered that at a younger age Laddie never had an ambition to ever become a pilot.
RAAF GD Pilot
Died 27 Nov 2019 Aged 78
Jan Staal was born in Holland and his family immigrated to Australia when he was 10 years old.
After completing his education, he joined Qantas in 1959 but then transferred to the Air Force in 1961 and graduated from No. 41 pilot’s course in 1962.
John was in the initial Caribou contingent to Vietnam which was then RAAF Transport Flight Vietnam and later become 35 Squadron RAAF.
John, along with his aircrew mates, was awarded the United States Air Medal for conspicuous flying achievements during the war.
In 1969 he graduated with Distinction from the Advanced Navigation Course and in 1979 was promoted to Squadron Leader and appointed CO of TSF Butterworth which carried out support operations including the evacuation of the Australian Embassy during the fall of South Vietnam.
John was then posted to Pont Cook and lectured at the RAAF Academy before being promoted to Wing Commander and appointed CO of 35 Squadron based in Townsville flying both the Caribou and UH-1H in support of Army Operational Deployment.
He was then posted to Canberra as Senior Air Force Planner for Joint Policy and promoted to Group Captain in 1982 and was posted to Williamtown as Commandant of the Joint Warfare Establishment developing policies and training for Navy, Army and Air Force operations.
John retired in 1984 and commenced a business career in Bathurst and in 1995 joined Rockwell as General Manager of Avionics and Communications and later appointed General Manager of that Division and then appointed Managing Director of Rockwell Aerospace and Defence, Australia.
He retired in 2001 and became very active in supporting the veteran community and was President of the Air Force Association (NSW) from 2012-2014.
John viewed command as an honour and a privilege to be of service to Australia and mates regardless of rank.
A TRUE AND BRAVE AUSTRALIAN
RAAF GD Pilot 77 Sqn, 9 Sqn, 5 Sqn
Died 03 Sep 2019 Aged 90
RAAF 417912 Aircrew
Died 03 Nov 2018 Aged 95
GD Pilot 77 Squadron
Died 05 Sep 2018
Vale Hartley Vivian Shearn DFC AFC
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 GD Pilot
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
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 GPCPT 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
Died 17 Aug 2017 Aged 82
Bob was one of the founding members of the RAAFA Albury-Wodonga Branch over 25 years ago and held the president's position for many years. At the time of his death Bob was the treasurer and an administrator.
Also, Bob played a large part in establishing No 412 Squadron Australian Air Force Cadets. He was the unit's first commanding officer.
Army / RAAF 80455 / O5920 Engine Fitter / Engineer Aeronautical
Died 01 Aug 2017 Aged 94
Category of Service: Citizen Military Forces
Date of Enlistment: 25 September 1941
Commenced Full Time Duty: 15 December 1941
Date of Discharge: 4 May 1942
Reason for Discharge: Required for enlistment in the Royal Australian Air Force
Rank on Discharge: Private
Postings/Attachments: Western Command Supply Column 25 September 1941
5 Australian Motor Ambulance Convoy 10 March 1942
Royal Australian Air Force
Date of Enlistment: 5 May 1942 to 26 March 1946 (1st Period)
12 September 1949 to 4 July 1977 (2nd Period)
Employment: Engine Fitter (1st Period)
Engineer Aeronautical (2nd Period)
Rank on Discharge: Leading Aircraftman (1st Period)
Wing Commander (2nd Period)
4 RAAF Recruit Depot 05-05-1942
5 School of Technical Training 01-06-1942
1 Engineering School 27-07-1942
4 Service Flying Training School 15-12-1942
1 Engineering School 26-05-1943
2 Air Navigation School 28-08-1943
1 Service Flying Training School 09-12-1943
7 Aircraft Depot 04-04-1944
Care and Maintenance Unit 14-02-1946
5 Personnel Depot 26-03-1946
RAAF Station Pearce (on re-enlistment) 12-09-1949
25 Squadron 12-10-1949
1 Aircraft Depot (Detachment B) 13-11-1950
1 Aircraft Depot 05-04-1954
1 Applied Flying Training School 19-05-1958
Department of Air 12-09-1960
Headquarters Support Command 24-10-1960
Officers Training School 28-04-1961
Headquarters Support Command 02-10-1961
38 Squadron 24-01-1966
RAAF School of Technical Training 13-05-1968
Department of Air 25-01-1971
482 Squadron 14-01-1975
Base Squadron Amberley 01-07-1977
Objective ID: AC1954216
34 Squadron 21-08-1950 to 12-11-1950
Maintenance Squadron East Sale 19-05-1958 to 17-06-1958
RAAF School of Technical Training 28-08-1961 to 29-09-1961
38 Squadron 01-04-1965 to 18-04-1965
Transport Flight Vietnam 19-04-1965 to 20-12-1965
Headquarters Support Command 24-01-1966 to 18-02-1966
Headquarters Support Command 09-09-1968 to 06-10-1968
Headquarters Support Command 07-10-1968 to 11-10-1968
Headquarters Support Command 07-09-1969 to 10-10-1969
Department of Air 30-07-1973 to 03-08-1973
482 Squadron 10-05-1975 to 18-05-1975
482 Squadron 27-02-1976 to 08-03-1976
RAAF 421207 Navigator 460 Squadron
Died 10 Apr 2017 Aged 98
RAAF O35959 (401068) Pilot 460 Sqn. RAAF, 156 Sqn. RAF
Died 07 Apr 2017 Aged 96
Flight Lieutenant Isaacson with Lancaster Q - for - Queenie 1943
Peter Stuart Isaacson, AM DFC AFC DFM (31 July 1920 – 7 April 2017) was an Australian publisher and decorated military pilot.
He was owner of Peter Isaacson Publications, the publisher of various trade publications and suburban newspapers including the Southern Cross and the Sunday Observer in Melbourne.
During World War II, he served in the Royal Australian Air Force as a pilot with RAF Bomber Command and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Force Cross and the Distinguished Flying Medal
Isaacson grew up in Melbourne and started working for a newspaper when he was sixteen. He joined the RAAF in 1940. Following his stint in Bomber Command, he became well known in Australia for his tours in the Avro Lancaster Q-for-Queenie to promote the sale of war loans and, in particular, for flying his plane under the Sydney harbour Bridge in 1943.
He transferred to the RAAF Reserve after the war, retiring as a Wing Commander in 1969.
From 1956 he served as a Trustee, Chairman, and finally Life Governor of the Victorian Shrine of Rememberance.
In 1991 he was appointed a Member of the order of Australia for his publishing and community work.
RAAF O219178 General Duties Pilot 76SQN, 9SQN & CO 5SQN.
Died 14 Mar 2017 Aged 77
O219178 Wing Commander Hedley Robert Thomas AM MID
24 Jan 1940 - 14 Mar 2017
Aged 77 years
It is with the deepest regret that we have to pass on the following information:
We all lost Hedley Thomas this morning. After a heroic 7 week battle with multiple medical complications, following his initial abdominal aneurism, he was unable to overcome them all and passed away at 1010 Qld time in Gold Coast Private Hospital. A steadfast companion, staunch friend, patriot, mentor and gentleman has gone.
We express our sincere sympathies to Donna and the family.
Hedley Thomas was a 76 Squadron pilot on Vampires in the early sixties. He spent two years with the USAF as an exchange instructor on helicopters, one year in Vietnam with 9 SQN and seven months in Ismailia with UNEF II. From 1974 to 1976 he was CO 5 SQN.
Hedley left the RAAF in 1979 and flew commercially in Australia and PNG before working in Riyadh for the RSAF between 1990 - 1995 as a PC-9 flight simulator instructor.
He went to Singapore in 1997 for two years as a UH-1H Flight Simulator instructor with the RSAF.
Hedley retired in 1999.
A simple celebration of his life will be held at 2 Wildash St, Southport (daughter, Rebecca) next Saturday, 18th Mar, at 1130. All welcome.
There will be a cremation, but no funeral, per se. Attire for the celebration is muted casual: no jackets, ties or gongs. It’s a strictly informal occasion.
Bon Voyage Hedley Robert Thomas
Good and True Australian
LEST WE FORGET
RAAF O25951 General Duties Pilot 36 SQN
Died 08 Dec 2016 Aged 85
Died 04 Dec 2016 Aged 91
RAAF 434659 Air Gunner Bomber Command
Died 21 Nov 2016 Aged 92
RAAF 68145 Wireless Air Gunner 43 Squadron
Died 16 Nov 2016 Aged 93
The funeral service for Tom Cheong will be at Rookwood on 24th November 2016.
Tom received an OAM in 2006 for commemorating Chinese Australian War Veterans. Tom planned, supervised and inspired the monument built in Darling Harbour in memory of all Chinese Australian servicemen and servicewomen.
RAAF 428232, A6143 Armament Fitter, Air Gunner 463/467 Sqn, 1 Sqn
Died 11 Oct 2016 Aged 92
WW2 Service 30/07/1943 to 20/02/1946 Air Gunner
Post WW2 September 1949 to September 1961, Armament Fitter and Air Gunner