Basey, Willoughby “Bill”

Bill was born on the 19th April 1916 at Brighton in South Australia.

He enlisted in Adelaide and became known as Bill to some and as “Count” Basey to others. Bill trained at Mt. Bracken and Point Cook and went to Parafield EFTS and then to Western Junction. He then went to England and was on the “Mariposa,” which departed Sydney on the 16th October 1941 and arrived in San Francisco on the 4th November 1941. The “Mariposa” must have been the greatest troop transport of all time. It was an American passenger, trans-Pacific, luxury liner with plenty of rich young Americans on board. Shore leave at Auckland, Suva, Honolulu and Los Angeles were extra benefits thrown in. The Americans in Honolulu and Los Angeles really turned it on for them. Unfortunately, they were not allowed ashore in San Francisco – except to be marched from the ship to the train, which took them into Canada as soon as it possibly could. They must have woken up that they were at war and they weren’t on a holiday. After training and all the travel, he finished up in the Squadron at Livingstone shared the same tent with Rex Watson for ten months.

Bill was posted from No. 5 Reserve Pool. As a pilot, he served in Europe with No. 132 Squadron from April to June 1942 before being repatriated back to Australia. He was posted out when his tour expired and later posted to No. 79 Squadron RAAF for another tour of operations from January 1945 until the end of the war. willoughby bill 2  

The photo is of a tire change at Oodnadatta. A quick look will show that there were more bludgers (experts) than workers. Actually the photographer would have helped out, but someone had to get a record and, besides, he said he was too short! The three standing on the port wing and the three leaning on the starboard cannon were having a tough time during the change.

Bill was plagued by a series of unfortunate accidents during his career. He had a wheels up landing at Livingston Strip in the Northern Territory on the 29th April 1943. (Refer photo) Fortunately, he was not hurt, but according to the Accident report, the elevators, mainplane and engine of aircraft A58-44 were damaged. Then on the 4th May 1945, his aircraft, this time A58-436, suffering a glycol leak, ground looped on takeoff at Pitoe Strip on Morataiand and hit an embankment. Again, Bill was not injured. Finally,on the 29th October 1945, when he was ferrying A58-509 to 6AD, he had  brake failure when landing in Rockhampton. As usual, and luckily, Bill was not injured. Apparently, he had another accident somewhere but the Spitfire Asociation has no information on it.

BASEY W. 457 Sq. Pic 3

The last photo is of Bill, when he was aPilot Officer, with some of the men of 457 Squadron. Back Row: F/O Brian F Hegarty, F/Sgt R.JK. Jim Thompson, W/O CR Roy Briggs, F/O WJ Jack Halse, P/O AC Allan Beckwith, F/O SW Bill Reilly, F/O Ian Chandler. Second back row: F/O IS Ian Mackenzie, F/O HK Ken Barker, P/O WJ Bill Basey, F/O South Creagh, F/O Larry Alderson (Defence Officer), F/Sgt TFR Frank Payne, F/O NC Neil Ligertwood, S/Ldr Pat Egan (Dental Officer), F/O LG Lock Munro, W/O CV Vin Madigan, F/O PE Phil Goldin (Intelligence Officer), Second Front Row:  F/Lt DR Doug Edwards, F/Lt Wally Aldford (Adjutant), F/Lt PH Peter Watson DFC (OC A Flight), S/Ldr KE Ken James (Commanding Officer),F/Lt DH Don Maclean (OC B Flight), S/Ldr DL Des Peate (Medical Officer), F/Lt JS John Newton. Front Row: Sgt TR Trevor Russell, P/O F Freddie Feuerhardt, F/Sgt WS Bill Hardwick, Spitty, P/O AE Evan Batchelor, Sgt G Mac George Jude, F/Sgt Harry Whiting.

457 Sq

Bill served with distinction in a number of Squadrons. He was eventually discharged in 1946 and settled near Renmark in South Australia working as a citrus grower. He died suddenly on the 3rd of November 1978.

Vince Conant
The Spitfire Association