Ray, from Granville, NSW, enlisted in the RAAF on the 31st March 1941.
Ray started training at Temora, NSW in May 1941 at the age of 24, flying the De Havilland DH-82, the Tiger Moth, and Link Trainers. Basic training was completed on the 21st July, 1941.
Ray started advanced training on Yales on the 6th September 1941 in Canada. (Web master: In 1940, about 120 Yale BT-9 trainer aircraft were surplus in California awaiting shipment to France, which had fallen, so North American Aviation asked the British Government if they were interested in them. The reply was positive, so designated as the “Yale”, the aircraft were sent to Canada for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. By August 1940, Yales were flying with No.1 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) at Camp Borden, Ontario.) Quickly advancing to the better Harvard AT-6 in October, Ray completed another 100 hours in the Harvard, and also familiarisation with the Hurricane.
After Canadian Training, Ray spent some of February 1942 in the UK at Blackpool and Bournemouth, before being posted to various RAF stations in Egypt. In April 1942, Ray started more advanced training, flying numerous types until October 1942, when he was posted to Norfolk, England, then Scotland, flying Hurricanes in both training and active roles.
In June 1943, Ray was posted to 609 Squadron, then located in Kent, flying Spitfires, but mostly Typhoons, a superb GA aircraft, but also Hurricanes in fighter mode. He stayed with 609 in England, from where he participated in the D-Day landings, providing GA support, then after the beachhead was secured, at B7, B35 and B53 in France and later in Belgium until December 1944. He was then was transferred to 288 Squadron at Church Fenton, flying both Spitfires Marks V and IX and also Hurricanes, again in fighter configuration. He was Mentioned in Despatches in June, 1945 while still at Church Fenton.
The photo of some of the 609 Squadron members was taken at Manston. Bavo is in the front row, second from the right. The other photo is supposed to include Ray, but the Spitfire association cannot identify him.
Ray’s daughter, Lynne Ryan (nee Bavinton) contributed further information on her father, where she poignantly says, “Like so many of my generation, many of the stories our brave fathers who fought in WW 2 shared with their fellows have never been told. In my case, I know this is because my father, Ray Bavinton (often known as Bavo) never talked about this time in his life, and passed away far too early.”
During his time in the UK, he met a lady called Mary Seeney, a hairdresser from Burnley, Lancashire, at a dinner party in a friend’s house. They only saw each 12 times before they were married on the 2nd October 1943. The friendship and camaraderie that Ray formed with two other fellow Australians during his time in England was to last as long as they lived and become part of the Bavinton family life. Ted Eagleton from Sydney and Reg Wellam from Newcastle, also married girls from the UK and returned with their war brides to Australia after they were discharged.
Ray remained in England after the war and completed a Textile Manufacturing and Design course. This skill, he brought back to his fathers textile mill in Granville, NSW, and a small family business that was to become known as Sylvan Towels.
Lynne said, “Mum would never take us into the city to watch the march. I think it was her way of “not talking” about those days because she lived through them and would recount stories of her helping to carry bodies after the bombings.’ We are very aware too that this is the case with many people who lived through this terrifying time in England’s history.”
Bavo retired young in his early forties and moved to Davistown on the NSW Central Coast. He also suffered with an enlarged heart (eventually accepted as war related illnesses six months after he died) he suffered a massive heart attack and passed away on the 26 September 1973, nine days after his 56th birthday.
We leave his much loved daughter Lynne to finish the tale. “Dad usually didn’t return home on ANZAC Day until very late and very “happy.” It was one day he wouldn’t miss until ill health finally stopped him marching. When we finally owned a TV, we would sit glued to it, waiting to see Dad. Now that I have been to Sydney and marched ever so proudly wearing his medals, I now understand how we could never find him amongst the crowd.”
Thank you Lynne and God Bless Bavo.
Lynn Ryan and Steve McGregor
Updated by Vince Conant
The Spitfire Association