Broomhead, Jeffrey “Bob” Earnest

Jeffrey, or Bob as he was known to his friends, was born in Glenelg, South Australia on the 28th January 1916. He enlisted at Tamworth on the 8th October 1940. He was sent to Bradfield Park, then posted to No 10 Elementary Flying Training School, Temora, where his training was delayed because of bad weather. He then went to No 11 course at Narromine, flying Tiger Moths.

In June 1941, he joined the Awatea (see photo) which took him to Canada for further training. Again, this took longer than usual as the Government was supporting Warner Brothers in making “Captain of the Clouds,”, with James Cagney, Alan Hale and Brenda Marshall, who he described as having, “great legs and later married William Holden.”

In October 1941, he sailed for England in the SS Andes where he joined No 61 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at RAF Heston, with Wing Commanding (Flying) “Sailor” Malan, DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar. The weather was very bad that winter and little flying was done. He applied for No 452 squadron, but the Adjutant wrote down 245!

He was subsequently posted to 245 Squadron at RAF Middle Wallop to find it was equipped with four cannon Hurricanes, which were used as night fighters. In August 1942, he went to No 118 squadron, in No 10 Group, flying Spitfires on fighter sweeps over France and escorting bombers. On the 24th December, he arrived in Malta into the thick of the Defence of Malta battles. Between January 1943 and 19th July, three Squadron COs and ten other pilots were lost. Sicily was invaded on the 10th July.

On the 21st July, Jeffrey returned to England and became an instructor on No 58 OTU at RAF Grangemouth, Scotland, and then in September to the Gunnery Instructors School at Sutton Bridge, which had been formed by “Sailor” Malan.  In October, he went back to Australia, via New York where he had three glorious weeks and arrived home on the 31st December 1943. In February 1944, he joined No 2 OTU at Mildura and, in five hours flying, converted to Kittyhawks. Then to RAAF Cressy, Victoria to set up a Pilot Gunnery Instructor’s School prior to the arrival of Flight Lieutenant M. Sheppard, DFC & Bar, ex Malta, Squadron Leader John Storey and Flying Officer Cass Mann, MID, both from Burma.

In August, he went to the Central Flying School at Parkes, which he remarked was supposed to be an OTU Instructors Course. The only other Instructor who had been in action was a permanent RAAF officer, who had spent three months flying Kittyhawks in New Guinea. The others were Wirraway pilots from Victoria and New South Wales. Apparently, he was not impressed with his assessment on completion. From September 1944 to June 1945, he was in No 2 OTU as an Instructor on Spitfires and Wirraways, under the Command of Tim Goldsmith, DFC, DFM. After this he went with two others to Ross River, Townsville to form a Mustang conversion unit. In September, he went to Labuan to convert three squadrons to Mustangs, which were to go to Japan.

He was discharged from No 6 SFTS on 23rd November 1945

William (Bob) Broomhead, Bruce Read and David Hamilton
Updated by Vince Conant
The Spitfire Association