Roland was born on the 21st August 1923 at Glebe in Sydney to Gwendolyn (Queenie) and Roland William Bullivant. He was one of six children. His first job was as an apprentice in tool-making and manufacturing engineering. He decided to join the RAAF on the 23rd March 1943 when he was 19. Like most young fellows he had aspirations of being a pilot, but at the time intakes were limited so for the most part he was involved in aviation fuel transport. He was discharged in 1946 having served for some three and a half years, mostly in the islands of Papua New Guinea at Good-Enough and Milne Bay.
While a member of 79 Squadron, Roly received a commendation from Major General St. Clair Street Commanding Officer of the US Army’s Thirteenth Air Force in the Pacific. The commendation was as follows:
On the morning of the 27th May 1944, a B24 in the Admiralty Islands crashed on take-off and exploded. Burning gasoline sprayed the area setting fire to a nearby tent containing personnel from an anti-aircraft battery. LAC Bullivant, on duty with the field ambulance at the time, quickly arrived at the scene searching for injured personnel. Disregarding his own personal safety, due to the presence of exploding ammunition and unexploded bombs, his devotion to duty and intrepid actions, at the risk of his own life, in an attempt to assist others was said to be worthy of the highest commendation.
The photo is of Roly on the left.
Roly’s daughter, Adelle, mentioned that Roland had never mentioned his act of heroism or the award for gallantry from the US Forces. It was obvious that they appreciated his efforts to assist US airmen. Roly, like many of our members was a reluctant hero and was always careful never to blow his own trumpet. However, we believe that if he did these deeds, and he did, then they should be noted in his story.
Roly was discharged on the 13th September 1946.
After the war and at the age of 23, Roland met his future wife, Marcia, where he worked at an engineering company. After a courtship which was successful, they were married in 1950. Roly’s career continued into the police force, and then into real estate with a developer. He later became an insurance inspector for some 20 years, at which point he and Marcia retired to the Forster area.
Roly’s daughter wrote, “Some interesting early history was that in 1935 my Pop got a job at MacArthur Onslow Dairies at Camden Park Estate and took the family with him. They had a house on the estate and Nan was a lady of leisure, playing tennis every day, while Pop was the chauffeur and Dad (Roland) was a houseboy. Dad loved to talk about serving the food to the house guests, and especially about the leftovers.”
Farewell Roland, and thank you from your grateful country.
Written by Adele Masters (nee Bullivant) and edited by Paul Carter
Updated by Vince Conant
The Spitfire Association