William, or Bill as he was known to his friends, was born on the 6th April 1918 in Sydney, New South Wales. He enlisted in the RAAF on the 6th January 1941.
Following initial training, he was posted in January 1942 from 53 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at RAF Heston in the UK, where he learnt to fly Spitfires. After two months, he was sent to 33 Squadron RAF in the Middle East, where he served from June 1942 to October 1943 flying Hurricanes. During his time there, Bill would have been involved in continuous operations against the advancing enemy tank columns at El Alamein. Three major battles occurred around El Alamein between July and November 1942, and were the turning point of the war in North Africa. The Desert Air Force, which included 33 Squadron, played a crucial part in the eventual defeat of the Afrika Corps.
The photo is of Bill’s Training, Non-Operational and Operational Details. Though it is a little hard to decipher, we can see that he left Australia on the 7th September 1941 after training on the DH82 and Wirray. When he arrived in the Middle east, he did a Fighter Gunnery Course at 13 AGS, where he flew Harvards, Spitfires and Hurricanes. He also went to 71 OTU at RAF Ismailia for desert training on the Spitfire and Hurricane, and also on the Defiant, Harvard and Argus.
Bill was repatriated to Australia at the end of 1944 and then started another tour with 457 Squadron from March 1945. Somehow, he ended up with 452 Squadron and was discharged from 452 Squadron on the 22nd November 1945, shortly after the Squadron disbanded.
Phil Listemann (Author of the History of 457 Squadron) and David Hamilton
Updated by Vince Conant
The Spitfire Association