George was born on the 9th February 1909 in Southport, Queensland. He enlisted in the RAAF in Brisbane on the 4th July 1940 and was eventually made Sergeant (Paymaster) in the 9 Squadron Pay Corp located on Thursday and Horne Islands during the War.
Although George did not serve in a Spitfire Squadron, his story and that of his Squadron requires a mention. 9 Squadron was formed in January 1939 at RAAF Base Richmond by redesignating 5 Squadron, which at the time was a naval fleet co-operation squadron. It became Australia’s only naval fleet co-operation squadron and it operated amphibious aircraft from the RAN’s heavy and light cruisers; each cruiser was assigned a single Supermarine Seagull or Supermarine Walrus amphibian. The aircraft were designed to be catapult launched from cruisers or battleships provided reconnaissance, anti-submarine protection, artillery-spotting and general support for the Navy. The aircraft were designed by R.J.Mitchell of Supermarine Spitfire fame, and first flown in 1933. It was introduced into various British Empire air forces in 1935. (Web Master: The Walrus was developed from the Seagull V.)
During the Second World War, aircraft from 9 Squadron saw action with their parent ships in most of the world’s oceans, ranging from the Arctic to the South Pacific on vessels such as HMAS Hobart, Sydney, Australia, Perth and Canberra. Several Walruses and their crews found themselves in the Mediterranean, where they continued serve until early 1942. With the entry of Japan into the war in December 1941, the Australian cruisers returned to the Pacific theatre to play a direct role in the defence of Australia.
During the war, 9 Squadron personnel invariably suffered the same fate as their ships. In a night action off Guadalcanal on the 8th August 1942, five Squadron personnel were killed and a further two wounded when HMAS Canberra was sunk. Similarly, when HMAS Sydney was lost with all hands in an action on the 19th November 1941, six Squadron members were among those killed.
While the amphibians provided important support during the early years of the war, as the war progressed the RAN enjoyed considerable support from land and carrier based aircraft, and the amphibians were no longer necessary. In early January 1943, the squadron was transferred to Bowen in Queensland, from where its aircraft flew patrol operations. During 1944, all remaining RAN cruisers had their catapults removed and 9 Squadron was disbanded at RAAF Base Rathmines in December 1944. Casualties during the war amounted to 22 killed.
The photos are of a Supermarine Walrus being launched from the catapult of HMS Bermuda in 1943. The other photo shows one taking off without assistance.
George was discharged from the No.2 Recruit centre on the 3rd September 1945.
Derek Hinde and Steve McGregor
The Spitfire Association