William, or Bill as he was known, was born on the 20th December 1916 at Mackay, Queensland and enlisted in the RAAF in Brisbane on the 25th May 1941.
A member of the Spitfire Association, Robert Harold Whillans, Flight Lieutenant, Number 404693, provided some details of the history of Bill and himself in the RAAF. He always managed to stay in touch with Bill after the war.
They did their initial training at Bradfield Park, Sydney, and then their Elementary Flying Training at Narranderra, NSW. After shipping to Canada, they completed their Service Flying Training at Camp Borden and then they sailed with the other fellows across the Atlantic to Llandau, in Wales, UK, for further training at an Operational Training Unit (OTU). Then they were both posted to 452 Squadron, flying early moder Supermarine Spitfires at Red Hill, near London. There were and were with the Squadron at Kenley, Red Hill again and the Isle of Man.
452 Squadron was the first Australian squadron formed in Britain during the Second World War. When they moved to RAF Kenley, they became part of No.11 Group RAF and rapidly developed a formidable reputation in operations against German forces.
In March 1942, 452 Squadron replaced its sister, 457 Squadron, at RAF Andreas, Isle of Man, where it remained until it withdrew from operations in Britain in June of that year to return to Australia. It sailed for home on the 21st of June, arriving in Melbourne on the 13th of August and re-assembled at RAAF Base Richmond, New South Wales on the 6th of September. The Squadron began refresher training at Richmond, using a varied collection of aircraft because its Spitfires had been commandeered in transit by the Royal Air Force in the Middle East.
452 Squadron became operational again on the 17th of January 1943. Re-equipped with Spitfires, it was based at Batchelor Airfield in the Northern Territory and there joined No.1 Wing RAAF, which defended Darwin from Japanese air raids. The Squadron was relocated to Strauss Airfield on the 1st of February and, with the exception of a brief period between 9th and 27th of March 1943 when it was deployed to RAAF Base Pearce to reinforce the air defences of Perth, it remained there (Strauss Airfield). In May 1944 it became part of No.80 Wing RAAF protecting Darwin, until the 30th of June 1944.
It was about this time that Bill (and Robert Whillans) were posted as Instructors to the OTU at Midura and in 1945, to Narromine and Parkes. Bill was due to join a front line squadron again, when peace was announced. He was discharged on 26th July 1945.
The photo, which was taken in the Northern Territory, is of Bill on the left and Dave Evans on the right.
Hal Whillans and David Hamilton
The Spitfire Association