Arthur was born on the 11th August 1919 in Coburg, Victoria. He began his RAAF career when he enlisted on the 23rd December 1940. His family has a letter that Arthur had kept since enlistment, dated the 17th December 1940, from the RAAF Recruiting Centre, accepting his application to enlist, and some interesting extracts are as follows:
“With reference to your recent application for admission to the Royal Australian Air Force, it is requested that you report to the above address with your luggage at 8.15 am on Monday 23rd December 1940, for enlistment as a Trainee Armourer in Group Five, with the rank and pay of Aircraftsman, Class 1. Enlistment is for the duration of the war and up to a period of twelve months thereafter. The daily pay applicable to your appointment is five shillings per day. Married men are paid a separation allowance of three shillings per day, and one shilling and sixpence per day for each child under the age of 16 years. The payment of separation allowance is subject to the airman making an allotment of at least three shillings per day. Airmen are liable for service either within or beyond the limits of the Commonwealth.”
At enlistment, Arthur’s rank was Aircraftman Class 123 – Trainee Armourer at No.10 Armourer’s course at Point Cook, and he was later promoted to Corporal – Fitter Armourer. He saw overseas service in the UK with 457 Spitfire Squadron and participated in a long stint with No.1 Fighter Wing in the Darwin area through 1943 and 1944. Some of the places he was posted to were Laverton, Point Cook, Sydney, UK via Canada and back to Australia. He spent a lot of his time in Darwin.
We are fortunate in having one of his wartime colleagues, Bruce Read, make some comments about Arthur:
“Arthur and I had an identical career path up until August 1943, when we parted company. We enlisted almost on the same day, he in Melbourne and I in Sydney. Where he did his rookies I know not, but we came together on No.10 Armourers course at Point Cook around March 1941. We volunteered for the RAF Infiltration Scheme, as did several others from No.10 Course, and we both ended up on 457 Squadron, serving in the UK and arriving back in Australia a year later. Going on my memory, he sailed to Darwin on the same ship as I did, the “Maeytsucker”, and we were both made Corporal at the same time in June or July 1943. As I said at the beginning, we parted company the following month. I would have thought that most of the original 457 Squadro Armourers would have joined Arthur on the Fitter Armourers Course, which I think would have been held in Victoria. Arthur was well regarded by his mates in the Squadron and was always keen to have a yarn.”
Arthur was awarded various medals for his contribution to the war. According to his Record of Service, he received the following:
The 1939 – 1945 Star, the Defence Medal, the War Medal 1939-45, the Australia Service Medal 1939 – 1945, and the Returned from Active Service Badge.
At the completion of his service in the North West area, Arthur went south and undertook a Fitter Armourer’s course and was promoted to the rank of a Sergeant. He was discharged from the RAAF on the 1st February 1946, “on demobilisation”.
After the war, Arthur returned to his pre-war job at Myer city store where he attained senior management status. He continued working there for the remainder of his working life. He showed the same devotion to duty in retirement, tending on a daily basis to the everyday needs of his wife Nancy, who had been confined to a nursing home for several years. Nancy pre-deceased him in November 2003. Not having children of their own, Arthur and Nancy were a devoted and loving aunt and uncle to all of their nieces and nephews. Two of them, Margaret Boyles and Helen Hall, were very much part of their lives and consequently took care of Arthur as he grew older and when he became ill. Arthur died on the 19th November 2004, aged 85, in the same nursing home as his wife, following an eighteen month illness.
The photo of the men beside the aircraft is of Arthur (far left) with his 457 Squadron mates (Les Tapper on mainplane, Bill Connant in front of the aerial with Andrews on his right). It was probably taken at RAF Andreas on the Isle of Man.
Arthur loved attending the Anzac Day Ceremony at the Melbourne Shrine with his brother Keith, and would proudly march with the remaining members of 457 Squadron. He was a member of the Spitfire Association. The following is an extract from niece Helen Hall’s tribute at Arthur’s funeral service:
“I cannot possibly let today go by without mentioning another love in Uncle Arth’s life. I’m sure you all know what the word “Spitfire” meant to him. With each move to new accommodation, from his home in Lind Street to Federation Village, then briefly to Glengowrie Hostel and finally to Karingal Nursing Home, his possessions in life became reduced to a very modest amount. But with each move, his Spitfire memorabilia followed him. We made sure we kept his Spitfire pictures on the walls and the little models of his beloved plane around.
The photo on the left is of 457 Squadron boys in Darwin. Arthur is in the middle row, second from left.
Contributed with love by niece, Helen Hall
Bruce Read and Steve McGregor
The Spitfire Association