Joseph, or Joe as he was known to his friends, was born on the 25th January 1904 in Carlisle, England. He enlisted in the RAAF in Sydney on the 29th July 1942 at the grand old age of 38, and was based in Darwin between 1942 and 1945. His son Warren said, “Dad was 38 with two children when he volunteered for duty in 1942, something that I am personally very proud of. It was really amazing for a man that age to volunteer”. Joe was very fit and strong, a good swimmer and runner and excelled at soccer. He was the third oldest of five children, had a terrific personality, and was extremely popular. He said he was always the life of the party.
No doubt, Joe managed to have a bit of fun while he lived under canvas with all the other Erks (mechanics and the like) who serviced the Spitfires parked in their bays and hidden from Japanese eyes by the Australian bush. The landing strips were by the side of the roads in Darwin as the landing field was badly bombed by successive Jap raids. Conditions out in the bush were tough. Boring, hot, dusty and flies that would drive a man crazy.
Joe was discharged on the 20th November 1945.
Around five to six years before he died, Joe took sick, and one of his sisters said she estimated around 80 people had dropped in to see him. We can only assume that he was as equally as popular in Darwin. Joe passed away on the 25th May 1970 at Lake Conjola, NSW. There is a plaque in memory of Joe in the gardens of Avalon RSL.
Both photos show some of the 452 Squadron Erks at Darwin with Joe on the right in both of them..
Warren Park and Steve McGregor
The Spitfire Association