Fly­ing beats milk­ing cows

Found adventure in the Air Force

Central and North Burnett Times - - OVER 50S - Erica Murree erica.murree@cnbtimes.com.au

ALL Bill Rough ever wanted to do was join the Air Force when he was 18.

Bill said he did not want to stay home and milk cows on the fam­ily prop­erty.

“There had to be some­thing bet­ter than dairy­ing seven days a week,” he said.

The re­tired war­rant of­fi­cer now lives in Childers

Bill Rough We were re­spon­si­ble for car­ry­ing out bomb­ing at­tacks on Ja­panese ships and Ja­panese oc­cu­pied is­lands ...

with his wife Mary.

He served with the 11th-20th Squadron Royal Aus­tralian Air Force in the Se­condWorldWar. “I got home safe,” he said. “At least I had a warm bed to sleep in at night, not like those who served in New Guinea.”

His squadron, made up of Seag­ull and Em­pire fly­ing boats, was formed as a gen­eral re­con­nais­sance squadron based at Rich­mond in NSW.

Bill said with the out­break of war, the squadron was moved to Port Moresby.

“In early 1941 the unit

THOSE WERE THE DAYS: Re­tired war­rant of­fi­cer Bill Rough shared his ex­pe­ri­ences as a wire­less op­er­a­tor with the Catalina air­craft in the Sec­ond World War with Biggen­den State School stu­dents. be­gan fly­ing a Catalina air­craft on pa­trol and search mis­sions,” he said.

“We were re­spon­si­ble for car­ry­ing out bomb­ing at­tacks on Ja­panese ships and Ja­panese oc­cu­pied is­lands around Thurs­day Is­land, Tu­lagi, New Zealand and Bougainville.

“In the same year the unit was in­volved in a search mission to look for sur­vivors from the HMAS Syd­ney.”

With the es­ca­la­tion of at­tacks by the Ja­panese on Port Moresby, the squadron with­drew to Bowen in May, 1942.

Bill said the unit still con­tin­ued to carry out re­con­nais­sance mis­sions for naval ves­sels in­volved in the Battle of the Coral Sea.

To­wards the end of 1942 the unit re­lo­cated to Cairns and then Dar­win.

He said this en­abled them to carry out night raids against en­emy ship­ping and sub­marines which were try­ing to sup­ply the en­emy with sup­plies.

At the end of the war the squadron dropped food and med­i­cal sup­plies to prisoner of war camps across South-East Asia and flew sur­vivors back to Australia.

Bill said the squadron dis­banded on Fe­bru­ary 15, 1946.

“Our motto of ‘Shep­herd or De­stroy’ is ap­pro­pri­ate as we pro­tected al­lied troops and de­stroyed the en­emy,” he said.

Bill met wife Mary on the beach at Scar­ness when he was train­ing in Mary­bor­ough. He has been re­tired for the past 26 years af­ter be­ing a cane in­spec­tor with Isis Cen­tral Mill.

PHOTO: ERICA MURREE

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