Search sends WWII cap home

Yarrawonga Chronicle - - Front Page -

Lo­cal Mul­wala res­i­dent Yvonne Ni­chol­son tells the story of how her fa­ther in law came in to pos­ses­sion of a WWII USA Fly­ing Ace’s cap and how af­ter half a cen­tury and a lot of in­ter­net search­ing, the cap is now be­ing re­turned to the right­ful owner’s fam­ily in the USA.

In Dar­win in 1942, Mark Ni­chol­son, my Fa­ther in Law was op­er­at­ing heavy equip­ment used to main­tain and build aero­dromes in the area.

The Amer­i­can air force was quite heav­ily in­volved in the de­fence of Dar­win and in­deed Aus­tralia at that time.

On one oc­ca­sion, as a US pi­lot was tak­ing off, he threw his cap to Mark.

The cap came home to Mul­wala with Mark at the end of his de­ploy­ment there.

Moira Shire Coun­cil have voted on their meet­ing sched­ule for 2019 with Yar­ra­wonga host­ing just one meet­ing for the year at the Yar­ra­wonga Town Hall on Novem­ber 27.

A rec­om­men­da­tion was put for­ward to coun­cil at the Novem­ber Or­di­nary meet­ing to set the date, time and place of coun­cil meet­ings and brief­ings for 2019.

Eight of the eleven or­di­nary meet­ings of coun­cil will be held in Co­bram at the Co­bram Civic Cen­tre with the re­main­ing three meet­ings be­ing held in Nu­murkah, Nathalia and Yar­ra­wonga.

Coun­cil sched­ules will re­main con­sis­tent with 2018 with meet­ings to con­tinue to take place on the fourth week of the month and com­mence at 5pm dur­ing eastern stan­dard time and 6pm dur­ing day­light sav­ings.

Hav­ing the meet­ing dur­ing the fourth week of the month will al­low ad­di­tional time for agenda re­view by coun­cil­lors and the com­mu­nity and will be avail­able a week be­fore the meet­ing.

It was passed to me since his son Les, my hus­band, died in 2010.

Over the years, we have won­dered about the owner of the cap and/or his rel­a­tives.

Those ques­tions have gone unan­swered un­til very re­cently when Neil Ni­chol­son, a cousin to Les, found the name Lt Preddy in­side the cap and used it as a start­ing point on the in­ter­net.

It has brought forth a wealth of in­for­ma­tion. Lt Ge­orge Preddy spent some time on leave in Mel­bourne and be­came en­gaged to a girl there.

On ar­rival in Dar­win, he found there were very many bomb craters but few peo­ple as most civil­ians had been evac­u­ated.

Fol­low­ing a crash, he was re­turned to Amer­ica and af­ter fur­ther train­ing was pro­moted and sent to Europe where, as a Ma­jor he com­manded many suc­cess­ful mis­sions and was re­spon­si­ble for shoot­ing down 25 en­emy planes.

He was one of the US Ace pilots be­fore be­ing killed on Christ­mas Day in 1944, when his plane was brought down by friendly fire.

His brother, also a pi­lot, was killed a short time later and they are buried side by side in a mil­i­tary ceme­tery in France.

This news evoked a sad­dened re­sponse in me, Neil and our fam­ily here.

His cousin, Joe Noah, founder of The Preddy Me­mo­rial Foun­da­tion in North Carolina has let us know by email that they are very ap­pre­cia­tive and ac­cept­ing of my de­sire to re­turn the cap to them.

They are re­ally keen to see it, to have it and to place it in The North Carolina Avi­a­tion Mu­seum or The Greens­boro His­tory Mu­seum. The cap is now on its way to the USA. Thanks to the in­ter­net, this has been made pos­si­ble.

Yvonne Ni­chol­son with a US WWII fly­ing ace’s cap, that had been thrown to her fa­ther in law while work­ing along­side the Amer­i­can air force in Dar­win in 1942 and was later found to be­long to US Lt Ge­orge Preddy.

Lt Ge­orge Preddy’s fly­ing ace cap.

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