Radschool Association Magazine - Vol 34

Page 14

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WRAAF Reunion.


Over the three days, 28 - 30 January 2011, the Queensland Branch of the WRAAF Association, which is part of the RAAF Association, Queensland Division, held the 2011 National WRAAF Reunion at the Mercure Hotel, North Quay, Brisbane. The Event also celebrated the 60th anniversary of the formation of the WRAAF. (See HERE)


The Reunion was for all ex WRAAF who served between 1951 and 1977, ex RAAF servicewomen, current serving RAAF servicewomen and ex WAAAF members.


Their hard working committee, led by Dianne Pickering (President), Rosemary Coleman (Secretary) and  Rosie Forster (Treasurer) must be congratulated as the event was a huge success, with over 450 girls coming from all parts of Australia for the event (some even bought Ozzie dollars and came up from Tasmania).GG Quentin Bryce


Guest of Honour at the Cocktail Party was the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce. Ms Bryce has been a ‘friend’ of the association for many years and it is lovely that she could find time in her busy schedule to attend the function and to meet and chat with a lot of the girls.



Crowd at reunion


Yours was one of the few from the male section of the community that went along to the Friday night cocktail party to mingle with all those gorgeous girls – tough job I know, but someone has to do it…….


Most of the photos have been ‘crunched’ to make loading faster, you can get hi-res copies of a lot of them by clicking each one.


Crowd at the reunion


WRAAF Qld Committee


Just a part of the hard working committee who had worked for more than 12 months to put the weekend together. Without girls like these, who give of their time, events like this would never happen, they are to be congratulated.


Events they planned were:



Friday, 28 January 2011.

1600 hrs onwards Registration, then a Cocktail Party at the Mercure Hotel.


Saturday, 29 January 2011

Freetime until 1730 then a Formal Dinner – Mercure Hotel.Kookaburra Queen


Sunday, 30 January 2011

1000 hrs Church Service at Ann Street Presbyterian Church.

1200 hrs Luncheon Cruise aboard the Kookaburra Queen Paddle Steamer.





Below are photos of some of the girls, obviously having a great time catching up and telling each other huge lies. Unfortunately, we did not have time to get around to catch all the girls, to those we have missed, we apologise.  Next time!!


All photos, from Left to right.


Pic 1


Jenny Kellett (nee Asser). Jenny served as a Clerk from 1965 to 1967, and in that short time had postings to Richmond, Uranquinty, Amberley and Regents Park.

Margaret Unwin (Kilshaw). Margaret was an equipo and served from 1958 to 1960

Leonie Robinson (Fallow). Leonie was a Telsop and spent most of her RAAF time in Canberra. She joined in 1955 and was discharged in 1957.

Glenda Matthews (Shepperd) was a Telsop from 1959 to 1963. She spent most of her time out at Penrith with a short time at East sale.

Jeannette Kable (Steele) was also a Telsop and served her years (1956 to 1958) at Richmond.




Pic 2







Shirley McLaren (Lemon) also had a reason to celebrate. 60 years ago, on the 29Jan 1951 she joined the RAAF and was sent to Richmond to do her “Rookies”. Shirley was among the first 25 girls to form the original WRAAF in 1951 at the outbreak of the Korean War.


Back then the Federal Government called for interest from girls to re-form the women’s services for the three defence forces (Army, Navy and Air Force) and being smart, Shirley chose the Air Force. Earlier, the current king, George VI, had granted the title Women’s Royal Australian Air Force.


Shirley graduated as a DI and spent the next few years training more than 270 WRAAF recruits as they entered the service.”


She was discharged in 1955.




Pic 3


Rosalyn Curran (Smith) joined the RAAF in 1974 and trained as a Trinop, which was the RAAF’s way of saying Teleprinter Operator in the least number of letters as possible. Roslyn served at Pearse, Darwin, Regents Park and Penrith from 1974 until she was discharged in 1976.


An elderly man was sitting on his veranda, when a young man walked up with a pad and pencil in his hand. "What are you selling young fella," the old bloke asked. "I'm not selling anything," the young man said, I'm a census taker." "A what?" the elder man asked. "A census taker. We are trying to find out how many people live in Australia." "Well," the old bloke said. "You're wasting your time with me son, I have no bloody idea."



These 3 happy girls (below) were the first girls to go through Radschool at Ballarat back in 1960, and from the huge grins on their faces, they must have had a ball. All 3 were then posted to Darwin as Aircraft Plotters (girls who write backwards on windows) and again were the first RAAF girls into Darwin – we’re sure we heard the word ‘smorgasbord’ mentioned more than once…


Pic 4


Judy Pratt (Middleton), Josie Morgan (Long) and Gail Snell (Mapstone)


The 4 girls below were all Trinops (Teleprinter Operators) and served together at that super secretive place over at Penrith back in 1972 to 1976.


Some had travelled far to be at the festivities and definitely had no plans to rush home. We heard the Brisbane Casino was going to get a thrashing later in the night, followed by a few days down at Coolangatta where it was hoped a bit of fun, sun and surf would be there for the taking.


Pic 5


Lalee Jagiello, Mary Moore (Windsor), Shirley Watson (Strub)

and Yvonne Trickey (Marsden)



These lovely ladies, below, all lined up as though they are waiting for the next bus to the Valley, went along to meet old friends, to reminisce, to have a laugh about times past and to have a few quiet little Sav Blancs– and that is exactly what they did.


Pic 6


Diane Egginton (Arnett) was a Clerk with the RAAF from 1963 to 1965 and during that time she worked at 6 RAAF Hospital at Laverton and then a short stay at SupCom.

Pam Awcock (Maxwell) was in the education mustering and spent most of her time in the RAAF (1966 to 1967) at East Sale.

Linde Cavanagh (Dattinger) was an equipo at Richmond, she started at 2AD and then went down the road to L Group. She joined in 1971 and left in 1973.

Marilyn Fordyce (McGrath) was a Clerk G at Richmond and had postings at Basqn and Base HQ. She joined in 1970 and shook hands with Madam WRAAF in 1973.

Evon Bowman (Harvey) also spent her RAAF time at Richmond (1971 to 1973). Evon was a Clerk with Basqn.

Margaret Turvey (Carroll) was a switch girl and spent her RAAF years (1969 to 1972) at Laverton and East Sale.




A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.




Pic 7


Glenys “Cis” McCleod (Marshall) was a Clerk A from 1955 to 1960 and spent her time at Wagga, Laverton and Amberley.

Clare Lotan was also a Clerk A. She joined in 1953, was posted to Laverton, then spent 1955/56 at Wagga after which she took her D.

Valerie Tobin (Burke) Val was a Clerk Equipment and had postings to Mallala in South Australia (1954), then it was off to Wagga for 1955/56 after which she went a bit further north to Regents Park where she saw out 1957/58 before taking her D.



Pic 8




Dianne Pickering (Southwood) joined the RAAF in 1970 as a telephone operator. During her 8 year’s service she spent time at Canberra, at OpsCom and in 1978, as a Sgt, she was posted to Pearce, not long after which, she took her discharge.


Dianne is the President of the Queensland Branch of the WRAAF association and has been in the job for 3 years, and as she says, there doesn’t seem to be too many girls knocking on her door for the job – so she’ll probably be the Pres a little while yet.


The next reunion is planned for 2013 and will be held in Perth.





Physics lesson: when a body is submerged in water,  the phone rings.




The girls below had two things in common, they were all Clerks in the RAAF and secondly they were having such a good time they didn’t want to go home and were the last to leave, even though the “Shardies” had stopped being served some time ago.


They are:


Pic 9


Philomena David, one of the few girls who did their 20 years. Phil joined in 1971 and was discharged in 1991. During that time she worked at Amberley, Laverton, Pt Cook, Edinburgh, Canberra and Williamtown.  She started her career in supply, remustered to DI, then finished her term as an SP. She currently lives up in the Torres Strait.

Judy Pattison (Gaw) joined in 1969, and after rookies at Edinburgh, was posted west to Pearce, then back east to Canberra then north to Amberley. She was discharged in 1973 and now lives on the Gold Coast.

Margaret Joyce (Taylor-Parkins) did the exact opposite. She joined in 1971 and after rookies at Edinburgh she was posted north to balmy old Amberley, then after she had got used to the heat, Mr RAAF sent her south to chilly Canberra. She was discharged in 1982 and now lives in Perth.

Trish Hodda also did full term, joining in 1970 she stayed until 2001, 31 years service. Well done!!  Trish was in the Education arm of the RAAF and served at Townsville, Amberley, Edinburgh and Darwin. She now lives in Melbourne.

Terri Johnson (Horoszko) was a Clerk A from 1969 until discharge in 1973. After Rookies, she was posted to Williamtown, Amberley, and then Dep Air. She is on the Committee.


Pic 10









A girl who forgot all she had learned in the RAAF, i.e.:  never volunteer for anything, is Rosemary Coleman (Lyons)


Rosemary served from 1969 to 1976 as a Clerk G at Point Cook, Dep Air, then at OpsCom HQ.


She has been the secretary of the Qld branch of the WRAAF Association for the past 8 years, and like Diane Pickering says, there aren’t too many people trying to get her job.



The blokes could do well to look to the girls to find out how to organise and run a reunion.....




I wondered why the cricket-ball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.




Randall Heating, Launceston

Berniece Cross, (below) being an OLG (old Launceston girl), (sorry Bernice, for old we mean Ex) was horrified when the Shardies were turned off downstairs at the conclusion of the cocktail party, so she grabbed a couple of her mates and headed for the bar upstairs.


Being an OLB, we can completely understand that.




"Bugs" RoseBerniece Cross (Randall) served as a Clerk A at Tottenham from 1959 to 1961.

Marlene Grosser (Rose), gave 6 years to the RAAF, from 1969 to 1976. Her first posting was Richmond, where everyone got her confused as Bugg’s sister/wife/cousin, then it was off to Amberley, East Sale and finally back to Richmond for discharge.




A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.













Margaret Wahl (McWhirter), who also found her way to the top bar after the Shardies were turned off downstairs, was in the medical game in the RAAF from 1957 until 1961.


She spent most of her RAAF time at Tottenham.





The soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.

Sorry Rupe!



After meeting and speaking with many of the girls at the reunion, we found that one thing that does not sit well with them was the fact that a lot were forced into discharge solely because they got married. That in itself was a slap in the face as these girls Discharge Certificateloved their jobs, they volunteered for service and they were proud of what they did. This is only too evident in the fact that such huge numbers turn up to these reunions. These girls provided invaluable service to the RAAF and to the nation and for too long their service has gone unrecognised. Shouldn’t be!!


Where else they were wronged, and severely we think, was on their discharge papers, where the reason for discharge was noted, it was entered “On ceasing to be eligible for WRAAF service” as though the girl had done a severe wrong.


Those Discharge Certificates should be recalled, destroyed and new ones issued stating the real reason.  


As a lot pointed out, the men didn’t have to leave when they got married, so why did the girls, and that is a fair enough question we reckon.


One wonders who the boof-head was who dreamed up that stupid rule in the first place and well-done to whoever it was who had it dumped in the early 1970’s.


Click the certificate for a bigger view, the names have been removed to protect the innocent – but a few will know to whom it belongs from the details that remain.




Nobody will ever win the battle of the sexes. There’s just too much fraternizing with the enemy.




On the Sunday, at midday, the girls, some with their husbands, partners or toy boys, all boarded the Kookaburra Queen for lunch, which was served while cruising down the Brisbane River.


The Queen


Part of the huge crowd that "took over" the Kookaburra Queen for the enjoyable trip down the river.


The "Queen" is currently operating from make-shift wharfage further down the river, in the Bretts Wharf area. The company suffered severe losses in the recent Brisbane floods with their City situated terminal and wharf areas being completely swept away.





Australian Defence Medal.

 Aust Defence Medal

A lot of the girls (and a lot of blokes too) do not realise that they are eligible for the Australian Defence Medal (ADM). This medal was struck on the 20 March 2006 to recognise ADF Regular and Reserve personnel who have demonstrated their commitment and contribution to the nation by serving for an initial enlistment period, or four years, whichever is the lesser.


However, if you did not complete the qualifying period due to:


  • You were medically discharged (based upon individual circumstances), or

  • You left the service due to a Defence workplace policy of the time. (For example, in the past a woman was required to resign on marriage.)


you are eligible for the Medal provided all your service time was after the 3 September, 1945.

 Shirley McLaren

If you have not already done so, and you are eligible, you can download the application form from HERE, fill it in and post it back to Defence Honours and Awards, Department of Defence. The address is on the form.


You should provide proof of service with your application as this will speed up the processing. The proof can include a certified true copy (don't send the originals) of your Certificate of Service or Discharge Certificate or any other official documents which confirm the length of your service.


Shirley McLaren (left), shown here proudly wearing her ADM, leading the WRAAFs in the march on Anzac Day 2010 in Sydney.


If you are not able to provide proof of your service, still fill in the form and sent it in, Honours and Awards will contact the service archives on your behalf to conduct an assessment. This will take some time….


Girls who are members of the Queensland Division may also become eligible for a number of awards throughout their time with the RAAF Association. Most of these awards are provided by the National body while some are produced by the Division for Queensland members only.


Click HERE for details


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