Radschool Association Magazine - Vol 43

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James Robert Bartram AM


Laurie Lindsay advised that James Robert Bartram (commonly known as “Bob” or “Bart”) died on the 31st May 2013. “Bart” was born on the 10th November 1933 in Warrnambool, Victoria.  He joined the Air Force in January 1949 as an apprentice instrument fitter on the 3rd Intake (Sunbeams).  Flight Sergeant Apprentice Bartram graduated on the 7th December 1951 becoming Aircraftsman Bartram and posted to No.3 Aircraft Depot.  In 1954, he was promoted to corporal and in 1955 sent to England on the Link Trainer. 


Bart arrived back in Australia just in time for his wedding.  He had met Pauline in Wagga.  She was the daughter of a grazier and he was “snotty-nosed” apprentice.  They met at a function where she was attending on a blind date with somebody else.  Bart bribed the “somebody else” with a bottle of brandy to nick off. 


He was commissioned in 1957 and went off to the United States for training on the Hercules.  In 1961, he was posted back to Wagga as OIC Instrument Training where he also coached the Rugby team.  France was his next posting on the Mirage project, followed by Staff College.


His favourite and most rewarding posting was in 1978 when he returned to Wagga as Officer Commanding; the first ex-apprentice to hold that position.  As a result of his efforts at Wagga he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 1980.  Bob was involved in setting up the New Tactical Fighter Evaluation Team and he had a large input into the establishment of the F/A-18 project team in St Louis commencing in 1982.


Group Captain Bartram retired from the RAAF in 1984 after 35 years’ service. He was a gregarious extrovert with a booming voice; one always knew when he was in a room.  His family, who consisted of his wife Pauline, his daughters and his grand-children, was always considered first, followed by his Air Force and his church.


He was an active member of the Lutheran church and spent his retirement actively assisting the church and its schools in a variety of roles.


His very well attended funeral was held at the Lutheran College in Croydon, Victoria on the 12th June 2013.  The Instrument fraternity along with other serving and ex Air Force personnel turned out in force and there was not a dry eye in the chapel.


“Sticks” Carlton, 15 Course (Beavers, Wagga 1961-1963), fondly remembers Bart. He says, “My first meeting with Bart was at Wagga. He was a FLT LT and OIC of Instrument Section. Although I was a Sumpy all 15 Course Beavers had a strong connection with Bart. The Queen visited Australia early in the year and we Beavers were selected to form the Royal Guard of Honour and welcome Her Majesty on arrival at Fairbairn in March 1963. We also formed up in Canberra about a month later to farewell our Royal visitors.


Bart did a splendid job on both occasions as Guard Commander and during the practice sessions we got to know him much better. The Royal Guards were carried out with the .303 Rifle which was the last time this old weapon was used for such occasions. The photo below shows a younger Bart at the helm.



In 1972 while I was posted to HQSC, a few EX Appies from the earlier courses got together with a few ideas and formed The Melbourne RAAF Ex Apprentice Reunion Committee. Of course Bart from 3 course was the head with Graeme Semken, 1 course, Ray Crossley, 3 course, and Rex (Blue) Barnett, 4 course. The photo below shows Bart sitting alongside the indomitable clock winder - Choppy Gannell.



These chaps were paramount in the success of the yearly reunions which have now been held for the past 40 years during the Australia Day long weekend. This past Australia Day weekend saw a return to Toolangi to celebrate the 40 years and of course Bart fronted up. He was still his cheerful self but his illness had obviously taken a hold. He was standing fast though and I bet he did not waver right up to his passing.


Whilst at Wagga in 1978 Group Captain Bob Bartram OC RAAF Base Wagga had the pleasure of reviewing the Graduation Parade of No 30 Course Electricians, a fitting tribute to an “old” Ex Appy.


I’d just like to say that Bart had a great personality. He got the job done wherever he was with no fuss. He also left another legacy behind because Bart was without doubt leader of the Instrument Trade, yes “Leader of the Pack”. I believe he was the main force in having the yearly Banksa get together on the first Friday of December every year on the banks of the Yarra river.


He will be sadly missed by all Clock Winders and I’m sure a minute’s silence will be held this next December”.


Three past Commanding Officers of the School of Technical Training, at a 50th anniversary celebration at Wagga.




(From left) The late Air Commodore Robert Kee, Group Captain James Robert Bartram and Air Commodore Col Bradford.




Mervern James Mays.


RG Thompson advises that Merv Mays passed away peacefully on Monday 20th May 2013, aged 83 years. Merv’s funeral was held in Tewantin (Sunshine Coast, Qld) on Friday 24th May. Merv was a Tech in CCS at Frognall prior to taking discharge in 1962.




Ted Holmes.


Bob Hambling advises that Ted Holmes died in April, in Adelaide. Ted was an education officer who would be well known to many who were educated at Radio School or RAAFSTT. His first posting in the RAAF was to Frognall in 1959 where he was responsible for the academic performance of 11,12 and 13 radio apprentice courses. He was a thorough gentleman who treated his apprentice charges like humans which was a rare quality in staff at the time. One of his hobbies was ham radio and even up until recently he had huge antennas towering above his house.




“Blue” Campbell.


Ernie Gimm has advised that Blue Campbell passed away on Friday 26th April in Perth. Unfortunately, no further details are available.




Barry Grieve.


Jack Khan advised that Barry Greive passed away on Sunday, 26th May and his funeral was held on the 30th May at Albany Creek (Brisbane) crematorium. No further details.




Bill Greer.


Neil Hunter advises that Bill Greer died of a heart attack on the 14th May and a memorial service was held at the Warwick (Qld) Uniting Church on the 17th May. Neil says that Bill was his section NCO at RRIS at Frognall in 1972-76, back when the comm centre was closed down. Bill settled in Warwick many years ago and became the local horticultural guru and for the last 20 odd years had written a gardening column in the local paper.


He had a heart bypass last year and was still in recovery mode from that. He lived by himself since his wife died some years ago.




Mark “Shoes” Sadowski


Neil Hunter advises that Mark Sadowski passed away over the weekend 1-2 June. It appears that Mark went home fom work on Friday complaining of a sore back and was found deceased by his “troops” when he failed to turn up for work on Monday. Unfortunately, no further details are available.



Jack Giddey.


The Djinnang Association wishes to advise that Jack Giddey passed away on the 5th of July. He had been suffering from lung cancer and passed away peacefully. His funeral was held on Friday 12th July at the Castle brook lawn Cemetery, Windsor Road,  Rouse Hill.




Graham “Feathers” Peacock


Ian Butcher advises, with great sadness, the passing of an old mate Graham (Feathers) Peacock. Graham passed away on Saturday the 6th of July 2013.  He was unable to take any more treatment and was at home. Graham was diagnosed with cancer just after the Nelson Bay Reunion and had a lengthy period of remission followed by a stem cell treatment which was thwarted by pneumonia.


No further details at hand.




Col Wilks.


Ted McEvoy advises the passing of Col Wilks on the 21st April 2013. Col was a RadTechA with  35Sqn from 20June1967 to 20June1968 and Ted said he worked with Col in Vung Tau. Sad times – another 14 Course member gone to the big parade ground in the sky!!  Unfortunately we have no further details.




Robin Fredrick Gee.


Laurie Lindsay advises that Rob Gee passed away on the 6th August from a heart attack at his home in Canberra. He had enjoyed a family dinner and collapsed at about 1.00 am. Rob was an airframe fitter off 14th Intake. He had strong links with 9 SQN, both in Vietnam and in Australia. Rob, along with David Streitfeld was responsible for facilitating the procurement of Iroquois A2-110 for the National Vietnam Veterans Museum on Philip Island.





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