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19 Course News


The 19 Course 50 year reunion that was held in Melbourne was a great success (thanks Paul!).

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The 19 Course Story

In the Beginning ...

In January 1965 over 30 young men aged 15 to 17 converged on the Laverton RAAF Base near Melbourne in Victoria, Australia in what for most of them was their first taste of life away from their parents.

19 Course at Laverton in 1965

Select the highlighted links below to see some memorabilia from this era:

A plan of huts 450 and 451 showing room occupants soon after the start of the course.

Rolf Roelfsema, Ted Vincent and Julian deRoss outside Hut 450

A typical room inside Hut 450

Bruce Purcell and Rolf Roelfsema outside Hut 451

Awards at graduation time

Until graduation in August of 1967 the Radio Apprentice Squadron of the RAAF School of Radio was to be their home while they did two years full time study at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology followed by 7 months full time training at the School of Radio on Laverton RAAF Base, with some time out for bivouacs and the like, for example at Lake Mountain.

19 Course at Lake Mountain, 1966

Almost all of the initial intake graduated.

19 Course at Graduation, Laverton 1967

After Graduation ...

After graduation they dispersed to RAAF bases all over Australia, and in spite the inefficient and expensive (by today's standards) means of communication managed to keep in touch for a while. But gradually there was less of this communication. By the time Gough Whitlam became Prime Minister in 1972 a few had already left the RAAF, and with the new government came an easing of the restrictions on voluntary discharge, so that many 19 course members left the RAAF at that stage.

First reunion - 1992

1992 marked the final Apprentice graduation at Laverton. This was to be the trigger for the remarkable reunion, with a surprisingly high proportion of 19 Course managing to make it back to Laverton for that final passing out parade. Geoff Chapman in particular went to great lengths to track down his fellow members of 19 Course. It was quite an experience for everyone there to once again see people who had once been so familiar after a break of 27 years.

Links related to the 1992 reunion

Select the highlighted item that you want to view:

40th reunion - Gold Coast 2005

Thanks to the magnificent efforts of Phil Laird, the 40th reunion was an outstanding success.

Links related to the 40th reunion

There are pictures here and here.

The Communications Revolution ...

After the reunion there was a feeling that the 19 Course members should keep in touch a bit more. This was now much easier than it was 27 years earlier on account of the emergence of email plus the greatly reduced cost of interstate phone calls. Keeping in touch had become easier than at any time since 19 Course were in the Huts.

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The Huts and their Occupants

19 Course were mostly in 2 huts in early 1965:

Tombstone Whitecross Bob Norton Chris Robins Geoff Chapman Julian deRoss Barney Jones Rolf Roelfsema Hut NCO (R Ledingham)
HUT 450 corridor
Garry Learhinan Ted Vincent Rick Toholka Jim Legg Jack Woodmansey Stewart Deans Ron Evans (store room)

Arnold Vereschildt Dave Lugg Paul Hewitt Kevin Smith Tony Neave Trev Connell Sam Houliston Hut NCO (J Jones)
HUT 451 corridor
Bruce Purcell Trevor Lee Garry Thomsen Phil Laird Allan George Phil Stroude Bill Voolstra Ray Moodie

Errol Johnson and Dave Spillman started in Hut 386 (with some of 17 Course)

This is after the departure of some who left early:
  • Hogan from Queensland
  • Mesley from Victoria
  • Robson from NSW
  • Stewart from WA
The occupants of these huts were responsible for the early ageing of:
  • Squadron Leader Merisch
  • Flight Lieutenant Newman
  • Flight Lieutenant Fuller
  • Corporal Quincey
  • Corporal Maine
  • Corporal Cooper
And later:
  • Squadron Leader Ralph
  • Corporal Holtman
  • Corporal Hodgeson
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Last updated 12 Feb 2016