A long and proud tradition
No. 31 SQUADRON BEAUFIGHTER ASSOCIATION (NSW)
The Association has a long and proud tradition of assisting members throughout Australia and has continued to enjoy for many years the Presidency of Ron Leckie, an original Squadron member.
It’s longest serving Secretary, and original Sqn member, the legendary Jack Anderson, sums up some of it’s history in his last newsletter:
From 31 Sqn Newsletter NSW dated July 2013
“Dear Original Members, Families and Faithful Supporters,
Being our final letter may l ramble on about how and when the Association began. lt was Anzac Day 1950 when six of us decided to attend the march, and tagged along behind that other Beaufighter mob, 30 Squadron.
Later over a couple of ‘soft drinks,’ we formed a committee, with the intention of tracing ex Squadron members.
Bill Collis (6.6.03) being a solicitor became President and held that position for 53 years. Bert Llewhellyn (4.11.95), The Finance Manager of Farmers and Graziers naturally became Treasurer for 45 years.
Marne Gurr (6.11.85) produced our wonderful banner in his clothing factory. All three were in signals section. PS: the banner still remains the property of the Gurr Family.
And finally Bob Jones (6.6.85) and Bob Morgan (21.5.87) made up the original committee. While the short straw was drawn by Jack Anderson to become the work horse Secretary “(unpaid)”.
Starting with those six we eventually traced about??? 400 members, by word of mouth, entries in Anzac advertisements, town’s RSL clubs, etc. etc.
As the numbers grew we passed the Victorian names to Arnold Salway and Jack Pearse in Melbourne. Those two made the ‘still in use’ Victorian banner.
Ron Jackson became Secretary followed by Ted Jackson (6.4.08), then and now doing a great job as Victorian Secretary is Tom Stevens with about 56 family members on his mailing list.
How lucky are the Victorians? They have the only remaining beaufighter in Australia at Moorabbin Airport Museum. We thank all our members for contributing a huge amount of money towards its restoration and storage inside a hangar.
South Australia when we sent the gathered names to them, formed a committee under Wally Hammond (8.8.08) as Secretary, Max Pearce as President and Trevor Ley as Treasurer and were able to form a large group to represent 31 Squadron in the land of the ‘Croweaters’. Happily carrying on the good work is Christine Weatherstone (Daughter of Trevor) acting as Treasurer, Secretary and President with about 29 members on her mailing list – what a great lady.
Please note it has never been our aim to interfere with the stronger membership States, i.e. Victoria and South Australia, but to try and unite all States as one great unit. Yes, we do have supporting members in W.A., QLD, N.T., TAS., and ACT, not forgetting Netta Rinkin, wife of Pilot, Bill in N.Z. and 31 Squadron R.A.F. who have been in action since 1914. We thank those very supportive “31ers” for keeping in touch. Please continue by supporting the new committee.
You could say we were a fast moving group, but you won’t when we say it took us 30 years to hold the first Australian wide reunion. It was in Sydney 1981, and we called it ‘31 in 81 ‘. We thought we had everything organized — motel at Surrey Hills, reception and transport to Coogee Bowling Club, 2 big ferries after the March to Neilson Park where Bill Collis had conned the Manly Council to close the harbor side park to the general public. Bob Morgan had erected a big marquee and we also had caterers to prepare lunch. Great — but wait, there’s more, the air line hostesses had decided to strike, stopping all airlines, so our great mates and wives changed plans, came by cars, buses, trains and push bikes from all over Australia. Very few failed to turn up. It is wonderful to note it was the first time our dear wives attended and thankfully have strongly supported us ever since.
Then closely followed other wonderful Australia wide reunions — namely 2 in Sydney, 2 in Melbourne, 3 in Wagga, 1 in Adelaide, 1 in Brisbane and 1 in Canberra, and in between both South Australia via Secretary Wally Hammond and Victoria, via Tom Stevens had organised small groups to travel to Darwin especially Coomalie Creek. NSW, via Lester Cox organised a mid year gathering at lnverell and Ron Jordan organised another at Nelson Bay. So we have been a great group of travellers.
I will attempt a few well deserved ‘thank yous’, but as usual will be shot down by some members, saying “What about so and so”. Sorry fellows, ‘Memory loss!‘.
Sir Charles Read (still on deck) for being a Patron and great CO.
Doug Riding (son of Sqd. Leader) for being a patron and leading us on Anzac Days.
Ron Leckie for a job well done as President and leading us on Anzac Days even though it is his birthday.
Bill Mann, ex CO for directing the Anzac group to use ferries to be on our own, and leading us on Anzac Days for many years.
Sqd. Ldr. Nigel Webster (Wagga Sqd) leading us on marches W/C Joanna Elkington C/O 31 City of Wagga Sqd. for travelling to lead us on Anzac Days. Most of all for organizing the wonderful 31 Sqd. display at the Wagga base.
Darcy Wentworth Ex C/O for leading us on Anzac Days and assisting with food preparation Anzac Eves at Lorna and Marne Gurr’s House, and sadly the little used cottage he did up for the Sqd. at his Coolah property.
Shirley and Max Nauthe organizing for many years, the mid year picnics and luncheons.
Jack Campbell the Anzac Day ferry organizer since 1960.
Bill Farrell for his wonderful efforts in donating, designing and delivering and placing the bronze plaque set in marble, listing 19 of our members who are buried there, outside the Adelaide River War Cemetery, N.T., plus 3 polished, gold lettered timber boards listing a total 79 Sqd members killed in the Sqd and placed at RAAF Darwin Chapel, RAAF Base Wagga and Moorabbin Air Museum. Note: Bill lived at Tocumwal and drove to each location.
Kevin Stewart living at Cootamundra – a Sqd. friend for maintaining our Sqd. plaque placed 6 kilometres north of Coota on the Olympic Highway. The Sub Branch has now taken over. Kevin has only recently restored the grave at the Coota local cemetery of Sgt. Vivian Sutherst, killed 21st September 1942 in a beau crash at Coota.
Alan Ferguson who organized 1st Wagga reunion.
Norm Garth organized 2nd Wagga reunion.
George Carnegie NAV, Jim Gordon, Pilot organized ACT reunion.
Airmarshal Mark Binskin for reforming No. 31 (City of Wagga Wagga) Sqd.
My wife, Nance, daughter, Pam, Kay Llewhellyn, Jennifer Hanks, Phil Quance, Ray Lentfer for the typing, envelopes, stories and packing of Sqd. letters, and especially our printer, Periodical Printing for many rushed jobs.
Finally, a very big thank you to Richard Luxton from every member that ever visited Coomalie Creek, We would give his phone number to all who visited and never did he not travel and show them around the strip and camp, which is now listed on the Heritage list — a rare honour in the N.T. How lucky are all 31 Sqd. members to have him.
Have l forgotten somebody? I told you l would!
Oh, I forgot to tell you we have placed 10 31 Sqd. bronze plaques at various sites as follows: Coomalie Creek Darwin War Memorial, Darwin Air Museum, 2 at Adelaide River War Cemetery NT, Adelaide Air Port recently moved?, Wagga RAAF Base, Melbourne Shrine Gardens, Canberra War Memorial and Canberra Memorial Hughie Edwards VC Gardens near Majura Road. We consider this the biggest and best one with details of Sqd. operations, organized by Ron Leckie and paid for by the Commonwealth Govt.
So dear members we have looked into the future with your assistance and finances. Thank you.”
Thank you Jack for all you have done!!!!!!
31 Sqn Association now welcomes Greg Mann as the Secretary of the Association. He is the nephew of one of the COs who commanded the Sqn, F.B Mann. Greg started the 31 Sqn Facebook page enabling a modern, relevant, and much needed method of reaching out and staying in touch with our widespread 31 Squadron family.
Welcome Greg, you are doing a fine job !