From His son Peter…
I’m writing to you as my father, Flt Lt Philip Anthony Nott, died a couple of months ago at 89 years old and I thought some of your members may remember him as he served in 31 Squadron during WWII. Phil married in 1948 and subsequently had 4 sons, of which I’m the second. I’ll attach a portion of the eulogy I gave him, which I’m sure does little but skimpily cover his time in the RAAF, but may also shed some light on his life for any who may remember him. Interestingly, my wife’s father also flew in Beaufighters in the same field of operations and they knew each other although in different squadrons. He is still alive, Allan Arthur Miller and lives happily in Batehaven NSW.
Philip Anthony Nott was born in Brisbane on 28 November 1922. to Philip and Myra. Phil’s Grandfather (the first Philip in the current line) had migrated from Cornwall in the UK. Myra’s family had been in Australia for a few generations and traced their ancestry from Ireland (the Tobins who were pioneers of the Nerang area) and Denmark (the Poulsons who originally came out to teach at the Conservatorium here in Sydney).
Phil’s early years were marked by the impact of the depression on his family and in his teen years he lived for a little while with a maiden aunt who was the Postmistress at Bundanoon. He was schooled at Brisbane Grammar where he claimed he was an average student which knowing him is quite unlikely! He joined the Post office as a Base Grade Clerk in 1939, transferred to the Audit Office in 1940 and enlisted in the RAAF in 1941 becoming a pilot officer.
During WWII, Phil spent two years as a flying instructor at Narramine and Bundaberg. He flew a range of aircraft during his training and instruction including the Tiger Moth and the Beaufort Bomber. At the sharp end, he was posted to 31 Squadron for an operational tour in Morotai in the Philippines and Borneo. He left the RAAF at the end of the war with the rank of Flight Lieutenant.
On returning to the Commonwealth Public Service after the war, he commenced evening studies at the University of Queensland and was awarded a Bachelor Degree of Commerce (1948) to which he added Arts in 1951. He became a member of the Australian Society of Chartered Accountants and later was awarded ‘Fellow’ status; just a few years ago he received his medal for 50 years’ membership.
Phil met and later married his lifetime sweetheart, Flora Jean McNeil also of Brisbane on 1 May 1948 thus beginning our particular branch of the Nott family tree, later contributing four boys to society. Although Mum always hoped for a girl as she said she felt a bit ‘outnumbered’ by us males, she never got one!
At the end of his studies he was promoted to the Department of National Development in Melbourne. From there he went to Canberra as Inspector (Organization and Methods) with the Public Service Board and, in 1955, took the family to the UK for twelve months on exchange duty with the British Treasury in London. On returning to Australia, he brought his then young family to Canberra, initially living at the Hotel Acton and later moving to Yarralumla where we had our first real house and where he bought a black Vauxhall Wyvern, the first family car I remember.
Phil took a promotion to the Department of Social Security as FADG or First Assistant Director General (to the lay-people); this is really God minus one in the organization! This entailed an initial 12 month stint in Melbourne forcing him to become ‘remote’ patriarch until returning to Canberra where he continued serving the department for a number of years. Sometime during those years, we moved as a family to a new, larger house in Hughes, which became his gardening and landscaping pride and joy. Retaining walls, garden features, pergolas, etc, with his cheap labour force always on tap (the boys!) no project was impossible!
From DSS, he became Controller of the Australian Government Publishing Service. Here he WAS ‘God’! In this role, he modernised the organisation’s entire operations, taking government publications global, by opening AGPS bookshops around the world. Perhaps his major innovation was to bring computerisation to the Government Printer in researching, planning and replacing the old, lead-letter based manual typesetting with computer typesetting, becoming one of the first publishers in the southern hemisphere to utilise this radical new technology. He became First Assistant Secretary of the Department of the Media in 1977 where he added government advertising to his areas of responsibility and for the first and only time in his life as a senior public servant worked for a Labor Government (under Gough Whitlam). Enough said! He retired in 1982.
I have a picture of a Beaufighter on my kitchen wall and every time I see it (daily) it reminds me of Dad…I would have loved to fly such an aircraft and in such eminent company…I miss him so much, but know he is in good hands…
I wish you and all your members all the very best.
Thanks and best regards,