James William (Jim) STONE AFC, MID

STONE, James William

Service Number: 407689
Enlisted: 10 December 1940
Last Rank: Aircraftman 2 (WW2)
Last Unit: Not yet discovered
Born: Stockwell, South Australia, 12 October 1912
Home Town: Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Public servant
Died: Natural causes, Echuca, Victoria, 16 April 2005, aged 92 years
Cemetery: Willaston General Cemetery, South Australia
In family plot of original Stone settlers
Memorials:
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World War 2 Service

10 Dec 1940: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Aircraftman 2 (WW2), SN 407689, Adelaide, South Australia
10 Dec 1940: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Squadron Leader, SN 407689
11 Dec 1940: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Aircraftman 2 (WW2), SN 407689
24 Dec 1943: Honoured Mention in Dispatches
25 Aug 1946: Honoured Air Force Cross, For exceptional courage and devotion to duty.

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Biography contributed by Ian Stone

James was born on 12th October 1912 at Stockwell, a small community at the northern end of the Barossa Valley in SA, where his father was a school teacher. James was the eldest of 6 children, 4 girls and 2 boys. Both his parents, William Thomas Stone, and Mary Charlotte Stone (nee Agars), were descendants of very early settlers in the new colony of South Australia.

Education

James & family moved from school to school over the years, firstly to Balhannah and then to Tungkillo. The move to Hallet saw James commence grade 1 in 1917. They then oved to Burra and then to Terowie. James’ primary education continued as he followed the family to Lobethal (Tweedale) and then finally to Kangarilla where he obtained his qualifying certificate when he completed Grade 7. When the family moved to Tumby Bay in 1925 his formal education ceased, as no high school facilities were available. He became a Junior Teacher under the supervision of his father until 1927, when the position of Junior Teacher was abolished.

The Depression Years

For the next 5 years James worked on wheat stacks, delivered meat for the local butcher and was a shop assistant at the local hardware store and timber yard, all in the Tumby Bay area. Because of the deteriorating situation caused by the Depression, James was forced to accept a pay cut from 15 shillings per week ($1:50) to 7/6 per week (75 cents) to hold his job. Notwithstanding the severe economic situation, community leaders ensured that social and sporting activities were maintained in Tumby Bay. At 17 years of age James played senior cricket and football for the town and was actively involved in the regular old time dances (treasurer ), the local library (assistant librarian), athletics carnival (treasurer).

Teaching

In 1932 the Education Dept. invited applications from persons interested in undergoing training to become teachers in one teacher schools. James applied and ,after successfully sitting the appropriate exams, was accepted for a one year training course at the Teacher Training College in Adelaide in 1933. On completion of his training he worked in the following one teacher schools on the Eyre Peninsula:

·     Ulipa, near Mt Hope - 8 students,

·     Hundred of Mosely, 20 miles east of Kimba on the Iron Knob Road - 9 students,

·     Cockabidnie, 20 miles north of Cleve - 15 students.

James found teaching very rewarding and his acceptance into the community social & sporting activities most pleasing. It was thus with great regret that James left teaching in 1940 to enlist in the RAAF, effectively ending his career as a teacher.

Pilot training

On the 10th December 1940 James joined a group of fellow South Australians for the train journey to Perth (WA), the centre for their aircrew training, initially at Pearce for their theory of flight, navigation, etc, and then to Cunderachie, some 80 miles east of Perth, for elementary flying training in Tiger Moths. The next step was Geraldton, on the coast, 250 miles north of Perth for service flying training in Avro Anson aircraft. On completion of his training, James was appointed to the rank of Pilot Officer and was selected to do a special navigation training course at Laverton Airforce Station in Victoria.

War Years

On the 31st October 1941 James departed Australia for a 10 day voyage by sea to join No. 8 Squadron at Sembawang in the centre of the island of Singapore. He was to carry out co-pilot duties on the Lockheed Hudson, a twin engine bomber/reconnaissance aircraft. Reconnaissance flights from Sembawang reported Japanese naval movements along the Thailand coast. In anticipation of Japanese attack, the No. 1 Hudson Squadron was moved from Sembawang to Kota Bahu, a short distance from the Thai boarder. No. 8 Hudson Squadron moved to Kuantan, 150 miles south on the Malay peninsula east coast. Before dawn on the 8th December the Japanese attacked Kota Bahu with naval gunfire and landing troops nearby. The No. 1 & 8 Squadrons found themselves in active combat, attacking ground forces and Japanese shipping. Both Kuta Baru & Kuantan aerodromes were bombed by Japanese aircraft based in Thailand causing a significant loss of aircraft. On the 9th December both squadrons retreated to Sembawang with the remaining serviceable aircraft. On the 19th January Sembawang was bombed. On 20th January ground staff and superfluous aircrew were moved to Salembang in eastern Samatra. On 14th February carrier borne aircraft bombed Salembang. No. 8 Squadron personnel returned to Australia by sea. James transfered to No. 1 Squadron which retreated with the remaining aircraft of both squadrons to Semplak, an aerodrome near Djakarta. Early in March carrier borne aircraft (Zeros) attacked Semplak and destroyed most of the remaining Hudson aircraft. After the attack, ground staff were able to make a few aircraft serviceable by cannibalising other aircraft for spare parts. On the 6th March James was assigned to co-pilot a flight from Bandung in Java to mainland Australia. Departing at midnight the aircraft made a 10 hour flight to land safely in northern Western Australia in a paddock at Mardie Station. Fuel & spare parts were flown in from Pearce and Hudson aircraft A16-26 was then flown to Laverton, Victoria, for an overall.

James was then posted to no. 6 Hudson Squadron at Richmond, NSW, where he took part in seaward reconnaissance. He then was posted to the Bairnsdale Operational Training Unit for a full conversion as a first pilot (Captain) on Lockheed Hudson Aircraft. On successful completion of the conversion he was posted to No. 6 Squadron in Port Moresby where he took part in reconnaissance, supply dropping and bombing of Japanese ground troops. He was “Mentioned in Despatched” for his services in New Guinea.

In 1943, having completed his tour of duty in New Guinea, James was posted to squadrons which carried out transport duties, firstly to No. 24 Squadron flying Douglas Dakota aircraft and then to No. 37 Squadron, based at Essendon in Victoria, flying Lockheed Lodstar, the passenger version of the Lockheed Hudson, which was a general purpose military aircraft. James remained in the No. 37 Squadron until his demobilisation in March 1946, having given 5 years and 3 months of service to the RAAF. He retired with the rank of Squadron Leader and as Commanding Officer of 37 Squadron.

Some highlights of his 1400 hours flown with 37 Squadron were being assigned to pilot Sir Thomas Blamey on his Christmas visit to the troops in New Guinea in 1943 and to pilot the Prime Minister on a flight from Melbourne  to Perth in 1944.

Marriage

With the surrender of Japan in 1945, James considered that the job for which he had enlisted was complete and that the time had come to consider his future; a post war career and marriage. An introduction by Tom Bennett, a fellow pilot in 37 Squadron, to his sister Nancy, an RAAF nursing sister from WA who was based in the Heidelberg Military Hospital (Victoria) was a prelude to many social & sporting outings, when their off duty times coincided. Mutual attraction lead to a proposal of marriage, which Nancy accepted, subject to the approval of her father. A quick trip to Perth by James convinced her father, Mr Tom Bennett, the Postmaster at Claremont, that he was the right man for his “darling daughter”. They were married on 2nd March 1946. It is interesting to note that one of Nancy's older sisters was married to Lt Col. Ralph Honner (of Kokoda fame) and another to Air Vice Marshal L (Kiwi) Corbett.

Civilian life (a career in Civil Aviation)

Approaching demobilisation, James decided against a long term career in the RAAF because of doubtful prospects. He also decided not to return to teaching because of his poor formal academic qualifications and a loss of almost 6 years seniority as a result of his service in the RAAF. On the other hand, he saw that his experience in the RAAF had provided him with exceptional pilot, administrative and operational aviation experience, suitable for a career in what was the up and coming field of Civil Aviation. At the time the Commonwealth Department of Civil Aviation was recruiting staff with current aviation experience.

James was successful in his application for the Examiner of Airmen and Airways Surveyor in the DCA with effect from 31st October 1946. On his retirement on 10th December 1977 he had been with the DCA for almost 31 years in a variety of positions.

In the immediate post war years, the accent in the Department was on the planning of facilities, services and standards necessary for both domestic and international civil aviation. Towards this end, James was involved in the prescription of standards for aircrew licensing and air traffic control, designation of air routes and design of instrument approach procedures for airports. He was a member of a joint United Kingdom/Australia group to survey existing aviation facilities in the Far East.

In 1952 he was appointed Australian Representative on the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), a United Nations agency based in Montreal, Canada, with the responsibility for prescribing standards for international civil aviation. James held this position for four years. Again in 1965 he returned to Montreal as Australian Representative - this time for a three year term.

Back home he became Regional Director - Victoria Region, a position he retained until his retirement from the Public Service in October 1977. In the early ‘70s Jamas oversaw the provision of services (ie air traffic control, communication & fire units) required for the new Tullamarine Airport. On leave from the Public Service in 1974, he became a member of an ICAO Technical Assistance Group established to advise African countries on aviation organisational matters and training requirements. On this project he visited Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Botswana, Lesotho, Sudan, Mozambique and Pakistan on one or more occasions.

Family

Between 1947 and 1956 Nancy and James had 4 boys, Kimberly James, Ian Thomas (1950) Matthew Roberts (1951) and Anthony William. All were born in Melbourne , with the exception of Anthony who was born in Montreal, Canada.

Retirement

On retirement James and Nancy settled on a small property outside Echuca, Victoria. They were very active in the cummunity, James helping found the rich River Golf Club. He was a very good golfer and bowler, well into his eighties. He was also active in Legacy, University of the third Age and the local library friends group, amounst many other things. They moved into town during the mid '90s and lived there until James death at 92 from gastric problems that had plagued him ever since his war service.

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