Newspaper article Daily News (Warwick, Australia)

War Veteran on a New Mission; RAAF Pilot Wants His Heirs to Know about the Old Days. Erin Smith Reports

Newspaper article Daily News (Warwick, Australia)

War Veteran on a New Mission; RAAF Pilot Wants His Heirs to Know about the Old Days. Erin Smith Reports

Article excerpt

PHIL Agnew lived through the depression, a polio outbreak and survived as a pilot in the Royal Australian Air Force during the Second World War.

But the regret of not knowing much about his family put the 92-year-old on a mission to pen his autobiography.

"When I was younger, family history held little interest for me," Mr Agnew said.

"I didn't pay enough attention to the numerous stories of my grandparents or ask any of the questions which I would like answered now it is too late.

"This thought, together with frequent urging from my wife Joan, has prompted me to make various jottings from time to time.

"I think I should make an effort to put these notes into a more coherent form whilst they are still clear in my memory.

"I really would like my descendants to hear about how we lived in the old days."

The veteran has penned part one, which covers the fondest memoriesfrom his childhood, as a teenager and his time as a flying officer in the RAAF.

"Myself and my friends desperately wanted to join the air force but we were apprentice electricians and at the outbreak of the war it became a reserved occupation.

"And we were thereby prevented from joining the armed services."

But the bombing of Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941 changed everything.

Mr Agnew can remember exactly what he was doing when he heard about the attack.

He was 20 and enjoying his summer holiday at his family farm in Lamington.

On the return trip home, he was driven to Lamington siding to catch a ride to Beaudesert on the tram.

"There was a number of small flat-topped wagons running on a narrow gauge railway, to carry cream from the dairy farms to the butter factory. It was not designed for passengers. We sat on cream cans on one of the wagons.

"It was at Lamington Siding on that morning that we heard for the first time that the Japs had bombed Pearl Harbour."

Mr Agnew and his fellow apprentices once again asked if they could enlist in the RAAF.

"This time we were given approval on the condition that we joined a branch of the service that would make use of our apprenticeship training," Mr Agnew said.

"We continued our jobs and after what seemed like a very long time received notice to report for duty at South Brisbane Station on May 11, 1942. …

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