Yesterday I was contacted by Ger Boogmans, the archivist for Bomber Command based in Amsterdam. We regularly contact each other via the Private Message system on the Facebook website.
He asked me if my father used to live at an address on Milson Road, Cremorne Point, Sydney, Australia and I was able to tell him that, yes, he lived there with Betty Earngey, the widow of Ted Earngey (the navigator in dad’s crew) on W.7471 Short Stirling MG-J in 7 Squadron.
How did Ger know about this? I wondered, because I’d never told him the address… just the fact that he’d lived in Sydney.
It turns out that Ger had been in contact with the Australian War Museum in his search on members of the crew and they’d told him that the new people in the unit/house where Betty used to live found photographs (and perhaps other items) and delivered them to the museum!!
I am intrigued to know what they were/are as I know that dad was unable to return to Sydney after his final trip back to the UK as he had a heart attack at the wheel of his car and wasn’t allowed to fly back. He’d lived in Australia for about 16 years at that point and it was more than likely that he’d left items and documents in the house that he might not have got back again… things such as photos and documents. Additionally, Betty would have had similar items related to Ted and it may be that these were all delivered together! Presumably their son, Richard, had to clear out the flat prior to its sale and thought the best thing to do was to send the stuff to the museum for posterity and safe-keeping.
So, Ger is in the process of finding out what those photos are and whether they will throw further light on Ted and dad’s experiences during the war. So, I await Ger’s next contact explaining what he’s managed to find out about the material that was donated. Knowing that the material is saved is wonderful…but I’m dying to know what the photos reveal.
Armed with the address I decided to look on Google earth/maps to have a look at the area in which dad stayed for all those years… the marvels of modern technology! I thought that readers might like to see the view from the window that dad saw every day… the house looked down on Sydney Harbour! I remember dad telling me about his binoculars, kept on the window ledge, so that he could view anything of interest in the bay. And it would have been from these windows that he saw the huge bush fires that raged in 1993/4 in the Blue Mountains…and had to go outside to douse the wooden window frames in water using the hose-pipe so that they wouldn’t catch fire!! They could feel the heat in Sydney and there were, no doubt, fatalities.
The view from their window was wonderful… it would certainly encourage anyone to get up early!!