Extract from Tom Fitzgerald's interview by Tim Bowden for the Australian
War Memorial, 1989
Australian War Memorial: Tom Fitzgerald, Navigator No.
547 Squadron Royal Air Force RAF, interviewed by Tim Bowden for the Keith
Murdoch Sound Archive of Australia in the War of 1939-45, 10 March 1989,
ID Number: S00536
That, I regard as the first of the two personally lucky, but nationally
regrettable, streamings off that occurred in my air force career. By that
I mean that I was streamed out of participation in the Pacific war. I
felt then, and I feel perhaps even more clearly now, that the airmen who
did the most ...really, the most concrete things for Australia in the
war were those who flew in the New Guinea area, particularly during the
years 1942 and '43.
I still think that such people as the great Flight Lieutenant William
Newton VC epitomised the ...the highest standards of service that an airman
could perform. I was streamed, however ...it's still a puzzling question
- I don't criticise it - as to why, in that extremity of 1942 and '43,
we were still allowed to go off to Canada to the Empire Air Training Scheme.
One of my fortunes was not to be too tall. At the Bradfield Park embarkation
section of the big area there that the RAAF had, I met, through a friend,
a very tall friend, another very tall gentleman called Gough Whitlam;
they were not allowed to go to the Empire Air Training Scheme, they were
too tall to be interchangeable bodies on a piece of paper that could be
allocated to any kind of aircraft. And they were kept here for that reason.