Australian Dictionary of Biography Volume 19: 1991–1995 (A–Z)
WALLER, Sir JOHN KEITH (1914–1992), diplomat and departmental head, was born on 19 February 1914, at South Yarra, Melbourne, only child of Victorian-born parents Arthur James Waller, schoolteacher, and his wife, Elizabeth Maria, née Hart. Following Elizabeth’s early death from cancer, her sister stood in loco matris to the baby boy. Known as Keith, he was educated (1920–30) at Scotch College where he won a government senior scholarship and a non-resident exhibition to Ormond College, University of Melbourne. Studying history and political science, he graduated (BA Hons, 1935) with the Dwight [q.v.4] prize for history and political science.
After attending a lecture at the University of Melbourne by Arthur Yencken [q.v.12] of the British Foreign Office, Waller joined the Commonwealth Public Service. He moved to Canberra in 1936 where he became personal assistant to Frank Strahan [q.v.16], secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department. Within months, however, he transferred to the Department of External Affairs (DEA). When William Morris Hughes [q.v.9] was appointed departmental minister (1937), Waller became his private secretary. The two became quite fond of each other, although this did not prevent ‘the Little Digger’ from throwing things at Waller when liverish. Waller described the position as ‘hell, absolute hell’ (Waller 1990, 16). In 1940, to improve the department’s poor relationship with the press, Roy Hodgson [q.v.9], the department’s secretary, sent Waller to Melbourne as diplomatic adviser to the Department of Information.
In 1941 Waller was posted to Chungking (Chongqing) as acting second secretary, before the arrival of Sir Frederic Eggleston [q.v.8], Australia’s first minister to China. Over the next three years Waller established himself as an able young diplomat. In 1942 William Westwood, a legation colleague, came into possession of some of Waller’s private papers, including his letters highly critical of Hodgson’s management, and a defamatory profile of the prime minister, John Curtin [q.v.13]. Waller believed they had been stolen from his desk. Jealous of the close working relationship between Eggleston and Waller, Westwood sent them to Curtin. Confronted by a ‘please explain’ telegram from a furious Hodgson, which conveyed Curtin’s justifiable anger, Sir Frederic defended Waller, claiming (truthfully) that he had been ill and under great emotional stress. When Curtin decided to take no action Hodgson could hardly move to sack Waller. On 20 February 1943 Waller married Alison Dent at St Thomas’s Cathedral, Bombay (Mumbai), India. Waller had known Alison, the daughter of wealthy Canberra pastoralists, since 1937; while overseas she had joined the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) as a cipher officer in 1939. They met again when she was posted to Washington in December 1941. They returned to Canberra in 1944.
He was appointed secretary of the Australian delegation to the United Nations Conference on International Organization, held in San Francisco in April 1945. Waller so dexterously managed both Frank Forde [q.v.17] (the delegation leader and deputy prime minister) and H. V. Evatt [q.v.14] (the minister for external affairs) that Evatt rewarded him with a posting to Rio de Janeiro as first secretary. He spent two years in Brazil mainly seeking to identify trade opportunities. In 1947 he went to Washington as first secretary. At the time Australia–United States of America relations were strained because of growing US concern at Australia’s perceived drift to the left under the influence of Prime Minister Chifley [q.v.13] and Evatt. During Waller’s tenure, the Americans embargoed the provision of sensitive information to Australia, following the leakage of several secret documents from the DEA.
Waller’s first appointment as a head of mission came in April 1948 when he went at short notice to Manila, Philippines, as consul-general. His posting was dominated by the case of Lorenzo Gamboa, a Filipino-born US citizen married to an Australian woman. He had been refused an Australian visa under the Immigration Restriction Act 1901. Waller, who opposed the White Australia policy, predicted correctly that its use against Gamboa would have long-term negative repercussions for Australia in South-East Asia.
In 1951, after only six months back in Canberra, Waller was posted to London as external affairs liaison officer, with the rank of counsellor. He was involved in some tense exchanges between Canberra and London, as the British government sought to influence negotiations on the ANZUS treaty, from which it was excluded. Returning to Canberra in 1953, he became one of three assistant secretaries in the DEA. Charged with management and administration, he improved liaison with overseas posts, and reorganised staffing and recruitment. Controversially he did not reappoint the historian Manning Clark [q.v.] to the diplomatic cadet selection panel because of suspicions held by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation about his allegiance to Australia. Clark retaliated in a series of satirical short stories about the DEA that included thinly veiled references to Waller.
Waller was appointed OBE in 1957 and then ambassador to Thailand, where the headquarters of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization was located. Frustrated by SEATO’s heavy emphasis on military intelligence and what he considered to be the incompetence of many of its staff, he thought the organisation was toothless. He saw some value in SEATO’s military planning office, but deprecated its information and cultural programs, which he regarded as peripheral.
Following the restoration of diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union in 1959, Waller became ambassador in Moscow the next year. In June 1961 he was appointed CBE. Returning to Canberra after two years in Moscow, he headed the division of the DEA that was responsible for monitoring and seeking to ameliorate Indonesia’s confrontation with the emerging republic of Malaysia. His primary concern was that Australia should do nothing to leave an irreparable scar on the relationship with Indonesia. To this end, he worked closely with Australian posts in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur to ensure that his country’s policy was fully understood.
In 1964 Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies [q.v.15], unable to find a minister to replace Sir Howard Beale [q.v.17] as ambassador in Washington, appointed Waller, the first career diplomat to hold the position. Under increasing pressure from Canberra, which at the time was contemplating sending its own forces to Vietnam in support of the United States Waller unsuccessfully sought clarification of US policy regarding Vietnam. Although Waller liked President Lyndon Johnson personally, he found him hard to talk to, and his consensus style of politics frustrating. Waller sought unsuccessfully a clear statement of US policy in Vietnam. He thought that future Australian governments might need to do more than they had under Menzies to maintain US regional engagement. Australia would have to expect major reassessments and retrenchments in US foreign policy. The change came in mid-1969 in the form of the Nixon Doctrine, under which regional countries, including allies such as Australia, would bear more responsibility for their security in return for the protection of the American nuclear shield.
Having been knighted in 1968, Waller returned to Australia in April 1970, succeeding Sir James Plimsoll [q.v.18] as secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (formerly DEA). He mitigated the uncertainties in Australia–US relations he had predicted in Washington, but failed to convince Prime Minister (Sir) William McMahon [q.v.18] to revise his opposition to recognising the People’s Republic of China. Waller appointed new division heads, promoted junior staff and introduced a measure of industrial democracy. The reforms did much to raise morale and, more generally, the department’s reputation within the Canberra bureaucracy. He oversaw the transition to Prime Minister Gough Whitlam’s government and managed important policies, including the recognition of the People’s Republic of China and the Basic Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between Australia and Japan (the NARA Treaty).
Sir Keith retired in February 1974. A dispute in 1973 with Whitlam, who opposed the appointment of (Sir) Keith Shann [q.v.18] as Waller’s successor, did not prevent Whitlam appointing him to several official posts. They included membership of the Australian Council for the Arts (1973), a consultancy to the Royal Commission on Intelligence and Security (1974–77), appointment to the interim board of the Australian Film Commission (1974), and chairman of an inquiry into Radio Australia (1975).
One of a highly talented cohort of diplomats in the early days of the DEA, Waller combined a strong policy sense with a capacity for innovative and sympathetic management of staff. He was a dapper dresser, known in his younger days as ‘Spats Waller’. With a self-deprecating sense of humour, he was wont to use hyperbole when vexed. A fine writer, he drafted despatches that were colourful, incisive and prescient. In 1990 he published A Diplomatic Life, Some Memories. Survived by his wife and their daughter (another daughter had predeceased him), he died on 14 November 1992 in Canberra and was cremated.
Beaumont, Joan, Christopher Waters, David Lowe, and Garry Woodard. Ministers, Mandarins and Diplomats: Australian Foreign Policy Making 1941–1969. Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 2003; Doran, Stuart, and David Lee, eds. Australia and Recognition of the People’s Republic of China 1949–1972. Canberra: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2002; Edwards, Peter. ‘The Ambassador during the Vietnam War: Keith Waller, 1964–70.’ In Australia Goes to Washington: 75 Years of Australian Representation in the United States, 1940–2015, edited by David Lowe, David Lee, and Carl Bridge, 256–80. Canberra: ANU Press, 2016; Edwards, Peter. ‘Firm Grasp of Foreign Affairs.’ Review of Three Duties and Talleyrand’s Dictum: Keith Waller, Portrait of a Working Diplomat by Alan Fewster. Weekend Australian, 12 May 2018, 23; Fewster, Alan. Three Duties and Talleyrand’s Dictum: Keith Waller, Portrait of a Working Diplomat. North Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2018; National Archives of Australia. A4231, 1949/MANILLA 6/49 Departmental Despatch; M4323, 1–10 Correspondence of Sir JOHN KEITH WALLER; National Library of Australia. MS 423, Papers of Frederic William Eggleston; Neal, Robert Gregory, Peter Geoffrey Edwards, and H. Kenway, eds. Documents on Australian Foreign Policy, 1937–49 1, no. 22. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service, 1975; Waller, Keith. A Diplomatic Life, Some Memories. Nathan, Qld: Griffith University, 1990; Waller, Keith. Interview by Ian Hamilton, 19 May 1983. Transcript. National Library of Australia; Waller, Keith. Interview by J. D. B. Miller, 1974–77. Transcript. National Library of Australia.
WARD, RUSSEL BRADDOCK (1914–1995), teacher and historian, was born on 9 November 1914 in Adelaide, eldest of four children of English-born John Frederick Ward [q.v.12], schoolmaster, and his South Australian–born wife Florence Winifred, née Braddock. Russel was named for his paternal great-grandfather, Mark Russel, and his mother’s Braddock parents. Both the Wards and the Braddocks were stern temperance Methodists and, according to Ward, extremely puritanical about sexuality. When Russel was about seven his father was appointed to the staff of Thornburgh College at Charters Towers, and then in 1923 became founding headmaster of Wesley College in Perth; Russel attended both schools. At fifteen he moved to Prince Alfred College in Adelaide when his father became headmaster there. He studied English at the University of Adelaide (BA Hons, 1936), where he also rowed in the university eight and discovered alcohol. Devastated when he missed out on a hoped-for Rhodes scholarship, with his father’s help he obtained a teaching position in Victoria at Geelong Grammar School in 1937. His summer vacations were spent labouring in the bush or in Central Australia. Here he discovered the miners, shearers, stockmen, and fencers who helped to inspire his idealised view of working-class men—so different from those he had encountered in his polite bourgeois upbringing and young adulthood.
Ward completed a diploma of education (1938) at the University of Melbourne. On 11 September 1939 he married Margaret Alice Ind at St Martin’s Church of England, Campbelltown, Adelaide. Margaret had to forgo the remaining months of a three-year nursing course to move with him to a new job at Sydney Grammar School, offered on the strength of his experience as a rowing coach. Their first child, Alison, was born in 1941 but died later that year, having drowned in her bath when her mother fainted. Margaret suffered increasingly from mental illness. Russel struggled to keep her out of institutions and maintain the family unit. They would divorce in 1967.
Serving in World War II, Ward began full-time duty in the Citizen Military Forces on 12 February 1942 and transferred to the Australian Imperial Force in September. He performed wireless maintenance (1942–43) and psychology testing (1943–46) work in Australia and rose to warrant officer, class two, before being demobilised on 16 April 1946. Having abandoned his father’s Christian faith, he had by this time become a humanist. He had also joined the Communist Party of Australia in 1941; he would leave it in 1949. After the war he returned to teaching, now in the government system, having had enough of elite private schools. He completed a thesis on English poetry and politics through the University of Adelaide (MA, 1950), and published his first textbook, Man Makes History, in 1952. Although he was offered an appointment as a lecturer at Wagga Wagga Teachers’ College, it was never ratified by the New South Wales Public Service Board chaired by Wallace Wurth [q.v.16], because, Ward assumed, of his communist past. It is likely, however, that the puritanical Wurth had access to Ward’s Department of Education file and was aware of irregularities in Ward’s private life. His wife’s mental health problems and his infidelities were not exactly secrets. Biff Ward, his eldest daughter, later said she was distressed as a child by the way he ogled women in the street, and thought he was a sex addict.
In 1953 Ward won a scholarship to The Australian National University (ANU) (PhD, 1957). There he fell among a congenial crowd of communist, ex-communist, or left-leaning fellow students and teachers, including Bob Gollan and Eric Fry. His study of early Australian folk songs and singers was inspired by a similar enthusiasm among scholars in both Britain and the United States of America and the work of people such as Percy Grainger [q.v.9], A. L. Lloyd (who had spent time collecting in Australia between the wars), and Burl Ives, rediscovering and popularising this music of the people.
At the ANU he also met H. C. Allen, a visiting British historian whose work comparing the frontier in America and Australia, published in 1959 as Bush and Backwoods, had reawakened interest in the American historian Frederick Jackson Turner. Turner’s argument about the role of the American frontier in creating the hardy, independent backwoodsman as the classic American type and as a dominant influence in that country’s democratic thinking had already been adapted to Australia by Fred Alexander. His Moving Frontiers (1947) had sought to explain the impact on Australian politics of the miners who had gathered on the West Australian goldfields in the 1890s. Brian Fitzpatrick [q.v.14], whose independent left-wing politics Ward admired, had also used the idea of the frontier in an economic sense to explain the persistence of collectivism in Australia. Ward now superimposed these ideas of the moving frontier on his account of the waves of itinerant labourers in the bush and the outback, using the idea of mateship to explain their survival in harsh environments. His subsequent book, The Australian Legend (1958), seemed to capture many common characteristics of the Australian male type at a time when memory of the heroic feats and loyalty to their comrades of Australian servicemen during World War II was still fresh. Earlier, C. E. W. Bean [q.v.7]—having described the tough work culture of the wool industry in On the Wool Track (1910)—had found these same qualities in the Australian troops he observed during World War I and had begun to create the Anzac legend. Ward’s book seemed to gather all these ideas together and make sense of their origins to readers in the late 1950s, when working conditions were being transformed by postwar industrialisation and when society was becoming more differentiated by European immigration.
A selection committee at the New South Wales University of Technology, supported by a file of glowing references from men familiar with Ward’s as-yet-unpublished work, recommended his appointment in 1956 as a lecturer in history. The vice-chancellor, (Sir) Philip Baxter [q.v.17], with the support of Wurth, now the chancellor, vetoed the appointment. The professor of economics and dean of the faculty of humanities and social sciences, Max Hartwell, resigned in protest. In the absence of any explanation, Ward assumed that his communist history was being held against him. Hartwell later claimed that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) was involved in the decision to veto Ward’s appointment. When his ANU scholarship ran out, Ward obtained another job with the New South Wales Department of Education at Telopea Park High School in Canberra.
In 1957 Ward was offered a lectureship in history at the University of New England (UNE) at Armidale, New South Wales. Ten years later he became the professor. He also served as deputy chancellor (1981–89). Though well regarded as a colleague and teacher, some found him authoritarian. He believed that senior staff should take significant responsibility for teaching, especially at first-year level. Most of his books were designed for teaching purposes, including a short history of Australia and three volumes of documents (jointly edited with John Robertson). There was also an overview of Australian twentieth-century history, A Nation for a Continent (1977). Armidale seemed to suit him. Dressed in a tweed jacket with his flat-crowned felt hat and his clipped moustache, he might have been a New England grazier. On 8 June 1970 at the Registrar General’s Office, Sydney, he married Barbara Susan Wood Holloway from the staff of the English department.
Despite his achievements, Ward seems to have maintained a sense of grievance against ASIO, though it is possible his reputation was enhanced by his tribulations as an ex-communist. The Australian Legend became ‘a work of mythic power’ (Hirst 1998, 672), one of those books that was thought to say more than it really did. It became a great resource for seminars and special issues of historical journals, discussion ranging ever further from the text itself. Ward himself was not averse to this development. In his memoir, A Radical Life, in 1988, he wrote:
If my life has achieved anything, it has helped many Australians better to understand themselves and each other, by showing them the nature of their national identity or self-image. But this stereotypical Australian was created in the first place by the life experience of many thousands of nameless convicts and bushmen and recorded in the songs and yarns they passed on to each other. (Ward 1988, 242)
However, an increasing proportion of the population—women and recent immigrants especially—failed to find their identity in the mateship of nineteenth-century male convicts and bushmen, while the archetypal Australian bush song, Waltzing Matilda, by A. B. ‘Banjo’ Paterson [q.v.11], was not written until the end of that century. Ward’s female students thought well of him as a teacher, and he prided himself on appointing women to his staff. Indeed, one of them, Miriam Dixson, produced a feminist reworking of The Australian Legend in The Real Matilda (1976).
Ward retired in 1979 and continued living in the family home in Beardy Street, as professor emeritus. Awarded a doctorate of letters by UNE in 1983, he was appointed AM in 1986 and elected an honorary fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 1993. During the last nine years of his life he spent more time with his companion Jeané Upjohn at her home in Texas, Queensland. He died there on 13 August 1995 and was buried at Armidale; he was survived by one of the two daughters and the son from his first marriage, and by the two sons and one daughter from his second. A lecture was established at UNE in his name.
Bridge, Carl, ed. Russel Ward: A Celebration. [Armidale, NSW]: University of New England Union, 1996; Hirst, John. ‘Ward, Russel Braddock.’ In The Oxford Companion to Australian History, edited by Graeme Davison, John Hirst, and Stuart Macintyre, 672. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998; National Library of Australia. MS 7576, Papers of Russel Ward, 1908–1994; O’Farrell, Patrick. UNSW, A Portrait: The University of New South Wales 1949–1999. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 1999; Ward, Biff. In My Mother’s Hands: A Disturbing Memoir of Family Life. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2014; Ward, Russel. A Radical Life: The Autobiography of Russel Ward. South Melbourne and Crows Nest, NSW: Macmillan Company of Australia, 1988.
WARDLE, PATIENCE AUSTRALIE (PAT) (Pat) Wardle (1910–1992), local historian and diarist, was born on 20 June 1910 at Hornsby, New South Wales, the eldest of four daughters of English-born parents Robin John Tillyard [q.v.12], school master and entomologist, and his wife Pattie [q.v.12], née Craske, a community leader. When Pat was ten, the family moved to New Zealand where she completed her schooling at Nelson College for Girls. The family relocated to Canberra in 1928. Next year Pat enrolled at the University of Sydney (BA, 1932) and in the following year she was among the first recipients of a Canberra University College scholarship to assist her studies in Sydney. At university she served on the student representative council (1930), gained Blues in hockey and cricket, and played in the New South Wales hockey team.
After graduation Tillyard went to England intending to commence a master’s degree at the Sorbonne in Paris but, following her father’s ill health and resulting financial pressures, took a teaching position at Liskeard County School in Cornwall. She played hockey for the county in 1934–35. Shortly after her father’s death in a car crash in 1937 she returned to Canberra and for the following two years undertook informal training at the National Library of Australia, then part of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library. She went to England again, in 1939, planning to study for a diploma of librarianship at University College, London. Once more her desires were frustrated; the course was cancelled on the outbreak of World War II. Tillyard worked in the economic library of the British Museum and with her sister, Hope, drove ambulances for the London County Council. In 1940 they returned to Australia in SS Rotorua, escorting evacuee children. In Canberra she was employed as research librarian in the Commonwealth Department of Commerce and Agriculture, recording the activities of the wartime boards under the department’s control.
On 2 April 1942 Tillyard enrolled in the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force as a trainee administrative officer. Promoted to acting section officer next month, she served at No. 5 Service Flying Training School, Uranquinty, New South Wales (1942–43), and No. 1 Bombing and Gunnery School, Evans Head (1943). In December 1943 she was promoted to flight officer. She was posted to Air Force Headquarters, Melbourne, in January 1944 and was employed as a camp commandant, in charge of about 2,000 WAAAF personnel. On 12 June 1946 she was placed on the Retired List.
Tillyard resumed her former employment until the early 1950s when she was seconded to the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. In January 1954 she was given leave without pay to join The Australian National University, where she was engaged for two years to help compile the biographical register, a card index that would form the research basis of the Australian Dictionary of Biography. On 12 April 1955 at St John the Baptist Church, Reid, she married Robert Norman Wardle [q.v.16], a widower who was the director of veterinary hygiene in the Commonwealth Department of Health.
Pat Wardle was a foundation member (1953) of the Canberra & District Historical Society in which she was active for thirty-eight years. She edited its newsletter until 1982, served as councillor (1960–80), president (1965–67), and vice-president (1970–71). Involved in organising excursions and the management of Blundell’s cottage museum, she also gave talks and wrote articles for the society’s publications. She was made a life member in 1983 and on 26 January 1990 was appointed OAM for service to community history. Predeceased by her husband (d. 1979), she died in Canberra as a result of a car accident on 22 April 1992 and was buried at St John the Baptist Church, Reid, leaving a collection of diaries (begun at age twelve), correspondence, photographs, newspaper cuttings, and historical notes to the CDHS.
Canberra & District Historical Society. 21931, Papers of Patience Australie Wardle; Canberra Times. ‘Obituary: Patience Australie Wardle. Canberra Era Ended in Autumn.’ 19 June 1992, 4; Clarke, Patricia. ‘Wardle, Patience Australie (1910–1992)’, Australia Women’s Register. www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/AWE4782b.htm. Copy held on ADB file; National Archives of Australia, A9300 Tillyard, Patience Australie; Temperly, George. ‘Patience (Pat) Australie Wardle née Tillyard.’ Canberra Historical Journal, September 1992, 5–7; Wardle, Patience. Interview by Alec Bolton, 17–25 August 1988. National Library of Australia.
WATERS, LEONARD VICTOR (LEN) (1924–1993), shearer and airman, was born on 20 June 1924 at Euraba Aboriginal Mission near Boomi, New South Wales, fourth of eleven children of New South Wales–born parents Donald Waters, labourer, and his wife Grace Vera, née Bennet. Educated at the Toomelah Aboriginal settlement and at Nindigully State School, Queensland (1936–38), Len left to work with his father on a ring barking team before training as a shearer. A Gamilaraay man, he had a family history of war service, his grandfather having served in the Australian Imperial Force during World War I. Inspired by the pioneering era of flight, Len enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) on 24 August 1942 and trained as an aircraft mechanic. At the time he stood 5 feet 11 inches (180 cm) tall, weighed 10 stone 10 pounds (68 kg), and had a dark complexion, brown eyes, and dark brown hair. His younger brother Jim joined the army, later volunteering as a ‘guinea pig’ for a trial of anti-malaria drugs.
Concerned that his limited education would frustrate his ambition to fly, Waters studied hard to compensate. He applied for a transfer to aircrew in June 1943. An RAAF interviewer described him as ‘a bit rough’ in manners and appearance but concluded that he ‘appears keen’ (NAA A9301). In December he commenced training at No. 1 Initial Training School, Somers, Victoria, where he finished fourth in a class of forty-eight. He learnt to fly in Tiger Moths and Wirraways, before gaining his wings and the rank of sergeant on 1 July 1944. Posted to Mildura for operational training in Kittyhawk fighters, he later recalled the thrill of his first take off: ‘you feel the surge of power when you open the throttle’ (Hall 1995, 163).
On 14 November 1944 Waters joined No. 78 Squadron on the island of Noemfoor, Netherlands New Guinea (Indonesia). The next month the squadron relocated to Morotai, Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia), where he was allocated a Kittyhawk that the previous pilot had named ‘Black Magic’. He found the coincidence amusing and retained the name. In January 1945 he was promoted to flight sergeant, his commanding officer reporting that he had adapted quickly to operational flying and was a ‘good solid type, popular with his fellow pilots’ (NAA A9301). On 18 July he moved with his squadron to Tarakan, Borneo, where he was reunited with his brother.
During nine months active service Waters flew a total of ninety-five sorties, mostly ground attacks. On one mission over Celebes (Sulawesi), his plane was struck by a shell that did not detonate but embedded behind the cockpit near a fuel tank. When returning to base he alerted ground staff to the danger, later recalling that it was ‘the smoothest landing I’ve ever made’ (Hall 1995, 167). A keen sportsman, he enjoyed cricket, football, tennis, and billiards, and won the all-services middleweight boxing title while on Morotai. Returning to Australia on 27 August 1945, he was based in Brisbane at RAAF Sandgate until being discharged on 18 January 1946 with the rank of temporary warrant officer.
On 16 February at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, St George, Waters married Gladys May Saunders, a seventeen-year-old waitress. He worked briefly as a mechanic and road worker, then travelled widely as a shearer. Although he had aspired to start a regional airline serving south-west Queensland, he could not secure the necessary finance. Not having experienced any discrimination in the RAAF, he later recalled that once he took off the uniform he was ‘just another blackfella’ (Versace 2002, 24). During the 1956 shearers’ strike he moved his family to Inala, Brisbane, where he was employed as a meat worker and a truck driver before returning to shearing.
Waters was involved in a car accident in 1972, receiving injuries that caused epilepsy and limited his ability to work. His hobbies included singing, emu egg carving, and woodworking. Although at times he struggled with alcoholism, he drank orange juice when he attended RAAF reunions. Survived by his wife and six children, he died of pneumonia on 24 August 1993 at Cunnamulla and was buried in the cemetery at St George. Long recognised as Australia’s first Aboriginal fighter pilot, he featured on a stamp commissioned by Australia Post in 1995. He is also commemorated by Len Waters Street, Ngunnawal, Canberra; Leonard Waters Park, Boggabilla, New South Wales; and Len Waters Plains, Inala, Brisbane.
Hall, Robert A. Fighters from the Fringe: Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders Recall the Second World War. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 1995; National Archives of Australia. A9301, 78144; Orchard, Kim. ‘Len Waters Aboriginal Fighter Pilot.’ 2008. Accessed 2 March 2016. leonardwatersaboriginalfighterpilot.blogspot.com/. Copy held on ADB file; Stephens, Alan, and Jeff Isaacs. High Fliers: Leaders of the Royal Australian Air Force. Canberra: AGPS Press, 1996; Versace, Chris. ‘Memorable Fight For Flight. ’ Queensland Times, 4 December 2002, 24; Waters, Gladys. Interview by Allison Cadzow, 8 July 2014. Video recording. ‘Serving Our Country’ project. ourmobserved.anu.edu.au/yarn-ups/yarn-participants/gladys-waters. Copy held on ADB file; Waters, Len. Unpublished memoir, n.d. Copy held on ADB file.
WATSON, DONALD (DON) (1914–1993), orthopaedic surgeon, was born on 22 September 1914 at Chinju (Jinju), Korea (South Korea), second of the three sons of Victorian-born parents Rev. Robert Darling Watson, Presbyterian minister, and his wife Amy Elizabeth, née Beard, a graduate of the University of Melbourne (BA Hons, 1910; MA, 1918). His parents were serving with the Presbyterian Church of Victoria’s Australian Mission to Korea. He spent most of his childhood in that country, living briefly in Australia (1917–18 and 1925–26) when his parents were on furlough; on the latter occasion they were posted to Mia Mia, Victoria. After they returned to Korea, Don boarded (1926–32) at Geelong College, where he excelled as a sportsman. Intending to become a medical missionary, he studied at the University of Melbourne (MB, BS, 1938), while residing at Ormond [q.v.5] College.
By the time he graduated, Watson had rejected his missionary leanings but remained indebted to the church for his medical studies. Anxious to repay the money, he headed for Queensland where salaries were higher. He was a resident and then an orthopaedic registrar at the Brisbane General (Royal Brisbane from 1966) Hospital. There he met Dr Vera Mary Magdalen Madden, who in 1942 was to become Queensland’s first female specialist anaesthetist. The couple were married on 17 May 1940 at the general registry office, Brisbane.
World War II interrupted Watson’s career in orthopaedics. Mobilised on 6 March 1941 as a captain, Australian Army Medical Corps, Citizen Military Forces, he spent six months in Papua with the 9th Fortress Company, AAMC. He transferred to the Australian Imperial Force in August and, promoted to major, served with the 2/19th Field Ambulance in the Netherlands New Guinea (1943–44), and in New Guinea and Bougainville (1944–45); for exceptional service in the field, he was mentioned in despatches (1947). On 9 February 1946 he was transferred to the Reserve of Officers. He worked as a medical officer in orthopaedics at the Brisbane General Hospital and studied at the University of Queensland (MS, 1950), before entering private practice and becoming a fellow (1964) of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.
While maintaining his private practice, Watson held many official appointments. From 1951 he was visiting orthopaedic surgeon at the Brisbane Children’s Hospital. A poliomyelitis epidemic, which hit Maryborough and Bundaberg hard, required him to travel frequently to those centres to treat victims. On the resignation in 1958 of his mentor, Dr T. V. Stubbs-Brown [q.v.18], Watson took office as senior orthopaedic surgeon at both the General and Children’s hospitals, being the first person to do so, and holding the positions until 1974. Later he returned to Royal Brisbane as honorary orthopaedic consultant. He also served on the Queensland Medical (1970–84) and Parole (1975–84) boards, and as vice-president of the State council of the Queensland Ambulance Transport Brigade (1980–86).
In addition Watson made major contributions to a range of medical organisations. Serving as visiting orthopaedic surgeon at the Spastic Centre, New Farm (1960s and 1970s), and the Montrose Home for Crippled Children, Corinda, he also sat on the latter’s board (1956–86); in 1982 its Donald Watson Complex was named after him. He was president of the Australian Physiotherapy Association, Queensland branch (1954–56); president of the Australian Medical Association, Queensland branch (1976); and a member of the board of governors of St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital (1980–82). At various times he lectured (1946–65) at the University of Queensland, on splints and bandaging, and on orthopaedics; and he mentored Queensland’s first orthopaedic trainees (1971–73). With so many connections, he was an influential figure who could facilitate any worthwhile venture, yet he remained humble and gentle. For his contributions to medicine and the welfare of crippled children, he was appointed CBE in 1985.
Watson was notable for his wisdom, compassion, humanity, and common sense. A champion of the ill and underprivileged, he steered many of his private patients, especially children, into the public hospital system so they could receive his attention free of charge. He gained wide respect for his opinions; a senior colleague recalled that `Don Watson had one of the most incisive minds in orthopaedics in Brisbane’ (Siu 2003, 397). With his overwhelming sense of public responsibility, he took life seriously, but remained cheerful and had a keen sense of humour. Watson was a devoted family man. He died on 30 May 1993 in Brisbane and, following a Presbyterian service, was cremated. His wife, two sons, and one daughter survived him. He had carried out his father’s injunction to him when young, `if you’re not going to enrol in the church, make sure that you do something to benefit your fellow man’ (Australian Orthopaedic Association 1993, 11).
AMAQ Bulletin (Herston, Queensland). ‘Vale Dr Donald Watson.’ October 1993, 4; Australian Orthopaedic Association. Bulletin. ‘Obituary: Donald Watson.’ August 1993, 11; National Archives of Australia. B883, QX23858; Personal knowledge of ADB subject; Watson, D. R. Personal communication; Williams, L. M. No Better Profession: Medical Women in Queensland, 1891–1999. North Tamborine, Qld: Lesley M. Williams, 2006; Siu, Simon, ed. History of the Division of Surgery, Royal Brisbane Hospital. Herston, Qld: Division of Surgery, Royal Brisbane Hospital, 2003.
WATSON, JEAN (1908–1993), typist, genealogist, and administrator, was born on 19 December 1908 at Newtown, Sydney, eldest of three children of New South Wales–born parents John Samuel Watson, boot machinist and musician, and his wife Ethel Lilly May, née Clark. Educated at Fort Street Girls’ High School, Jean wanted to study for a bachelor of arts degree at the University of Sydney, but family circumstances and later the Depression made this impossible.
Watson joined the Sydney office of the Royal Exchange Assurance as a typist in 1926. During her thirty-eight years with the company she rose to become head of personnel before retiring in 1965; she was then the most senior woman employed by the firm in Australia. In 1939 she was involved in the foundation of the Business and Professional Women’s Club of Sydney. She was also a long-standing member of the Royal Australian Historical Society, the National Trust of Australia (New South Wales), the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales, and the Garden Clubs of Australia.
In 1958 Watson joined the Society of Australian Genealogists. Founded in 1932, the society had developed Australia’s oldest genealogical research centre and library into the country’s largest. In its Golden Jubilee History, published in 1982, she contributed a chapter titled ‘The Search for a System—1963–1980’. Typically, she was modest about her own contributions—including attendance four days a week for more than fifteen years without remuneration. She guided the society through a period of significant growth in its activities and standing. As honorary secretary (1963–81), she achieved three challenging moves of the library—in 1964, 1970–71, and 1977–78—as well as ensuring the society continued to function efficiently.
The editors of the society’s journal, Descent, valued Watson’s keen eye for accuracy and her proof-reading skills. A contributor to Descent, she also indexed its first volume and wrote thousands of cards for the society’s general index. She answered numerous queries for the editorial staff of the Australian Dictionary of Biography. In October 1971 she was elected a fellow of the society in recognition of her achievements in furthering its aims through research and publication.
With speed and resolve, Watson overcame two health setbacks—an operation to repair a detached retina in 1972 and a heart attack in 1979—to allow her to return to her work for the society as soon as possible. In 1979 she was awarded the BEM for services to the community. She retired in 1982, after almost nineteen years of service on the society’s council—including as vice-president during her final year—and was unanimously elected a vice-patron.
Keenly interested in English history, Watson was a staunch monarchist. She was an avid reader with an excellent memory, and a good conversationalist who enjoyed the company of interesting people. Theatre and ballet were among her pleasures. She was small in stature, and always well dressed. Her high standards led her to expect the same from others, but she was encouraging, supportive, and loyal to those who measured up. Neat and tidy by nature, she had a carpenter’s eye (as she explained it), straightening pictures when necessary. Until their deaths in 1961, she lived with her mother and younger sister in the family home at Neutral Bay; in 1972 she moved to Goodwin Village, Woollahra. She died on 5 September 1993 at Darlinghurst, Sydney, and was cremated with Anglican rites. The Jean Watson Room at Rumsey Hall, one of the society’s libraries in Kent Street, was named for her.
Johnson, Keith A. ‘Obituary: Miss Jean Watson B.E.M., F.S.A.G. (1908–1993).’ Descent 23, no. 4 (December 1993): 135–37; Personal knowledge of ADB subject; Watson, Jean. ‘The Search for a System—1963–1980.’ In Golden Jubilee History: Society of Australian Genealogists 1932–1982, 53–65. [Australia]: Society of Australian Genealogists, .
K. A. Johnson
WATSON, LEPANI KAIUWEKALU (1926–1993), politician, lay preacher, community leader, and welfare officer, was born in 1926 at Vakuta village on the island of the same name in the Trobriand group, Territory of Papua, elder son of Watisoni Upawapa, chief of the top-ranking Tabalu dala (matriline), and his wife Iribouma of the second-ranked Toliwaga dala. In his early teens Lepani passed the examination to enter the Oyabia Methodist mission school at Losuia station, Kiriwina Island, where he worked between lessons as a gardener and fisherman to earn his keep. The closure of the school during the Pacific War in 1942 brought an end to his formal education. He worked in the kitchen for an Australian army survey team at Oyabia, as an interpreter for a United States Army officer, and then as a foreman for the American quartermaster. Another American officer tutored him in English and taught him to type. In 1944 he was sent to the Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit’s school for native medical orderlies on Gemo Island, Port Moresby, for six months’ training, returning to work at Losuia as a clerk at the native hospital. He married Sarah Charles, daughter of a Trobriand Methodist minister, in 1945.
After the war Watson worked as a district administration clerk at Losuia until transferring to the Department of Treasury in Port Moresby in 1950. He became increasingly involved in religious activities and began to preach and provide welfare support to Methodist migrant workers from eastern Papua and the New Guinea islands. Reassigned to the Department of Native Affairs as a welfare assistant in 1954, he formed (1955) the Methodist Welfare Society, becoming its first president. A member-funded hall at Badili (opened in 1957) became a hub for religious and social services to migrants from the provinces. With his wife, he became involved in civic groups, government boards, and social organisations, including the Kaugere Parents and Citizens’ Association (president), the Council of Social Service of Papua, the Lands Council, the Child Welfare Council, the Port Moresby Soccer Association, the Trobriand Islands Community Club in Port Moresby, and the Girl Guides Council of Papua. After moving to the new Hohola settlement in 1961, he became the welfare assistant there, and the family home hosted a steady stream of visitors and community meetings. The Watsons took a six-month Methodist Overseas Mission–funded tour of Australia in 1963 to study church groups and social organisations.
In 1964 Watson was urged by a group of followers to contest the Esa’ala-Losuia Open electorate, which included the Trobriand Islands, in the first Papua and New Guinea House of Assembly elections. The only candidate with a campaign committee supplying funding, he won by campaigning energetically on a platform of economic development and steady progress towards independence. His reputation in the islands, the active support of Papuan Methodist clergymen, and his father’s extensive traditional kula trade network were additional factors. The same year he was chosen by the Australian administration to address the United Nations General Assembly. He was sent with a prepared speech and orders not to mention independence. Despite this, following discussions with African anti-colonialists before the meeting, he spoke at length on the subject. Appointed a parliamentary under-secretary for trade and industry during his first term, he took a leading role in the development and management of Koki market, the first large market in Port Moresby. Having been a popular lay preacher for more than a decade, in the late 1960s he received orders from the Methodist leadership to submit to training for ordination. He refused, leading to a permanent falling out with the church; previously a teetotaller, he took up drinking beer in protest.
Re-elected as the member for Kula Open District in 1968, Watson continued to advocate for workers and the community. He was a member of the board of trustees of the Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery, and served on the boards of the interim council of the University of Papua and New Guinea, the Trobriand Islands Savings and Loan Society, and the Volunteer Service Association. In 1971 he was a member of a parliamentary delegation to Canberra to discuss the question of independence.
After contesting unsuccessfully the 1972 elections, he retired from national politics and returned to his home village where the next year he was elected a ward councillor. In the Milne Bay provincial elections of December 1978, he was elected member for Kiriwina, serving as deputy premier and minister for commerce (1979–82), and was then elected premier (1983–86). Long critical of anthropological research on the Trobriand Islands, during his term he froze further work until local controls on fieldwork and publication were put in place. He was appointed OBE (1979) and CMG (1985). After failing to retain his seat in the 1986 elections, he was elected president (1986–89) of the Kiriwina community government. Survived by his wife, one daughter, a son and an adopted son (one son had predeceased him), he died of cancer on 10 February 1993 at Vakuta village, and was buried in the local cemetery.
A foundational figure in Papua New Guinea’s national history, Watson greatly contributed to the social and cultural growth of Port Moresby and the Trobriand Islands and, as one of the first generation of PNG nationals to enter parliament, to the political development of the country. Famously short in stature, he was known for his easy-going nature, warm sense of humour, and skilful oratory. His son Charles Lepani later became high commissioner to Australia.
Bettison, D. G., C. A. Hughes, and P. W. van der Veur, eds. The Papua-New Guinea Elections 1964. Canberra, ACT: Australian National University, 1965; Epstein, A. L., R. S. Parker, and M. Reay, eds. The Politics of Dependence: Papua New Guinea 1968. Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1971; Fink, Ruth A. ‘Background of a Politician.’ Quadrant 9, no. 4 (July–August 1965): 7–13; Fink, Ruth A. ‘Esa’ala-Losuia Open Electorate: Campaigning with Lepani Watson.’ Journal of the Polynesian Society 73, no. 2 (June 1964): 192–7; Lepani, Charles. Personal communication; Lepani, Charles. ‘Reflections on Early Years as a Methodist.’ Unpublished manuscript 2010. Copy on ADB file; Post-Courier (Port Moresby). ‘Lepani Watson: He Gave Much to Many.’ 26 February 1993, 11.
WATSON-MUNRO, CHARLES NORMAN (1915–1991), professor of physics, was born on 1 August 1915 at Dunedin, New Zealand, third of four children of English-born Charles Christopher Machell Watson-Munro, engineer and university lecturer, and his New Zealand–born second wife Ethel Marion Emily, née Penny. The family lived in Dunedin, Christchurch, and Wanganui, before moving to Guildford, Britain. Returning to New Zealand in 1921, they eventually settled in Lower Hutt, where Charles attended Hutt Valley High School. The family was not wealthy and while in high school, he sold honey door to door. Matriculating in 1930 near the top of his class, he remained at school for another year to qualify for the Higher Leaving certificate which covered his university fees.
At Victoria College, University of New Zealand (BSc, 1936; MSc, 1938), Watson-Munro worked part time as a laboratory assistant and apprentice instrument maker, and developed a love for outdoor activities, including skiing and mountaineering. First in his class in both physics and chemistry as an undergraduate, he was awarded a scholarship to complete his master’s degree.
While still at university Watson-Munro had joined the New Zealand Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR). Continuing there after graduation, he worked in geophysics under the pioneering physicist (Sir) Ernest Marsden until the commencement of World War II. At the end of 1939 he joined the New Zealand team working on radar technology, and in 1941–42 was at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States of America. During this time he also acted as the New Zealand scientific liaison officer in Washington. He returned to New Zealand as director of the country’s Radio Development Laboratory. On 9 December 1943 he was appointed honorary major in the New Zealand Military Forces. In 1944 he took part in operations with the United States Marine Corps in Bougainville using the New Zealand radar equipment. He was appointed OBE in 1946 for his radar work during the war.
In 1944, as part of the British contribution to the broader Manhattan Project, Watson-Munro had been sent to Montreal with a small New Zealand contingent. The New Zealanders were involved with the design, construction, and development of the first Canadian reactor, a natural-uranium heavy-water reactor built at Chalk River and given the name Zero Energy Experimental Pile (ZEEP). Watson-Munro worked on engineering aspects of ZEEP, which started up in September 1945 and was the first reactor to go critical outside the USA. He met Canadian-born Yvette Diamond at a ski lodge in the Laurentian Mountains; they married on 16 October 1947 at the register office, Westminster, London.
At the conclusion of the war Watson-Munro had joined a British–New Zealand team at the newly established Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell, England. The group worked on planning and building two graphite-moderated natural-uranium reactors, termed British Experimental Pile-0 (BEPO) and Graphite Low Energy Pile (GLEEP). Watson-Munro led those working on GLEEP. It was a basic version of BEPO, constructed to investigate the reactor physics for the BEPO design, as well as to supply radiation facilities at the site. Building commenced in August 1946, and the reactor went critical a year later.
Returning to New Zealand in 1948, Watson-Munro became deputy head of the DSIR. He resigned in 1951 to take up the position of professor of physics at Victoria College, Wellington, where he undertook research on cosmic rays. He was recruited as chief scientist at the newly founded Australian Atomic Energy Commission (AAEC) in 1955. After working on a joint British–Australian research program at Harwell, he came back to Australia, and directed the construction of the country’s first research reactor, the High Flux Australian Reactor. It went critical on 26 January 1958.
Invited by Professor Harry Messel to take up the new chair of plasma physics at the University of Sydney, Watson-Munro resigned from the AAEC at the end of 1959 and commenced at the university early in 1960. He started work on the other form of nuclear reaction, fusion, attempting to develop a sustainable and controlled thermonuclear reaction. While this research occupied virtually the rest of his career, and although he and his team produced a number of significant results, a controlled self-sustaining fusion reaction eluded him. He received a doctorate from Victoria University, Wellington (DSc, 1968), following the submission of twenty-three publications, based on his plasma work, for examination. The same year he was elected a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.
Watson-Munro served on a number of bodies related to energy research. Among them were the United Nations committee for establishing the International Atomic Energy Agency (1955), the International Fusion Research Council (1971/2–80), the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (1973–74), the Australian Ionising Radiation Advisory Council (1974–78), the National Energy Advisory Committee (1977–79), and the National Energy Research, Development and Demonstration Council (1978–81). A councillor of the Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering (1958–80), he was president from 1967 to 1968.
Interested in other energy sources late in his career, Watson-Munro was influential in research on solar energy that prompted the establishment of an applied physics department at the University of Sydney. Although he retired in 1980, he continued to take part in research, becoming energy consultant to the university’s Science Foundation for Physics (1981–85). He was described as good-natured, loyal, and hospitable, and as a leader and administrator of outstanding ability. Having wished as a school student to become a carpenter, he enjoyed making furniture for his family’s home.
Following the death of his wife in 1989, Watson-Munro’s health deteriorated. Survived by his son, he died on 10 August 1991 at Heidelberg, Melbourne, and was cremated. He will be remembered for his work in the development of atomic energy on three continents.
Binnie, Anna-Eugenia. ‘From Atomic Energy to Nuclear Science: A History of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission.’ PhD diss., Macquarie University, 2003; Brennan, M. H. ‘Charles Norman Watson-Munro 1915–1991.’ Historical Records of Australian Science 14, no. 1 (2002): 89–98; Lehane, J. A. ‘Charles Norman Watson-Munro 1915–1991.’ Australian and New Zealand Physicist 28, no. 10 (October 1991): 219.
WELLS, EDGAR ALMOND (1908–1995), Methodist minister and missionary, was born on 4 September 1908 at Lincoln, England, second son of nine children of James Robinson Wells, insurance superintendent and Methodist lay preacher, and his wife, Elizabeth Agnes, née Sayers, both English born. After leaving school Edgar worked in agriculture and with an iron, steel, and metal merchant. Aged seventeen, while serving a twelve-month good behaviour bond for theft, he migrated to Australia under a rural apprenticeship scheme. He worked as a farm hand near Cleveland, Queensland, and became active in the local Methodist church. In 1930 he was appointed as a probationary minister at Yeppoon. Following three years theological training at King’s College, Brisbane, he served at Enoggera and was ordained in March 1936.
Posted to Camooweal, Wells undertook first aid training in preparation for his work in the outback. He ministered to the spiritual needs of the community as well as providing the services of an ‘ambulance waggon, dental outfit, picture show, and travelling Sunday school’ (Telegraph 1936, 23). While there, he met English-born Annie Elizabeth Bishop, a nursing sister at Mount Isa, and they married at the Chermside Methodist Church, Brisbane, on 14 February 1939. During the early years of World War II he served at Townsville. Told there were no vacancies for chaplains in the Royal Australian Air Force, he enlisted in July 1942 as a nursing orderly. In November he was discharged to take up an appointment as a Young Men’s Christian Association welfare officer, attached to the RAAF in Darwin. On his return to Queensland in 1944, he was posted to North Rockhampton and then Crows Nest, before offering to work as a missionary in North Australia. He and Annie trained in Sydney, including in anthropology under A. P. Elkin [q.v.14], before they commenced duty in January 1950, he as superintendent and she as nursing sister at Milingimbi, Arnhem Land, Northern Territory.
Taking advantage of increased Commonwealth government support for the work of Aboriginal missions, Wells energetically sought to improve community life at Milingimbi. A school and a hospital were constructed; farm and seafood production increased; and he encouraged the creation of bark paintings and craftwork for sale. He built on the policy of respect for the local culture initiated by his predecessors, including using the Gupapuyngu language in the school and in church services. Annie worked in the dispensary and store, and began writing children’s stories that drew on Aboriginal legends. She later published (1963) an account of their time at Milingimbi.
After ten years the couple left for Queensland and he became superintendent minister at Coolangatta. In 1961 he agreed to return to Arnhem Land as superintendent at Yirrkala, where his experience and competence were needed because it seemed certain that mining of the rich bauxite deposits close by would soon begin. He believed that encouraging more painting and carving work, as at Milingimbi, could strengthen self-confidence in the community. Sales and income for the artists increased after visits from Sydney and Melbourne art collectors and dealers in 1962. A new church opened in June the next year with two large panels painted by the local clans.
On 17 February 1963 Prime Minister (Sir) Robert Menzies [q.v.15] announced the approval of special mine leases and construction of a refinery on the Gove Peninsula. Soon after, Wells sent telegrams to Methodist Church leaders, newspaper editors, the leader of the Labor Opposition, and others protesting at the ‘bauxite land grab’ which ‘squeezed’ the Yirrkala people into ‘half a square mile’ (Wells 1982, 42). In April the Commonwealth government formally confirmed that an area of 140 square miles (about 360 km2) had been excised from the Arnhem Land Reserve for large-scale mining. In response Kim Beazley senior, a Labor party member, proposed consultation with the local Aboriginal community and the grant of an Aboriginal title to Northern Territory reserves.
Visiting Yirrkala in July, Beazley suggested, after discussions with Aboriginal leaders and Wells, that a petition on a bark painting would be an effective way of attracting attention to their concerns. While supportive, Wells carefully took no part in its organisation or execution. Petitions, typed by his wife in Gupapuyngu with English translations, were attached to sheets of bark with borders painted with images of local fish and animals. The Yirrkala bark petitions were presented to the House of Representatives in August and in September a select committee was appointed to inquire into the grievances of the Yirrkala people. Wells was examined, along with ten Aboriginal witnesses, when the committee took evidence at Yirrkala. His superiors, displeased by the actions he had taken without their knowledge or consent, directed him to transfer to Milingimbi from January 1964. He declined and was posted back to Queensland.
Letters in support of Wells failed to alter the decision of the church. Among them, the psychologist Dr G. L. Mangan argued that he epitomised ‘the modern churchman—outspoken, yet attentive to other points of view, forward looking, while attempting to preserve the best from the past’ (Wells 1982, 27). Wells served as a circuit minister near Brisbane before retiring to live at Hervey Bay in 1974. He completed further studies at the University of Queensland (BA, 1978) and in 1982 published his account of the events at Yirrkala. Annie died in 1979 and he later moved to Melbourne. Survived by his son, he died on 4 May 1995 at Balwyn and was cremated.
Attwood, Bain. Rights for Aborigines. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2003; Hunt, Lee Z., and Stuart Rintoul. ‘Missionary Fought for Land Rights.’ Australian, 5 June 1995, 16; National Archives of Australia. A9301, 77209; Nottingham Journal (UK). ‘Boy’s Escapade: Wanderer Who Rode Home on Stolen Cycle.’ 12 November 1925, 7; Queensland State Archives. Item ID 1125717, Files—immigrant; Item ID 1263146, Files—immigrant; Telegraph (Brisbane). ‘Work in the Outback.’ 25 April 1936, 23; Wells, Ann E. Milingimbi: Ten Years in the Crocodile Islands of Arnhem Land. Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1963; Wells, Edgar. Reward and Punishment in Arnhem Land, 1962–1963. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, 1982; Wells, Edgar James. Personal communication.
WHEATLEY, ALICE JEAN (1904–1993), nurse and air force matron-in-chief, was born on 3 August 1904 at Bridgetown, Western Australia, second child of Western Australian–born parents Robert Wheatley, farmer, and his wife Agnes Forster, née Muir. After spending her early years on her father’s property, Silverlands, Jean boarded at Perth College. On leaving school she undertook nursing training at Fremantle Hospital, then at Queen Victoria Hospital, Melbourne, where she qualified in midwifery. She later returned to Fremantle Hospital as a charge sister.
On 4 May 1941 Wheatley joined the Royal Australian Air Force Nursing Service (RAAFNS) as a sister. Her first job was on escort duty to the United States of America, sailing with other nurses and hundreds of Australian and New Zealand air crew. On her return she worked in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) section of the 115th Military Hospital, Heidelberg, Victoria, nursing patients from the front line. Promoted to senior sister on 1 April 1942, she experienced her first real engagement with the war in October, when she was posted to No. 3 Medical Receiving Station in Papua. The group of six nurses of which she was in charge comprised the first unit to be posted to that country. The nurses lived in primitive conditions under canvas outside Port Moresby. They had slit trenches and tunnels in a nearby hillside in which to place bed-ridden patients during enemy air raids.
Although Wheatley might have returned to Australia in September 1943, she volunteered to remain in Papua and that month travelled to Milne Bay as sister-in-charge of No. 2 Medical Receiving Station. There she found conditions much better. She was promoted to acting matron in November and transferred to No. 9 (Operational) Group headquarters. In 1944 she was awarded the Royal Red Cross (2nd class) for ‘sustained courage and devotion to duty in forward areas in New Guinea’ (Argus 1944, 6). She was the first member of the RAAF nursing service to receive this award .
In May 1944 Wheatley took up the first of a series of headquarters postings in Melbourne. In 1946 she was one of a select group that travelled to London to represent the RAAFNS in the Victory Parade. On 8 November 1946 she was appointed matron-in-chief of the RAAFNS at RAAF Headquarters, Melbourne. Promotion to temporary (1947) and substantive (1948) principal matron followed. She selected nurses for the Permanent Air Force and capably managed the transition of the RAAFNS to a peacetime service. For her work she was appointed OBE (1951). During most of 1950 she was hospitalised with a serious illness, as a result of which the RAAF terminated her appointment on 12 March 1951.
Returning to Perth, Wheatley was active in the Victoria League, the Karrakatta Club, the Royal Western Australian Historical Society, the Eleanor Harvey Nursing Home, and ex-service institutions. She never married and lived quietly, enjoying gardening, reading, crossword puzzles, and the company of relatives and friends. Wheatley died on 17 May 1993 at Bridgetown and was cremated. She was remembered as a strong and resilient woman, always hospitable, who was held in great respect by her nurses.
Argus (Melbourne). ‘Matron Wheatley’s Courageous Work in New Guinea.’ 13 March 1944, 6; ‘RAAFNS Sisters in New Guinea.’ 7 July 1943, 6; Halstead, Gay. Story of the RAAF Nursing Service 1940–1990. Metung, Vic: Nungurner Press Ltd, 1994; National Archives of Australia. A12372, N5906; West Australian (Perth). ‘Matron-in-Chief.’ 22 November 1946, 10; Walker, Allan S. Medical Services of the R.A.N. and R.A.A.F. Vol. IV of Series 5 (Medical) of Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1961; Wodonga and Towong Sentinel. ‘Sisters Praise Red Cross in New Guinea.’ 30 July 1943, 5.
WHITBY, FREDERICK WILLIAM (FRED) (1924–1993), trade union leader and political party organiser, was born on 11 February 1924 in South Brisbane, son of Queensland-born parents Frederick William Whitby, storeman, and his wife Florence Virginia, née Humphries. At Wynnum Central State School, Fred passed the scholarship exam in 1937. The next year he started at Brisbane State High School but, in August, joined the hardware department of S. Hoffnung [q.v.4] & Co. Ltd in the city. His supervisors ‘found him to be conscientious, punctual and a willing worker’ (NAA A9301).
When Whitby enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) on 14 April 1942 for service in World War II, he was recorded as being 5 feet 7.5 inches (171 cm) tall, weighing 9 stone 12 pounds (63 kg), and having brown eyes and dark brown hair. After training as a telegraphist, he was posted successively to No. 8 Service Flying Training School, Bundaberg (1942–43); No. 32 Squadron, Camden, New South Wales (1943–44); and headquarters, North-Western Area, Darwin (1944–45). In 1945 he was promoted to acting sergeant. At the Methodist Church, Wynnum, on 10 July 1943, he had married Agnes Lillian Savage, a dry cleaner’s assistant.
Discharged from the RAAF on 25 January 1946, Whitby worked as a psychiatric nurse at the Brisbane Mental Hospital, Goodna, until 1954. The following year he was divorced. In a Presbyterian ceremony on 4 January 1956 at Norman Park, he married Irene Lillian Gustavson, a trained nurse. He was secretary of the Hospital Employees’ Union of Queensland (1954–65) and then of the Queensland branch of the Federated Miscellaneous Workers’ Union of Australia (1965–69). In 1969 he became general secretary of the Trades and Labour Council (TLC) of Queensland. During his term he was prominent in union-driven efforts to achieve social change in Queensland; ending discrimination against Aboriginal people was one of the causes he championed.
Divorced in 1970, Whitby married Annette Howells, an office manageress, on 24 December that year at the General Registry Office, Brisbane. Earlier in the year the premier, (Sir) Joh Bjelke-Petersen, had read out in parliament a list of alleged communists in Queensland unions, including Whitby, an inaugural director (1968) of the Australian Marxist Research Foundation. He and the TLC were frequently at loggerheads with Bjelke-Petersen’s government. Sources of conflict included the Springbok rugby tour of 1971; controversial proposed ‘right-to-work’ legislation (1978), which Whitby said did nothing for job creation, security, or conditions (Canberra Times 1978, 23); and, in particular, the Essential Services Act (1979), which was aimed at eliminating strikes in the power industry. Nevertheless, Whitby later described the premier as ‘the most gentlemanly bloke you could hope to meet’ (Sunday Mail 1993, 63).
On 1 September 1946 Whitby had joined the Australian Labor Party. He was a member of the party’s federal executive (1966–71) and the State branch’s inner executive (1966–80). The branch’s poor performance in Federal and State elections (from 1957) led in the 1970s to calls for reform. A group of mainly white-collar members sought to overhaul the branch’s administration and to reduce trade union influence. Whitby aligned himself with the president of the TLC, Harry Hauenschild, and others of the ‘Old Guard’ who opposed change (Yarrow 2014, ii). As chairman of the disputes tribunal, in 1979 Whitby wrote to his colleagues, urging resistance to the efforts of what he called ‘a bunch of political novices’, and defending domination of the branch by the traditional unions, which, he later noted, provided nearly all its finances (Canberra Times 1980, 3). The letter was reported to have been a catalyst for Federal ALP intervention in the branch in 1980, an action that averted a split and eventually strengthened the party, which gained power in Queensland in 1989. Whitby had lamented in 1982 that not enough ‘real workers’ were nominating for seats Labor could win (Stewart 1982, 2).
Appointed AM in 1984, Whitby left office that year, without regrets, saying that he would not be drawn into involvement with industrial relations in retirement. He died on 10 October 1993 at Southport and, after a Uniting Church funeral, was cremated. His wife survived him, as did the son and daughter of his first marriage and the two sons of his third. Described variously as ‘a real gentleman’, a ‘true pragmatist’, and a ‘totally honest man’ (Sunday Mail 1993, 63), he was one of the last of the old-school union leaders. He was said to be the only TLC secretary who never took an overseas trip.
Canberra Times. ‘Controversial Queensland Legislation: Opposition to “Work” Bill Increases: Premier Pushes New Plan.’ 30 August 1978, 23; ‘Queensland ALP Secession Discussed in Letter.’ 9 February 1980, 3; Courier Mail (Brisbane). ‘Fred Whitby—Trades Hall Statesman.’ 12 October 1993, 14; ‘TLC Chief Goes without Regret.’ 29 August 1993, 9; National Archives of Australia. A9301, 75130; Queensland. Parliament. Record of Proceedings, 12 October 1993, 5092–93; Stewart, Andrew. ‘Mid-Term Malaise in the Government as the Boom Slows Down.’ Canberra Times, 2 May 1982, 2; Sunday Mail (Brisbane). ‘Fred, Friend Indeed to a Friend in Need.’ 17 October 1993, 63; Yarrow, Susan Terrencia. ‘Split, Intervention, Renewal: The ALP in Queensland 1957–1989.’ MPhil thesis, University of Queensland, 2014.
Brian F. Stevenson
WHITE, Sir FREDERICK WILLIAM (FRED) (1905–1994), physicist, was born on 26 May 1905 at Johnsonville, Wellington, New Zealand, eldest of three children of English-born William Henry White, ship’s chief steward, and his New Zealand–born wife Wilhelmina, née Dunlop. Fred’s schooling began in Dunedin, where his family had settled when he was aged five, but it was interrupted by illness, and only resumed in earnest at the age of nine. After the Whites returned to Wellington, he was educated at Te Aro public school and then at Wellington College (1920–24). He became fascinated by astronomy and amateur radio, assisting in the college observatory and joining the wireless club. Intending to study engineering, he began his working life as an apprentice in the Wellington Corporation Tramways workshop.
In 1925 White entered Victoria University College, University of New Zealand (BSc, 1928; MSc, 1929), where he studied physics, chemistry, mathematics, and geology. A Senior scholar in physics, he was awarded first-class honours in the subject in 1929. He also won Jacob Joseph and national research scholarships; these, together with work as a physics demonstrator, made it possible for him to continue his studies at VUC. He was awarded a postgraduate scholarship in science from his alma mater and a Strathcona studentship from St John’s College, Cambridge. On the recommendation of Victoria’s professor of physics, D. C. H. Florance, he commenced studies at St John’s (PhD, 1934) and Sir Ernest (Lord) Rutherford’s Cavendish Laboratory, where he worked with J. A. Ratcliffe on the propagation of radio waves.
Engaged as a demonstrator (later assistant lecturer) in physics at King’s College, London, in 1931, White worked under Sir Edward Appleton, and became acquainted with Edward ‘Taffy’ Bowen [q.v.]. On 7 September 1932, at the parish church of St John the Evangelist, Fitzroy Square, London, he married Elizabeth Cooper (d. 1992), a pathologist. In 1934 he published a textbook, Electromagnetic Waves, developed from a series of lectures on the subject. During that year he also began lecturing at the Polytechnic, Regent Street, London.
In 1937 White returned to New Zealand to take up an appointment as professor of physics at Canterbury College, University of New Zealand, Christchurch. He researched the ionosphere, and was briefly involved in the radio research committee of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. After World War II broke out, he led a team working to develop a gunnery radar for the Royal New Zealand Navy. In 1941 he travelled to Sydney, following a request from the Australian government that he be granted leave from his university duties to assist in developing radar. Named chief of the radiophysics division of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in October 1942, he would become ‘the dominant figure in Australian radar’ (Minnett and Robertson 1996, 248).
White never returned to his Canterbury College post in New Zealand, moving instead to CSIR’s head office in Melbourne in 1945. The following year he joined its executive. In 1949 he was appointed chief executive officer, under (Sir) Ian Clunies Ross [q.v.13], of the reconstituted Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). The two men made a strong team, White providing day-to-day planning and leadership alongside Clunies Ross’s vision and public advocacy. Although White was involved in almost all aspects of CSIRO’s evolution, its particular achievements under his direction were in meteorological physics; in wool textiles, with the creation of research laboratories and the development of new methods for processing fibre; and in radio astronomy, led by Bowen, which would culminate in the building of the Parkes radio telescope. In 1954 he was appointed CBE.
Deputy chairman from 1957, White was appointed chairman of CSIRO in 1959. Significant developments under his leadership included the construction of a phytotron, for studying plant growth in varying conditions; the building of the Culgoora radioheliograph near Narrabri; and the establishment of a computing research section. He was promoted to KBE in 1962, and in 1964 oversaw the relocation of CSIRO’s headquarters to Canberra. Sir Frederick retired in 1970.
White served the scientific community in other positions as well. A council member (1974–77) and vice-president (1976–77) of the Australian Academy of Science (AAS), he was also president (1963–64) and chairman (1970–73) of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science. He was elected a fellow of the Australian Institution of Radio Engineers (1945), the AAS (1960), and London’s Royal Society (1966). Having chaired (1956–57) the Australian branch of the Institute of Physics, he was made an honorary fellow in 1970. He was a member of the councils of The Australian National University (1961–67) and Monash University (1961–63), and was awarded honorary doctorates of science from both institutions in 1969, as well as from the University of Papua New Guinea in 1970. The ANZAAS conferred its medal on him in 1975.
Keith Boardman, a later CSIRO chairman and chief executive, would write after White’s death that he had exercised ‘a dominating influence on the pattern and development of scientific research in Australia’ from 1945 until he retired (1994, 15). Believing strongly in scientific freedom, he advocated pure research as the surest path to making significant discoveries, rather than pursuing preconceived research goals. His decision not to return to Canterbury College had meant the end of his own program of research, but he reflected that ‘I have never regretted doing so’ (Minnett and Robertson 1996, 239). Although his ‘no-nonsense’ focus could make him seem ‘gruff’, he was ‘humble and somewhat shy’, with ‘a sincere concern for people’ (Boardman 1994, 15). ‘[I]mperturbable, good-humoured and direct’, he had a ‘flair for practical administration’, ‘a remarkably clear and analytical mind’, and ‘the capacity to make tough decisions’ (Minnett and Robertson 1996, 242, 245, 253).
Sharing with his wife a love of bushwalking, White also enjoyed trout fishing and carpentry. Through her passion for birdwatching, he became interested in ornithology, and in retirement researched bird songs, sometimes accompanied by blind people whom he took into the bush to enjoy the sounds. He turned his woodworking skills to creating toys for children with disabilities. In 1990 the Whites moved from Canberra back to Melbourne. He died on 17 August 1994 at Glenhuntly and was cremated following a service at St Peter’s Anglican Church, Brighton Beach. His son and daughter survived him. The AAS’s Frederick White prize and Elizabeth and Frederick White conferences were established through the couple’s financial contributions.
Australian Academy of Science. MS111, Papers of Sir F. W. G. White; Boardman, Keith. ‘CSIRO Chief Oversaw “Golden Age”.’ Australian, 8 September 1994, 15; Collis, Brad. Fields of Discovery: Australia’s CSIRO. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen and Unwin, 2002; McCarthy, G. J. ‘White, Frederick William George (1905–1994).’ Encyclopedia of Australian Science. Accessed 29 July 2017. www.eoas.info/biogs/P000889b.htm. Copy held on ADB file; Minnett, H. C., and Rutherford Robertson. ‘Frederick William George White 1905–1994.’ Historical Records of Australian Science 11, no. 2 (December 1996): 239–58; Schedvin, C. B. Shaping Science and Industry: A History of Australia’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, 1926–49. North Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1987; Young, Dennis. ‘Vale Sir Frederick White.’ ANU Reporter, 12 October 1994, 11.
WHITE, Sir HAROLD LESLIE (1905–1992), librarian, was born on 14 June 1905 at Numurkah, Victoria, third child of locally born parents James White, farmer, and his wife Beatrice Elizabeth, née Hodge. Harold attended the one-teacher Invergordon State School, winning a government scholarship to Wesley College, Melbourne (dux 1922). On the recommendation of his headmaster he was appointed a cadet cataloguer at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library in 1923. The cadetship, and a Walter Powell scholarship from Wesley, enabled him to study full time at the University of Melbourne (BA, 1926; MA, 1928), and a Queen’s College scholarship to reside there while at university.
In 1923 the library adopted an additional name, Commonwealth National Library, a rather grandiose title for an institution that had only twelve staff and a collection of about 50,000 volumes. It moved to Canberra in 1926 and 1927 and White was responsible for installing many of the books in the provisional Parliament House. In 1928 Kenneth Binns [q.v.7] became parliamentary librarian and White his deputy. The two worked closely together for twenty years. While differing in backgrounds and temperament, they shared the conviction that ultimately the library would be an important national institution, comparable to the Library of Congress and the British Museum. White welcomed the extension of library activities into new areas: the collection of films; the assumption of custody in 1943 of some Commonwealth government archives; the use of microform technology to copy original documents; and the provision of reference and lending services to the general public as well as to parliamentarians. His vision became clearer in 1939 when, as a Carnegie scholar, he toured the United States of America and Europe and visited many of the great libraries and archives. He was especially impressed by the ideas of the new librarian of Congress, Archibald MacLeish.
On 18 October 1930 White had married Elizabeth Wilson [q.v.18], a teacher, at Queen’s College, Carlton, Victoria. The couple later built a house on a large block on Mugga Way, Red Hill, Canberra. They lived there for the rest of their lives and created a celebrated woodland garden. Over many years the house and garden were the venue for Sunday morning gatherings, where selected library staff met senior public servants, diplomats, academics, writers, and journalists. An enthusiastic advocate for Canberra, White took an active part in its cultural, educational, sporting, and social life. He represented the territory in Australian Rules football (1927); held executive positions with the Canberra Society of Arts and Literature (secretary 1927–34, treasurer 1935, committee member 1936, vice-president 1938); was treasurer (1929–44) and then vice-president (1945–48) of the University Association of Canberra; and a member of the council of Canberra University College (1945–49). His edited book, Canberra: A Nation’s Capital, was published in 1954.
White succeeded Binns as parliamentary librarian in 1947. The timing was good. In the 1947/48 Commonwealth budget the library’s allocation doubled and there were further large increases in subsequent years. Staff numbers rose rapidly. Under his leadership, collecting was intensified and broadened, with much greater use of compulsory deposit to acquire current Australiana. Major acquisitions included the 1297 Inspeximus issue of the Magna Carta (1952), the Kashnor collection on political economy (1952), and the first two instalments of the Nan Kivell [q.v.15] collection (1959). There were also setbacks. Plans for a new or expanded building were repeatedly rejected or deferred by the government, leaving the library’s collections poorly housed in several scattered buildings. In 1957, to White’s disappointment, a committee headed by Sir George Paton [q.v.18] criticised the hybrid nature of the library, and recommended that the parliamentary library and the Commonwealth archives be separated from the national library. These changes were brought into effect by the National Library Act 1960.
Appointed national librarian in 1960, White retained the position of parliamentary librarian until 1967. These were exciting years for the library. In 1963 cabinet finally accepted plans for a monumental National Library of Australia building standing beside Lake Burley Griffin, and it was opened in 1968. White heralded the end of the library’s ‘forty years in the wilderness’ (White 1968), with the collections at last united in one place, and services for researchers and the general public greatly extended. With over 500 staff and generous funding, White was now able to collect both current and older materials on a grand scale. A frequent traveller, he sought formed book collections of great diversity from all over the world. Able lieutenants, notably C. A. Burmester and Pauline Fanning, did much of the groundwork with vendors and donors, but White usually presided over the negotiations. He had a particular interest in Asian publications, Australian films, the new field of oral history, and the personal papers of notable Australians. In 1970 he ended his career on a triumphant note with the purchase of the final instalment of the Ferguson collection, the largest formed collection in the library.
Short in stature, White was tough, determined, voluble, a shrewd negotiator, and adept at using his networks. His staff admired his vision and drive while sometimes disparaging his management skills. State librarians tended to be wary, if not hostile, regarding him as an empire builder. Reluctantly, they conceded a leadership role to the library, as it alone had the resources needed to advance cooperative bibliographical projects. As chairman (1959–70) of the standing committee of the Australian Advisory Council on Bibliographical Services, he oversaw the creation of national union catalogues, the introduction of a centralised card catalogue service, and the first moves towards participation in computer-based bibliographic networks.
White was a foundation fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities (1969), and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (1971). He was appointed CBE in 1962 and knighted in 1970. In his retirement Sir Harold prepared a report (1972) for the Malaysian government on its proposed national library, chaired (1973–87) the advisory committee of the Australian Encyclopaedia, and served (1975–90) on the National Memorials Committee. Citing his achievement in building the collection as ‘unparalleled in the history of Australian librarianship’ (Canberra Times 1983, 9), the Library Association of Australia bestowed on him the H. C. L. Anderson [q.v.7] award in 1983. He maintained a strong interest in the National Library of Australia and was gratified when the council named its research fellowships in his honour in 1985. Predeceased by his wife in 1988, he died on 31 August 1992 in Canberra and was cremated; he was survived by two daughters and two sons.
Biskup, Peter. ‘Sir Harold White: Australia’s First National Librarian.’ Australian Journal of Communication 24, no. 3 (1997): 99–116; Canberra Times. ‘Library Award to White.’ 3 August 1983, 9; Cochrane, Peter, ed. Remarkable Occurrences: The National Library of Australia’s First 100 Years, 1901–2001. Canberra: National Library of Australia, 2001; Farquharson, John. ‘Dynamic Force behind Australian Libraries.’ Canberra Times, 2 September 1992, 18; Fernon, Christine. ‘Staggering Out of the “Wilderness.”’ National Library of Australia News 18, no. 11 (August 2008): 3–8; National Library of Australia. MS 7599, Papers of Sir Harold White and Lady Elizabeth White; Osborn, Andrew, and Margaret Osborn. The Commonwealth Parliamentary Library, 1901–1927 and the Origins of the National Library of Australia. Canberra: Department of the Parliamentary Library in association with the National Library of Australia, 1989; West, Francis. ‘Harold Leslie White 1905–1992.’ Proceedings (Australian Academy of the Humanities), 1992. Marrickville, NSW: Southwood Press, 1993, 63–65; White, Sir Harold. Interview by Gavin Souter, 6 December 1984. Transcript. National Library of Australia; White, Sir Harold. Interview by Peter Biskup, April 1988. Transcript. National Library of Australia; White, Sir Harold. Speech 15 August 1968, transcript. Proceedings of the Official Opening of the first stage of the National Library of Australia held onsite on August 15 1968 in Canberra A.C.T., ORAL TRC 68. National Library of Australia.
WHITE, OSMAR EGMONT (1909–1991), war correspondent and journalist, was born on 2 April 1909 at Feilding, New Zealand, only child of English-born Hubert Edgar White, commercial traveller, and his locally born wife Mary Grace, née Downey. The family moved to Queensland when Osmar was five and he attended primary school at Toowoomba. By 1916 they had relocated to Katoomba, New South Wales, where he continued his education at the local intermediate high school (class dux, 1920 and 1922).
From the age of seventeen White wrote short stories, sometimes under pseudonyms, that were widely published in Australia, the United Kingdom, and later the United States of America. In 1927 he commenced his journalism career with the Cumberland Times (Parramatta) and briefly studied at the University of Sydney. He then had stints at the Parkes Post and the Wagga Wagga Advertiser, and contributed articles to the Sydney Daily Telegraph as a district reporter. His lifelong taste for travel began with trips to the Mandated Territory of New Guinea and to China in the early 1930s. By 1934 he had returned to New Zealand and was soon working for the Taranaki Daily News. Three years later he was editor of the New Zealand Radio Record. On 23 July 1937 he married Olive Mary (Mollie) Allen, a journalist, at St Mary’s Anglican Church, New Plymouth.
In 1938 White accepted a position as a reporter with the Herald and Weekly Times Ltd newspaper group in Melbourne. He planned to enlist for service in World War II, but the managing director, Sir Keith Murdoch [q.v.10], convinced him to become an HWT war correspondent instead. White was posted to Port Moresby in early 1942. His wiry rock-climbing physique and prior knowledge of the New Guinea landscape made him well-suited to the task of reporting from the front line. In his early articles he called for Australian soldiers to improve their jungle-fighting skills in order to defeat the Japanese, such outspokenness not always endearing him to the military authorities. His experiences with Kanga Force outside Japanese-occupied Lae and Salamaua, and then his time on the Kokoda Track, formed the basis for his best-known book, Green Armour, which was published to critical acclaim in 1945.
From early 1943 White had been attached to United States forces in the South Pacific. In July Japanese bombing of Rendova Harbour, New Georgia (Solomon Islands), left him severely wounded in his legs and feet. He claimed the sympathetic intervention of an American officer, who secured him skilled medical attention, saved his limbs from amputation. Restored to work after extensive rehabilitation in the United States and Britain, he accompanied the Third US Army in Western Europe from 1944. In Germany he witnessed the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp in April 1945, and in France the Nazi surrender at Reims on 7 May. His account of his European experiences, Conquerors’ Road, was completed by 1946 but would not appear in print until 1996.
After the war White resumed regular reporting in Melbourne. An important contribution was his work in the mid-1950s with the Melbourne Herald on the ‘Jill’ case, exposing poor conditions within Victoria’s mental health system. Despite the long-term effects of his wartime injuries he continued to travel. In late 1957 and early 1958 he accompanied an Australian National Research Expedition voyage and reported on their work in Antarctic waters. A year later (December 1958 – June 1959) he was seconded to the Federal Department of External Affairs to tour and write on Australia’s Colombo Plan activities in Asia. Following his formal retirement in 1963 he produced a stream of books: novels; commissions for organisations, such as the National Bank of Australasia; works reflecting his continued interest in Papua New Guinea; and children’s books—with strong Australian associations—which were well received at the time. He also wrote radio, television, and play scripts.
White’s great achievements were his wartime journalism and his two war books. They are critical where necessary, devoid of excess patriotism, and marked by an appreciation of how the natural environment (such as the New Guinea jungle) could hinder any army. He believed the Australian soldier needed ‘no fictions nor propaganda to justify him as a fighting man’ (1987, 208). A long-time pipe smoker, he later suffered from chronic obstructive airways disease and lung cancer. On 16 May 1991 he died in Fairfield Hospital and was cremated. He was survived by his wife, and their two daughters, one of whom, Sally, would follow him into journalism. In 2013 he was inducted into the Australian Media Hall of Fame.
Anderson, Fay, and Richard Trembath. Witnesses to War: The History of Australian Conflict Reporting. Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 2011; National Library of Australia. MS Acc06.177 and MS Acc07.141, Papers of Osmar White, c. 1930–2005; White, Osmar. Conquerors’ Road. Edited by Sally A. White and Neil McDonald. Sydney: HarperPerennial, 1996; White, Osmar. Green Armour. First published 1945. Ringwood, Vic.: Penguin Books, 1987; White, Osmar. Interview by Peter Jepperson, 14 October 1990. Transcript. Keith Murdoch Sound Archive of Australia in the War of 1939–45. Australian War Memorial; White, Sally. Interview by the author, 13 December 2016.
WHITEHEAD, DAVID ADIE (TORPY) (1896–1992), soldier and business executive, was born on 30 September 1896 at Leith, Scotland, eldest child of English-born parents Frederick Victor Whitehead, quartermaster sergeant, and his wife Caroline Wilson, née Adie. David was educated at the York Grammar School, England. After the family migrated to Australia he attended the Sydney Coaching College and University Agency with the intention of pursuing a military career. He served briefly as an officer in the senior cadets before being selected to attend the Royal Military College, Duntroon, Federal (Australian) Capital Territory, which he entered in March 1914.
Standing over 6 feet 1 inch (185 cm) tall, with blue eyes and fair hair, Whitehead acquired his lifelong nickname ‘Torpy’, a play on his stature and the Whitehead torpedo. After graduating on 4 April 1916, he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Permanent Military Forces and the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). He served on the Western Front with three machine-gun companies: the 9th (from November 1916), the 23rd (from September 1917), and the 3rd (from July 1918). On 4 October 1917, east of Ypres, Belgium, he skilfully led his battery forward under heavy fire, inspiring the whole company on its first day in action. Awarded the Military Cross for his leadership that day, he was also promoted to captain (1917), twice wounded, mentioned in despatches (1917), and awarded the French Croix de Guerre (1919) during his service in World War I.
Whitehead’s AIF appointment was terminated in October 1919 and, although he initially returned to the regular army, in 1922 he left because of limited career opportunities. He continued his interest in soldiering, serving in the Citizen Military Forces (CMF) and rising steadily to lieutenant colonel. He took command of the 1st Light Horse (Machine-Gun) Regiment in October 1937. Earlier that year, he had been awarded the King George VI coronation medal in recognition of his public service. In civilian life Whitehead worked as a civil engineer in Western Australia, before returning to Sydney. On 7 October 1926 at St Philip’s Church of England, he had married Marguerite Jean ‘Rita’ Forsyth, a bank clerk. In 1931 he joined the Shell Co. of Australia Ltd.
Following the outbreak of World War II, Whitehead was appointed on 1 May 1940 to command the 2/2nd Machine Gun Battalion, AIF. In February 1942 he was transferred to the 2/32nd Battalion, which he led during the attacks at Tel El Eisa, Egypt, in July. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his courageous and brilliant leadership. Promoted to colonel and temporary brigadier in September, he assumed command of the 26th Brigade, leading it in the battle of El Alamein in October and November. He was awarded a Bar to the DSO for exercising command with courage, determination, skill and judgement.
Whitehead’s brigade returned to Australia early in 1943 and was redeployed to New Guinea. It took part in the amphibious landing at Lae in September and the Huon Peninsula campaign from October 1943 to January 1944, culminating in the capture of Sattelberg. Whitehead was appointed CBE (1945) for his forceful and masterly performance. In May 1945 he commanded the 26th Brigade Group in its amphibious assault at Tarakan, Borneo. Relinquishing his command in December, he transferred to the Reserve of Officers on 9 February 1946, having been twice mentioned in despatches in World War II. Lean and rarely seen without his pipe, Whitehead was a hard though fatherly leader who managed to soften his stern demeanour with wry humour. His early training at Duntroon and experience in World War I shaped him, producing a thoughtful commander and one of the AIF’s adroit tacticians in the 1939–45 conflict.
Following the war Whitehead continued active part-time military and business careers. He commanded the 2nd Armoured Brigade from 1947, served as an honorary aide-de-camp (1949–52) to Sir William McKell [q.v.18], the governor-general, and led the Australian contingent that attended the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, for which he was awarded the coronation medal. He retired from the army as a brigadier in 1954. In 1946 he had moved to Melbourne to become Shell’s staff manager for Australia, a position he held until his retirement in 1956. From then until 1961 he served as a conciliator with the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Predeceased by his wife but survived by a son and daughter, Whitehead died on 23 October 1992 at Henry Pride Geriatric Centre, Kew, and was cremated. His portrait by Reg Rowed is held by the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.
Dexter, David. Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 1 (Army): Volume VI, The New Guinea Offensives. Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1961; Lee, Colonel J. E. Duntroon: The Royal Military College of Australia. Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1952; Long, Gavin. Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 1 (Army): Volume VII, The Final Campaigns. Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1963; Maughan, Barton. Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 1 (Army): Volume III, Tobruk and El Alamein. Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1966; National Archives of Australia. B2458, Whitehead, David Adie [NX376 and First AIF]; Oakes, Bill. Muzzle Blast: Six Years of War with the 2/2nd Machine Gun Battalion AIF. Lane Cove: 2/2nd Machine Gun Battalion History Committee, 1980; Trigellis-Smith, Syd. Britain to Borneo: A History of the 2/32 Australian Infantry Battalion. Sydney: 2/32 Australian Infantry Battalion Association, 1993.
Robert C. Stevenson
WHITELEY, BRETT (1939–1992), artist, was born on 7 April 1939 at Paddington, Sydney, younger of two children of English-born Clement Whiteley, publicity manager, and his New South Wales–born wife Beryl Mary, née Martin. Brett grew up at Longueville, a quiet suburb on the northern shores of Sydney Harbour. Clem, who was manager of the Orpheum Theatres at North Sydney and Cremorne and later advertising manager for Hoyts Theatres Ltd, was for a time also involved in reproducing images, including (Sir) William Dobell’s [q.v.14] Storm Approaching Wangi, which had been awarded the Wynne prize in 1948. Dobell often visited the Whiteley house.
Educated as a boarder at the Scots School, Bathurst, and at Scots College, Bellevue Hill, Sydney, Whiteley discovered the work of another local artist, Lloyd Rees [q.v.18], who lived near Longueville. He wrote to his mother asking her to find him a second-hand easel, as well as books on the works of Augustus John and Jacob Epstein. He developed an insatiable appetite for discovering how certain artists, including Dobell, Rees, and van Gogh, had viewed their motifs and expressed them in paint, and for finding what made their talent shine above that of others.
From 1956 Whiteley was employed in the layout and commercial art department at Lintas Pty Ltd, an advertising agency. With his friend Michael Johnson, he explored the art classes and sketch clubs of Sydney: up and down George Street between the Rocks—where he was enrolled at the Julian Ashton [q.v.7] School—and Central Station; over to the National Art School; and across the harbour to the Northwood group. They searched out the motifs of Rees at McMahons Point and the inner city street scenes of Sali Herman [q.v.]. They conjured the palette and landscape forms of (Sir) Russell Drysdale [q.v.17] in the old gold-mining towns of Sofala and Hill End. Beckoned by the international art scene, they studied reproductions of modern and old masters. During this time, Whiteley met his future wife and muse, the beautiful art student Wendy Susan Julius, a niece of the impressionist artist Kathleen O’Connor [q.v.11].
Awarded an Italian government travelling art scholarship, judged by Drysdale, Whiteley departed for Europe in early 1960. By this time he had long been gathering ideas about being a painter, and was ready to explore further not only techniques but also the secrets of his artist heroes’ charisma. His harvesting of inspiration from museums, galleries, and churches gathered pace after his arrival in Italy in February.
At the end of 1960 Whiteley moved to London with Wendy, who had joined him in Italy, and they rented a flat at Ladbroke Grove. He produced a series of abstractions, one of the finest of which, Untitled Red Painting (1960), was bought by the Tate gallery. This work glows with the colours of Australian earth, while also reflecting an admiration for the British painter William Scott, whose flat abstractions—derived from table-top still-life motifs—reinforced Whiteley’s interest in shapes, edges, and daring proportions. Adding erotic elements inspired by Arshile Gorky’s work, Whiteley put into the piece most of the basic elements of his pictorial methodology to come. He married Wendy on 27 March 1962 at the Chelsea register office. After several months honeymooning in France, they moved to a flat near Notting Hill Gate; later, they lived at Holland Park, in a studio once occupied by the Pre-Raphaelite artist Holman Hunt.
After his marriage, bedevilled by a fear of stagnation, Whiteley moved from his early abstractions into a bathroom series, reflecting an admiration for the French painter Pierre Bonnard. The series celebrated the sensuousness of his wife’s body, extolling the curve as a medium of sexual desire. This desire had a dark side. Stirred by the death of his father, and moved to emulate his friend Francis Bacon, Whiteley developed another series based on the necrophile serial murderer John Christie, whose crimes had been committed near Ladbroke Grove. The dissonance with the mood of his most recent work became a conscious ploy, as he toyed with opposites in a way that disturbed art commentators. During this time he also completed a series based on the London Zoo.
Whiteley briefly visited Australia in 1965 and 1966. He had won prizes, been included in national and international surveys, and was regarded as one of the best young painters working in England and Australia. Inevitably, he wanted to try his hand in the United States of America. Aided by a Harkness fellowship, he set sail for New York in October 1967. He and Wendy, with their young daughter, Arkie, moved into the notorious Chelsea Hotel, where they rubbed shoulders with an unconventional collective of painters, poets, musicians, prostitutes, and theatre people. Whiteley was already associated with the Marlborough galleries, within the creative pulse of New York, and it seemed his conquest of the international art world would be complete. However, it was not to be.
The energy of New York intoxicated Whiteley, but he also felt its destructiveness, and his infatuation soon turned sour. His first response to the city had been to see it as a gargantuan piece of living sculpture, punctuated by flashes of yellow, the colour of optimism and madness. But he soon began to fear the United States, at a time of heightened social conflict, for its violence and potential to bruise the soul. Most of all, he hated the country’s indifference to cultures outside its own boundaries. It seemed, to his amazement, provincial.
As Whiteley’s focus showed signs of fragmenting, he laboured to fit into a cultural matrix with which he felt uncomfortable. Reviewers of his exhibitions were good-natured about his political messages, which were created with calculated irony, and admired his drawings of copulating couples in an era celebrating ‘free love’. But unfortunately his fragile combinations of fibre-glass, oil paint, photography, electric lights, steel, barbed wire, and in one instance rice and a hand-grenade, consigned many of the works of this period to oblivion. His American interlude came to an end with the creation of the vast multi-panelled The American Dream (1969). This work, which his dealer refused to exhibit, contained much anger and frustration, coming partly from a futile desire to change society—which he saw as sliding into insanity—and reflecting disintegration in his domestic life. Alcohol and drugs may have promised enhanced perception, but their influence was beginning to shadow his existence.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Whiteley’s period in America was his development of heroic alter-ego paintings. He continued these after his return to Australia at the end of 1969, following a brief but calamitous stay in Fiji, from where he and his family were ejected after being found in possession of an illicit drug. Inspired by cultural figures from Europe and America—including Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Gauguin, Brendan Behan, and Bob Dylan—he produced ambitious compositions around their mythologies. These works may be most valuable for the questions they raise about his view of himself. Why did he need to declare such an interest in other luminaries of the arts? Was there some sense of dissatisfaction hidden behind a veneer of self-belief? Whiteley can be seen to have explored his own ego through the charisma of famous personalities in whom he recognised a shared addictive nature. At the same time, while also descending into heroin addiction, he produced classic paintings and drawings of landscape and figures. His elegant seascapes and landscapes were inspired by views of Sydney Harbour from a house at Lavender Bay, which he and Wendy rented in 1970 and then eventually purchased, and by the plains, rivers, rises, and rocks of western New South Wales. In 1976 he won the Archibald [q.v.3] and Sir John Sulman [q.v.12] prizes, in 1977 the Wynne prize, and in 1978 all three. He won the Wynne again in 1984.
In his works, Whiteley reached for the greatest ecstasy imaginable, and then yearned to go further. Yet he also sought to include pain and discordancy in his aesthetic agenda. He never wanted his vision to be regarded as merely soft-centred lyricism. In attempting to jolt the minds of his viewers out of complacency, however, he laid himself open to accusations of gimmickry. He built a sculpture from a shark’s jaw, made an owl from a beach thong, and painted a self-portrait showing himself as a simian beast savaged by heroin. It is difficult to reconcile such shocking, sometimes ill-conceived, projects with paintings like The River at Marulan (1976) and Summer at Carcoar (1977), or the best of the bird paintings, which suggest an artist identifying joyously with nature and its seasons. Yet it was Whiteley’s conviction that every mood conjured its opposite, and that this equation was an inevitable contract between art and life.
A major turning point for the Whiteleys came in 1985. That year Whiteley purchased a defunct t-shirt factory that he converted into a residence and studio. He and Wendy had both committed to cleansing themselves of drug addiction, and travelled to a clinic in London. Only Wendy followed it through successfully, leading to separation and eventually, in 1989, divorce. Whiteley later formed other relationships, including with Janice Spencer. In 1991 he was appointed AO. He died from the effect of drugs and alcohol on 11 or 12 June 1992 in a motel room at Thirroul on the south coast of New South Wales. Underneath the hype that had surrounded him was a hard-working painter of tenacious research and keen sensibility. While in later years his work had sometimes become flashy, it had continued to reflect a strong loyalty to the great traditions of painting and drawing which had arrested his attention at a young age. After his death, the factory studio was acquired by the New South Wales government and from 1995 maintained as a memorial museum. At the same time several important works by the artist were acquired from his estate for permanent housing in the museum, including what may be his greatest masterpiece, the vast, multi-panelled, autobiographical Alchemy (1972–73). A travelling art scholarship bearing his name was established by his mother, Beryl, in 1999.
Brett Whiteley Artist File. Archives, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Hawley, Janet. Encounters With Australian Artists. St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1993; Hopkirk, Frannie. Brett: A Portrait of Brett Whiteley by His Sister. Sydney: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996; McGrath, Sandra. Brett Whiteley. Rushcutters Bay, NSW: Bay Books, 1979; Pearce, Barry, with contributions by Bryan Robertson and Wendy Whiteley and exhibition research by Charlotte Hayman. Brett Whiteley: Art and Life. Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1995; Pearce, Barry, and Wendy Whiteley. Brett Whiteley Studio. Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2007.
WHITEMAN, MANTON LEWIS (LEW) (1903–1995), businessman, philanthropist, and collector, was born on 9 July 1903 at Janebrook (Jane Brook), Western Australia, third child and only son of English-born Lewis Whiteman, brickmaker, and his Western Australian–born wife Elizabeth, née Barndon. Lew junior attended school at Middle Swan until the age of fourteen when he joined his father’s business, Middle Swan Brickworks (later Whiteman’s Brickworks), at Janebrook. In 1918 he purchased a two-horse dray to cart wood for the kilns and to make deliveries of its handmade bricks. The business expanded during the 1920s and moved to a larger site at Middle Swan. In 1937 it was incorporated as a family company, L. Whiteman Ltd. By 1940 the firm produced an average of 14 million bricks a year and employed between seventy and 100 workers.
Following his father’s death in 1941 Whiteman took over as head of the family business. During World War II he served part time (April 1942 – August 1943) in the local 3rd (Swan) Battalion, Volunteer Defence Corps. Due to manpower shortages, Middle Swan Brickworks closed down for nearly three years, reopening at the end of 1944. A strong demand for bricks in the postwar period resulted in renewed expansion of the business. Many of the workers were migrants who had settled in the Swan Valley since the interwar years. Whiteman took a direct interest in their well-being, providing unobtrusive assistance as well as encouraging groups such as the Yugoslav People’s Committee, Swan Branch, to picnic on his grounds near the brickworks. In 1966 the company sold Whiteman’s Brickworks to the businessman Alan Bond’s Progress Development Organisation.
Before the war Whiteman had purchased a farm in the Swan Valley that had a waterhole known for its freshwater mussels. He later purchased adjoining land, which he used for grazing cattle and riding horses. In 1954 he acquired property at Guildford—a house, coach house, and cottage situated side by side—where he stored his growing collection of antiques and curios, a passion he shared with his mother. Developing his Mussel Pool property in the early 1960s, he created a public picnic ground and space to display his collection of agricultural machinery, particularly horse-drawn vehicles and associated memorabilia, such as saddles and leather work, and early tractors. In 1977 the State government bought the Mussel Pool property. Neighbouring blocks were purchased in later years and, in 1986, Whiteman Park was officially opened and named in recognition of Whiteman’s pioneering development of that public open space.
Whiteman engaged in a range of recreational pursuits including horse-riding, flying, deep-sea diving, and cricket. An intensely private and shy man, he eschewed socialising and crowds. Of short stature and slim build, he had grey eyes and dark hair. Disagreements over the family business had resulted in Whiteman and his mother being estranged from his sisters and other family members. Unmarried, he died at Woodlands on 1 March 1994 and was cremated. His will had been changed shortly before he died; friends claimed it did not reflect his long-standing wish to keep his multi-million-dollar collection intact and in Western Australia. While the motorised and horse-drawn vehicles were bequeathed to the people of Western Australia and displayed in a museum of transport at Whiteman Park, the remainder of his collection was auctioned, with the proceeds directed to the Princess Margaret Hospital for Children.
Gould, Vanessa. ‘A Dream Comes Under the Hammer, Accusations Fly as Whiteman Treasures Are Destined to Leave WA.’ West Australian, 15 March 1997, 1; National Archives of Australia. B884, W82315; Stockman’s Hall of Fame. ‘Whiteman Park.’ March 1994, 7; Sunday Times (Perth). ‘Boss a Brick to People.’ 6 March 1994, 34.
WHITTEN, EDWARD JAMES (TED) (1933–1995), Australian Rules footballer, was born on 27 July 1933 at Footscray, Melbourne, second of three children of Edward James Whitten, powder monkey (quarry worker), and his wife Edna May, née Maddigan. Educated at St Augustine’s College, Yarraville, where the Christian Brothers encouraged his passion for football, Ted haunted the Western Oval to watch his Footscray Football Club idols train. While working as a factory hand, he was spotted in 1949 having a kick during his lunch break and was recruited by Braybrook juniors in the Footscray District Football League. He proved prodigiously talented: high-spirited, fast, and a fine mark and kick. In 1950 he also played on Sundays for Collingwood in the tough, open-age Amateur Football League. The next year he was recruited by the Footscray Football Club (the Bulldogs) and assigned his hero Arthur Olliver’s number three guernsey.
Playing at centre half-forward, the lightly built Whitten was injury prone and targeted by opposition players, so the captain-coach Charlie Sutton moved him to centre half-back where, building strength and stamina, he starred. He won the first of five club best and fairest awards in 1954, when Footscray won its first Victorian Football League (VFL) premiership. The Bulldogs became the district’s pin-up boys, and at just twenty-one Whitten had to deny a girlfriend’s announcement of their engagement. On 17 March 1956 (St Patrick’s Day) he married Valda Rae Scoble at the Independent Church, Collins Street, Melbourne. The marriage weathered persistent rumours of his infidelity.
Adulation of the premiers bred team hubris and player jealousies that caused a decline in Footscray’s performance, but Whitten continued to shine. In 1957 the club’s committee sacked Sutton as non-playing coach and, anxious to counter interstate attempts to poach Whitten, offered him an appointment as captain-coach. When he accepted, player relations deteriorated further, and by 1959 the exodus of players through disaffection or attraction to country coaching left Whitten one of only three remaining members of the premiership team. Adopting the flick pass (subsequently outlawed) and a fast, open style of play, he led the Bulldogs into their second grand final in 1961, which they lost, decisively, to Hawthorn. During the next decade the club had little success. Whitten’s enthusiastic coaching could not offset indifferent recruiting.
An all-year fitness fanatic, who smoked only in the off-season and was virtually a teetotaller, Whitten found it difficult to secure employment that suited his punishing training regimen. After several failed business ventures, he was out of work in 1959 when his loyalty to Footscray was tested by a lucrative Tasmanian offer. In 1962 he rejected several offers from Western Australian teams and accepted a five-year contract as Footscray’s captain-coach. His financial position eased after 1963 when he found work in promotions for Adidas sporting goods.
Whitten relished interstate matches, playing twenty-nine games for Victoria, twice as captain-coach (1962). His keenest battles were fought against South Australia: ‘E.J. … was a bastard to play against’, Neil ‘Knuckles’ Kerley averred, ‘but I loved him’ (Eva 2012, 355). Acclaimed by journalists as ‘Mr Football’, a name coined by Lou Richards and embraced by Whitten, he came to be regarded as the most accomplished player of his era. He was renowned for his ferocious handshake and his strongly competitive style (as a master of the ‘hip and shoulder’, the ‘shirt-front’, and the ‘squirrel grip’). His habitual ‘ear bashing’ of umpires perhaps cost him a Brownlow medal.
Although Whitten was devastated when Footscray replaced him with Sutton as coach for the 1967 season, he refused offers from four VFL clubs. That year he broke Olliver’s club record of 271 senior games. Resuming as captain-coach in 1969, he retired as a player after he established a new VFL record of 321 games in May 1970. He continued as a non-playing coach, but Footscray’s committee did not renew his contract in 1972.
Preparing for life after football, Whitten had extended his advertising and media commitments, cultivating good relations with journalists who ghost-wrote his many press articles. He was an entertaining sports commentator and football panellist on commercial television and called matches on radio stations 3AK and 3GL (later K Rock), including some involving his son, Ted junior, who played 144 games for Footscray before injury forced his retirement. A Victorian (1983–94) and All Australian (1991–94) selector, Whitten by force of personality sustained interstate football against gathering league and player indifference. From 1985 the E. J. Whitten medal was awarded to the best Victorian player in State of Origin football. That year he was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, and he was awarded the OAM in 1992.
Diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1991, Whitten publicly warned men not to ignore the symptoms, but his own cancer progressed and he retired from public life in December 1994. He sought consolation in his renewed Catholic faith. In May 1995 he was elevated to legend status in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, and in June he was named as an inaugural inductee and legend of the Australian Football Hall of Fame. On 17 June he was given an emotional farewell at a State of Origin game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Although blind and ravaged by bone cancer, he still urged the Victorian players to ‘stick it up’ their opponents.
Whitten died at his Altona North home on 17 August. Survived by his wife and their son, he was also mourned by the inamorata of a discretely maintained relationship. At a state funeral held at St Patrick’s Cathedral on 22 August, the eulogist, his friend Bob Skilton, remarked that Whitten ‘grabbed [life] by the throat and shook hell out of it’ (1995, 38). He had always proclaimed his pride in his Footscray working-class origins, and many thousands lined the route of the cortège as it passed through Footscray to Altona Memorial Park for a private service and cremation.
If Whitten was not the greatest player ever, as was commonly claimed at his death, he was certainly among the game’s elite. Ever the larrikin and prankster, he epitomised the best of postwar Australian Rules football: skilled, tough, tribal, loyal, and entertaining. Following his death, the E. J. Whitten Bridge on Melbourne’s Western Ring Road was named in his honour and the Western Oval was renamed Whitten Oval. In 1996 the Australian Football League declared Whitten captain of its team of the century, while the annual E. J. Whitten Legends Game and the E. J. Whitten Foundation were established to raise funds for prostate cancer research. Two statues were unveiled in 1997, one by Peter Corlett outside Whitten Oval and another by Mitch Mitchell at the Braybrook Hotel.
Eva, Bruce, Peter Ryan, and Nick Bowen. Legends of the Australian Football Hall of Fame. Richmond, Vic.: Slattery Media Group, 2012; Lack, John. A History of Footscray. North Melbourne: Hargreen, 1991; Lack, John, Chris McConville, Michael Small, and Damien Wright. A History of the Footscray Football Club: Unleashed. Footscray, Vic.: Aus-Sport Enterprises, 1996; Nankervis, Brian. Boys and Balls. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 1994; Ross, John, and Paul Harvey. The Ted Whitten Album. Sydney: Pan Macmillan, 2003; Skilton, Bob. ‘Words not Enough for a Hero to Us All.’ Age (Melbourne), 23 August 1995, 38; Whitten, E. J. Interviewed by John Lack, 10 April 1991; Whitten, Ted, with Jim Main and friends. E. J. Melbourne: Wilkinson Books, 1995.
WIGHTMAN, EDITH LILLIAN (LIL) (1903–1992), couture atelier proprietor, was born on 12 April 1903 at Ballarat, Victoria, third of four children of George Francis Wightman, engineer, and his wife Hannah Jane, née McCracken, both Victorian born. Lillian was twelve when her mother (d. 1920) was diagnosed with breast cancer. As a teenager she spent her days caring for her mother and younger sister and managing the household. In about 1918 the family moved to Kew, Melbourne. That year, while trying on a bridesmaid’s dress at the exclusive Melbourne fashion boutique of G. H. V. Thomas, Lillian so impressed the proprietor with her suggested redesign of the dress that he offered her a job as a salesgirl. She learned how to manage an atelier, to engage the customers, and to recognise quality.
In 1922 Wightman borrowed £100 from her father and opened her own salon in Howey Place. It was situated in a series of laneways in the fashionable city block bounded by Elizabeth, Collins, Bourke, and Swanston streets, where society ladies would come to ‘do the block’—to shop, lunch, and be seen. She named her salon ‘Le Louvre’ as she believed Paris to be the heart and soul of fashion, sophistication, and style. Her notable clients in the 1920s included Dame Nellie Melba [q.v.10] and Anna Pavlova. With (Dame) Mabel Brookes [q.v.13], she organised a successful charity fashion parade in 1932, donating the proceeds to the Queen Victoria Hospital. She subsequently contributed to fundraising campaigns for a range of causes, notably breast cancer research.
An astute businesswoman, Wightman was tenacious and determined, yet appeared to make no effort at all. In 1934 she moved Le Louvre to a three-storey terrace at 74 Collins Street. At the time the area mainly housed the rooms of medical specialists, whose wives she hoped to attract to her business. By the 1950s she employed thirty seamstresses and was known for her ability to provide for her clients ‘a modified couture version of the latest looks from Paris’ (English and Pomazan 2010, 26). The Austrian-born artist Louis Kahan, whom Wightman befriended in 1950, created the distinctive Le Louvre logo. She recommended him to her clients as a portraitist, and he subsequently designed twelve costumes that were made at Le Louvre for a royal command performance of The Tales of Hoffman during Queen Elizabeth’s Australian tour in 1954.
Until the 1970s Le Louvre operated as a traditional couture atelier. Wightman sat in the front salon where she would meet with clients, have tea, and discuss their requirements, before they were taken to the dressing room for fittings. There were no garments on display, clients came strictly by appointment, and neither clothing sizes nor money were ever discussed. Each item was made to order, and a bill was sent together with the clothing purchased. Wightman’s signature was an ocelot print, which she used for dresses, coats, handbags, and scarves, and for furniture and carpets in her salon.
On 23 May 1928 at the Presbyterian Church, Cotham Road, Kew, Wightman had married George McGeagh Collins Weir, a police constable and immigrant from Northern Ireland. It was an unconventional marriage: she continued to use her maiden name and did not wear a wedding ring, while he lived mostly in the country, where he became a farmer and grazier. In 1945 their only child Georgina was born but, as Wightman was not very maternal, she engaged a carer and housekeeper. She and Weir separated in about 1956 but they never divorced. In the late 1960s Georgina introduced her mother to the ready-to-wear revolution sweeping Europe. Wightman deplored nostalgia, so she encouraged Georgina to bring the fashions of European designers to Le Louvre, pivoting the business slowly over the next fifteen years away from couture.
Known to her clients as ‘Luxury Lil’, Wightman helped to define the ‘Paris End’ of Collins Street. Having purchased the freehold for Le Louvre in 1952, she later refused to sell the heritage building to the developers of the fifty-two storey Nauru House (1977). It was classified by the National Trust in 1978. Wightman gradually handed control of the business to her daughter but continued to visit daily into her old age. During an interview in 1986 she reaffirmed her lifelong adherence to Parisian fashion: ‘Everything beautiful is made in Paris and everyone wants it’ (Perkin 1986, 28). She died on 3 November 1992 at South Yarra and was cremated. Georgina Weir moved Le Louvre from Collins Street to South Yarra in 2010.
English, Bonnie, and Liliana Pomazan. Australian Fashion Unstitched: The Last 60 Years. Cambridge and Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 2010; Liberman, Cassy. Le Louvre: The Women behind the Icon. Melbourne: Brolly Books, 2016; Perkin, Corrie. ‘Lil of Le Louvre.’ Canberra Times, 23 March 1986, Good Weekend 26–30; Walker, Susannah. ‘A Nice Little Frock Shop.’ Age (Melbourne), 26 February 2010, Melbourne Magazine 36; Weir, Georgina. Interview by Cassy Liberman, April 2014. Copy held on ADB file; Whitfield, Danielle. ‘La Mode Française Australian Style.’ In The Paris End: Photography, Fashion & Glamour, edited by Susan van Wyk, 105–117. Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 2006.
WIGHTON, ROSEMARY NEVILLE (WODY) (1925–1994), author, editor, lecturer, and public servant, was born on 6 January 1925 at St Peters, Adelaide, third child of Arthur Seaforth Blackburn [q.v.7], solicitor, and his wife Rose Ada, née Kelly, both South Australian born. ‘Wody’, as she was known, was educated at the Wilderness School. She later recalled that her father and eldest brother, Richard [q.v.17], were avid readers and had influenced her love of literature. Proceeding to the University of Adelaide (BA Hons, 1945), she won the John Howard Clark [q.v.3] prize for English literature (1945) and postgraduate scholarships in arts (1946, 1947), but did not complete a master’s degree. At university she felt she ‘came alive’ (1978). She developed progressive political views, and was ‘caught up in the tumultuous literary events’ (Ward 1994, 11) around the Angry Penguins magazine founded by her friend Max Harris [q.v.].
On 22 May 1948 at St Peter’s College Chapel Blackburn married Dugald Craven Wighton, a medical student. She tutored in English at the university, both before and after her marriage. While caring for her young family, one of whom had special needs, she also worked in the Mary Martin Book Shop and edited two literary journals: the Australian Book Review (with Harris and briefly Geoffrey Dutton) from 1962, and Australian Letters (with Harris, Dutton, and Bryn Davies) from 1963. Together with her pioneering editorial work, she contributed reviews, often under pseudonyms such as ‘Martha Lemming’. Outspoken in her opinions, she enjoyed spirited and passionate debate about politics, social issues, and literature. Through ABR she and Harris campaigned against literary censorship and the Anglo-American domination of the Australian book trade. Ultimately their views diverged and publication ceased in 1973.
Dismayed by the condescending reviews of children’s literature she read and was called on to edit, Wighton campaigned to have it recognised as a serious genre of writing. Her study Early Australian Children’s Literature appeared in 1963, and she selected stories for inclusion in her collection Kangaroo Tales. She reviewed children’s books for the Australian Broadcasting Commission and from 1971 to 1979 lectured in children’s literature at Salisbury Teachers’ College (later College of Advanced Education). Continuing her broader interest in literature, she served on the Writers’ Week committee of the Adelaide Festival of the Arts Inc. from 1966 (chair, 1976–80). Appointed to the Literature Board of the Australia Council (1974–78), she returned as its chair in 1984. Over the next six years she led with a ‘strong and forthright style during a period of considerable change’ (Shapcott 1994, 9) that saw writers’ studios established in Paris and Rome, and more funding for non-fiction fellowships. A strong supporter of the arts, she was a board member of the State Theatre Company of South Australia (chair, 1988–93), the Adelaide Festival (1978–94), and the Australia Council (1987–90).
In June 1979 Wighton was appointed as women’s adviser to the premier, one of only a few senior women in the State public service. Working with the Corcoran, Tonkin, and Bannon governments, she characterised herself as someone who toiled behind the scenes without public crusading. She listed her achievements as the establishment of the Adelaide Women’s Community Health Centre, the increase in the number of women’s advisers in the public service, and harnessing academic research to strengthen laws against domestic violence. She was also appointed to the State Sex Discrimination Board (1979) and the Federal Family Law Council (1983). From 1984 to 1988 she was deputy director-general of South Australia’s Department for Community Welfare. She initially focused on policy development around aged care, ethnic affairs, and childcare. In 1985 and 1986 she was a panel member of a review of adoption law that led to significant reform.
Warm, compassionate, and capable, Wighton deftly balanced her family responsibilities, employment, and board memberships, claiming ‘I thrive on being pushed’ (1985). Throughout her career she had supported her husband’s medical practice and together they ran cattle on a property at Dingaledinga. She was appointed AO in 1990. In retirement she wrote a family history, Peeling the Onion (1993). She died of breast cancer on 7 February 1994 in the Mary Potter Hospice, North Adelaide, and was cremated. Predeceased by her husband, she was survived by her three daughters and two sons.
Botten, Christobel. ‘It’s Time to Go: Top PS Woman.’ Advertiser (Adelaide), 12 January 1984, 2; Fatchen, Max. ‘Writers, from Day’s Start to End.’ Advertiser, 13 October 1977, 2; Hankel, Valmai. ‘Rosemary Neville Wighton, AO (Wody) 6 January 1925–7 February 1994.’ Adelaide Review, no. 124 (1994): 17; Kennedy, Alex. ‘Unexpected Adviser.’ Advertiser, 23 May 1979, 4; Shapcott, Thomas. ‘A Vigorous Life.’ Age, 12 February 1994, 9; Vardon, Sue. Eulogy, 10 February 1994. Transcript. Private collection; Ward, Peter. ‘Arts Pioneer Helped to Change Cultural Focus.’ Australian, 8 February 1994, 11; Wighton, Rosemary. Interview by Beate Ursula Josephi, 4 July 1985. State Library of South Australia; Wighton, Rosemary. Interview by Hazel de Berg, 2 March 1978. Transcript. Hazel de Berg collection. National Library of Australia.
WILENSKI, PETER STEPHEN (1939–1994), diplomat and public servant, was born on 10 May 1939 at Łódź, Poland, only child of Jan Wilenski, textile engineer, and his wife Halina, née Glass. Part of a wealthy and well-connected Jewish family, the Wilenskis were detained in a Soviet internment camp soon after the outbreak of World War II. After two years Jan escaped to Britain and joined the Polish armed forces, while Halina and Peter fled to Sydney, where Jan’s parents had settled in 1941. In his grandparents’ flat at Potts Point, Peter grew up ‘shy and bookish in a household of adults’ (SMH 1994, 2). Jan arrived in May 1946 and grudgingly became a jeweller while submitting claims for wartime capital losses. The family attended Temple Emanuel, Woollahra, a pluralist synagogue. An exceptionally bright scholar, Peter was educated at Double Bay (1945–48) and Woollahra (1949–50) Public schools, before continuing at Sydney Boys’ High School (1951–55). He was naturalised in January 1951 along with his father.
Encouraged by his parents, Wilenski studied medicine at the University of Sydney (MB, BS, 1963). While there he became active in youth politics. At the World Assembly of Youth in Accra (1960), he was elected to the executive committee and attended its Vienna meeting (1961). He chaired the International Students Conference’s research and information commission, travelling widely and preparing literature on crisis spots. In 1963 he led a delegation to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea and made a submission to the latter’s commission on higher education. Locally he was president of the Sydney University Union (1962–63), fellow of the University of Sydney Senate (1963–64), and president of the National Union of Australian University Students (1963–64). In the latter position he advocated for a third Sydney university and supported increased Asian immigration. Having been active in both the Liberal and Labor clubs, he became a member of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) in 1962.
At university Wilenski met and became romantically involved with Gail Gordon Radford, a veterinary science student (BVSc, 1966). An independent-minded feminist and a director of the Sydney University Women’s Union, she would profoundly influence his outlook on women’s rights. After graduation he worked as a resident medical officer at Royal North Shore Hospital (1963–64) but left to pursue his passion for politics. Moving to England, he studied international relations, politics, philosophy, and economics at St Antony’s College, Oxford (BA Hons, 1966). On 28 April 1967 he and Gail married at the register office, Oxford.
The couple returned to Australia in May 1967 when Peter joined the Department of External Affairs in Canberra. Posted soon after, he was second secretary at the Australian Embassy, Saigon, Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), and then at the Australian High Commission in Ottawa (1968–69), Canada. Granted leave, he completed a master of arts in international affairs at Carleton University, and a master of public administration at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, United States of America. There he attended Godkin lectures given by British Labour politician Richard Crossman that provided an insider view of prime ministerial government and highlighted that the civil service was a barrier to reform.
Recalled to Canberra in late 1970, Wilenski developed foreign aid policy. In the following year he was elected president of the Abortion Law Reform Association of the Australian Capital Territory. Also in 1971 he was promoted to chief finance officer of the aid and development section, Department of Treasury. On leave from September to November 1972, Wilenski was an honorary fellow of the department of international relations, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University (ANU), and worked on a project examining health service delivery in China. For the ALP he also organised a small informal group of public servants who studied the state of the public service; in 1972 they presented Gough Whitlam with a strategy to overcome anticipated resistance to Labor’s planned administrative reforms when next in power.
After becoming prime minister in December 1972, Whitlam appointed Wilenski as his principal private secretary. Australian embassy officials in Washington, DC, were unhappy when, in May 1973 at Whitlam’s request, Wilenski circumvented established diplomatic channels by travelling secretly to the United States to discuss Australia’s foreign policy framework with the head of the National Security Council, Henry Kissinger. Wilenski was also influential in Australia’s finally ratifying, in June 1973, the International Labour Office’s 1958 Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention. In December he was a central figure in the establishment of the Australian Development Assistance Agency and in 1974 was briefly its first assistant director-general.
Wilenski unsuccessfully stood for ALP preselection for the Australian Capital Territory’s new seat of Fraser in the House of Representatives in April 1974. From June he was seconded as special adviser to the royal commission on Australian government administration, headed by H. C. Coombs, which recommended major reforms, including increased opportunities for women and the removal of tenure for top-level public servants. In December he was appointed secretary of the Department of Labour and Immigration—the first immigrant to hold that position. The Opposition and some senior public servants would describe him as an ambitious opportunist (Stone 2014, 56) and attributed his rapid rise solely to political patronage. In this role he was involved in the oversight of the selection and admission of the first Vietnamese refugees to Australia.
In December 1975 the newly elected Liberal-Country parties’ coalition government, under Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, initiated a reshuffle that split Wilenski’s department, resulting in the loss of his position. A month later he declined the government’s offer to appoint him as ambassador to Vietnam. Instead he retained his status while on the unattached list. Shifting his focus to academe, he took five years unpaid leave to become a foundation professor at the Australian Graduate School of Management, University of New South Wales, Sydney, in late 1976. In January the following year the New South Wales premier, Neville Wran, commissioned him to review the State’s public service. Wilenski openly criticised the practice of discrimination against women, and the lack of migrants from non-English-speaking countries in top-level jobs. His influential Directions for Change: An Interim Report (1977), urged more openness, merit-based employment, community participation, better targeting of services, external scrutiny of public servants’ work, emphasis on service, and the achievement of policy objectives through improved management practices.
During 1977 Wilenski also became an honorary councillor of the (Royal) Australian College of Medical Administrators, and a director of the Australian Institute of Political Science. He was in demand as a consultant to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and reform-minded governments, including those of Zimbabwe, Tasmania, South Australia, and Papua New Guinea. From the early 1980s he held positions at the National Academy of Public Administration, Washington, DC, and the social justice project, Research School of Social Sciences, ANU. In May 1982 he produced a second report on the New South Wales public service, which recommended reforms to freedom of information legislation, the senior executive service, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, other statutory authorities, and budgets.
As Wilenski and his wife had pursued busy and divergent careers they had grown apart, and they divorced in 1981. After a brief stint as secretary of the Department of Education and Youth Affairs, he was appointed chairman of the Public Service Board (PSB) in October 1983. That year he was made a fellow of the Royal Australian Institute of Public Administration. He was a key figure in the preparation of the Hawke government’s white paper Reforming the Australian Public Service (1983) and the Public Service Reform Act 1984. As chair, he also continued to press for equal opportunities for women and was prominent in the board’s pioneering decision to implement a total smoking ban in public service offices by 1 March 1988.
From the mid-1980s Wilenski was also a member of the publicly financed Commission for the Future. He was president of the interim council of the University of Western Sydney (Chifley University) (1986–88). In July 1987, after the PSB was replaced with the much smaller Public Service Commission, he was appointed secretary of the Department of Transport and Communications. In that role he oversaw the introduction of a smoking ban on Australian flights and began restructuring departmental elements into government agencies. He was simultaneously a commissioner of Telecom Australia and a director of the financially troubled government-owned AUSSAT Pty Ltd, Australia’s domestic communications satellite system. Earlier in 1987 he had been appointed AO.
In June 1988 Wilenski was, without prior consultation, appointed Australian ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations. It was a development that the Federal Opposition again protested was ‘blatant political patronage’ (Canberra Times 1988, 3). His statement, soon after arriving in New York in March 1989, voicing Australia’s support for a resolution condemning Israel for violence against Palestinians, was deplored by senior Australian Jewish figures. He would thrive at the UN, become a leading contributor, particularly in discussions about the complex matter of change within the organisation. In November 1991 in a report titled Five Major Areas of Reform, he advocated the transformation of top-level administration to meet new challenges, while addressing the aspirations of both industrialised and economically developing countries. He chaired the unofficial ‘Wilenski Group’, composed of thirty permanent representatives, which by early 1992 had submitted reform recommendations, elements of which were reflected in Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s initiatives several months later. Wilenski was also chairman (1989–92) of the panel of international advisers on reform of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and became an advocate for equal opportunities, status, and rights for women in the UN secretariat.
Meanwhile, the Labor parliamentarian Ros Kelly had introduced Wilenski to Jill Elizabeth Hager, a teacher; they would marry on 1 February 1990 in Paris. Two years later the Australian government initiated a major restructuring of its foreign affairs apparatus, appointing him secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He stridently asserted the controversial view that Australia was part of Asia. But his opportunity to make an impact at DFAT was suddenly curtailed when tests in late 1992 revealed he had lymphatic cancer. On 14 May 1993, at the summit of his career, he resigned and returned to Sydney for chemotherapy treatments. When his health permitted, he continued to work from home as a Commonwealth special advisor. In 1994 he was elevated to AC.
Balding, short in stature, and with a lazy eye, Wilenski was often described as intellectually brilliant, politically astute, a visionary reformer, and a talented communicator. He was an advocate, rather than an ‘ideas man’. Although he was seen as softly spoken, gentle, shy, and a loner, he could also be ambitious, overt, and arrogant. His ‘constant and consistent objectives’ were ‘gender equity and a healthy workplace’ (Whitlam 1997, 288) and he believed in and pursued passionately racial equality. His leisure interests included reading, running, tennis, theatre, and modern art. He served two further terms on the University of Sydney Senate (1975–88, 1993–94) and was deputy chair of the council of the National Gallery of Australia (1992–94). He died on 3 November 1994 in St Vincent’s Hospital, Darlinghurst, and was cremated; his wife and their son and daughter survived him. Following his funeral at Temple Emanuel, a memorial service was held in the Great Hall at Parliament House, Canberra.
Alaba, Richard. Inside Bureaucratic Power: The Wilenski Review of New South Wales Government Administration. Sydney: Hale & Iremonger with the Royal Institute of Public Administration (ACT Division), ; Canberra Times. ‘Wilenski Appointment Condemned.’ 4 June 1988, 3; Evans, Gareth. ‘The World after Wilenski: An Australian Who Mattered.’ Inaugural Peter Wilenski Memorial Lecture, Canberra, 22 June 1995. Accessed 4 December 2019. www.gevans.org/speeches/old/1995/220695_world_after_wilenski.pdf. Copy held on ADB file; National Archives of Australia. A3211, 1966/7307; National Archives of Australia. A435, 1950/4/6522; National Archives of Australia. A261, 1945/1490; Radford, Gail. Interview by Sara Dowse, 2–3 April 2009. National Library of Australia; Radford, Gail. ‘My Life in Canberra.’ The Women Who Made Canberra exhibition floor talk, Canberra Museum and Gallery, Canberra, 7 March 2013. Accessed 4 December 2019. politicsir.cass.anu.edu.au/sites/default/files/spir/wel/Radford-2013-My%20life%20in%20Canberra.pdf. Copy held on ADB file; Stone, John. ‘Economic INSANITY.’ Australian Financial Review, 23 October 2014, 56; Sydney Morning Herald. ‘Australia’s Voice at the UN and a Powerful, Reformist Public Servant.’ 4 November 1994, 2; Walter, James. The Minister’s Minders: Personal Advisors in National Government. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1986 Whitlam, Gough. Abiding Interests. St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1997.
WILLETT, FREDERICK JOHN (1922–1993), university vice-chancellor, was born on 26 February 1922 at Fulham, London, son of Edward Willett, accountant, and his wife Moya Loveday, formerly Guthrie, née Madge Cecilia Champion. This was the third marriage of his unconventional actress mother, who left his father during the 1920s but remarried him in 1945. During World War II John served as an observer officer in the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm. He participated in the operation in which Fairey Swordfish torpedo-bombers disabled the German battleship Bismarck in 1941, and was mentioned in despatches in 1942. Promoted to temporary lieutenant on 28 September 1943, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in 1945 for his part in Operation Meridian (bombing oil refineries in Sumatra).
After being demobilised Willett studied social anthropology at the University of Cambridge (BA, 1948; MA, 1957). He embarked on a PhD investigating ‘Social Factors Affecting Productivity in a Scottish Coal Mine’; he met his future wife Jane (Jean) Cunningham Westwater, the nurse at the mine pit, during this research. They married on 3 September 1949 in the Church of Scotland at Pittenweem, Fife, Scotland. In the event, the thesis was never submitted.
Following six years as production manager with Turner’s Asbestos Cement Co., Manchester, in 1957 Willett joined the department of engineering at the University of Cambridge as assistant director of research in industrial management. There he researched and established Britain’s first postgraduate management education course. Backed by the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration, the project was bitterly opposed by the traditionalists of Cambridge, who believed that ‘a “business” course was definitely infra dig for Oxbridge’ (Quirke 1996, 8). It commenced in 1959.
In 1962 Willett accepted the foundation Sidney Myer [q.v.10] chair of commerce and business administration at the University of Melbourne, with a mandate to develop the university’s graduate school of business administration. As well as graduating himself with an MBA (1963), he became heavily involved in university management: he served as head of the department of commerce and business administration, principal of the summer school of business administration, vice-chairman and chairman of the professorial board, and assistant vice-chancellor. He also played a key role in reorganising the finances of the university. On his resignation in 1972 the professorial board described his contribution as ‘invaluable, and well nigh incredible’, while the university council recorded ‘a permanent debt of gratitude’ to him. On his departure he was awarded the title of professor emeritus and an honorary doctorate of laws.
Sir Theodor Bray [q.v.], the founding chancellor of Griffith University, Brisbane, wrote that Willett accepted appointment as the university’s inaugural vice-chancellor in 1971 ‘with a joyful shout’: ‘he took up the challenge with enthusiasm and infectious optimism’ (Bray 1994, 11). The parameters of the new university had already been set by the interim council; these included the remits of the first four schools, and the principles of interdisciplinarity and ‘no God professors’. The new vice-chancellor was handed a monumental task: to establish a truly alternative university based on radical principles, in a State noted for its deep conservatism. His job of selling this vision to Queenslanders was made harder by the university’s location in bushland in an outer suburb with minimal public transport.
Arriving early in 1972, Willett initiated a building program, appointed the first senior staff, and developed a decentralised organisational structure which devolved a high level of autonomy and, controversially, eschewed a professorial board and engaged general staff and students in decision making. As early as 1973 he was planning additional schools, among them the school of social and industrial administration and, to no immediate avail, a medical school. He also found time to become involved in the city’s cultural life, including as chair of Brisbane’s Twelfth Night Theatre.
Willett embraced the planners’ innovative ideas and concepts and added his own, fleshing them out to give them ‘academic substance and integrity’ (Bray 1994, 11). At the opening ceremony he announced that Griffith must not be a ‘slavish handmaid of the status quo’ (Quirke 1996, 17). He rapidly established relationships with all levels of government, the University of Queensland, and community and union leaders, as well as initiating links with Asia, and funding and promoting exchanges with Asian universities. Under his leadership the university had a strong commitment to gender equality; besides recruiting women to senior posts, he ensured that the terms of the university banking franchise guaranteed them housing loans, at a time when women had little access to housing finance in their own right.
A commanding presence, Willett was a tall man with a ready laugh, a deep voice, and eyebrows that could be marshalled into a fierce frown when the occasion demanded. His complex persona was captured in a portrait by Lawrence Daws, which hangs in the Willett Centre on the Nathan campus. Staff close to him saw a painfully shy man who could be tongue-tied at social events. Yet he was a familiar and popular figure on the egalitarian campus, often lunching with students and staff, and a great party-giver, inviting staff from all levels and areas to his many parties, which frequently marked milestones. He and his wife worked as a team. Jean Willett was energetic, charming, and practical. During the early years she entertained almost nightly (catering for up to forty people at their home), contributing to the strong sense of belonging which was a hallmark of the university’s first decade.
Despite his prodigious workload, Willett regularly wrote short personal notes of appreciation for tough jobs well done. A strong, proactive leader, for a decade he swept the university along with his vision and drive. Many awards came his way: he received an honorary doctorate in economics from the University of Queensland (1983), was appointed AO for service to education and learning in 1984, and became professor emeritus on his retirement in 1984. In 1993 he was awarded the degree of doctor of the university (Griffith), the citation recognising that he had ‘shown a true scholar’s comprehension of the essence of a university’ (Griffith Gazette 1994, 3).
Willett left the university with a well-developed campus and academic offerings, around 3,500 students, a cohesive staff, a climate of lively debate, and a record of research achievement. He was a powerful figure with a dominant intellect, tempered by a sense of fun. In all aspects of the university’s life, it was said, ‘not a sparrow fell but he shot it’ (Quirke 1996, 45). He subsequently undertook a range of national and international consultancies, including three years as academic director of the graduate school of Bangkok University (1986–89). Survived by his wife, two daughters, and a son, he died on 3 September 1993 in Hobart. The John Willett Scholarship Fund was established in 1994 to support postgraduate students from developing countries to study at Griffith.
Bray, Sir Theodor. ‘Founding Father of Griffith.’ Australian, 6 January 1994, 11; Griffith Gazette. ‘Scholarship Honours Founding Vice-Chancellor.’ 9, no. 9 (26 October 1994): 3; Poynter, John, and Carolyn Rasmussen. A Place Apart: The University of Melbourne: Decades of Challenge. Carlton South, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 1996; Quirke, Noel. Preparing for the Future: A History of Griffith University 1971–1996. Nathan, Qld: Boolarong Press with Griffith University, 1996; University of Melbourne Council. Minute of Appreciation, 26 May 1972. Private collection; University of Melbourne Professorial Board. Minute of Appreciation, 18 April 1972. Private collection; Willett, Frederick John. Papers. Private collection.
WILLIAMS, DAVID EDWARD (1910–1994), scholar, investor, and philanthropist, was born on 23 June 1910 at Newtown, Montgomeryshire, Wales, son of David Williams, general labourer, and his wife Eliza Jane, née Jones. Educated at All Saints’ parish and Penygloddfa primary schools, Newtown, David obtained labouring jobs before migrating to Queensland in 1927 under the government scheme to settle boys in the State. He found work as a farm hand at Crows Nest. In 1930 he entered the Methodist Home Missionaries’ Training Institution, Brisbane. On graduating in 1932, he was sent first to Herberton and then to Gin Gin.
From 1934 Williams studied for the Methodist ministry at King’s College, then situated at Kangaroo Point, Brisbane. Following his probationary ordination, he was posted in March 1936 to the church station of Yeppoon and Emu Park. The next year he resigned and obtained employment in Brisbane as a salesman. On 13 October 1938, when a young woman refused his marriage proposal, he battered her with a steel bar and then slashed his own wrists and neck. He was sentenced in March 1939 to eighteen months in gaol for the assault.
World War II having broken out, Williams enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 27 May 1940. He trained as a nursing orderly and in June 1941 joined the 2/10th Australian General Hospital in Malaya. Two months earlier he had been promoted to acting corporal but was reduced to private in November for insubordination. When Singapore fell to the Japanese on 15 February 1942, he was imprisoned at Changi and not released until September 1945. Back in Brisbane, on 25 February 1946 at the Methodist Church, West End, he married Phyllis Edna Anderson, a sergeant in the Australian Army Medical Women’s Service. On 12 March he was discharged from the AIF. He took up dairying on 650 acres (263 ha) at Ravensbourne, near Toowoomba. By February 1951 he had sold his farm and moved to Brisbane, because of blindness; the condition was attributed to malnutrition while he was in captivity.
A man of fierce and irrepressible determination, Williams undertook full-time study at the University of Queensland (BA, 1955; MA, 1957). The Repatriation Commission provided him with funds and recording equipment, members of the Queensland Braille Writing Association transcribed texts, and his wife and other volunteers read to him. In 1956 he gained first-class honours in philosophy. Awarded a Gowrie [q.v.9] scholarship and a university foundation travelling scholarship, he went to Britain to study at the London School of Economics and Political Science (PhD, University of London, 1960). His examiners assessed his thesis, on the metaphysical and political theories of R. G. Collingwood, as having provided ‘a lucid and comprehensive presentation of Collingwood’s main ideas [and as having] argued cogently against misleading current conceptions of those ideas’ (Gardiner and Smellie 1960).
On returning to Brisbane, Williams hoped to lecture in political science at the University of Queensland but he received no appointment. Instead, he turned his sharp mind to investing in the stock market. He exercised extreme caution in purchasing shares and diversified his holdings. Accumulating a portfolio spread across about 100 companies, he is said to have kept every share he bought. His strategy proved to be lucrative.
Throughout the remainder of his life, Williams devoted much of his time to the affairs of King’s College, which had relocated to St Lucia in 1955. From 1973 to 1993 he was a member of the college’s council. He also served on its board of fellows, where he helped to decide the recipients of prizes and bursaries, to some of which he contributed anonymously. In 1969 and 1970 and between 1977 and 1994 he presided over the King’s College Old Collegians’ Association. Such was his love of the institution that he bequeathed assets worth $1.6 million to it. Another of his interests was the St David’s Welsh Society of Brisbane, of which he was vice-president from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s, and to which he made frequent donations.
Ian Grimmett described Williams as ‘tenacious and dogmatic, a formidable opponent in debate’ and as ‘an intensely loyal person, to Queen and country, college and home’ (1994, 18). Despite his blindness, he was a keen gardener and collector of stamps and coins. He died on 8 October 1994 at New Farm and, following an Anglican funeral, was cremated. His wife had predeceased him and his adopted son survived him. King’s College used his bequest to construct the David Williams Building (1998) and to inaugurate an annual memorial dinner and guest lecture in his name.
Courier Mail (Brisbane). ‘Attack on Girl by Ex-Minister: Rejected Suitor, Found Guilty of Assault.’ 22 March 1939, 4; ‘Blind, but Now He’s a “Doctor”.’ 1 June 1960, 4; ‘He Lost His Sight but Not His Hope.’ 11 December 1952, 3; ‘This Student Will Have His Course “Taped”: Blind Ex-Digger (42) Goes to University.’ 7 March 1952, 3; Faragher, Trevor. Men and Masters: A Centenary History of King’s College within The University of Queensland. St Lucia, Qld: King’s College, 2012; Gardiner, P. C., and K. Smellie. PhD Examiners’ Report, 3 May 1960. Student File – David Edward Williams 1957–1960. London School of Economics and Political Science. Copy held on ADB file; Grimmett, Ian. ‘Economist Overcame Blindness.’ Australian, 26 October 1994, 18; King’s College Archives. KING 00166 Administration Records (King’s College) Box 111, ‘Bequests, Dr David Williams’; King’s College Archives. KING 00166 ‘The Courage of David Williams: 47 year old Father Conquers Blindness.’ Unidentified Newspaper Clipping; King’s College Archives. KING 00050 Correspondence (King’s College) Box 37, ‘A11 – Lectures (Williams) Newsclippings [sic] File’; National Archives of Australia. B883, QX5276; Telegraph (Brisbane), ‘“Not Satisfied Safe to Let You Out”: Williams for Observation.’ 31 March 1939, 6; Wallis, Noel W. Brisbane Welsh: A History of the Saint David’s Welsh Society of Brisbane 1918–2008. Salisbury, Qld: Boolarong Press, 2009; Williams Jr, David. Interviews by the author, 5 August and 1 September 2014.
WILLIAMS, WILLIAM THOMAS (BILL) (1913–1995), biologist, was born on 18 April 1913 at Fulham, London, only child of William Thomas Williams, ironmonger’s assistant and former coalminer, and his second wife Clara, née Wood, midwife and charlady. Assisted by scholarships, Willy (later known as Bill) attended the Stationers’ Company’s School in North London. He proceeded to the Imperial College of Science and Technology, University of London (BSc Hons, 1933; DIC, 1940; PhD, 1940; DSc, 1956), where he worked on plant physiology and was president (1935) of the musical and dramatic society. In 1933 he became an associate of the Royal College of Science. He supported his studies by teaching botany at the Imperial (1933–36) and Sir John Cass Technical (1936–40) colleges.
Soon after World War II broke out in 1939, Williams was called up for duty in the British Army’s Anti-Aircraft and Home Defence Command. The military, recognising his talents, commissioned him on 25 October 1941 in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps and then transferred him to the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers when that corps formed twelve months later. He served in the Air Defence (later Radar) Research and Development Establishment of the Ministry of Supply, rising to war substantive captain and temporary major (1944). By late 1946 he was released from his wartime duties.
Returning to teaching, Williams took a position at Bedford College for Women (1946–51). In 1951 he was appointed professor and head of the department of botany at the University of Southampton, where he provided strong leadership in research and teaching. While there, his interest in leaves and their stomata—the pores through which gases are exchanged with the atmosphere—gave way to broader interests in statistical ecology and the pattern analysis of plant species data. He was a member (1956–65) of the Annals of Botany Company and editor (1960–65) of the Journal of Experimental Botany. Continuing his interest in performance, he organised a student–staff revue for which he taught his colleagues to act and to dance, and himself won medals in ballroom dancing competitions. He was also engaged by the British Broadcasting Corporation in television and radio programs, including the Brains Trust.
In 1965 Williams accepted an invitation from Godfrey Lance, a former colleague and chief of the division of computing research at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, to travel to Australia for a few months. He visited a number of divisions, meeting scientists and lecturing about his research. Soon after he returned to England, he enquired about a permanent appointment with CSIRO; Lance readily acceded. Williams joined his Canberra-based division in 1966 as a senior principal research scientist. In a signal that he was here to stay, he became an Australian citizen in January 1968.
Seeking warmer climes, Williams soon transferred to the division of tropical pastures, based in Brisbane, and remained there until his formal retirement in 1973. He then moved to Townsville, continuing his scientific work as a consultant to the division’s Davies laboratory and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and as an informal adviser to staff and students at James Cook University of North Queensland. Regarded as a pioneer in the use of computers to classify biological data, he was in demand as a collaborator, publishing more than 180 journal articles, many as co-author. In Queensland he resumed his interest in radio, recording items for the Australian Broadcasting Commission science unit. Not necessarily adhering to his discipline, he also explored social norms such as the culture of the working man’s public bar and the companionship of a dog. Some of the talks were reproduced in his book The Four Prisons of Man, and Other Insights (1971).
In Australia Williams studied the piano, taking lessons from Larry Sitsky in Canberra and Alan Lane in Brisbane. He gained Australian Music Examinations Board credentials, including the licentiate in music (1972), and taught pupils in Townsville. There, he was also a founding member of the Community Music Centre and chaired the local Music Teachers’ Association. In 1980 he organised the first North Queensland Piano Competition, which grew into the North Queensland Concerto and Vocal Competition. His popularity as an accompanist was ascribed to his playing the mezzo piano rather than the forte piano, although he owned one of each.
Williams was a heavy roll-your-own smoker and devotee of pub culture. Amiable and eccentric, he was reluctant to wear shoes or to observe dress codes that required ties and jackets, and often dressed ‘like a derelict beachcomber’ (Williams 1995, 18). He never married. His mother joined him in Australia and, until her death (1976), the two lived in subdivided houses that allowed each a measure of independence. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of science by the University of Queensland (1973); elected to fellowship of the Australian Academy of Science (1978); appointed OBE (1980); and presented with a Townsville Arts, Culture, and Entertainment award (1991).
During the 1990s Williams’s health failed. While surgery prolonged his life, he wryly observed that he found himself ‘conducting a biological experiment’ that he had not designed, but was in ‘a privileged position’ to ‘monitor and interpret the results’ (1992). He died on 15 October 1995 at Townsville, after suffering serious injuries in a fall, and was cremated.
Clifford, H. Trevor. ‘William Thomas Williams 1913–1995.’ Historical Records of Australian Science 12, no. 1 (June 1998): 99–118; CSIROpedia. ‘William Thomas (Bill) Williams [1913–1995].’ Accessed November 2018. csiropedia.csiro.au/Williams-William-Thomas/. Copy held on ADB file; Walker, Rosanne. ‘Biographical Entry: Williams, William Thomas (1913–1995).’ Encyclopedia of Australian Science. Last modified 2 March 2018. Accessed November 2018. www.eoas.info/biogs/P002762b.htm. Copy held on ADB file; Williams, Robyn. ‘The Bare-Footed Botanist.’ Australian, 1 November 1995, 18; Williams, W. T. ‘A Biologist Grows Old.’ Ockham’s Razor, no. 405, 2 August 1992. Transcript. Papers of H. T. Clifford, MS 188, box 1, file 2. Basser Library, Australian Academy of Science; Williams, W. T., ed. Pattern Analysis in Agricultural Science. Melbourne: CSIRO, 1976.
Ian D. Rae
WILLIS, JAMES HAMLYN (JIM) (1910–1995), botanist, was born on 28 January 1910 at Oakleigh, Victoria, younger son of locally born Benjamin James Willis, bank clerk, and his Queensland-born wife Mary Elizabeth Giles, née James. The family lived at Yarram Yarram in Gippsland, where his father worked in the Bank of Australasia. In 1913 they moved to Stanley, Tasmania, after Benjamin was promoted to bank manager. Jim gained his early education at home and then at the local primary school. The head teacher, noticing his interest in plants, set Jim a project to collect and name the grasses found nearby. In 1924 he returned to Victoria to attend Melbourne High School, where his brother, Rupert, had been a scholar. Four years later he entered the Victorian School of Forestry at Creswick (ADipFor, 1930). Forestry offered practical expression for his precocious interest in botany.
At Creswick, Willis was befriended by Malcolm Howie (d. 1936), a wheelchair-bound, self-taught watercolourist and Methodist lay preacher. He accompanied Malcolm and his sister Mavis Eileen Howie to preaching engagements and on wildflower collecting excursions. He also became a lay preacher in the Methodist (later Uniting) Church. Appointed as a cadet in the Forests Commission, he was posted to the Ballarat region, then to Bealiba, Cockatoo, and Daylesford. On 13 October 1933 he married Mavis at the Creswick Methodist Church. Four years later he was seconded to the National Herbarium of Victoria at the (Royal) Botanic Gardens, Melbourne. In 1939 the arrangement was formalised, his appointment helping to revive the herbarium’s lapsed research program. During the early years of his employment, he studied science at the University of Melbourne (BSc, 1940). His book, Victorian Fungi, illustrated by his late brother-in-law, was published in 1941. Four years later he was appointed botanist at the herbarium, where he would remain until his retirement in January 1972. By then he was the acting director of the gardens and acting government botanist.
Willis’s duties were taxonomic and floristic: they involved classifying the herbarium’s vast plant collection and determining plant distributions. He assisted members of the public who brought in plants for identification, and corresponded with herbaria interstate and overseas. At times his work became so demanding that his research and family took second place. He undertook regular field trips, usually on foot, to collect specimens from throughout Victoria and interstate, including three months on islands of the Recherche Archipelago off the southern coast of Esperance, Western Australia (1950). In 1958 he went to London and worked for fourteen months as the Australian botanical liaison officer at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He used this time to visit other herbaria and establish links with their botanists.
In the late 1940s Willis had begun research for his magnum opus, A Handbook to Plants in Victoria, published in two volumes in 1962 and 1972. For this work he was awarded a doctorate by the University of Melbourne (DSc, 1974). The Handbook remained the standard reference to Victoria’s flora for three decades. A prolific writer, he co-authored three more books and published some 880 papers. He described forty-two new plant species and another twenty-two with co-authors. His manuscripts were produced in distinctive, neat, legible handwriting and he became a skilled botanical photographer.
Willis was a short (165 cm), wiry man of fair complexion, with a weather-beaten face, brown, curly hair, a prominent nose, and a strong jaw line. Although never interested in sport, he had great stamina and enjoyed gardening, walking, and cycling. Since childhood he had been a collector of objects including shells, geological specimens, stamps, and coins. An accomplished pianist, largely self-taught, he had a mellow baritone voice and customarily sang the bass solos in his church choir’s oratorios. By nature he was unassuming, gentle, thoughtful, and generous with his time. A lifelong pacifist, during World War II he had been a conscientious objector and served as a stretcher-bearer with the air-raid precautions organisation.
In retirement Willis was in demand as a public speaker. Although he was never an agitator, he advised several agencies on conservation, and assisted local activists campaigning to save natural habitats from destruction. He was appointed AM in 1995 and had been awarded the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria’s Australian natural history medallion (1960) and the research medal of the Royal Society of Victoria (1973). Survived by his wife and their three daughters and two sons, he died on 10 November 1995 at Prahran and was cremated. The Bayside City Council later established the Dr Jim Willis Reserve along the Brighton foreshore, where his flora census had helped to protect remnant native bushland. Studentships at the herbarium are named after him, as are six plants, the best known being Grevillea willisii.
Aston, Helen I. ‘Obituary: Dr James Hamlyn Willis AM.’ Muellaria: An Australian Journal of Botany 9 (1996): 1–4; Costermans, Leon. ‘Botanist Also a Master of Words.’ Australian, 26 December 1995, 13; Latreille, Anne. ‘Jim Willis, Man of Nature.’ Age (Melbourne), 25 November 1995, Extra 12; Muellaria: An Australian Journal of Botany. ‘James Hamlyn Willis: A Biographical Sketch.’ 3, no. 2 (1975): 69–88; Personal knowledge of ADB subject; Smith, Raymond V. ‘James H. Willis—a Distinguished Botanical Career.’ Botanic Magazine 2 (Spring 1987): 27–28; Willis, James Hamlyn. Autobiographical notes. Records of James Hamlyn Willis, MS 367, series 29. State Botanic Collection, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria.
WILLOUGHBY, JAMES ROBERT (BOB) (1909–1993), Liberal Party federal director, was born on 14 January 1909 at Greenock, Scotland, one of ten children of George Robert Willoughby, ship’s steward, and his wife Florence Isabella, née Warren. After schooling in Greenock, in 1924 Bob arrived in Adelaide with his mother to join his father and an older brother. Within two weeks, he had a job with the South Australian Liberal Federation (later the Liberal and Country League) and for sixteen years worked in various capacities as clerk, sub-accountant, and field organiser. On 19 October 1929 at St Theodore’s Anglican Church, Rose Park, he married Robina Davidson (d. 1982), a machinist, whom he described as ‘a Kirkcaddie lass’ from the ‘Kingdom of Fife’ (NLA MS 5000/8/301); they had no children.
In 1938 Willoughby was appointed secretary to George McLeay [q.v.15], the leader of the Lyons [q.v.10]–Page [q.v.11] coalition government in the Senate. From 1941 he was private secretary to senior United Australia Party (UAP) politicians, and in 1945 accompanied McLeay, representing the Opposition, to the founding conference of the United Nations at San Francisco, United States of America. After serving as a personal assistant to Prime Minister (Sir) Robert Menzies [q.v.15], and having shown ‘outstanding flair for efficient organisation’ (Canberra Times 1951, 4), in 1951 he succeeded (Sir) Donald Cleland [q.v.13] as federal director of the Liberal Party of Australia. At first Willoughby occupied a rented office in Canberra while the federal officials in charge of research and public relations shared accommodation in Sydney with the Liberal Party’s New South Wales division. He wanted the federal secretariat to have permanent headquarters in Canberra (which was achieved in 1965) and become a securely financed, professional body with expanded functions and an enhanced status.
Pursuing these aims Willoughby had to contend with the determination of State divisions to defend their fiefdoms and conduct federal campaigns in their own States. Although he headed the staff planning committee, the body responsible for planning federal campaigns and advising the federal executive, the State general secretaries—notably (Sir) John Carrick (New South Wales) and John McConnell [q.v.15] (Victoria)—were the principal contributors on election strategy and tactics. They regarded the federal director and the secretariat as only equipped to organise meetings, assemble literature, and provide access to ministers. Menzies, however, relied on ‘Willow’ for his efficiency and dependability, for being a good listening post in the party organisation, and as someone who could sort out the often messy affairs of the smaller divisions and deflect over-enthusiastic Federal and State presidents.
Short, stocky, and with a greying moustache, Willoughby worshipped Menzies, even emulating the way the ‘Chief’ smoked a cigar. His preference was for the backroom, where he provided the Federal Liberal Party with a management structure, research apparatus, election analysis, and continuity notably absent in its precursor, the UAP. He was proud of being Australian, but equally proud of his Scottish ancestry and of hailing from the ‘non-spending side of the Tweed’ (Hancock 2000, 126); he retained an accent unmistakably that of the Clyde. Appointed OBE in 1957 and CBE in 1965, he retired in 1969. He recalled ‘a rich, rewarding life’ (Australian 1967, 9), and could claim, as he did in 1954, that he ‘never allowed anything … to interfere with my duties’ (NLA MS 5000/7/158). Predeceased by his wife, he died on 2 February 1993 in a nursing home at Aranda, Canberra.
Australian. ‘I had a rich, rewarding life from my job because I have always believed what we were doing was right’. 19 May 1967, 9; Canberra Times. ‘Mr J. R. Willoughby Federal Director of Liberal Party.’ 23 August 1951, 4; Hancock, Ian. National and Permanent? The Federal Organisation of the Liberal Party of Australia 1944–1965. Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 2000; National Library of Australia. MS 5000, Records of the Liberal Party of Australia, Federal Secretariat, c. 1985–1990; Whitington, Don. ‘When and Why the Liberals Ruled.’ Nation, 7 October 1961, 7–8.
I. R. Hancock
WILSON, GEORGE THOMAS (1907–1991), university history lecturer and sportsman, was born on 5 September 1907 at Kumara on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island, eldest son of New Zealand–born parents George Wilson, dredge master, and his wife Edith Alice, née Jamieson. George attended local Greymouth schools before being admitted to Canterbury University College (later the University of Canterbury), Christchurch, in 1925. He studied arts and some science subjects (BA, 1928), qualified as a teacher, and did postgraduate work in history (MA Hons, 1930).
Wilson began teaching at Greymouth Main School in 1929. The following year he became assistant master at St Andrew’s College, Christchurch. Selected first among three years of graduates for a postgraduate travelling scholarship, he took up residence at St John’s College, Cambridge, in 1931 (BA Hons, 1933). He travelled extensively during vacations and, on his return to New Zealand in 1933, wrote several articles for the Grey River Argus about the political situation in Ireland, Germany before Hitler’s rise to power, and post-revolution Spain.
Back in the classroom, Wilson taught science at Shirley Intermediate School, Christchurch (1934–35), and was assistant master at Wairarapa High School, Masterton (1935–36). In 1936 he was appointed lecturer in history at Canterbury University College. In connection with the New Zealand centenary celebrations, in 1938–39 he gave a series of radio talks on the history of Canterbury and produced a 400-page history, publication of which was prevented by the outbreak of World War II. Wilson married Marjorie Nance Wood in Christchurch in 1939. From 1942 to 1944 he served as a meteorologist in the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
With the object of expanding his work in Pacific and Asian studies, in 1945 Wilson took up the post of lecturer in history at the University of Tasmania. His enthusiasm for Asian history was conveyed to his students in lively classes which opened up new ideas and put forward points of view quite different from established notions of the time. He dealt with the largest continent in four regions: Western Asia, with its major contribution to the religions of the world; North Asia, with its projection of Russian civilisation; India, which owed nothing to other civilisations; and the Far East, which, with China as its hub, acted as a civilising influence on Japan and the mainland all the way south to Australia. Wilson stressed the proximity of Australia to India’s 400 million people and China’s 500 million, and emphasised that these nations had been continuous civilisations for several thousands of years. Among his many students, Stephen Fitzgerald—later Gough Whitlam’s advisor on China and Australia’s first ambassador to the People’s Republic of China—stands out. In the preface to his book, Is Australia an Asian Country? (1997), Fitzgerald wrote that his intellectual interest began with Wilson.
A research fellowship at The Australian National University, Canberra, in 1949–50 enabled Wilson to visit India and to assemble a considerable body of information about political developments there. His application for study leave from the University of Tasmania in 1952 and 1953 to write up the results of his research was denied, greatly undermining his will to publish. Wilson did not produce any significant academic publications during his long career, which was a great pity for one who wrote so well. He implied that, for him, teaching had always come first: in an address to graduating students in 1974, the year he retired, he criticised academics who valued research over teaching and condemned the system that nurtured them.
Wilson was vitally interested in his students, in the standing of his university, and in the State’s education system. These interests were demonstrated by his being a pillar of the staff association; becoming the respected master of Hytten Hall, the university’s first residential college; by his determined opposition to the university administration’s position in the notorious and divisive Sydney Sparkes) Orr [q.v.15] case; and by his leading role in the Defence of Government Schools (DOGS) organisation. As president of DOGS in 1974, he explained that he was not against private schools, he was just opposed to spending money on them.
One of the strongest threads in Wilson’s life was rugby union, which he embraced for its character-building capacity. He had played in three New Zealand provincial sides and in college teams, and on moving to Tasmania he was instrumental in establishing the game there. He played for the State team during 1947–49, captaining it twice, and afterwards acted as State coach and selector. He continued to play rugby for the University of Tasmania and to coach schoolboy teams during the 1950s. Gardening was another strong interest.
Wilson was a distinctive figure. Short and nuggety—as befitted a rugby hooker—he had a mane of hair which became white as he aged, an ‘Einstein-type’ moustache (Milford 2001) on a wrinkled face, and a deep voice. That composition made him, in retirement, a very popular marriage celebrant.
Predeceased by his wife (d. 1972), Wilson spent the last few years of his life with a colleague from his earliest days at the university, Lin Weidenhofer. Survived by his two sons and two daughters, he died on 3 June 1991 in Hobart and was cremated. A portrait of him by the Tasmanian artist Max Angus hangs in the school of history and classics at the University of Tasmania.
Fitzgerald, Stephen. Is Australia an Asian Country?: Can Australia Survive in an East Asian Future? St Leonards: Allen and Unwin, 1997; Lohrey, Andrew. ‘Stormy Petrel: A Profile of George.’ Togatus, 23 April 1969, 13; Milford, Madeline. ‘Wilson, George.’ UTAS Alumni Journal, June 2001; Personal knowledge of ADB subject; Solomon, Robert. ‘George: Unforgettable Colleague and Friend.’ Unpublished manuscript, 2009. Copy held on ADB file; Sutherland, I. L. G. ‘New Professors.’ Evening Post (Wellington, NZ), 23 December 1936, 10; ‘Wilson, George Thomas.’ Mercury (Hobart), 6 June 1991, 9; Flanagan, Martin. ‘George retains his faith in the fountain of youth. The Examiner (Launceston), 30 June 1984.
WILSON, Sir JOHN GARDINER (1913–1994), engineer and company director, was born on 3 July 1913 at Brighton, Melbourne, second of three children of Victorian-born parents John Sydney Wilson, stockbroker, and his wife Ruby Marion, née Gatehouse (d. 1924), whose father had been mayor of Melbourne (1874–75). John was educated (1921–30) at Melbourne Church of England Grammar School, where he was a recipient (1927–29) of a Witherby scholarship. He secured a scholarship to Clare College, Cambridge (MA, 1934), graduating with first-class honours in mechanical sciences. Returning to Australia, he worked (1934–39) with his father at J. S. Wilson & Co., and was a member of the Melbourne Stock Exchange from 1935.
Having been commissioned in 1936 as a lieutenant, Royal Australian Engineers, Citizen Military Forces, Wilson joined the Australian Imperial Force on 13 October 1939, immediately after World War II broke out. While serving in the Middle East (1940–42), he rose rapidly to major and was mentioned in despatches for commanding the 2/2nd Field Company with distinction in the Libyan and Greek campaigns of 1941. Back in Australia, he performed staff duties as a lieutenant colonel, based at Allied Land Forces Headquarters, Melbourne. In 1943 he was appointed assistant engineer-in-chief and on 25 January 1944 promoted to temporary colonel. The technical instructions and intelligence summaries he edited or wrote became ‘renowned throughout the Military Engineering world’ (NAA B2458). He finished the war as deputy director of works at Advanced LHQ, Morotai (1945–46), transferring to the Reserve of Officers on 8 March 1946. For his outstanding service, he was appointed OBE (1947). From 1953 to 1956 he commanded the 6th Engineer Group, CMF, Melbourne. On 22 July 1944 he had married Margaret Louise De Ravin, at the Melbourne Grammar School chapel.
In 1947 Wilson joined Australian Paper Manufacturers (APM) Ltd as technical assistant to the managing director (engineering). He was appointed to the board of directors two years later. As deputy managing director from 1953, he helped (Sir) Charles Booth [q.v.13] deal with the myriad of problems arising from the company’s expansion program. He completed the advanced management program of the Harvard School of Business Administration in 1954, and in 1959 he succeeded Booth as managing director (1958–77), later serving as chairman (1978–84). During his tenure APM became ‘a leading international manufacturer of cans and packaging’ (McIlwraith 1994, 15). Six new paper and board machines came on stream and the production of paper pulp and board more than doubled. The growth in forest plantations was also substantial: Wilson planted the 150 millionth tree in 1979, and when he retired there were 70,000 hectares of APM forests.
Wilson’s manner was direct, often abrasive, and his maxim was: ‘I can forgive sins of commission, but sins of omission I cannot and will not forgive’ (Sinclair 1991, 185). It was always clear where he stood on issues and he had a reputation for acerbity in defence of the company. In contrast, he loved gardening and the flowers he grew at home decorated the boardroom table. Friends recall many warm and sympathetic gestures. Above all, his ability and the range of his knowledge of the specialised functions of the company were universally acknowledged. The company’s historian observed that, when he did not fully understand an issue, he admitted his ignorance and promptly rectified it, and he ‘never hesitated to say: “Yes, that was my fault”’ (Sinclair 1991, 185).
Wilson was promoted to CBE in 1972 and knighted in 1982. A friend and business colleague wrote: ‘If you hadn’t been such a difficult and awkward fellow you’d have probably got it sooner’ (Sinclair 1991, 185). He was a director of British Petroleum Co. Aust. Ltd and Vickers Aust. Ltd, a councillor (1961–73) of Monash University, and a member of the science and industry forum of the Australian Academy of Science. Conservative Federal governments appointed him to the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Science and Technology in 1972, the board of Qantas Airways Ltd in 1976, and in 1979 named him deputy chairman of a consultative committee on the Trade Practices Commission, an old adversary in the 1960s. A member of the Melbourne and Australian clubs, he was known as ‘an enthusiastic bridge player (though reckless in his bidding) and a keen golfer’ (McIlwraith 1994, 15). Survived by his wife and three daughters, Sir John died on 22 August 1994 at Malvern, Melbourne, and was cremated.
McIlwraith, John. ‘Boss Helped Paper Industry Unfold.’ Australian, 11 September 1994, 15; National Archives of Australia. B2458, 3162041; Sinclair, E. K. The Spreading Tree: A History of APM and AMCOR 1844–1984. North Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1991.
WILSON, RALPH CAMPBELL (1917–1994), theatre director and high school principal, was born on 7 January 1917 at Hamilton, New South Wales, son of Queensland-born parents, Robert Morton Wilson, clerk, and his wife Ellen Jean, née Bergholz. Ralph was nine when Ellen died and he and his sister were brought up by their puritanical Presbyterian father alone. He was educated at Newcastle Boys’ High School. Dux of the school in 1934, he secured first-class honours in Latin, French, and German and was awarded a public exhibition to attend the University of Sydney (BA, 1938). While at university, he enthralled his friends in the evenings by translating Hitler’s speeches that were broadcast over the radio.
Wilson was appointed to teach general subjects, including German, at the newly opened Newcastle Technical High School in 1939. In 1940 he applied for a position as a translator of German-language documents in the Newcastle censorship office; he never spoke of the role he played during the war. He had become involved in the arts and theatre production in Sydney and resumed this interest in 1944, penning an impassioned plea for a symphony orchestra for the coal and steel city. After the war he produced plays for a number of local theatre groups, including the Newcastle Labour College (1945) and Newcastle Theatre Guild (1947), before moving to Sydney to become language master at Sydney Boys’ High School (1949–51).
On 13 July 1949 at St Andrew’s Scots Church, Rose Bay, Wilson married Antonia June Veen O’Regan, née O’Brien, a divorcee. The couple moved to Canberra in 1952. Wilson taught languages at Telopea Park High School and Canberra High School, and was assistant principal at Dickson High School (1964) and principal of Canberra High School (1970–81). His memory for names and faces astounded staff and pupils; he rarely forgot either. His Canberra High School students nicknamed him Horrie. On his retirement from teaching in 1981, they staged a farewell show called ‘The Rocky Horrie Show’.
Wilson joined the Canberra Repertory Society as an actor in 1952, soon after staging his first production. From the 1960s to the 1980s he staged plays for the Australian Theatre Workshop at the Childers Street Theatre. He also directed productions for Dickson and Canberra high school students. Drawn to European writers who confronted great questions of right and wrong, he brought world-theatre shaping playwrights to the Australian stage such as Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, Harold Pinter and Johan August Strindberg. He boasted of his low-cost approaches to staging, once lashing tables together to form a stage.
In 1976 Wilson joined playwright Roger Pulvers in a campaign for the ANU Arts Centre and in October launched the space with Pulvers’s edgy original play, Drop Drill. During the 1980s he co-founded the Classical Theatre Ensemble, then, later, Rawil Productions. In 1988 he was awarded the OAM. That year the Canberra Times named him Canberran of the Year and E Block Theatre at Gorman House Arts Centre was renamed the Ralph Wilson Theatre. During his final years, in which he suffered the debilitating effects of leukemia, his focus turned increasingly to the dark, comic plays of Samuel Beckett.
Known for his wildly unorthodox and unpredictable rehearsal methods, Wilson liked to move among his actors in an extemporaneous approach that he called ‘physicalising my texts’ (Pulvers 1994, 72). A large, sociable man, he was charismatic but could also be intimidating. A pen sketch by the Canberra artist Stephen Harrison captures the prophetic, moody authority of his character (see Throssell 1994, 20). He rarely left Canberra, although he once walked to Melbourne ‘to get the “feel” for the Australian history classes he was teaching’ (Nugent 1994, 53). A wine connoisseur and gourmand, he packed his diaries with recipes. Survived by his wife, daughter, and son, he died at Red Hill on 28 May 1994. He had produced over 200 plays for the Canberra stage. His legacy of theatre-making is honoured in the Ralph Indie program at the Ralph Wilson Theatre.
National Archives of Australia. C123, 12046; ACT Heritage Library. HMSS 0007, Ralph Wilson Papers; Edgeworth, Anne. The Cost of Jazz Garters: A History of the Canberra Repertory Society’s First 50 Years, 1932 to 1982. Kingston, ACT: Diplomat Agencies, ; Nugent, Ann. ‘The Hungering, Creative Spirit Who Loved Life.’ Canberra Times, 4 June 1994, 53; Pulvers, Roger. ‘He Brought Light to the Darkness under the Lighthouse.’ Theatre Australasia, July 1994, 72; Throssell, Ric. ‘Elegy for a Friend.’ Muse, June 1994, 20.
WILSON IRVING, REGINALD STEPHEN (known as Wilson Irving) (1912–1994), actor, radio broadcaster, television executive, and philanthropist, was born on 2 May 1912 at Kurrajong, New South Wales, eldest son of locally born parents Stephen Wilson, labourer, and his wife Ina Selina, née Howard. Wilson’s mother had been a member of a touring children’s light opera company, ‘Pollard’s Lilliputians’, and she and her father Willie, a violinist with the company, surrounded the boy with music and theatre from his infancy. In about 1916 his father moved the family to Turramurra, Sydney, where Wilson attended Warrawee Public School, leaving at fifteen, and abandoning his dream of studying medicine. By 1930 he had changed his family name to Wilson Irving.
After working in a grocery, then briefly as a jackeroo, Irving had used his mother’s contacts (together with some training in tap-dancing, singing, and pratfalls), to find entertainment work in and around Sydney. Starting in pantomimes, he progressed to small vaudeville parts on the Harry Clay circuit, acting and stage-managing with Fullers’ Theatres Ltd and J. C. Williamson [q.v.6] Ltd, and on to an apprenticeship in scene-painting, construction, and design with Scott Alexander and his New Sydney Repertory Society (from 1934 the Kursaal Theatre) in Kent Street.
In 1933 Irving travelled to London, where his singing, dancing, good looks, and comedic talents earned him minor stage roles, and also a ‘dressing down’ by Dame Sybil Thorndike for ‘impersonating’ an English accent (Irving 1991). By late 1935 he was back in Sydney producing, designing, and acting in plays by Shakespeare and Ibsen for the Kursaal, and by 1938 he had formed his own ensemble, the Wilson Irving Players, presenting light comedies, the proceeds of which were channelled through Rotary to the Society for Crippled Children. He moved to Brisbane in October 1938 to join radio station 4BH as a specialty announcer, responsible for conducting the popular community singing programs from the Theatre Royal in Elizabeth Street. He used his programs to raise thousands of pounds for the victims of the Black Friday bushfires in Victoria. The following year, after the outbreak of World War II, he conceived and compered a Sunday variety show, Smokes for Sick Soldiers.
Having gained a clearance from his reserved occupation, on 12 August 1942 Irving enlisted in the Citizen Military Forces, and later in the Australian Imperial Force. On 22 August in the Lutheran Church, Toowoomba, he married Melva Stevenson, a receptionist. He was deployed to the Queensland Lines of Communication Area Concert Party, which brought musical and theatrical entertainment to servicemen and women, mainly in hospitals and far-out camps. In early 1945 he helped to establish and run the new Army Amenities Service broadcasting station 5DR in Darwin, which went to air in February. He was discharged in November with the rank of warrant officer, first class.
Resuming his radio career, Irving went to work for 4BK in Brisbane, specialising in cheerful breakfast programs and compering large community singing events around the city. He continued to produce and perform in plays—memorably Tons of Money at the Theatre Royal in 1946—and in vaudeville at the old Cremorne Theatre. A year later the Irvings moved to Sydney where Wilson joined the Macquarie Network’s 2GB, conceiving and compering Teen Time, a daily program for teenagers. A few years later, finding himself ‘tremendously popular with the younger generation’ (Jennifer 1952, 8), he opened a teenage nightclub, the ‘Bar-B-Q’, in Annandale, Sydney.
In the mid-1950s, as Irving moved into production and program development, he was closely associated with Quiz Kids; comic talents such as Jack Davey [q.v.13], Roy Rene [q.v.11], Hal Lashwood [q.v.], and George Wallace [q.v.12] Senior; and singers like Peter Dawson [q.v.8] and Gladys Moncrieff [q.v.10]. He produced Moncrieff’s popular radio show for several years; she became godmother to his only child.
Television came next. In 1956 Irving joined ATN Channel 7 Sydney as senior station supervisor in charge of production, and in 1959 he was recruited by BTQ Channel 7 in Brisbane as program and production manager. Having produced the channel’s opening extravaganza in Festival Hall, he went on to build a distinctive programming profile, featuring more live shows ‘than any other station in Australia’ (Lehmann 1994, 9), including variety, music, comedy, quiz, children’s, and public affairs. Dubbed the ‘talent-spotter’ (TV Times 1965, 21), he recruited such regulars of the 1960s television scene as George Wallace Junior [q.v.16] and Brian Tait. He also introduced and organised Seven’s Christmas Telethon appeals, raising funds for people with cerebral palsy (1960–69), and he led an all-Queensland concert party to entertain soldiers in South Vietnam.
Irving retired from television in 1974 and returned to Brisbane radio to run an interview program, The Stirrers, for three years on 4KQ. In 1980 he staved off retirement yet again, directing the spectacular opening and closing ceremonies at the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games. At the Rialto Theatre, West End, he wrote, produced, and starred in a Christmas pantomime in 1983, and organised and directed a successful vaudeville show, Roll Back the Years, featuring old troupers in short annual seasons from 1984 to the early 1990s. The bulk of the proceeds went to the Children’s Hospital Appeal. He was awarded an OAM in 1984.
Tall and suave, with a shock of sandy hair and a clipped moustache, Irving had a dazzling smile and a booming voice. He was remembered as ‘a handsome, beautifully groomed performer, who had the gift of the gab’ (Lehmann 1994, 9), generous, popular, and prodigiously talented. Survived by his wife, daughter, and grandson, he died at Auchenflower, Brisbane, on 9 June 1994 and was cremated.
Irving, Wilson. Interview by Beryl Davis and Laurel Garlick, 17 April 1991. Transcript. State Library of Queensland; Jennifer [pseud.]. ‘Bits and Pieces from Here and There.’ Worker (Brisbane), 21 April 1952, 8; Lehmann, John. ‘Final Curtain Falls.’ Courier Mail (Brisbane), 10 June 1994, 9; National Archives of Australia. B883, QX54983; Roe, Vanessa. Personal communication; TV Times. ‘Tips from the Talent-Spotter.’ 7 July 1965, 21.
WILTSHIRE, Sir FREDERICK MUNRO (FRED) (1911–1994), manufacturer, was born on 5 June 1911 at Northcote, Melbourne, only child of English-born Frederick Wiltshire, bootmaker and later salesman, and his Victorian-born wife Christina, née Fielding. After completing his education at Northcote High School (dux 1926 and 1927), Fred began training as a civil engineer until his firm became a casualty of the Depression. He was then employed in his father’s business—which repaired and sold second-hand equipment to light industry—while he studied in the evenings for a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne. In 1936 he worked his passage to Europe in a tramp steamer. There he searched for a product that he could manufacture in Australia, one which required technology not easily obtainable by ‘backyard’ workshops, and which would be subject to tariff protection. By November he was in England where he sat and passed examinations for the final two subjects required for his degree. In Germany at Leipzig’s trade fair, he found a product that met his criteria—the industrial file.
Wiltshire gained the support of W. E. McPherson [q.v.15], of McPherson’s Pty Ltd, and Essington Lewis [q.v.10], of the Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd; they Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd; they were members of an informal industrialists’ group concerned that Australia’s reliance upon overseas suppliers for essential equipment would curtail production during the war that they anticipated. In 1938 the Wiltshire File Co. Pty Ltd was registered in Victoria with Wiltshire as managing director (1938–77). BHP and McPherson’s subscribed most of the company’s capital. Construction of the factory commenced at Tottenham, Melbourne; Wiltshire equipped it with British machinery and introduced production methods that he had observed on a visit to the United States of America. On 15 February that year he had married Jennie Littledale Frencham, a teacher, at the Holy Trinity Anglican church, Williamstown.
Manufacturing began in 1939 and by the early months of World War II, Australia was largely self-sufficient in quality industrial files. Towards the end of the war Wiltshire proposed expanding the business to include table knives and travelled to the United States to study operations there. In 1946 the Nicholson File Company, a large American producer, became the third major shareholder. By the end of that year Wiltshire had added knife manufacturing to the business. During the following decades the company extended its cutlery range, developed and took out world-wide patents on its innovative ‘Staysharp’ self-sharpening knives and scissors, and commissioned a silversmith, Stuart Devlin, to design streamlined handles and scabbards. Wiltshire believed that, ‘so long as Australia stayed at the forefront of technology, and did not let its labour costs outstrip the rest of the world, its manufactured goods could compete in worldwide as well as domestic markets’ (Carroll 1987, 20). He later established factories offshore when cheaper Asian cutlery ‘flooded 60 per cent of the Australian market’ (Canberra Times 1967, 3).
Wiltshire was energetic, well-informed, and articulate, and a staunch supporter of Australian industry. He served as a member of the Manufacturing Industries Advisory Council (1958–77) and of the science and industry forum of the Australian Academy of Science (1967–79); and on the executive of the Australian Industries Development Association (1953–80; president 1964–66 and 1972–74) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (1974–78). In addition to managing the Wiltshire group of companies, he was a director of Repco Ltd (1966–81), and Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd (1966–83). He was also a fellow of the Melbourne division of the Australian Institute of Management (councillor 1955–61), and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.
During 1968 the Australian government appointed Wiltshire to chair the committee of inquiry into awards in colleges of advanced education, and the committee on small business. He later headed (1972–74) the Commonwealth advisory committee on aircraft and guided weapons. Appointed OBE (1966) and elevated to CBE (1970), he was knighted in 1976 for his services to industry and government. In 1977 he retired as managing director; three years later Wiltshire Consolidated Ltd became a wholly owned subsidiary of McPherson’s. Sir Frederick was a popular member of the Kingston Heath Golf Club, a club captain recalling, ‘on playing with him in his “Knight Cart” there was always the chance of a “wee dram” on the 15th hole’ (Rowe, pers. comm.). Predeceased by his son, and survived by his wife and daughter; he died on 1 February 1994 at South Yarra and was cremated.
Canberra Times. ‘Liberals Attack Tariff Policy.’ 3 May 1967, 3; Carroll, Brian. Australian Made: Success Stories in Australian Manufacturing since 1937. Parkville, Vic.: Institute of Production Engineers Australian Council, 1987; Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, CSIRO Twenty-seventh Annual Report. Melbourne: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, 1974–75; Eady, Wilton McPherson. Manufacturing History—McPherson’s Limited, 1985. Eady family papers. Private collection; Hamer, Barbara. Nuts & Bolts: A Story of a Family and a Firm. Melbourne: McPherson’s Printing Group, 2006; University of Melbourne Archives. 2012.0021, McPherson’s Limited Business Records; National Archives of Australia. MP61/1, 5/60/4488; Rowe, Robert. Personal communication; Wiltshire, Frederick Munro. Student Record Card. University of Melbourne, Student Administration, 1995.0071. University of Melbourne Archives.
WOOD, FREDERICK GEORGE (FRED) (1906–1991), army officer, manager, and orchardist, was born on 4 March 1906 at St Kilda, Melbourne, third child of South Australian–born Frederick Thomas Wood, yardman and carter, and his Victorian-born wife Katie Caroline, née Webb. After education at South Melbourne Technical School, Fred entered retailing and in 1927 joined the Myer [qq.v.10.15] Emporium as a shop assistant. Within a few years he was managing a department. On 26 March 1930 at the Methodist Church, St Kilda, he married Magdalena (Lena) Margaret Long, a saleswoman.
Wood was a keen part-time soldier, having been commissioned in the Citizen Military Forces in 1926 and risen to major in the 14th Battalion by 1938. When World War II broke out in September 1939, he volunteered for the Australian Imperial Force and was appointed on 13 October. Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Godfrey [q.v.14] selected him as a company commander in his 2/6th Battalion. The unit embarked for the Middle East in April 1940. Back home, Lena was instrumental in forming the battalion’s women’s auxiliary and would be its president for the entire war.
The 2/6th trained in the Middle East throughout 1940. Wood was ‘fiercely determined to have his company in good order and performing better than any other’ (Hay 1984, 73). Nevertheless, he developed `a reputation for being ‘“excitable” and occasionally erratic in the conduct of his command’ (Pratten 2009, 103). In October 1940 he was elevated to second-in-command of the battalion, which saw action in Libya, at Bardia and Tobruk, in January 1941. Later the same month he was appointed as commander of the 17th Training Battalion in Palestine. His effectiveness in that role resulted in his being mentioned in despatches and, in November, promoted to lieutenant colonel and placed in temporary command of the 2/5th Battalion, on garrison duties in Syria and Lebanon. On 14 January 1942 he returned to the 2/6th Battalion as commanding officer. Embarking for Australia in March, the unit spent four months in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) before arriving home in August.
Two months later the 2/6th deployed to Milne Bay, Papua, where Wood prepared it for jungle warfare. At this stage it was apparent to outside observers that he did not have the support of some of his men. In January 1943 he led the battalion in the defence of Wau, in the mountainous centre of New Guinea. He suffered a head wound on 9 February, while directing a counter-attack. His conduct that day won over the doubters among his troops and earned him the nickname of ‘Fearless Freddie’ (Pratten 2009, 233). He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his leadership and ‘continuous gallantry under fire’ (NAA B883, VX166). After a week in hospital, he resumed command for the rest of the campaign. Returning to Australia in October 1943, he rebuilt the battalion in Queensland, single-mindedly training it for its next campaign.
In early 1945 Wood was back in New Guinea, commanding the 2/6th in its advance across the Torricelli Mountain Range towards Wewak. He received a Bar to the DSO for ‘sound planning and resolute leadership’ (NAA). Promoted to colonel and temporary brigadier on 28 July, he was given command of the 25th Brigade in Borneo, but only arrived on 16 August, the day after the war ended. Back in Australia, he transferred to the Reserve of Officers on 19 January 1946. As shown by his decorations and rapid promotion, he had always enjoyed the confidence of his superiors. Conversely he did not gain the trust of some of his subordinates until they experienced his outstanding leadership in battle. Thereafter he was universally respected. Sir David Hay, who served under him, considered him ‘a rather good-natured man, and modest. But he was man of strong character’ (1984, 490).
After returning to Myers as an executive, in 1947 Wood became general manager of Feature Holidays Ltd, a seaside camp at Somers, on the Mornington Peninsula. Two years later, when the Commonwealth government purchased the camp, he became director of the immigration centre established there. He left in 1952 to become an orchardist at nearby Main Ridge. He took up lawn bowls and remained a central figure in the 2/6th Battalion association. Retiring to Mornington township, he died of a stroke on 11 July 1991, and was cremated. His wife, and their two daughters and a son survived him.
Hay, David. Nothing Over Us: The Story of the 2/6th Australian Infantry Battalion. Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1984; National Archives of Australia. B883, VX166; Pratten, Garth. Australian Battalion Commanders in the Second World War. Port Melbourne, Vic.: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
WOOD, GILLAM ALBERT (PAT) (1910–1993), Presbyterian and Uniting Church minister, was born on 6 December 1910 at Geelong, Victoria, eldest of four children of Edward Gillam Wood, labourer, and his wife Elizabeth, née McConnell, both Victorian born. He was raised in the Western District, where his father obtained a soldier settlement farm near Noorat, and he attended Terang State, Kolora State, and Terang Higher Elementary schools. Sponsored by a wealthy spinster who worshipped at the Noorat Presbyterian Church, he completed his secondary education as a boarder (1927–30) at Geelong College, where he was a prefect and house captain in his final year. At school he received the nickname ‘Pat’, by which he was widely known for the rest of his life. The college principal, Rev. (Sir) Frank Rolland [q.v.11], who had been the minister at Noorat, was a strong influence.
As a resident (1931–37) of Ormond [q.v.5] College, Wood studied at the University of Melbourne (BA, 1935) and then at the theological hall of the Presbyterian Church. At Ormond he was chairman (1936–37) of the students’ committee and rowed in the college crew, also rowing for the university (1935–37). On 28 December 1937 at the Presbyterian Church, Mosman, Sydney, he married Mary Seavington Stuckey, a social worker. They had met at a Student Christian Movement conference and Wood twice rode his bicycle to Sydney during their courtship. The next year he was ordained and appointed to the Whyalla Presbyterian Church, South Australia. From there he was called to Sale Presbyterian Church, Victoria, in 1942.
While a student, Wood had served (1931–33) in the Melbourne University Rifles. From 1943 to 1949, in the rank of flight lieutenant, he was a respected part-time chaplain at the Royal Australian Air Force Station, East Sale. His ecumenical interests developed while he was at Sale. He was present at the first meeting of the World Council of Churches in Amsterdam in August 1948 and at the Geneva meeting of the World Presbyterian Alliance in September. From that time on, he played a prominent role in ecumenical affairs.
Wood moved to St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Geelong, in 1949. His administrative abilities, which he had demonstrated at Whyalla and Sale, led to his appointment as clerk of the Presbytery of Geelong. He took a prominent part in its centenary celebrations in 1959 and authored the published souvenir. He was also a council member at Geelong College (1950–63) and Ormond College (1958–76). In 1961 he was elected moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria.
In 1963 Wood was called to the Scots Presbyterian Church, Hobart. As a senior minister of a prominent congregation he had many other commitments, such as looking after vacant parishes and chairing committees, including the council of Fahan Presbyterian Girls’ College. He was moderator (1969) and then clerk (1970–76) of the Presbyterian Church of Tasmania and the author of numerous entries in the book commemorating its 150th anniversary in 1973. His ecumenical interests continued and he was twice the secretary of the Tasmanian Council of Churches.
Wood was a member from 1964 and chairman (1969–77) of the Australian Presbyterian Board of Missions (from 1972 the Board of Ecumenical Mission and Relations). With his wife, who was a member of the Presbyterian Women’s Missionary Union, he travelled widely as a representative of these boards. In 1965 they visited missions at Ernabella, South Australia, and Mowanjum, Western Australia, also travelling to South Korea and Indonesia. Wood flew to Port Vila, New Hebrides (Vanuatu), in 1969 and 1972 to arrange the handover of control of the Paton Memorial Hospital from the Australian Presbyterian Church to the British administration. He also visited Hong Kong and South Korea in 1972, the latter in connection with the transfer of the Il Shin Hospital, Pusan, to the Presbyterian Church of Korea.
In 1973 Wood became the first minister from Tasmania to be elected as moderator-general of the Presbyterian Church of Australia. He served in this role until 1977, overseeing the move of most Presbyterian congregations into the Uniting Church of Australia. After retiring from full-time ministry in 1976, he returned to Geelong and served in a part-time capacity in Uniting Church parishes such as Corio-Norlane, Airey’s Inlet, Lorne, and St David’s, Newtown. He published three booklets on local history and an article about the Wood family, and was active in the Retired Persons Association, Probus, Rotary, the University of the Third Age, and the Newtown Highland Gathering (chieftain from 1986).
Wood was appointed OBE in 1978 for services to the church and awarded an OAM in 1989 for services to the elderly. Predeceased by his wife (d. 1982) and survived by his four sons, he died on 3 October 1993 while visiting a son in San Francisco, United States of America, and was buried in Geelong Eastern cemetery. Another son, Malcolm, described his father’s ‘simple faith, traditional and sure values, open nature, [and] humility, which office and ceremony did not spoil’ (Herald Sun 1993, 72).
Geelong College. ‘Heritage Guide to the Geelong College.’ Accessed 1 August 2018. gnet.geelongcollege.vic.edu.au:8080/wiki/WOOD-Very-Reverend-Gillam-Albert-McConnell-Pat-OBE-OAM-MA-1910-1993.ashx. Copy held on ADB file; Herald Sun (Melbourne). ‘Church Man Simply Pat.’ 8 October 1993, 72; Holmes, Joyce. Kolora in Black and White. Terang, Vic.: J. Holmes, 1990; Notman, G. G., and B. R. Keith. The Geelong College 1861–1961. Geelong, Vic.: Geelong College, 1961; Miller, R. S. ed. Presbyterian Church of Tasmania, Triple Jubilee, 1973: Record. Hobart: Presbytery of Tasmania, 1973; National Archives of Australia. A9300, WOOD G A M.; Prentis, Malcolm D. ‘Fathers and Brethren: The Moderators of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, 1901–1977.’ Church Heritage 12, no. 2 (September 2001): 124–39; Wood, Malcolm. Interview by Ann-Mari Jordens, 17 August 2001. Transcript. National Library of Australia.
WOOD, IAN ALEXANDER CHRISTIE (1901–1992), politician and mayor, was born on 31 January 1901 at Mackay, Queensland, elder of two children of Queensland-born John Wood, bookkeeper, and his Scottish-born wife Annie, née Christie. Annie had immigrated to Mackay, aged fifteen, to enter domestic service. John deserted the family when Ian was three years old and Annie was pregnant. Rejecting advice to place Ian and his sister Pansy in an orphanage, Annie took in dressmaking to maintain the family. Her love fortified Ian to fight his way out of poverty. After attending the Mackay State (Girls’ and Infants’) and Mackay Boys’ State schools, at the age of twelve he began office work for prominent solicitors S. B. Wright and Wright, to help support his family. He obtained further education from correspondence courses in accountancy and advertising. Of greater moment, however, were the self-confidence and public speaking skills he developed as a member of a youth club at St Paul’s Presbyterian Church.
By the mid-1920s Wood was paymaster for the shipping agents James Croker & Sons and a real estate investor in his own right. In 1927 he went into business as co-owner of the Mackay Newsagency. In the early 1930s he began taking accommodation and travel bookings and was, in 1938, the sole proprietor of a travel and commission agency.
Elected an alderman in 1927, Wood served on the Mackay City Council for twenty-seven years (1927–33, 1939–52, 1955–58, 1967–73), including fifteen years as mayor (1930–33, 1943–52, 1967–70). His achievements included opening the Mackay aerodrome (1930), city beautification, and an efficient, frugal municipal administration. He pioneered town planning in provincial Queensland and led Mackay’s development as a tourism hub. In his dual roles as mayor and founding chairman of Mackay Tours Ltd he established the first resort facilities on Lindeman Island (1930) and secured gazettal of Eungella National Park (1940). A sometimes controversial mayor, his initiatives and confrontational style attracted much criticism from Australian Labor Party (ALP) councillors.
In 1945, as both mayor and president of the Chamber of Commerce, Wood established the Mackay Tourist and Development Association and became, until 1950, its organiser-manager. The MTDA was a model for other Queensland provincial cities seeking to boost tourism. ‘Tallish, darkish … [and] a good speaker’ (Morning Bulletin 1944, 2), he dominated Mackay and Queensland municipal politics. He served as president of both the Queensland Local Authorities’ Association (1947–52) and the Australian Council of Local Government Associations (1951–52). He lost the mayoralty in 1952, attributing his defeat to necessary rate increases and jealousy of a local boy made good. Other factors included the ALP’s opposition to his tourism and town planning priorities, and Wood’s additional career, from February 1950, as a Liberal Party senator for Queensland.
Wood was a senator for twenty-eight years. Undaunted by party leaders or prime ministers, he crossed the floor 130 times. He prided himself on voting according to his conscience and in the interests of Queenslanders. In December 1960 he and fellow Liberal senator (Sir) Reginald Wright [q.v.18] joined with the Opposition to vote down the motion for the second reading of the coalition government’s car sales tax bill, disregarding the intimidating eye of Prime Minister (Sir) Robert Menzies [q.v.15] who watched proceedings from the gallery. Although Wood ultimately failed to stop the legislation (because Wright abstained when a second vote was taken), he remained steadfast in his opposition on the grounds that the tax increase would exacerbate unemployment in Queensland. Although treated as a pariah by many coalition colleagues, his stand was popular in the electorate and attempts to discipline him languished.
A major player in the ‘Gair Affair’, Wood, as John Hewson remarked, displayed greater legal acumen than ALP Prime Minister Gough Whitlam (Aust. HOR 1992, 9). In 1974, for a forthcoming half-Senate election, Whitlam had tried to engineer the creation of a winnable extra vacancy in Queensland by appointing the deposed leader of the Democratic Labor Party, Senator Vincent Gair [q.v.14], as ambassador to Ireland. His plan was foiled when, on 2 April, several non-Labor senators led by Ronald Maunsell and including Wood entertained Gair with beer and prawns, thereby preventing his resignation until after the writs had been issued for the scheduled election. This delaying tactic became known as ‘the night of the long prawns’ (Age 1974, 7). In the double dissolution election that followed in May, Wood led a joint Queensland Liberal Party–National Country Party Senate team that won six of ten seats. Less than eighteen months later he had been dropped to the bottom of Liberal Party nominations, probably the result of his perceived disloyalty within the party.
Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances for twenty-five years (1950–72, 1975–78), Wood fearlessly protected the rights of individuals and parliament from encroachment by executive government and the bureaucracy. When Liberal Party re-endorsement for the ageing senator appeared unlikely, he retired in 1978. Unmarried and never having driven a car, he continued to cycle daily to his travel bureau: after the deaths of his mother and sister its staff became his family, though always addressing him as ‘Senator’. An otherwise solitary man, he nurtured alliances based on shared interests. These embraced disparate figures including the businessman Sir Reginald Ansett [q.v.17], town planner Karl Langer [q.v.15], Senate Clerk James Odgers [q.v.18], and ALP Senator Lionel Murphy [q.v.18].
Wood died on 7 January 1992 at Mackay; following a service at St Paul’s Uniting Church, he was buried next to his mother and sister in the Mount Bassett cemetery. He was appointed AM several weeks later. A generous donor to Mackay, he had established Annie Wood Park, Mount Pleasant, in memory of his mother, and the Pansy Wood Music Centre at the Whitsunday Anglican school as a memorial to his sister. Wood boasted, without fear of contradiction, that he was never ‘a worm or crawler’ (Aust. Senate 1971, 354); he also prided himself on being a ‘futurist’ (Aust. Senate 1973, 2293), to which his achievements in town planning, tourism, conservation, and preserving the primacy of parliament, bear witness.
Age (Melbourne). ‘Detaining of Gair was “Despicable”.’ 5 April 1974, 7; Australia. House of Representatives. Parliamentary Debates, 25 February 1992, 9; Australia. Senate. Parliamentary Debates. 25 August 1971, 354; 29 November 1973, 2293; Brown, Wallace. ‘Still a Rebel at 76.’ Courier Mail (Brisbane), 18 February 1977, 5; Daily Mercury (Mackay). ‘£2M. A Year in Tourism.’ 6 April 1962, 33; ‘Mackay Town Plan.’ 6 April 1962, 46; ‘Ian Wood Worked for City, Family.’ 9 January 1992, 8; Kingston, Margo. ‘Ex-Mayor Still Peddles the Cause for Mackay.’ Courier Mail (Brisbane), 5 March 1987, 8; McConville, Chris. ‘“Wonderland”: Planning in a Populist Queensland 1931–78.’ In Cities, Citizens and Environmental Reform: Histories of Australian Town Planning Associations, edited by Robert Freestone, 287–312. Sydney: Sydney University Press, 2009; Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton). ‘Guildhall Gallery Notes.’ 5 May 1944, 2; ‘Liberal Election Win Forecast.’ 30 November 1949, 5; Orchard, Mavis. Interview by the author, 25 July 2012; Sullivan, Rodney. ‘Wood, Ian Alexander Christie (1901–1992).’ In The Biographical Dictionary of the Australian Senate, vol. 3, edited by Ann Millar and Geoffrey Browne, 296–304. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2010; Wood, Ian. Interview by Ron Hurst, 1984. Transcript. Parliament’s Oral History Project. National Library of Australia.
WOODS, FRANK (1907–1992), Anglican archbishop, was born on 6 April 1907 at Davos, Switzerland, second of six children of Edward Sydney Woods, Church of England chaplain, and his wife Rachael Clemence, née Barclay, of the English banking family. Through both parents he had Quaker forebears, including the prison reformer and philanthropist Elizabeth Fry. The family returned to England in 1914, where Edward was an army chaplain and vicar before his consecration as bishop suffragan of Croydon (1930–37) and bishop of Lichfield (1937–53). Edward’s elder brother Theodore was also a bishop in the Church of England. Frank belonged, therefore, to a particularly clerical establishment family, which endowed him with an entirely unaffected patrician demeanour that was to characterise him throughout his life.
Woods was educated at Marlborough College (1920–25) and Trinity College, Cambridge (BA, 1930; MA, 1933). In 1929 he was elected president of the Student Christian Movement (SCM) at Cambridge. Graduating with second class honours in history and theology, he proceeded to Westcott House, Cambridge. Ordained in 1932, he served his curacy at the training parish of Portsea, before Trinity College called him back as chaplain (1933–36). At Cambridge he began a lifelong friendship with Davis McCaughey, later a master of Ormond [q.v.5] College and governor of Victoria, who, like Woods, was a dedicated ecumenist.
On 9 June 1936 at St Alban’s Abbey, with his father presiding, Woods married Jean Margaret Sprules (1910–1995). Born on 15 April 1910 at Limpsfield, Surrey, daughter of Robert George Wallbutton Sprules, property owner and retired army officer, and his wife Edith Charlotte, née Adams, Jean studied modern languages at St Hugh’s College, Oxford (BA, 1932; MA, 1964), before meeting Frank on an SCM trip to Bavaria in 1934. Their first years of marriage were spent at Wells Theological College where Frank was vice-principal (1936–39). Jean became a Girl Guide leader and psychiatric nurse helper until the birth of their first child in 1937. When World War II began Frank joined the British Army as a chaplain, serving in France and the Middle East; as commandant (1942–45) of the Army Chaplains’ School at Tidworth and Chester; and as deputy chaplain-general (1945) in Northern Ireland, where he renewed his friendship with McCaughey.
After the war, Woods served as vicar of Huddersfield, canon of Wakefield, and chaplain to King George VI. In 1952 he was consecrated bishop suffragan of Middleton in the diocese of Manchester. He declined the dual appointment as bishop of Maidstone and bishop to the forces in 1956 out of consideration for Jean and the family, because of the frequent separation the position would have involved.
In April 1957 the archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher, suggested Woods’s name to the Archbishopric of Melbourne Electoral Board. There was a measure of Anglophilia still at work in the Australian church, where between 1941 and 1973 fifteen Englishmen became bishops. In due course, Woods secured the board’s unanimous endorsement and received the offer in July while visiting his brother Robin, archdeacon of Singapore. An anguished correspondence ensued between Frank and Jean, who was in Manchester, written in Quaker mode addressing each other as ‘Thee’ and ‘Thou’. Eventually, after much prayer, they decided in faith to embark on a new life on the other side of the world. In the same year, Woods was awarded an honorary doctorate of divinity (Lambeth).
The new archbishop was tall, handsome, and dignified; he made an unforgettable impression with his enthronement sermon at St Paul’s Cathedral on 17 December 1957 and thereafter as an uplifting preacher. His voice exemplified his upper-class English background, which to some Melburnians was almost overwhelming, but he soon acquired great affection for Australia and felt entirely at home. A charming man, he easily made friends and had a comfortable rapport with all sections of society. A general secretary of the General Synod, John Denton, later recalled ‘we would have walked over hot coals for Frank’ (Porter, pers. comm.).
Woods faced great challenges during his two decades as archbishop, to which he responded with vision and inspirational leadership. His major challenge was demographic, as Melbourne’s population doubled during his episcopate. Reorganising the diocese into three regions of episcopal care, each with its own bishop, he planned new parishes as Melbourne expanded. His priorities included education of the clergy, especially the training of ordinands, and theological and spiritual stimulation of the laity, with programs such as ‘Forward in Depth’ and ‘Let’s Pray Better’.
A flexible administrator, Woods liberalised his position on the remarriage of divorcees and increased the involvement of the laity at every level. He led a church that was at the forefront of progressive public opinion on issues including capital punishment, poverty, and Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War. From the outset he was a supporter of women in the ordained ministry. In 1968 he took a more conservative approach to a doctrinal controversy sparked by John Robinson’s Honest to God (1963), publicly condemning the views of two priests who had questioned Christ’s divinity. He later observed that he had mishandled the affair.
Beyond the diocese of Melbourne, Woods served on the doctrine commission of the General Synod and took a keen interest in the liturgical commission preparing An Australian Prayer Book. He attended regular meetings of the Australian bishops and helped consolidate the governance of the Church of England in Australia after the achievement of its constitution in 1962. He also attended Lambeth conferences of Anglican bishops. In forums such as these he was an impressive contributor and probing questioner. Elected primate of the Church of England in Australia in 1971, he and Jean visited dioceses throughout the region, acquiring a love of the outback and the Pacific islands. He was less enthusiastic about his role as president of General Synod: although less Anglo-Catholic than his predecessor as primate, Philip Strong [q.v.18], Woods was wary of evangelicals from the diocese of Sydney.
Woods modestly claimed that he was not a scholar, but he was abreast of current theological and sociological thinking, reading widely, conversing, and corresponding with leading international thinkers. He was particularly interested in ecumenism, serving as chairman (1960–64) of the Victorian Council of Churches, president (1965–66) of the Australian Council of Churches, and a central committee member (1968–76) of the World Council of Churches. Having pioneered an ecumenical industrial mission (1960), it grew to become the Inter-Church Trade and Industry Mission. He was a prime mover in the establishment in 1964 of an ecumenical religious centre at Monash University, which awarded him an honorary LLD (1979). In 1969 he helped establish the United Faculty of Theology, which brought together ordinands in the Anglican, Jesuit, and Uniting Church traditions. His close friendship with Melbourne’s other ‘Archbishop Frank’, the Catholic Sir Frank Little, was precious to him. When introducing Woods to Pope John Paul II in 1986, Little said, ‘Holy Father, here is our Abraham’ (Porter, pers. comm.).
Appointed KBE in 1972, Woods retired in 1977, but continued an active ministry as guest preacher and pastoral carer. Survived by his wife, two sons, and two daughters, he died on 29 November 1992 in East Melbourne and was cremated. His funeral was held at St Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne, followed soon after by a memorial service at St Paul’s Cathedral, London. Noting his English origins, an obituary in the Times observed ‘he was not an ambassador of Canterbury and did not seek to be one; nevertheless he thought in the Mother Church’s mental language’ (1992, 19). A portrait by Sir William Dargie hangs in the Anglican Centre, Melbourne. Jean’s life of prayer and her devotion to Frank had always been evident, no more so than at the end. She died on 3 September 1995 at Camberwell.
Grant, James. Episcopally Led and Synodically Governed, Anglicans in Victoria 1803–1997. North Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2010; Porter, Brian. Frank Woods, Archbishop of Melbourne 1957–77. Parkville: Trinity College, 2007; Porter, Muriel. Personal communication; Times (London). ‘The Most Rev Frank Woods.’ 30 November 1992, 19; Trinity College archives, University of Melbourne. Frank Woods, Personal Papers; Woods, Frank. Sermons and Addresses, Forward in Depth. Melbourne: Joint Board of Christian Education, 1987.
WORRALL, KATHLEEN ZOE (‘Martha Gardener’) (1905–1991), broadcaster, was born on 9 February 1905 at Camberwell, Melbourne, second of four children of Irish-born John Alexander Norris, public servant, and his Victorian-born wife Ellen, née Heffernan. Her father was auditor-general of Victoria (1919–37) and her elder brother, (Sir) John Gerald Norris [q.v.18], was a Supreme Court judge (1955–75). Educated at Milverton Girls’ Grammar School, Camberwell, Zoe trained as a teacher and taught at St Duthus Girls’ School, Canterbury, in the 1920s. She married David Thomas Worrall [q.v.16], a journalist, on 18 April 1929 at the Independent Church, Collins Street, Melbourne. They had two children and lived in the outer Melbourne suburb of Donvale on 7 acres (2.83 ha) of orchard and bushland.
Soon after their marriage David was appointed manager of (Sir) Keith Murdoch’s [q.v.10] fledgling radio station 3DB. Zoe’s radio career began in an ad hoc way, filling in for 3DB presenters in the 1930s. For two years she was the ‘Queen’ on a program called ‘The King and Queen of Nonsense’, for which she drew on her talent as a pianist and her experience in amateur theatre. In the 1940s she substituted for broadcasters on the 3DB gardening show, adopting the name ‘Martha Gardener’. She later explained that ‘it just sounded nice and homely’ (Franzmann 1976, 19). As a way of coping with the death of her twelve-year-old daughter from a horse-riding accident in 1942, Worrall pursued a more substantial radio career, initially on a shopping and cooking advice show called ‘Can I Help You?’
From these modest beginnings, Martha Gardener became an almost legendary public figure, influencing generations of Victorians (and later of Australians nationally) with her wisdom on household management. Her long-running talkback radio show, ‘Martha Gardener Recommends’, began on 3AW in July 1952 and lasted for thirty years. Worrall later admitted that she had little hands-on experience of housework and cooking, and that before World War II she had employed housemaids: ‘My great war effort was learning to cook, myself’ (Duigan 1979, 31). She did a course at the Emily McPherson School of Domestic Economy and was a voracious reader with an extraordinary memory, which helped her gain an extensive knowledge of her subject.
Martha Gardener’s renown coincided with the rising popularity of radio in the 1940s and 1950s. A radio had become an essential household article and offered a new source of education and entertainment, as well as companionship for people at home. Worrall saw herself as sharing ideas with her tens of thousands of listeners, and her show as a radio version of a chat over the back fence. The longevity of her popularity can be attributed to her thorough preparation, her integrity, her respect for her audience, the trust her audience had in her, and the way she seemed to value the opinions of young people and the need to be open to a changing world.
Worrall was variously described as an institution, an oracle, a doyen of the airways, and ‘that grand old lady of “how-to”—fix it, prune it, clean it, bake it, you name it’ (Hocking 1984, 1). Her influence extended to television, newspapers, and magazines, including a weekly column in New Idea and a segment on Channel 9’s The Mike Walsh Show. Retiring from 3AW in 1982, she continued her career on 3UZ and self-published the bestselling Martha Gardener’s Book: Everyone’s Household Help, with a revised edition in 1984. She is perhaps best remembered for her ‘no rinse wool mix’ recipe: a mixture of soap flakes, methylated spirits, and eucalyptus, which was to become a successful commercial product. As late as 1989, Worrall was a regular guest on ABC radio. Predeceased by her husband, and their daughter and son, she died on 12 February 1991 at South Yarra, Melbourne, and was cremated. Her estate was sworn for probate at more than $2 million and was bequeathed to the Little Sisters of the Poor in Northcote, Melbourne.
Campion, Margaret. 3AW is Melbourne: 75 Years of Radio. Collingwood, Vic.: Prime Advertising Marketing Publishing, 2007; Duigan, Virginia. ‘Martha Gardener, Irresistible Oracle.’ National Times, 7 April 1979, 31; Franzmann, Gail. ‘Her Advice is as Free as the Air.’ Herald (Melbourne), 10 February 1976, 19; Gardener, Martha. Interview by Gillian Hoysted, 24 November 1979. State Library of Victoria, MS 14170, TMS 1027.; Hocking, Susan. ‘Martha, an Oracle for the Desperate.’ Sunday Mail (Brisbane), 28 October 1984, 1; Maxwell, Mary. ‘Martha Never Misses … in 26 Years of Home Tips.’ Herald (Melbourne), 28 June 1978, 7; Woodfall, Judith. ‘Face to Face.’ Age (Melbourne), 24 April 1987, Good Weekend 6–7.
WRAY, ELINOR CAROLINE (Ellinor) Caroline Wray (1899–1992), speech therapist, was born on 30 October 1899 at Chatswood, Sydney, younger child and only daughter of New South Wales–born parents Arthur Gore Wray, draftsman, and his wife Annie Charlotte, née McDonald. Elinor grew up in a conventional home, where she developed financial acumen and, despite strong opposition from her father, a level of independent thinking. As a young woman, she became (1919) a licentiate in elocution (Trinity College of Music, London), and taught at Grace Stafford’s studio. Among her pupils were people with speech and voice disorders, and her compassion for them led her to seek knowledge about treatments. By 1926 she had saved sufficient money to sail to England and undertake a remedial speech course at the Central School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art, London.
Wray returned to Sydney in 1928. Unable to find paid employment as a speech therapist, she commenced training as a nurse at the Coast (Prince Henry) Hospital, where she met the orthopaedic surgeon (Sir) Robert Wade [q.v.12]. In 1931, with his support and intervention, she established a speech therapy clinic, the first in Australia, at the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children (RAHC), Camperdown. She worked part-time in an honorary capacity for seven years, initially treating Wade’s cleft-palate patients. Her successful results rapidly generated the referral of patients with a range of communication disorders.
Described as having ‘an open face with great compassion, and beaming blue eyes that twinkled with humour, joy and a loving interest in everything and everybody’ (Theosophy in Australia 1993, 19), Wray tirelessly disseminated information about communication problems, warning that they could prevent normal development in children if untreated. To earn a living, she taught speech and drama, and also organised and conducted the Greenwood Verse-Speaking Choir. In 1937 she became an associate of the British Society of Speech Therapists (later, licentiate of the College of Speech Therapists). By 1939 she had established a flourishing private practice in Macquarie Street. That year the Training School for Speech Therapists began at the RAHC with Wray as director; it was another Australian first. The initial two-year diploma course was increased to three years in 1949.
Wray was a founding member (1944) of the Australian Association of Speech Therapists and a founding fellow (1949) of the Australian College of Speech Therapists. Having resigned her directorship of the training school about 1952, she continued to lecture to its students for many years. She opened clinics for adult patients at the Dental Hospital and Sydney Hospital, supervising students’ clinical training. In 1958 she convened the first meeting of the Lost Chord Club of New South Wales, for laryngectomy patients. A keen conference-goer, she presented numerous papers. On her retirement in 1966 she was appointed an honorary speech therapy consultant to Sydney Hospital.
In 1966 Wray was invited to India, a country with which she had an affinity. She opened a speech therapy clinic at Velore and conducted a laryngectomy clinic at the Government General Hospital, Madras (Chennai). Always an enthusiastic traveller, on an unaccompanied trip to Nepal she engaged a team of Sherpas to walk in the foothills of the Himalayas. Having been an active and long-term member of the Theosophy Society, she later also joined the Liberal Catholic Church, Gordon, Sydney.
Wray considered herself fortunate to have spent her life doing what she enjoyed best. In 1981 she was appointed MBE and honoured with the establishment of the annual Elinor Wray Award by the Australian College of Speech Therapists (now Speech Pathology Australia). The Speech Pathology Department at the RAHC was named for her in 1990. She attributed her longevity to her vegetarian diet, and to exercise: gardening, walking, and swimming. Never married, she resided at Fairy Bower, Manly, in a flat under the home of her niece. She died on 4 December 1992 at St Leonards and was cremated. The University of Sydney and the University of Newcastle hold portraits of her by Mary Benbow.
Eldridge, Margaret. A History of the Treatment of Speech Disorders. Edinburgh and London: E. & S. Livingstone Ltd, 1968; Elinor Wray Speech Pathology Department. Records. Children’s Hospital, Westmead, Sydney; Hamilton, D. G. Hand in Hand: The Story of the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children, Sydney. Sydney: John Ferguson, 1979; Lowry, Catherine. ‘Congratulations … Elinor Wray’, Theosophy in Australia 45, no. 3 (September 1981): 251–52; Theosophy in Australia. ‘Farewell to Pioneer Speech Pathologist Elinor Wray.’ 57, no. 1 (March 1993): 18–19; Wray, Elinor. ‘The History of Speech Therapy in Australia.’ In Conquering Physical Handicaps: Official Proceeding of the First Pan-Pacific Rehabilitation Conference, Held in Sydney, Australia, Nov. 10–14, 1958, 263–69. Sydney: Australian Advisory Council for the Physically Handicapped, 1959.
WRIGHT, HAROLD JOHN (HARRY) (1919–1991), survey draughtsman, air force officer, and political activist, was born on 28 December 1919 at New Farm, Brisbane, eldest son of Queensland-born parents Harold John Austin Wright, artist, and his wife Kathleen May, née Bohan. Educated at St Columban’s College, Brisbane, Harry secured a survey drafting cadetship with the Queensland Irrigation and Water Supply Commission (QI&WSC) in 1938 and subsequently enrolled in arts and law at the University of Queensland.
After World War II broke out, Wright discontinued his university studies and in 1941 was briefly mobilised in the Citizen Military Forces. On 26 April that year he enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Trained as a navigator in Australia, Canada, and Britain, he ‘crewed up’ (Wright 1989, 12) at a Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command operational training unit in July 1942. His room-mate described Wright as ‘a long, thin, twenty-year-old Queenslander with untidy hair and a self-mocking physiognomy’ (Charlwood 1991, 28), and ‘the untidiest, most generous, least promising-looking man among us’ (Charlwood 1956, 21).
In September Wright was posted as navigator to No. 103 Squadron, RAF, and in April 1943, the crew transferred to 156 (Pathfinder) Squadron. Following night raids over Germany, Italy, and France, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal (1943) for ‘keenness and courage’ and ‘fine technical knowledge’ (London Gazette July 1943). He was commissioned a pilot officer in May. On the night of 16–17 September, navigating to Modane, France, he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (1943) for guiding his pilot in bad weather ‘to the precise target exactly as planned’ (London Gazette October 1943). His plane was first over the target, dropping bombs ‘bang on’ (Wright 1941–44). He became squadron operations officer and an ‘odd bod’ (Wright 1989, 35), flying with different crews until March 1944.
Wright promptly volunteered for another tour and was posted to 582 (Pathfinder) Squadron in April. In four months he flew twenty-one sorties, bringing his total to seventy-eight. The strain on his nerves was ‘absolutely terrific’ but ‘the old booze helped at the time’ (Wright 1989, 35). He received a Bar to the DFC (1944) for displaying a ‘high standard of leadership and courage’, which was ‘a source of inspiration and encouragement to less experienced crews’ (London Gazette December 1944). In September 1944 he was promoted to flight lieutenant. Returning home in October, he transferred to the RAAF Reserve on 5 March 1945 in order to join Qantas Empire Airways Ltd as a navigator. After his brother was killed in April 1946, his parents convinced him to give up flying and return to the QI&WSC as a survey draughtsman.
On 4 September 1948, Wright married Pauline Ruby Pike at St Stephen’s Cathedral, Brisbane. She helped ameliorate his war-related nightmares. Resigning from the QI&WSC for health reasons in 1956, he sold whitegoods before returning to QI&WSC in the early 1960s. A devout Catholic and fervent anti-communist, he joined the Democratic Labor Party and established Citizens for Freedom, vociferously supporting the Vietnam War, fundraising for aid projects in South Vietnam, and leading a fiery protest against a North Vietnamese trade union visit in February 1973. For advocating diplomatic recognition of Taiwan, he received the Order of the Brilliant Star (grade 5), awarded by the Republic of China (Taiwan).
Returning to the University of Queensland, Wright completed the degree he had abandoned during the war (BA, 1979). He refrained from applying for medals until 1978, when he decided to march on Anzac days. Gradually coming to terms with his war experiences and the losses of comrades and friends, he revisited wartime airfields in England, communicated with air-war historians, and blended his and other veterans’ stories into a cathartic novel, Pathfinders—‘Light the Way’ (1983). In failing health, Wright retired in 1984. Amiable and sociable, he remained active in his church, the Returned Services League of Australia, and the Pathfinder Association. Survived by his wife and two daughters, he died of pneumonia on 29 January 1991 at the Repatriation General Hospital, Greenslopes, Brisbane, and was cremated.
Charlwood, Donald Ernest. No Moon Tonight. Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1956; Charlwood, Donald Ernest. Journeys into Night. Melbourne: Hudson Publishing, 1991; London Gazette 9 July 1943, 3096; 22 October 1943, 4674; 8 December 1944, 5636; National Archives of Australia. A9300, WRIGHT H J A; Sternes, Phil. Personal communication; Watery Sauces Oldies & Boldies (Water Resources Retired Officers Association Inc.). ‘Obituary’, No. 4, May 1991; Wright, Harold John Alfred. Log Book 1941–44. Unpublished. Private Collection. Copy held on ADB file; Wright, Harold John Alfred. Pathfinders—‘Light the Way.’ Brisbane: McCann Publications, 1983); Wright, Harold John Alfred. Interview by Edward Stokes, May 1989. Transcript. Australian War Memorial.
WYNN, DAVID (1915–1995), winemaker, was born on 21 January 1915 in Melbourne, eldest of three children of Polish Jewish immigrants Samuel Wynn [q.v.12] (formerly Shlomo ben David Weintraub), factory worker and later cellarman, and his wife Eva (Chava), née Silman. During the 1920s and 1930s David’s father was a highly successful wine merchant, distributor, and restaurateur. Although based in Melbourne, the business of S. Wynn & Co. acquired substantial South Australian interests.
David lived with his family above their Bourke Street wine saloon. After completing his schooling at Wesley College, he studied bacteriology and accountancy at the University of Adelaide, but did not take a degree. In 1932 and 1933 he learned winemaking and blending at Romalo cellars at Magill in Adelaide’s foothills. He rose to a managerial role in the family business, which expanded to encompass wine exporting to Britain, India, and the Pacific Islands. On 25 September 1937 at the Presbyterian Manse, South Melbourne, he married American-born Thelma Chapman; a son and a daughter were born before the couple separated.
Restrictions on shipping during World War II led to a contraction of the company’s export business. On 2 May 1942 Wynn enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force. Having trained as a fitter at No. 1 Engineering School, Ascot Vale, he joined the school’s staff in December. He was promoted to acting sergeant in December 1944. Granted several months compassionate and occupational leave because of his father’s ill health, he was discharged at his own request on 26 July 1945. With Samuel and his second wife Ida increasingly preoccupied with the Zionist cause, David took control of the business. He expanded the company’s winegrowing and production capacity, establishing a large vineyard at Modbury on Adelaide’s north-eastern fringe in 1947, and buying a winery and vines in New South Wales at Yenda, near Griffith, in 1959.
In 1951 Wynn had purchased the vineyards of the defunct Chateau Comaum at the former Coonawarra Fruit Colony in South Australia’s south-east. Convinced of the region’s potential, his decision ignored not only his father’s reservations, but also a report he himself had commissioned that noted management and climate difficulties of winegrowing in the Coonawarra. In the following years, initially under the winemaker and viticulturist Ian Hickinbotham, production of high-quality cabernet sauvignon and shiraz was achieved. David’s energetic promotion of Wynn’s Coonawarra Estate included wine labels that featured a striking Richard Beck woodcut of the winery’s historic triple gables, as well as advertising campaigns in concert programs and literary magazines. His success in establishing the Coonawarra’s reputation as a source of premium red table wine prompted other producers, including Mildara, Penfolds [qq.v.5.15], Orlando, and McWilliams [q.v.10], to buy into the region.
Wynn was a keen innovator; his Modbury vineyards were the first in the country to use contour-planting to conserve water. In 1958 he introduced the refillable, distinctively ribbed half-gallon (2.25 L) Wynvale flagon. A commercial success, it was marketed under the slogan: ‘The luxury of wine at little expense’. He later took up the abandoned prototype of the soft-pack wine container, improving its tap mechanism and lining before launching it in 1971. The popularity of Wynn’s winecask and the invention’s subsequent adoption by other companies helped to increase substantially the consumption of table wine in Australia.
Publicly listed in 1970 as Wynn Winegrowers Ltd, the business was sold to Allied Breweries Ltd and Tooheys Ltd for $7.5 million in 1972. David left the company to champion the cultivation of chardonnay. He established Mountadam winery (named for his second son) at Eden Valley, on an elevated site he had chosen in 1968 with the aid of an altimeter fitted to his Citroën. A critic of the 1980s trend towards heavily wooded chardonnay, he became a vocal exponent of unoaked styles of both white and red wine. The wine writer James Halliday dubbed him a marketing genius, while Dan Murphy, the wine-seller and Age columnist, predicted that his ‘revolutionary ideas’ would ‘ultimately affect the whole industry’ (Gent 2003, 283).
In 1963 Wynn had married English-born Patricia Grace Bunbury (née Gosling). A talented amateur woodcarver, he was also an avid art collector and a music lover. As an early supporter and board member of the Adelaide Festival of Arts, he hosted parties for guest performers and touring companies. He chaired the Adelaide Festival Centre Trust (1975–80) and the Australian Dance Theatre (1975–77). Having served on the interim council, he was a council member of the Australian National Gallery (1976–81). In 1990, with John Russell, he was founder-director of the Barossa Music Festival. The next year he became a founding member of the Australian Republican Movement. He was appointed AO in 1989 and presented with the Australian wine industry’s highest honour, the Maurice O’Shea [q.v.15] award, in 1993.
Wynn was slight of physique, self-effacing, and quietly spoken yet sociable, and by nature a perfectionist and original thinker. Following his sudden death at Mountadam on 18 February 1995, he was lauded as a visionary who played a crucial role in popularising table wine. He was survived by his wife, their daughter and son, and the daughter from his first marriage. His ashes were scattered on the property and a memorial service was held in April, during that year’s vintage.
Gent, Charles. Mixed Dozen: The Story of Australian Winemaking since 1788. Sydney: Duffy and Snellgrove, 2003; Halliday, James. A History of the Australian Wine Industry 1949–1994. Adelaide: Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation with Winetitles, 1994; Halliday, James. Coonawarra: The History, the Vignerons, and the Wine. Sydney: Yenisey, 1983; Halliday, James. More Vintage Halliday. North Ryde, NSW: Angus & Robertson, 1990; Hooke, Huon. Words on Wine. Sydney: Sydney Morning Herald Books, 1997; Thomas, Daniel. ‘David Wynn: Art and Wine and Music.’ In Wine Australia Yearbook 1996, edited by Nigel Austin, 54–63. Port Melbourne: William Heinemann, 1996.