Thoughts over the next few days turn to those who served in the military and remembrance. Penny Robertson who lives in Australia has kindly shared these photos. In an interesting email she told me,
“My father William Sprott was born in Blantyre in 1918, so I’m attaching a few photos of him, and especially of his service in the RAAF and RAF during WWII.
He had quite a good memory of Blantyre because, after they had emigrated to Australia, my grandmother, Margaret Sprott (nee McQuater) became terribly homesick for everything she missed so much. So she took my father and his younger brother, Andrew, back to Blantyre, where they stayed and my Dad went to school. His father remained here in Sydney because by that time, he had a job and couldn’t afford to go back and forward. My grandmother finally realised that their future lay in Sydney, especially as her elderly, widowed mother, Marion McQuater (nee Aiton) agreed to come with them. This seems really remarkable when I think of that now.
My father enlisted in the RAAF on the 11th November, 1940. He went to Canada to join the Empire Training Scheme, where he received his Wings. During his years of Operational Flying, he also became an Instructor of RAF pilots and navigators in multi-engined aircraft. He was promoted through the ranks and became the Squadron Leader of RAF 204 Squadron. He was always proud of the fact that his final official rating as both Captain and Instructor was ‘Exceptional’. I gather it was difficult to achieve this rating. His flying years ended on 15th June, 1945 and he was very lucky to have survived so long, considering the dangers he had faced.
He was a wonderful man and I realise now he had PTSD and survivor’s guilt for all the years after the war. But he was always cheerful and upbeat and had a successful career in business. I think his Scottish stoicism and understanding of people and their frailties were of great benefit to him. He was kind and generous and the hard life they had lived when he was growing up may well have aided in his appreciation of everything life could offer. There must be a lot to be said for the Scottish outlook on life! I do think there is a family resemblance between him and the William Sprott, his uncle, who died in the Blantyre mine explosion of 1930. I like to think that, although that William Sprott perished, his nephew survived until he was 82.
The three photos are a) of him on getting his Wings, b) as a Flight Lieutenant, a bit more worldly wise and c) as a Squadron Leader with all that responsibility. Dad used to say you could see the difference in the eyes and that this was a real representation of someone who had seen a great deal.”
Squadron Leader Sprott is pictured and I have to say he is exactly how I would think many British military airmen were ‘turned out’, sporting a moustache and looking very dapper.
Simon Irwin contacted me later and said, “My father, John Irwin, was in 204 Squadron in West Africa with William Sprott and flew Sunderlands with him out of Jui and Bathurst many times as his 2nd Pilot. He is listed in my dad’s log book many times between March and May 1945. My dad was also an instructor and when he qualified as a Captain of a Sunderland in June 1945 it was commented on and signed by S/Ldr Sprott. I can make print copies of these pages if family require them – Simon Irwin”