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Vale Robert Higham GLASSBOROW.
25 July 1913 - 13 January 2014.
Port Tewfik, Egypt. 1940-08-23. Contingent of No. 3 Squadron RAAF "Originals", shortly after arrival at Port Tewfik.
(The man in the centre of the photo with kitbags marked '8583' is Fred Inger, later a Lysander pilot.) [AWM SUK14906]
Robert Glassborow was born in Ouyen, Victoria (at the edge of the tough Victorian Mallee Scrub country) in 1913.
He enlisted in the RAAF early in 1940 and sailed to the Middle East with the contingent of 3SQN “Originals” on 15 July 1940.
At the time of his departure he was ranked 'Aircraftsman AC1', part of the very large group of 55 ‘Wireless Telegraphy Operators’ that the Squadron fielded in its original guise as an ‘Army Co-operation Squadron’. (These men expected to either act as observers in Lysander-type reconnaissance aircraft, or to receive artillery-spotting transmissions from them, as had been the case with 3AFC in the First World War.)
However, soon after their arrival in Egypt, many of Robert's colleagues were unceremoniously deprived of their intended role with No.3 Squadron when the Squadron transitioned to single-seat ‘Fighter’ operations. These W/T Operators were then transferred out to various other British squadrons in Egypt, often flying hazardous single-bomber missions over the Mediterranean. (Several of Robert’s original 3SQN colleagues died on such missions.)
Luckily, Robert managed to stay with 3SQN and was promoted twice during his time with the Squadron, providing mobile communications as the unit moved from airstrip to airstrip across North Africa and Syria in 1941. Robert continued to rise through the ranks in the wartime RAAF after he was rotated out of 3QN and back to Australia at the start of 1942. He was commissioned as an officer in October 1942.
Following the cessation of hostilities in 1945 Robert was demobbed, having recorded nearly six years of service and having attained the final rank of Flying Officer. He had worked his way through various 'Signals' postings, including time overseas once more in Borneo in 1945.
Robert passed away in 2014 at the grand old age of 100.
From the Ranges Trader Mail (Melbourne Hinterland)
CENTENARIAN BOB Glassborow always said his inquiring mind had kept him healthy. The 100-year-old loved a laugh and wanted to always learn new things. The Upwey resident of more than 60 years loved his time in the hills too.
When he met with the Mail just before his 100th birthday in July 2013, he looked back on his many achievements in life with a smile. Born on 25 July 1913 in Ouyen, Victoria, Mr Glassborow (or Glassy to his mates) grew up on his family’s farm about an hour away from Mildura before moving to the Dandenong district to finish his schooling at Dandenong High School.
“I lived with dad and worked on the farm going around doing odd jobs,” Mr Glassborow said. “If you are born on a farm you can do anything, there’s nothing you can’t do.”
He then joined his brother working for life insurance company AMP for a few years before joining the Air Force. “The Air Force took me in because the war started,” Mr Glassborow said. “I spent six years there, I went to the Middle East and spent some time in Australia, too.”
Working as a signals officer, Mr Glassborow, who left his wife Dulcie and two young daughters Barbara and Jenny behind in Australia, was in Borneo when the war ended. “That was an interesting experience,” he said. “We went all over the place, we were supposed to be fighting the war but it was very interesting.”
When he returned home he went back to working in insurance, especially when given the opportunity to hit the road in country Victoria. “I loved that, new towns, new roads, new country people,” he said. “Being from the country myself, they welcomed me with open arms. I really enjoyed life.”
In 1948, Mr Glassborow and the family moved to Upwey. “There was lots of available property then,” he said. “I made a lot of great friends.”
In 1959, he married his second wife Winsome and they continued to live in Upwey. “I loved living in the Valley, if something happened someone always helped out and looked after you,” he said. “Many things changed, but the people is what make a town.”
Mr Glassborow listed his great achievements as two beautiful daughters, his work with the Upwey Tecoma Football Club (which beat Belgrave in its very first Grand Final), being part of the original committee for Knoxbrooke Incorporated and working with the Rotary Club of Belgrave.
[A service to remember Bob Glassborow was held on Wednesday 22 January at Wantirna. The service was followed by a private cremation.]
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