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Sergeant William Alwyn (“Bill”) Shoesmith. RAAF 21352.

MEA2218
Fano, Italy. c. February 1945.  Sports day for members of No. 3 (Mustang) Squadron RAAF in northern Italy was a day out for the local bookmaker, 21352 Sergeant Shoesmith of Newcastle, NSW. 
Complete with bowler hat and bag, he looks the part as the shouts the odds for the 100 yards "Old Buffers" race (32 and over).  [AWM MEA2218] 

- A Tribute Written by His Family, 2009.

Bill Shoesmith, better known in 3 Squadron as “Shoe-balls” (for reasons that we were never told!) enlisted in the RAAF at the tender age of 19 years.  He was posted to Canberra, and then, after 18 months, to No.1 Embarkation Depot at Ascot Vale in Victoria, destination “Overseas“.  This was in February, 1942.

When he got to camp, he was given Tropical kit, and then they were told that they were off to the Middle East.  It was at this time that Dad met Max Walker, who would become one of his lifelong friends.  Max sadly passed away in February of this year.

They set sail from Melbourne on Friday 3rd April, 1942, and docked at Bombay on 4th May.  Seven days later they arrived in Aden.  They then sailed through the Red Sea and Suez Canal.

They disembarked in Egypt, and went by train to Cairo; then on to Alexandria to relieve the original 3 Squadron boys.  They were told that they would be overseas for 18 months, but actually were in Africa and Europe for 3˝ yrs.  He drove the Canteen truck, picking up mail, and “bargaining” for other supplies to make life a bit more bearable for “the lads”, as he called them.

On one of his canteen runs, he came across Rommel and his tanks on the other side of a sand dune.  They went to have a look at what all of the commotion was about, saw all the tanks and took off!

He had many stories to tell, and if anyone has read the book that he wrote, you will have enjoyed many of them.  He travelled through Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Italy with the canteen truck, sometimes losing the Squadron if they'd moved before he got back and he had to find them again.  All of 3 Squadron held a special place in his heart, which I’m sure all of “the lads” did.

 

Editor's Note:  Click here for some more of Bill's enjoyable reminiscences from his book:
"NOW, DID I EVER TELL YOU ABOUT...  - MEMOIRS OF MY SERVICE"
(AWM manuscript MSS1336).

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