Rolly Ward - pilot
The pilot was Rowland (Rolly) Telford Ward, age 21, the only son of Edwin and Emily Ward. They lived at 6 Brassie Street, North Bondi, Sydney.
From an early age Rolly had exhibited an easy-going, gregarious nature which made him a popular figure with many boys. Rolly is shown here on the right.
He excelled in sport and was made the captain of his very successful school football team.
On leaving schoool be became a clerk in the Customs Service, though he soon volunteered for the RAAF on 10 October 1942. He was passed fit for aircrew, though at 5' 5" tall, weighing 8st 5lbs and a potential bomber pilot he was quite small. Rolly was issued with a lapel badge to show his membership of the RAAF Aircrew Reserve and told there would be a wait of some months before his call-up. Shortly afterwards he received an issue of twenty one books which he was required to study; they covered mathematics, Air Force law, theory of flight and related subjects.
In January 1943 he was posted to No.10 Elementary Flying Training School (EFTS) Temora, where he spent two months learning to fly in the de Havilland Tiger Moth. If there was any doubt at all in Rolly’s mind about just what he was getting into, it would have been dispelled in March with two fatal accidents involving members of his course.
On 2 March 1943 19 year old LAC Brian Flynn from Waverley NSW, took off to do circuit and landing practices, he had just 1 hour of flying experience since his first solo. As he approached the airfield on a gliding turn, the Tiger Moth spun into the ground killing Flynn instantly. The probable cause of the accident was attributed to poor technique on behalf of the trainee pilot.
Just over a week later, on 10 March, LAC Frank Brooker from Artarmon NSW took off in Tiger Moth A17-433 accompanied by his instructor Sgt Cyril Plisch, the latter having 527 solo hours on Tiger Moths. At 10.15, the aircraft struck the ground 7 miles south-east of the airfield, bursting into flames and killing both occupants. The cause of the crash was unknown, although it occurred in a low flying area so again pilot inexperience (Frank Brooker had just under 4 hours solo, though 14 ½ hours dual on Tiger Moths) could have been the reason. Other accidents had been caused by severe down-draughts on the leeward side of hills in the area.
A typical scene at an Australian flying school, a mixture of pupils and instructors in front of their Tiger Moths.