3 Squadron LIFETIMES

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John Patrick “Mick” O’MULLANE.

Flight Mechanic.

9 March 1919 – 25 August 2016.

Mick washes down a Tomahawk fuel spill.  (We presume his pipe wasn’t lit!)

Mick was 20 years old when WW2 was declared.  He joined-up immediately, telling the Recruiting Officer he had, “come to join the Tank Corps.”  When told there wasn’t one, he selected “Air Force”!  

Three months later, one bod was needed to fill the 3 Squadron quota in the Middle East; all names were placed in a hat and Mick's name was drawn!  After a short leave at home in Queensland he boarded the Orontes from Sydney.  It was an exciting time, travelling via foreign ports and up the Suez Canal to Cairo, thence Alexandria and “points west”.

When the German Army besieged Tobruk in 1941, 3 Squadron had to evacuate.  As they were leaving Tobruk, the aircraft that Mick serviced went “missing” and the C.O. sent him and another Engineer, with cans of petrol, back towards the advancing Germans to look for it.  They found the Hurricane on a claypan, burnt out, with no sign of the pilot.

On their way out they had passed a vehicle loaded with wounded men (low on fuel and making slow progress towards Tobruk).  Coming back, they filled-up its petrol.  When Mick regained the outer defences of Tobruk, he alerted the sentries that the wounded were coming in.

Mick and his mate then headed towards Alexandria.  (Only recently Mick said, “There was just so much desert to cross.”)   They caught-up with the Squadron just as it was transferred to Palestine for the invasion of Syria.

Mick had been away for two years when he returned to Australia in poor health.  He spent three months in Greenslopes Military Hospital, Brisbane, undergoing tests for suspected diabetes and nerves, and was told not to leave the care of a doctor.  He was discharged ‘medically unfit’ for further service.  He was at a loss for a while, missing his mates. 

Mick eventually found employment in Brisbane with Qantas, working on DC3 aircraft.  One day he was approached by Lester Brain, Qantas CEO, and asked whether he would be interested in helping maintain the aircraft flying from Townsville to Port Moresby.  (Taking safe-hand mail and supplies to General Blamey’s staff.  Alternating two-weeks-about in Port Moresby with another Engineer.)  Too Right!  It proved to be a most interesting period for Mick.  There was plenty of activity with Australian and American troops; visiting Army units, cleaning out stray Japanese soldiers from the area, and flying over mountain ranges.

After New Guinea he went to Alice Springs to work for Connellan Airways and saw a lot of the Northern Territory and outback Western Australia.  It was at Conellan that he met his future wife Gwen (the office receptionist!).  Gwen and Mick left Alice Springs and got married in Adelaide.  Mick worked for a while at Parafield Aerodrome in South Australia before they headed to Western Australia.  He found employment with Airlines WA, later with McRobertson-Miller and Civil Flying Service.  Mick remained in the aviation industry for his entire working life.  His love of aircraft was born during his service years.

Mick continued to attend 3 Squadron functions and marched on ANZAC Day whilst he was able.  He passed away peacefully on 25th August 2016, aged 97 years. 

He will be remembered for his good humour and favourite saying: “Kindness in another’s trouble, bullshit in your own!” 

3 Squadron LIFETIMES

3 Squadron RAAF HOME / Search