3 Squadron LIFETIMES

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Vale Arthur William PARDEY. 

25 November 1924 to 31 December 2020.
Former NSW 3SQN Association President.  
Aged 96.

“Our Longest-Survived 3SQN WW2 Combat Pilot.”

Arthur at the Squadron’s Centennial in Canberra, 2016.
[Portrait by Dom O’Donnell.]

James Oglethorpe writes: 

Arthur PARDEY died of a sudden heart attack while getting ready for breakfast on the morning of 31/12/20, at his nursing home in the Sydney suburb of Mosman.

Arthur was born in the NSW town of Temora in 1924.  It was a prosperous town in the middle of the NSW wheat belt and Arthur’s father owned a large flour mill, which today is a prominent listed heritage building.  The family had been in the milling industry in the UK and Australia for many generations.

In 1930, when he was only six, unfortunately Arthur’s parents’ marriage broke up and Arthur was sent as a boarder to Knox Grammar School in Sydney. 

Knox 1942

Arthur enjoyed his schooling and excelled in sports, making several lifelong friends from Knox and later becoming a major donor to the school’s infrastructure projects.  By coincidence, this is also where he met Chas WANNAN, later a 3SQN Mustang Flight Leader.  Chas had been an older Prefect when Arthur attended the school.

Unfortunately, Arthur’s last year of schooling was cut short by illness and economic circumstances and he found himself back in Temora, sweeping out the family flour mill on nightshift!  WW2 had already been fought for three years and Arthur signed up for the RAAF on 30/01/43, at the age of 18.  He was selected to be a pilot and was posted for his initial flight training to… Temora!  (His dad enjoyed supervising Arthur’s landing-practice from the aerodrome fence!)  Arthur did further training at the massive RAAF station at Uranquinty NSW and departed for the UK by ship from Sydney in January 1944. 

By this stage in the war, there was a noticeable over-supply of aircrew trainees and Arthur had the lucky break of getting onto high-performance fighters, instead of being sent to Bomber Command.  (The RAAF posting officer was keen on rugby and he knew Arthur had been doing well on the local RAAF team – so Arthur got his wish and was sent first to Egypt and then to Northern Italy to join 3SQN.)  Arthur caught up with the Squadron at Cervia in the final few weeks of the war.

Arthur told a good yarn about why the Germans surrendered in Italy a few days earlier than in Northern Europe:  3SQN had been tasked to cut a railway line with bombs; Arthur missed and accidentally blew the living daylights out of an adjoining pasta-sauce factory.  - Arthur could always imagine the top German General saying, “Mein Gott!  If ze Allies are going to keep doing zis sort of ATROCITY, ve might as well throw ze whole thing in now!”

Arthur with 3SQN Mustang fighter-bombers at Lavariano, Italy, 1945.

The RAAF took quite a while to ship 3SQN back to Australia and Arthur was able to enjoy some amazing tourist experiences in Europe, including thumbing lifts on steam-engines to visit the smashed southern German city of Munich.  (Where his Pilot’s Wings attracted some attention… “I only drive trucks,” lied Arthur!) 

He eventually shipped out from Taranto as a Warrant Officer with 3 Squadron in September 1945 and was back in Australia in time for his 21st birthday!  (Now as a dashing ex-fighter pilot with a new-found love of Italian Opera – he was a “good catch”!)

As a returned serviceman, Arthur took advantage of government educational support to train in flour mill management.  He forged a great career, meeting his wife Bobbie in 1953 while working at a mill in Parkes NSW.  (In another coincidence, Arthur for several years worked for the very large flour conglomerate run by the family of Nigel LOVE, the former 3AFC pilot from WW1.) 

In the late 1960s Arthur made the sort of bold career move that most people only dream of.  He resigned his safe Management position and set up a completely unrelated business venture; importing Portuguese Cork to Australia.  His overseas travel had shown him that there was an opening for an honest and hardworking businessman to provide competition in the parochial Australian market.  He was spectacularly successful, meeting all the famous names in the Australian wine industry and gradually gaining their custom by being a thoroughly reliable and empathetic supplier.  In the end he had a massive business, the wine industry had taken off and “1970s fashion” had seen a bonanza of cork-platform sandals, amongst many other products!

Arthur foresaw the end of wine corks, and he imported some of Australia’s first metal screw-cap machinery, but was unable to convince the conservative wineries to take it up.  - He was an unheeded prophet years ahead of the trend, so Arthur sold out of his cork business at the top of the market!  He then employed his capital wisely in property development and investment ventures

Arthur ringing the bell at the Stock Exchange, as one of Commonwealth Bank’s biggest private shareholders.

A completely “self-made man”, he was still beavering away with his investments up to the age of 93! 

Arthur was always a great supporter of 3SQN Association.  He served a stint as NSW President and would generously make time in his busy schedule to attend get-togethers.  He hosted some very enjoyable Association functions at his Cremorne Point home and his interesting collection of war memorabilia is now preserved with the Squadron at Williamtown. (Including “operational” maps that he “magpied” from the 3SQN Ops Caravan after the German surrender!)

Arthur is survived by his three children: Ian, Jane and Andrew.  Two other daughters pre-deceased him, as did his beloved wife Bobbie in 2014, after 60 years of marriage. 

Tributes from 3SQN Association Members:
(Sampling from many received.)

Joe IERVASI [Air Commander Australia and former CO3, 2006-2008.] 
Deepest condolences.  Both my wife, Donna, and I had the privilege of meeting Arthur on numerous occasions and he was always generous with his time and great entertainment with wonderful stories.  He will be deeply missed.

John LOVE:  Arthur was from one of Australia's oldest families of country flour millers.  When George Weston Foods were expanding their Australian operations, they took over the Co-operative Mill at Brisbane, which had an extensive export business and where Arthur was Chief Executive.  As Weston's National Milling operations expanded, he moved with Bobbie and the family to Sydney, where he was appointed General Manager of the Company's NSW Flour Milling.  Arthur had a great rapport with my brother Jeff, where they shared WW2 aircraft experiences.  They both would meet at the Sydney march on ANZAC DAY and lead the veteran contingent at the head of 3 Squadron RAAF group.   Arthur, like his forbears, was very entrepreneurial and left milling to setup a most successful cork importing business.  He and Bobbie spent their later years at BUPA Aged Care in Mosman, where I would meet them for lunch locally or at the Yacht Squadron Kirribilli, from time to time.  Arthur was a great Australian, who served his Country with distinction and who made an important contribution to the advancement of the Food Industry.

Terry van HAREN [Air Attaché, Australian Embassy, Washington DC, and former CO3, 2008-2011.]
My condolences to all, on the passing of Arthur to the Big Hanger in the Sky.  He will be with all his mates from 3 Squadron in WW2 – the great generation that they were.  I will miss his stories about being the “youngster” of the Squadron, plus his calm and gentle nature.

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