3 Squadron LIFETIMES

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Vale Charles Wilson “Chas” WANNAN. 

March 23, 1922 to July 16, 2016. Aged 94 years

James Oglethorpe writes: 

Chas’s memorial service packed-out the beautiful 300-seat Knox Chapel (at Chas's old school in Wahroonga) and we were uplifted by soaring choral music, moving instrumental solos from his descendants, and accolades from his colleagues in the legal profession and the Australian Inland Mission and Knox Boards.  Two 3SQN pilots from Williamtown attended, which was very much appreciated.  The weather was pristine and we were glad that WW2 veterans Arthur Pardey and Slim Moore could both make it.  Air Marshal (Ret.) Jake Newham was also present. 

Chas's son Rob obtained a RAAF Ensign for the altar.  It looked striking alongside the Association’s wreath, featuring a painting of an early-morning 3SQN mission:

Chas airs his feelings about these missions, “at first light,” in his 2004 Veterans Affairs video interview.  
A speaker at the Service mentioned this video, saying:
"Cancel the speeches, just switch on the big-screen and let Chas tell his own story!"

Chas was a Kittyhawk and Mustang Flight Leader with 3SQN in Italy, 1944-45, flying intensive fighter-bomber missions over land and sea.  While Chas was overseas, the Australian girlfriend of Sid Coates, one of the other 3SQN pilots, found a "pen pal" for Chas. - The pal's name was Joan and she and Chas were married in 1949!  (And the matchmaker was Val Coates, a lifelong friend to the Wannan family.)

After returning from the War, Chas progressed to an outstanding Legal career.  He was a great supporter of his old school, Knox, to which he had won a boarding scholarship in 1934.  (And where he first met the young Arthur Pardey, who also flew Mustangs with 3SQN.)  Chas was a prominent veteran member of 3 Squadron Association and featured at our Canberra Centennial celebrations in February 2016.

- A truly humble and beautiful man. 

Loved and loving husband of Joan for 61 years (she pre-deceased him in 2011).  Much-loved brother of Errol (died 1944, POW in Japan), Betty (dec.), Alan (dec.), Bruce and Bunty.  Loving uncle to their families.  Adored and admired father and father-in-law of the "twins", Peter & Rob; and Bronnie.  Cherished grandfather of James, Caroline & Robert, and Charlie.  Proud great-granddad of Adele.


Message from Neil Smith, 3SQN Association:

To all our 3SQN family, I have just heard the sad news.  Most knew Chas had been suffering for many months.  In the end his passing was peaceful at the “San” Hospital, where he’d been cared-for well during the last few months.  In and out of hospital, but always showing his determination to ‘keep on keeping on’.

We here at The Landings [Chas’s retirement village] and all in 3SQN and 3SQN Association have truly lost a close friend; a WWII Mustang Warrior… And for his entire life, a thorough gentleman, whom I found had one of the sharpest brains - legal and otherwise - I have ever encountered.

I can proudly say that I had the privilege of receiving his keen mentoring and sensible advice covering a variety of issues over the last decade…  I will be personally the poorer to have lost this dear man.  I guess it’s poor consolation, but still a nice thought, that Tom Russell, passing so recently, will be up there to greet him and continue their long friendship, swapping experiences as two old and bold pilots of WWII.

Neil Smith and Chas Wannan at Williamtown.

Message from AIRCDRE Joe IERVASI, OAM:

Neil, it hasn't been a good few weeks, but as you say, at least they'll be together in the Pilot's Bar tonight.  Some great memories, and a privilege to have been a part of their lives, albeit for a short period of time. 


Message from GPCAPT Terry van Haren, DSM:

Very sad to hear.  My son Rhys and I visited Charlie in The San [hospital] only a week ago, on our way to Tommy Russell’s funeral.  Although visibly weak and on oxygen, he was in remarkably good spirits.  He told us stories about joining 3SQN and his initiation to the unit (an arm wrestle with the FLTCDR), plus many other tales.  On the wall in his room was a whiteboard with his Do’s and Don’ts written up by the nurses.  One of the don’ts was ‘Don’t sing with your mouth full’ which I thought captured this man’s spirit very well.


Message from Vicki Crighton, 3SQN Association:

I got to spend some time with Chas last Friday.  We had a good chat and he wanted to get the airliner down to Point Cook with me the next day! - I will miss him too.

3 Squadron LIFETIMES

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