Square Dance BOOMIron Lung Life Support

From the Iron Lung

Jim crashes his mossieJim's War Diary

Flight Lieutenant Jim Vickers-Willis (#409626 RAAF) served Australia proud during the second World War as an RAAF Flying Instructor, based in Canada. In his autobiography ‘The Magic of Life’ Jim says he firmed up his idea of "joining the [air force] after we had our first 16-mile route march in the Army (before breakfast!)”. Jim flew Harvards, Hurricanes, Mosquitos, and Spitfires - and survived swatting his mossie (pictured at left).

Jim Vickers-Willis Coming HomeBefore War, Jim was a cadet journalist. Not surprisingly, he wrote a diary during his service years - what is now a unique historical account. Jim's diary is available to read via the download link at right.

Like today’s reality TV shows, Jim's diary provides an intimate personal insight into typical daily life of an RAAF service man - revealing his training, his duties, his thoughts, his adventures, his loves, his hopes, his fears, his guilt, his Aussie humour, and some tragedies of this war.....and his thoughts on arriving safely home (pictured at right).

Below are some quotes from Jim's diaries:

“Each morning we are supposed to get up at 6.15 for physical training, but as we don’t get enough sleep we dodge it when possible (i.e. usually). Those who go on the physical training parade have to sign their names on a list to show they were there. The list is left in the hall while the instructors are conducting the physical training and thereby hangs a tale. Usually one or two of us get up and wait till everyone is outside bending and stretching then quietly enter by the back door and sign the names of all the Aussies! Deep snores echo from our hut while outside they puff.”

“Today, I had my first trip in a Mosquito……Went solo after three more circuits and then pranged….I thought I’d had it.” (see post-crash photo above).

“This morning a couple of pupils had a collision while dog fighting and one crashed in flames and was killed and the other managed to get down, but attempted to make a forced landing with his wheels down and pranged badly, going over on his back. However, he got out all right….In that crash the instructor, Flight Lieutenant Patterson, did a pretty good job. When the planes collided, the pupil's cockpit top was jammed and he could not bale out. Patterson could have baled out and left the plane to crash (it was practically out of control) but he stuck to the plane and managed to make a forced landing, and so saved the pupil's life - a good show."

“…..flew over a place where a couple of Canadian girls I know live and looped and rolled, did rolls off the top (immelmans) stall turns, etc… It was just sheer showing off and it is the first time I have done this in a plane, but it made me feel better. Later I found out the girls were not in!”

“At mess, we are supposed to wear ties and jackets. Although most of the Englishmen, Canadians, Americans, etc. etc. obey this regulation, none of the Aussies do and turn up in shorts with open shirts. Today, when we arrived for lunch, Corporals were on duty and sent all the Aussies back to put on the regulation uniform. The boys came back wearing their ties as bow-ties, with their hats on sideways like highwaymen, or pushed out at the top cowboy fashion, trousers rolled half way to the knees, etc. The whole mess was in fits as they came parading in past the NCO’s.”

“… I wasn't quite sure where we were when we were some distance from the drome and as I [the flying instructor] didn't want to let him {my student] know I was lost, I told him to set a course for home and left him to it….We got there O.K.”


A link to some very interesting profiles of more than 50 other RAAF service men - predominantly from World War II - is included at right (click on LINKS).

Back to Top

Download Jim's War Diary

Download "Teaching the Fighter Pilots!"
Note: All materials remain
Copyright©Vickers-Willis Corporation, 2017,
and cannot be distributed without consent

203 Page eBook + 50 photos

RAAF History Preserved
©Vickers-Willis Corporation P/L

Click here to listen to Jim chatting to Peter Bech on Radio 98.1 FM about his service during World War II - recorded on 23 June, 2004 (8min24sec).

Jim Vickers-Willis RAAF War Diaries
Back centre - that's Jim

Link to RAAF Museum

Other RAAF AirCrew Profiles

A link to 50+ Aircrew profiles
compiled by Eric Cathcart
Stored by RAAF Museum, Point Cook

Peter Dunn's
"Australia at War" web site

A link to the RAAF section of an interesting and comprehensive site being compiled on the history of military units, military camps, POW camps, military airfields, bunkers, over 2,000 military aircraft crashes, Japanese bombing raids, etc, in Australia during WW2.

Return to JIM'S STORY

All materials on this site are Copyright©Vickers-Willis Corporation, 2017