My father, William Wallace McRae, was born on 14 January 1913. When young he lived with his parents, sisters and brother at Tatum and Kyogle on the north coast of NSW. He used to say that he went to school barefoot, on a horse. He came to Sydney with his parents in 1923. They lived in West Ryde, Maroubra and Strathfield. When the Depression hit, his parents moved back north to Coraki but dad had to leave school, stay in Sydney and get a job. He managed to find work at the Bank of New South Wales with the help of his uncle Will. Dad told stories of this work which indicated that he had initiative and that he made a good impression with people. One such person was Alfred Davidson who, I think, worked at the George Street branch of the Bank of NSW. I think he was the man who singled Dad out to be sent to work at a London branch of the bank. What an adventure, what an honour. After Dad died on May 31, 2019, at the age of 106, I found a diary among his books. It starts in 1937 on the day he boarded the ship in Sydney Harbour. This was the beginning of the first leg of his long journey to London. There is a gap of several years in the middle.

The diary ends after he has documented each of his 43 World War II operations flying Wellington bombers. We learn of his travels and experiences prior to the outbreak of war, then of his time in Britain’s Royal Air Force. I have transcribed this diary just as he wrote it. Sometimes I struggled to understand his often minuscule, cramped writing, written hurriedly in probably far from ideal circumstances. It is often in faded pencil. I did the best I could. I hope that you find this document as interesting as I did. What a life, what dedication, what luck, what a man. He is missed.

— Sue Templeman