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Elsie Florance

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103792 A.C.W. Wilson E.

The day the article was being reported (see end of story for article), I was not at Pearce Air Base. I was in Hollywood Hospital having my tonsils removed for my 21st birthday.

After my basic training at Karrinyup Golf Course (it was taken over for the duration of the War). One other lass (Ruth Davey, married name Triate) and I were posted to Geraldton. We were only there a few weeks when we both sat for an examination. We were accepted to train as instrument repairers. Ruth and I were sent to Perth. There was a base on the Esplanade. We were the first 2 girls to be trained. There were 40 men in the class. Ruth and I had to march over to Perth Tech every day. In the final exam at Perth Tech, I came 3rd and Ruth 4th. A lot of the men were watch repairers, so they were used to doing the sort of work we had to learn. From Perth we were sent to Sydney and had to attend Ultimo Tech. Our first air base was Boulder Race Course. It was taken over and made into a repair base.

From Boulder I was posted to Cunderdin Air Training Base. The Air Crew used to learn to fly in the Tiger Moth planes. They had to be flying by 3am because it was too hot for them in the middle of the day, too many hot air bumps from the ground. I was moved around to many air bases. The last one was Pearce.

After we worked on a plane we had to go up in it for a test flight. We were given control to fly, but we were not allowed to land or take off. One of my test flights was in a Beaufort, the flight was up north. My trip up north during the War (WWII) left Pearce Air Base, flew to Corunna Downs, then on to Noonkanbah, from Noonkanbah to Broome. The plane was a Beaufort. I had to sit in the bubble of the nose, it was made of plastic so I could see everything as we were flying. I had earphones so the pilot could speak to me. For the trip I was made Sgt. I was not permitted to eat with the airmen.

The pilot had to send a message to say a lady was on board and make sure the men had shorts on. The plane was being tested because it was being sent up to the islands to fight the Japs.

(In the article attached, A.C.W. Sexton F, is Florence Sexton, nee Cowcill).

When Viv made the hatch-door (see attachment, Henry Florence, page 45), he had his leg in plaster. He was bored with nothing to do, so he went to the workshop and signed out tools, nails, bolts and screws. The fence round the Air Base training school was made of wood (in fact a lot of places in Canada and America have wooden fences, even some jails). The hatch-door was covered by shrub and bush, as the men used it they had to pull a bush behind them to cover over their footprints. It was winter and the ground was covered with snow. The S. P. (Service Police) did eventually find the door and it was sealed off to stop the unofficial leave. Viv’s Air Crew No. 441525, pilot passed exams.

My brother-in-law, Ronald Arthur Florance, joined the Navy. He was on the JARRARD when the Japs bombed Darwin Harbour. Ron was wounded and he had to stay in hospital.

Ron married Ann Taylor Geekie and they had 6 children (2 girls and 4 boys). Peter Ronald Florance, my eldest nephew was a Duntroon graduate. He was a Colonel when he retired from the Army.

My son Robert John George Florance joined the Army. He was in Vietnam just a couple of weeks when he and a corporal were talking down a chopper, the Viet Cong came in and shot the corporal. Robert was made a corporal in a few days. Both Peter and my son were in the permanent army. Rob was a Sgt when he retired. He was attached to the Americans Army at The Fire Base (MACE), it was on the border between North and South Vietnam.

Rob and Peter were first cousins. He grew up with Peter. The first time Rob had to go to Peter’s office, he walked in and said “How are you Pete”, then the army training kicked in. He saluted and said “Sir”, it is hard when they are the same family. Rob and Peter were in Vietnam at the same time, Peter was at the Army Base in South Vietnam (Nue Dat). Peter was helping the withdrawal of the troops, it was on the T.V.

The printed pages below are out of the family history book of the Florance family. Peter’s wife Sandra researched and printed it ‘The Chichester Connection, The Florance Family 1700 – 1977’.

Sandra organised a family reunion when she launched the book. People came from all over Australia, every state, New Zealand and Kangaroo Island. The family are all round the world, America, Canada, Europe, Italy, Normandy in France. The first Florance members went to England with William the Conqueror.


A history of the Florance family 1833-1878n

Above: an extract from The Chichester Connection, The Florance Family 1700 – 1977, with details on Arthur Benjamin Florance and Robert Henry Florance

 Photographs: (top) Robert Henry Florance and Edith Esther Welton; (bottom) Robert Florance, Edith Florance, and sons


Above: a photograph of (left) Robert Henry Florance and Edith Esther Walton on their wedding day 21.9.1921; A Qualifying Certificate for Edith Walton 20.10.1915. The Head Teacher was A.F. Florance; the State Saw Mills Reference for Robert (Bob) Florance 1934; and a photograph of Robert (Bob) Henry Florance and Edith (nee Walton) Florance with sons Vivian Robert (left) and Ronald Arthur (right), c. 1940.

The details of Robert and Edith (Bob and Edie) Florance and their three sons, Vivian Robert, Ronald Arthur and John.  

Above: The details of the eldest of Robert and Edith (Bob and Edie) Florance's three sons, Vivian Robert, who joined the Militia in the 10th Light Horse before World War II and later married Elsie Wilson in 1948.

Newspaper article, "Woman's Realm: Work of the W.A.A.A.F." which mentions Vivian's wife Elsie Wilson 

Above: a newspaper article, "Woman's Realm: Work of the W.A.A.A.F." which mentions Vivian's wife, Elsie Wilson, who was one of the first girls enlisted for technical work at the Pearce RAAF station.


Acknowledgement of Country

The Government of Western Australia acknowledges the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.