WWII veteran to soar the sky again at 91

The Royal Australian Air Force. Photo dated 1944. Source: Dux Homunculorum
The Royal Australian Air Force. Photo dated 1944. Source: Dux Homunculorum

The first time Bill Purdy step on to the skies was when he was a young man enlisted to join in one of the biggest battles in history. He was then 21 when he first flew on a mission. After the war, he pursued a successful career in sales and marketing. 

On ANZAC Day this year, the WWII veteran will once again soar high for The Great Tiger Moth Air Race as one of the last existing Lancaster bomber pilots of the Second World War. It is one of Australia’s biggest national occasion. And for the special occasion, the WWII had his pilot’s license and medical renewed. 

Mr. Purdy, now 91, will be in charge of the race formation for two days. The race formation will comprise the much anticipated memorial leap over of the Sydney Harbor Bridge on ANZAC DAY morning.

The “ Tiger Moth” is known for its history as a training ground for skilled pilots in the course of World War II, according to race director Richard Brougham. He further added that Bill Purdy is much suited to head the formation for his contribution in the battle and his combat pilot skills. 

Pilots gear for Great Tiger Moth Air Race, a vintage air race of various planes all over the country on Anzac Day. Heading the race formation is World War II veteran, Billy Purdy, now 91 years old.

The Royal Newcastle Aero Club at Luskintyre took on the task of raising funds for this year’s competition. The efforts to raise funds is intended for the LIFT Youth Development Program, an aviation program for those “at risk”. The funds will also go to Soldier On, an aid organization giving assistance to physically and mentally wounded soldiers of Australia.

“This charitable trust is all about serving those soldiers who have came back from their present fight in the Middle East as well as those who have returned from Afghanistan,” Mr. Brougham said. “ It’s easy enough for the majority of us to run away from this war but there are countless who are left with long-lasting memento in that struggle so we want to attach this charity in with the race.”

The Maitland Mercury reports that the first Tiger Moth race was recorded on 1977. The race was organized to examine and display the airmanship of several pilots who joined. There have been 13 competitions since then with the last race being held in 2013. The event is revived this year. This year’s race will feature pilots and machines all over the nation.

April 25, 2014 will be one of the biggest events in Australia also with the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day landings of World War II just around the corner. The yearly celebration is offered in honor of the Australian soldiers who served the Second World War. The pilots who will fly the skies on Anzac Day will make history with a war veteran like Mr. Purdy heading the formation.



Siegphyl is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE