© 2009 454 & 459 RAAF Squadrons
454 RAAF Squadron Dessert Air Force - Italy 1944-45
Squadron Leader L.A. Lindsay "Woppy" Wardlaw
Wireless Operator / Air Gunner & Gunnery Leader
Service Number 408180
“Managing the Airman's Mess PSI Funds”
(written by George Gray -- a Tribute for the 2003 Bulletin)
Lindsay Wardlaw was an “early bird”. No 1 Empire Training Scheme trained in Australia as a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner (WAG) in Don Fraser's Baltimore second tour crew, to take over as a formation leading bombing crew, with Don as a Flight Commander and “Woppy” as WAG, and also President of the Airmen Mess PSI Fund among other ground administrative duties. Their tour was mainly spent during several months of 454's Desert Air Force's (DAF) Gothic Line daylight formation strikes, laying their well tried “Tedder bombing carpet” in the “Rover David Cab Rank” attacks on enemy strong points in that defensive fortifications based on the Apennines Range across Italy.
The crew led some 40 day medium level formation bombing missions for DAF's intensive strikes, woeful wet weather permitting – usually in boxes of 6,9 or at times 12, flown across 10,000 – 12,000 feet in quite mountainous country. With the fighter wings available for cover only occasionally needed) but usually in their devastating dive bombing role, the strikes were after “ack-ack” – rough, and sometimes in full view of our Squadron members from our forward strip!!! On each of 3 days for example in one month 454 managed 36 bombings sorties (3 boxes of 12) each day.
I shared a tent with Woppy at Falconara; he had a perpetually cheerful “chortle” (between a laugh and a giggle) it was his trademark style.
My personal anecdote refers to a more relaxed ground role. Whilst I was Squadron Bombing Leader and also Officer's Mess Secretary, Woppy managed the Airmens' Mess PSI Funds which financed purchases of extra rations (scarce fresh eggs and fresh tomatoes for example).
Sharing the tent I was inevitably caught up in Woppy's PSI accountant/management responsibilities. I Remember with rueful amusement helping to straighten out hundreds of crumpled Lira notes – both military and the local undervalued Italian currency); sorting into bundles and counting. We grabbed handfuls at a time from the suitcase, left unlocked under Woppy's fold up canvas bed. The bundles were assembled on our service blanket on an earthen floor, then paid to the Airmen's Mess Purchasing Corporal to pay for the extras rations. Occasionally a couple of Kiwis (New Zealand infantrymen) who had bedded down overnight in our tent whilst on a day or twos relief from front line duties “laughed their heads off” at our counting antics. Lindsay, an experienced accountant in peaceful days was meticulous in his tallying and recording of payments for approved purchases from the PSI fund. Our dealings with the local Italians was carefully managed at all times – by then Mussolini has disappeared.
We have missed Woppy's typically friendly manner since age and ill health slowed him down. We recall a good friend and mate whom we will never forget.
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