Billie, and other stories
FLYING Officer Billie Strike-McClelland was popular with the kitchen staff at the Evans Head RAAF training area back in 1944.
They would often pile his plate up with his favourite sweets at meal times. On March 7, 1944, they waited for him to come and get his meal, but he never came.
McClelland was one of a number of RAAF personnel killed when the Avro Anson aircraft he was piloting on a navigation exercise disintegrated in mid-air.
He is buried in the Evans Head War and General Cemetery and his headstone is part of a new exhibition called Stories Behind the Headstones, which has opened at the Evans Head Living Museum.
Air Commodore Tim Innes, Commander RAAF Combat Support Group, recently officially opened the exhibition which explores the lives of each of the 29 RAAF personnel buried in the cemetery and examines official records regarding the cause of death of each individual, from snakebite to aircraft accident.
The exhibition opening coincided with the annual reunion of World War II Veterans who trained and served at Evans Head during World War II and was attended by a number of World War II Veterans from around Australia.
Representatives from the RAAF Association in Ballina, Richmond Valley Council Mayor Ernie Bennett and his wife, active RAAF personnel and members of the community were in attendance.
More than 5500 RAAF personnel were at Evans Head during World War II, and the Evans Head War Cemetery is only one of two official War Graves in northern NSW.
Exhibition curator is Geoffrey Clements, poster design and artwork is by Marina McPhee, museum research by Judith Saunders, photography and editing by Richard Gates.
The exhibition is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9am-1pm or by appointment.