Jean, a champion to all
AUTHOR and historian Jean Haughton James (nee Philp) died recently at the age of 96.
Born at Wyaralong in Boonah, Queensland, on January 20, 1915, she passed away on September 28.
Jean trained as a Tresilian Mothercraft Nurse and practiced in outback Queensland before joining the WAAAF in World War II. She was in the first group of eight WAAAF to be posted to Evans Head as motor transport drivers, a "challenging" role at the time. Jean married in April 1944 while in the WAAAF and subsequently raised two daughters, Christine and Kathy, with her husband Doug, who predeceased her.
Jean published two books with fellow WAAAF Sheila Manley while in her late seventies on the history of No.1 Bombing and Gunnery School and No.1 Air Observers School at Evans Head.
As We Knew It and Wings at War: RAAF at Evans Head 1939-1945 sold out, and a second edition of Wings is still in strong demand.
Her books inspired playwright Paul Johnson to pen Women With Wings, which told of the personal side of WWII at Evans Head, and which played to packed houses.
Jean played a major role in bringing together veterans who served and trained at Evans Head during the war for annual reunions and marshalled them to support the listing of the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome on the NSW State Heritage Register in recognition of the more than 1000 personnel who trained at Evans Head and lost their lives, many in Bomber Command.
Jean was inaugural patron of two community-based organisations, The Evans Head Living Museum & Community Technology Centre and the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome Committee.
Jean was widely respected because of her outstanding capacity to relate to others and strong belief in fairness and justice and the importance of human endeavour in maintenance of the fabric of a democratic society.
While a corporal in the WAAAF, she was successful in bringing to courtmartial a case against a very senior officer, a David-and- Goliath story that has yet to be told publicly and about which she felt strongly even at the end of her life. Jean will be remembered for her significant contribution to the recording of the World War II history of Australia and preservation of its physical heritage, capacity to motivate others and persistence. She is sorely missed.