(1914 – 1944)

A West Perth boy, William Robert Cuthbertson attended Hale School where he was dux in both 1930 and 1931. He was at St George’s College from 1934 to 1937. One of the founders of the University Camp for Boys (later Camp for Kids) which was manned and run before the war by St George’s students, Bill was memorable as the first camp cook.

After gaining Bachelor of Science (1936) and Master of Science degrees from UWA, he sailed for England and completed his PhD at Leeds University before embarking on a career as a research scientist. He worked briefly for the Wool Industries Research Association in Leeds where he co-authored a paper on The Action of Alkalis on Wool (Biochemical Journal, 1945). The paper was not received until 28 July 1944, by which time Bill had been killed.

Bill joined the RAF and trained as a navigator, being posted 101 Squadron, RAF Ludford Magna in Lincolnshire. From here its Lancaster crews participated in the battle of Hamburg and the raid on the secret German rocket site at Peenemunde. A Germanspeaking operator joined each crew to scan the German wireless frequencies and use transmitters on the aircraft to jam those supporting Luftwaffe night fighters. However, the signals emitted by this equipment also made the aircraft easy to home onto and 101 Squadron suffered heavy losses as a result. They flew on more raids than any other bomber squadron and suffered the highest casualties of any RAF unit in the war, losing 1176 aircrew killed in action.

Bill Cuthbertson and the crew of his Lancaster died on 1 July 1944 and are buried at Langon Village, 50km south-east of Blois.

St George’s College Archives