454 and 459 RAAF Squadrons
Warrant Officer Harold (Blue) Edwin MUNCE
454 RAAF Squadron
Service No. 425873
Date of Birth: 16 Jan 1924
Place of Birth: BRISBANE, QLD
Date of Enlistment: 21 May 1942
Date of Discharge: 14 Sep 1945
Rank: Warrant Officer
Date of Death: 1 Dec 2009
Ron Barton - Pilot
Bunny Rabbits - Nav
Blue Munce - WAG
Kev O'Brien - WAG
WW2 began at Wireless School in Maryborough (Qld), then gunnery at Evans Head, Brisbane to San Francisco on U.S. Matsonia, to Taunton (Mass.) by train, New York to Greenock (Scot) in the Queen Mary, south to Brighton, then back to Dumfries in Scotland. To Port Said on the "SS Sibajak"" (the troop ship from "hell" - ]12,040 ton ship, built in 1927 for the East Indies service]) then to Cairo, then various places till finally to Squadron 454 at Benghazi
Funny stories from Kev O'Brien , Blue's friend from 454:
One day while I was sitting in the turret happily shooting down M E 109's, F W 190's, J U 88's (in my imagination).... Harold 'Blue' Munce - was watching bombs dropping on target through the bottom hatch when something flew past his head and disappeared below. He called me on the intercom -- "Hey Kev your parachute has just fallen out!". "No Blue, that was your chute". "No Kev I've still got mine" And so the conversation continued till -- "You be nice to me Kev, you know you need me to jerk the quick release catch for you to get out of the turret!" "OK Blue, it was my chute!" From up the front -- "You two shut-up back there, we're here on serious business!".
Of course I knew that if the worst happened Blue would hand me the chute -- "Here Kev, you take it, I'll stay with the aircraft". "No Blue I cant let you sacrifice your life for me!" "Yes Kev, you're a better bloke than I am - the world can ill afford to lose you!" He was right of course. "OK Blue, I'll see you get a posthumous VC for this!". From up the front again "will you two shut-up!! If you're going to go on like this whenever we go out, I'll leave you at home next trip!". In response to that terrible threat all we could do was make rude signs with our fingers towards the front, who would like to miss a chance to get shot down? As it happened , of course, nothing bad happened till we got home when the parachute section refused to believe that we could let a chute fall out. "You buggers have pinched the thing and are going to flog it to the tailor in the village!". Sometimes the truth just cant be believable!
Here is an incident remembered by Blue - and told by Kev O'Brien
We were taking off from Benghazi one time in order to escort a convoy when a freak gust of violent wind blew us off the runway. We were heading for some buildings too fast to stop, so in a panic Ron retra ted the wheels and we did a ground loop - slid on the belly of the aircraft in a circle till eventually stopping in a cloud of dust! Blue looked out the window and announced that we hadn't caught fire. I had seen too many of the aircraft that the pilots were converting to from Avro Ansons that did burn on crashing and didn't feel too confident about our situation. There were three versions about what happened next.
That Blue wore the tread-marks of my flying boots up his back for the next few weeks - absolutely untrue!
That I courteously said "after you Blue" and waited for him to leave first - nearly true!
Blue's account. That I yelled "get out!" and threw him out the top hatch (our usual way out through the bottom hatch was deep in the sand of the desert). Probably nearly true! Blue was lost in admiration of my strength under terror and referred to me thereafter as "Mighty Mouse!"