Home' Aerogram : Aerogram 2011 4 December Contents Aerogram December 2011
About the author
Dr John Williamson AM OStJ
Born in Queensland in 1936, John is married to
Noeleen (BSc [Biochem] Qld.) with four children
and one grandaughter. John is a retired specialist
anaesthetist with additional qualifications in
marine toxinology and diving and hyperbaric
medicine. His clinical anaesthesia and intensive
care experience includes Melbourne, Townsville,
Wales, Saskatchewan and Adelaide.
He is a former National Serviceman (Army, Wacol,
Queensland) and a retired Wing Commander from
the RAAF Medical Specialist Reserve (No. 27 Sqn.
RAAF Garbutt, North Queensland and No.24 Sqn.
RAAF Edinburgh, South Australia.
His research experience includes clinical
anaesthesia, marine medicine, hyperbaric
medicine, aeromedivac retrieval and patient
safety. He retired as a part-time Specialist
Consultant to the Australian Patient Safety
Foundation Inc., based in Adelaide.
He works in retirement as a volunteer guide at the
Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance. His interests
include military history, patient safety, vexillology
(the collection and study of flags) and genealogy.
1 Throughout this paper, parentheses are used within the text to enclose specific words or
phrases to indicate a direct verbatim extract from AP Lawrence’s Service Record, or from the
references shown in the Footnotes. As the Service Record extracts are reproduced faithfully,
it would appear in some instances that incorrect punctuation was used in the Service Record
itself. Elsewhere italics are used to explain some contemporary military abbreviations and his
Military Cross verbatim citations are also reproduced in italics.
2 Australians at War. ©Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs. 2001.
3 World War 1 abbreviations used in this paper are those used in Service Records and military
customs of that time. For example, although the abbreviation “RAAF’ is now customarily
rendered without punctuation, throughout the body of this text it is written “R.A .A .F.”, as was
then the custom.
4 Parkhouse was one of a number of AIF training camps and contained several depots
including the AAMC depot.
5 “ Pyrexia” simply means a raised body temperature. A “PUO” is a medical way of saying we do
not (yet) know the cause of the raised temperature!
6 “Passchendaele” was the spelling used during the time of WWI. The present spelling is
“Passendale” (personal communication, Johan Dumez, Waregem, Belgium).
7 John Laffin. Montbrehain, a Guide to Australian Battlefields of the Western Front 1916-1918,
3rd Edition. East Roseville, NSW. Kangaroo Press. 1999:156-157.
8 Laffin John. Digger: The Legend of the Australian Soldier. The Macmillan Company of
Australia Pty Ltd, South Melbourne 3205. 1986:121 and 220.
9 see http://www.awm.gov.au/cms_images/AWM28/l/122P2/0158.pdf
10 Woden Valley Sub-Branch R.S .L. The serviceman, Special Eddison Park Edition No. 7 (“The
Anzac Edition), Canberra. 1998:10
11 The eastern direction chosen for this journey seems curious, as hostilities had by then
12 The Fredericksberg was a converted captured German vessel. During the journey back to
Australia it had on board-many German prisoners and on arrival in Fremantle, the ship’s crew
refused to sail on unless these prisoners were taken off.
13 Walker A. S. Medical Services of the R.A .A.F. in, Medical Services of the R.A .N. and R.A .A .F.;
Part 11. Canberra. Australian War Memorial 1961:173-179. According to some other
sources, in 1920 the Australian Air Force was initially termed the “Australian Air Corps” .
14 Walker A. S. Medical Services of the R.A .A.F. in, Medical Services of the R.A .N. and R.A .A .F.;
Part 11 Canberra. Australian War Memorial 1961:173-179.
15 The more accurate designation of this aircraft, i.e . whether a DH9 or a DH9A and its
subsequent series numbering, are not known to the author.
16 The accuracy of this altitude was doubtful, for altimeters of that time were not completely
reliable, especially at higher altitudes. In addition both airmen’s abilities would have been
seriously affected by hypoxia!
17 “Central cyanosis” is the serious clinical sign of a visible blue discolouration, particularly of
the lips – and tongue, due to inadequate oxygen supply to the vital organs of the body. Its
significance was neatly expressed by the Queensland neurosurgeon, Dr Ken Jamieson: If the
lips are blue, the brain is too!
18 One can only wonder how the pilot also felt and how safe his flying was at the time! If this
early experiment was ever published its whereabouts is not yet known to the author.
19 The SS Jervis Bay, converted from a merchant ship and fitted with just seven 6-inch guns in
1939 to become HMS Jervis Bay, in November 1940, gallantly engaged the German pocket
battleship Admiral Scheer in unequal combat in the Atlantic, to protect the allied convoy it
was escorting. HMS Jervis Bay was left a blazing wreck and her Captain, Captain Edward
Fegen RN (awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously), and many of her gallant crew were
killed in action, in this courageous naval action.
20 Lawrence’s wife Amy died on 6 August 1966 and is interred in the same grave with him, in
In 2003, the writer stumbled upon the significant early Point
Cook achievements of then Squadron Leader Lawrence,
recorded in Dr Allan Walker’s nationally valuable publication.
When the writer sought further information about this Officer
from various likely sources within the limits of his own
resources, he was surprised to strike repeated blanks. In the
absence of the writer’s knowledge of any other previously
documented accounts of Group Captain Lawrence’s life and
achievements, there appeared to be an inappropriate gap for
such a significant military and medical life? The writer would be
most grateful to learn if Group Captain AP Lawrence’s military
life (other than those in Dr Walker’s seminal 1961 publication)
has been documented elsewhere.
It is a pleasure to acknowledge the detailed support, information,
and encouragement of Group Captain Lawrence’s family, especially
that of Commander (RAN Ret.) Jim and Mrs Suzette Hume (née
Lawrence), Dr and Mrs Steve Lawrence and their son, Dr John
Lawrence. Between them they supplied many WW1, Air Force and
family details and photographs, kindly reviewed and corrected the
draft writings and patiently answered many questions. Gratitude is
also expressed to Pat Hall who provided valuable general Air Force
details. Johan Dumez in Belgium, kindly assisted with some details
relating to WW1 terminology. Finally the manuscript was expertly
reviewed by friends Colin Simpson and Peter Harvey, both
prominent members of the Military Historical Society of Australia.
Their input significantly improved the accuracy and readability of
this report. Any deficiencies and inaccuracies remain the
responsibility of the author’s alone.
Arthur Poole Lawrence and his wife, Amy, share a resting place at
the Templestowe cemetery
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