William Simpson “Bill” McAloney GC OBE (AM exchanger)

b. 12/05/1910 Adelaide, Australia. d. 31/08/1995 Sandringham, Victoria, Australia.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 31/08/1937 Hamilton, Australia.

William Simpson “Bill” McAloney (1910-1995) was born on 12th May 1910 in Adelaide, South Australia, the 2nd of  children (and eldest son) of William Samuel and Mary Ann McAloney (nee Murphy). He attended Trebarton School and the Adelaide School of Mines. From there he joined the South Australian Tractor Company in 1928 and worked as a salesman for it for the next three years. In 1931 he purchased a garage and engineering workshop and in 1935 married Dora (Dorrie) Winifred Johnson, a young farmer’s daughter. Sadly, times were financially tough and bankruptcy became an inevitability. As a result, Bill decided to join the Royal Australian Air Force, a popular decision with Dorrie, who wished for city life and not the outback.

William S “Bill” McAloney GC OBE

Bill enlisted with the RAAF at Laverton on 1st July 1936 and trained not only as a fitter but also qualified as an air gunner and later studied navigation. On 31st August 1937, at Hamilton, Victoria, Biill was stationed with 1 Squadron, when a Hawker Demon fighter crashed on take-off. Despite the fact that the aircraft was burning from nose to tail, McAloney dashed into the flames and continued his efforts to rescue the crew until he was pulled away in an unconscious condition, having received severe burns that necessitated his removal to hospital. The crew, Flying Officer K. McKenzie, and Sergeant N. Torrens-Witherow, died in the inferno.

Bill was awarded the Albert Medal for his actions on 18th February 1938. His original recommendation was for the EGM and the Air Force Medal, both of which were rejected. He was invested with the AM by Lord Huntingfield on 30th May 1938 at Parliament House. McAloney sufficiently recovered to return to his work in the RAAF, and during the Second World War was primarily involved in engine repair and engineering staff work in Australia. Commissioned as a flying officer in 1942, he saw service in Dutch New Guinea during late 1944.

He received a permanent commission in the RAAF in 1948, and was advanced to squadron leader in 1950. During the Malayan Emergency, he served as technical officer to both No. 90 Wing and No. 1 Squadron, based in Singapore. In 1960, he was made Officer Commanding Engineering Squadron at the Aircraft Research and Development Unit, and was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his efforts in the post. McAloney retired in 1966 with the honorary rank of group captain.

In 1971. Bill chose to accept the opportunity to exchange his AM for the George Cross, and he donated his AM to the RAAF Museum at Point Crook in 1987. Bill and Dorrie had seven children, including John, who became a Colonel in the Australian Army and was awarded the Military Cross in Vietnam. He sadly died whilst refereeing a rugby match in 1991. In retirement Bill and Dorrie lived in Sandringham, Melbourne, and Bill was an active member of two Lodges in Victoria achieving high office in the Grand Lodge. Bill died on 31st August 1995 in Melbourne and was cremated and his ashes interred in Cheltenham Cemetery, Melbourne. Dorrie died less than seven months later, and her ashes were interred with him. Bill’s GC, OBE, 1939-45 Star, General Service Medal 1918-62 with clasp “Malaya” and 1977 QEII Silver Jubilee Medal are privately held.