We have been advised of the death of Commander William ‘Dickie’ Bird RAN Ret’d.
Dickie joined the RAN on 16 June 1949 and was streamed as a Provisional Naval Airman (Pilot) on Number 5 Course at RAAF Point Cook. He was recategorized in September 1950 for Observer training and undertook the Royal Navy Observers’ course at various RN Air stations, returning to Australia in June 1952.
Promotion to Acting Sub-lieutenant (O) in July 1952 saw Dickie join 816 Squadron for duties in Firefly AS.5 and AS.6 aircraft and he saw service in Korea onboard HMAS Sydney, post-Armistice, from late-1953 to mid-1954.
He returned to the UK in 1957 to undertake a Night Fighter course in Sea Venom aircraft and on returning to Australia he served in 724, 805 and 808 Squadrons ashore and in HMAS Melbourne.
Upon qualifying as a seaman officer with a full Bridge Watchkeeping Certificate in the destroyer HMAS Tobruk, Dickie went on to serve as a training officer in the former aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney (1963) and then as the Executive Officer of the destroyer-escort HMAS Yarra (1966-68).
Having been promoted to Commander, Dickie was posted to the Directorate of Sailors’ Postings in 1969, followed by Command of the Manus Island base, HMAS Tarangau. A return to the world of naval aviation came about when he was appointed as Executive Officer of HMAS Albatross in 1972, serving alongside Captains DAH Clarke and HE Bailey and then Commodore AJ Robertson.
Dickie saw out his engagement in the RAN as the Commanding Officer of HMAS Encounter and as NOIC- South Australia through until early 1976. In retirement he returned to the Shoalhaven district and was very active in the Berry, NSW Sub-branch of the RSL.
Dickie passed away in North Nowra on 25 January 2022 after a long battle with dementia at the age of 93.
His funeral was held on Friday 11 February 2022 at the St Andrews Presbyterian Church, Kinghorn St, Nowra at 1100, attended by relatives and friends.