Garvon Kable was born in Chatswood Sydney in 1923 as the great great great grandson of First Fleet convicts Henry and Susannah Kable. He was educated at Parramatta Intermediate [then Fort Street Boys’ High], and joined the Australian Army at age 18 in October 1941. After three months in the Army he transferred to the RAAF early in 1942 as an aircraftman.
In March 1943 he commenced training under the Empire Flying Training Scheme in Ontario Canada, in Harvard then Anson aircraft, concluding his training as a Sergeant Navigator.
After further flying in Wales and England he joined 49 Squadron flying operational missions over Germany in Lancasters based at Syerston in Nottinghamshire and Fulbeck in Lincolnshire. By this time he was a Flight Sergeant Navigator, and his missions included Wurzberg, Hamburg, Wesel, Nordhausen and Berchtesgaden. In 1945, having survived the war, he flew POW repatriation flights to England. He was promoted Warrant Officer in June 1945 and had a narrow escape from death while riding a motorbike to visit the local pub. In trying to avoid a collision he took the soft option of choosing a hedge which, as is so often the case in England, was growing over a dry stone wall; luckily he somersaulted over the wall. He later made all his children promise to never ride a motorbike.
He had married an English girl Brenda Walster from the nearby Nottinghamshire town Newark in June 1945. She followed him to Australia with their baby in the war bride ship ATLANTIS. Garvon left the RAAF in April 1946 to commence teacher training at the University of Sydney. After some teaching at Croydon Park he joined the RAN as a Lieutenant (Observer) in August 1949.
After initial courses at HMAS Cerberus Garvon was back in England to commence training in preparation for the commissioning of HMAS SYDNEY in 1951 as part of 817 Squadron flying Fairey Firefly aircraft. He was embarked in SYDNEY during her deployment to the Korean War flying 134 hours of bombing, strafing and patrol missions.
After general seaman training ashore and at sea he was back in England in 1954 training in Sea Venoms for the Commissioning of HMAS MELBOURNE as Senior Observer of 808 Squadron which he later commanded.
Garvon at one time held two very different records. The first was to set an international city-to-city record navigating a Sea Venom from Rome to Malta in 47 minutes 24 seconds. The second was a time record of a different kind: for diving out of an escape scuttle from the Officers’ Mess of HMAS Melbourne (at anchor); swimming around the stern of the ship, climbing a ladder on the other side and making it back to the Mess. The time is not recorded neither is the punishment.
After his flying career he held a variety of positions: Operations Officer HMAS Melbourne and at Naval Air Station Albatross at Nowra, staff courses in USA and UK, Assistant Director of Plans, Directing Staff School of Land/Air Warfare, Naval Member of Joint Planning Staff, Commissioning Executive Officer HMAS STALWART and Director of Naval Recruiting. He was the Naval Attaché in Jakarta for two years in 1970-72.
There was plenty of international travel for the family as Garvon and Brenda decided to always have the family travel together. On some occasions, when Departmental rules did not permit Government funding of family travel, they raised the money for the whole family to travel together to and from England and the USA. In those days such travel was by sea; First Class with Orient, P&O, Cunard and Matson Lines were great adventures for young children. Garvon thought it a fabulous way to travel however Brenda commented that he would think that as he rarely made to childrens’ meal times.
Garvon was promoted Commander in 1959 and Acting Captain in 1970 and made Honorary Captain on retirement in 1973.
Garvon and Brenda retired to their home in Avalon Beach in 1973 and he spent the next 37 years leading environmental protection action around Pittwater and his beloved Northern Beaches with amazing success. The list of environmental wins he was involved in, or led, are still talked about and appreciated today and formed a lasting legacy. Some were very significant wins such as the prevention of sand mining of the Broken Bay seabed, saving the mangroves of Careel Bay in perpetuity; stopping a proposal to build a straight road over Bilgola Beach and the building of an airfield in Duffy’s forest.
Brenda was a gifted gardener, Garvon was not, and the only time he showed an interest was when their granddaughter Susannah was living with them for the last two years of High School. When she was visited by a schoolboy Garvon decided the best chaperone strategy was to garden for as long as required outside her bedroom windows.
Brenda’s community work was recognised with the award of an OAM and she was the Guest of Honour at the new 808 Squadron Commissioning in 2013. The Squadron also conducted a flypast during her funeral at Avalon Beach Surf Club in 2015.
Garvon was survived by his four children Paul, Yarrow, Meredith and Anthony; four grandchildren and six great grandchildren.