Late August, it appeared the enemy could take over 75 and 76 Squadrons evacuated to Moresby. From there, they continued their attacks until the Japanese re-embarked. Victory had been achieved,
with the help of outstanding air support. 75 Squadron was withdrawn and Nat was transferred to Mildura.
Nat’s first Spitfire flight was at No 2 OTU where he joined Keith Gamble’s Spitfire Conversion Flight
to convert the newly “winged” Wirraway pilots to their operational aeroplane and to teach them fighter tactics and battle formations.
After doing his time at Mildura Nat was fortunate enough to wangle a posting
to 457 Squadron at Livingstone, Darwin where he spent many happy hours in the Spitfire Mark VC. Shortly after his arrival, he was posted to Drysdale, now Kalumburu, and the closest Australian strip to Timor.
On the 5th November, Nat and
other members of “A” Flightintercepted a Japanese Dinah Reconnaissance plane and badly damaged it.
As it was now March 1944, the war was fast moving northwards so he saw very little action. Squadrons 452 and 457
(Spitfires) flew without escort to Perth. This move to Perth and a strange operation at Port Headland, when intelligence reported that the Jap fleet was sailing for Perth to knock out the American submarine base that was stationed there. When this did not
eventuate the Squadrons returned back to Darwin later the same month in a more than dangerous flight. Nat’s last operation was “Potshot”, 10th to 25th May, 1944.
Nat left 457 Squadron
on the 19 th August, 1944 and returned to Mildura, where he became unhappy there as although he was flying a lot he wanted to get back into the front line operations. Nat laughed and said, “”That it was more dangerous there from
trainee pilots than in the front line”. Funnily enough through a strange set of events Nat was indeed granted that wish.
On 17th June 1945 he shaved off his moustache, swapped his Flight Lieutenant’s
uniform for a Lieutenant Royal Australian Navy Volunteer Reserve uniform on loan to the Royal Navy. In no time he was flying off aircraft carriers with the Royal Navy.
His RAAF logbook shows he notched up
350 hours in Spitfires, in Mark II’s, Va’s, Vb’s, Vc’s and VIII and a rather strange two seat version of a Spitfire where he did circuits and landings from both the front and rear seats to judge the
aircraft’s suitability for training. His Navy Log Books record a further 213 hours in the naval version of the Spitfire, called the Seafire. With the end of the war, Nat with four other pilots was offered a short service commission in the
Royal Navy and moved to England. He spent three years with the Royal Navy.
In September 1948 Nat transferred to the Royal Australian Navy Fleet Air Arm and stayed there 17 years until 1965. During this time he was fortunate enough to command
816 Firefly Squadron and 805 Sea Fury Squadron. This command was located at Naval Air Station, Nowra and in HMAS Sydney including a tour during the Korean war.