Joseph Willmot was born on September 11 1923 at Moree, NSW, and enlisted in the RAAF at No 2 Recruiting Centre in Sydney on 7 November 1941 He was sent to 1Initial Training School (1ITS) at Somers as an AC2. On the 26 February he was promoted to Leading Aircraftsman before completing his basic training and being posted to 11 Elementary Flying Training School (11EFTS) at Benalla in April 1942. After the satisfactory completion of his course on August 9, 1942, at 11EFTS, LAC Willmot was posted to 1 Service Flying Training School, Point Cook and then, on 16 October 1942 to 1 Air Observers School at Cootamundra (1AOS). Here he entered No.30 Observers Course which continued until January 7 1943. Upon completion LAC Willmot moved to 3 Bombing and Gunnery School (3BAGS) at West Sale to complete No.29 Gunnery Course. On the 4th of March he was awarded his Air Observers Badge and transferred to 2 Air Navigators School (2ANS) at Nhill. On the 1st of April he was promoted to Sergeant and received his Navigators Badge.
The next day he was shipped to 2 Embarkation Depot at Bradfield Park and he remained there until embarking for the U.K. on 5th June 1943. Sergeant Willmot arrived at 11 Personnel Dispatch and Reception Centre on the 7th July 1943. On the 3rd of August he was sent to 9 Advanced Flying Unit (AFU) for further Observer training. Upon completion of his training, he was promoted to Flight Sergeant and posted to 17 Operational Training Unit (OTU).
Flight Sergeant Willmot was now ready for active service and, on the 22nd of February 1994, he was sent to 1661 Conversion Unit at Winthorpe for his final training. On the 26th of April Flight Sergeant Willmot joined, with his crew, 49 Squadron at Fiskerton.
- Fl/Lt L E Botting RAF - Pilot
- F/O R A Denny RAF Flight Engineer
- F/Sgt A W Bishop RAF - Wireless Operator
- P/O J H Willmot RAAF - Bomb
- Fl/Lt J A Edwards RAF - Navigator
- P/O W J Bennett RCFAF - Air Gunner
- P/O R P Timms RAF - Air Gunner
On 29th June, Willmot was promoted to Pilot Officer and then in October 1944 was sent to 1 Air Armament School (1AAS) to carry out a Bomb Leader course. Upon completion, he was attached to 29 OTU as an instructor until being transferred to 467 Squadron on 4th January 1945. During his time with 49 Squadron Flying Officer Willmot (promoted on 29th December) completed 23 sorties over Europe.
While on 467 Squadron F/O Willmot flew three operations. On 8th February, he flew to bomb the Dortmund-Ems Canal at Ladbergen, however there is no record of which crew he flew with on this mission. His second operation, on 20th February, F/O Willmot flew as bomb aimer with F/O Pilkington to bomb Mittelland Canal at Gravenshorst, however there was 10/10ths cloud and the attack could not be carried out. The full bomb load was brought back to base. His final mission was with W/C Langlois on 3rd March to again attack the Dortmund-Ems canal at Ladbergen. The aircraft was shot down as it approached the target and F/O Willmot bailed out. Upon landing he injured his ankle and considered escape impossible. He approached a farm and surrendered himself to the farmer who took him to the local police in a pig cart. Willmot spent 5 days in the local jail before being moved to the jail at Rhine Airfield. On 16th March he was transferred to Dulag Luft where he remained until 26th March. From there he was sent to the POW camp at Moosburg where he remained until release by the American Army on the 29th April 1945.
F/O Willmot was discharged from the RAAF on 2nd November 1945.
Ft/Sgt Willmot with rest of his crew awaiting posting. (49 Squadron Website)
Joseph Willmot with his crew from 49 Squadron. F/O Denny took the photo.
(49 Squadron website)
Joe's last leave before leaving Australia (Rian Willmot)
Joe enjoying a bit of time off from the war. (Rian Willmot)