History : Jim Haynes Page
|I joined Guinea Airways in February 1940 as office boy at the age of 16 recruited from Unley High School; the previous recruit was the late Bob Schrader. The Head Office was situated at 16 Currie Street, all freight and passengers were handled from here. H M Smith was Managing Director, E J Colliver Company Secretary, G H Archibald Accountant, Colin Window Chief Clerk, Eric Chaseling Operations Manager and Jack Getting Chief Engineer.|
The aircraft fleet consisted of Lockheed 10s, the original Electra, and Dragon Rapides plus a Fox Moth.
In 1941 we obtained from Eire Lingus, the Irish airline 2 Lockheed 14s which were flown out over France during the invasion by the Germans. A big party was held in the hangar at Parafield when they arrived.
The routes flown were: Adelaide/Penneshaw/American River/Kingscote, (later Kingscote only) Adelaide/Port Lincoln/ Adelaide/Cowell/Cleve: Adelaide/Pt. Pirie/Whyalla: Adelaide/Renmark/Mildura: Adelaide/Broken Hill: Adelaide/Mt. Eba/Oodnadatta/Alice- Springs/Tennant Creek/Daly Waters/Katherine/Darwin.
We were a busy, well patronised airline, however there were none of the trimmings that people came to expect later.
We had one hostess, Nell Meyrick, who later became the chief hostess of ANA.
On the Darwin flights we used to prepare bread rolls and boiled eggs (at Parafield) and fruit for the passengers to eat at Mt. Eba, the first stop on this route.
However on the local routes it wasn't considered necessary to provide refreshments.
As office boy I had to wear a uniform and forage cap which I thought was similar to the lolly boys at the pictures.
We had a strong social club and the company bus that was used to transport passengers and freight to and from the airport was allowed to be used for the staff to have picnics on weekends.
All of the Guinea Airways ports in the 1940s were operated by agents, Reg Wearn at Port Lincoln, Jack Nelson at Whyalla, A E Zietz (later Doug Shepherd) at Kingscote, A E Moody at Port Pirie, V Gaskell at Cleve, G J Payne at Cowell, J Thompson at Renmark and Chaffely Bros at Mildura.
In 1941 superannuation was introduced into the company which was a rare thing in those days. However wages were not high, for my first three months I was on 12/6d (twelve shillings and six pence) a week which was a probationary period rising to 17/6d. When I left in October 22nd 1941 to join the army I was receiving 35/-d.
When I returned to Australia in 1946 the Guinea Airways operation had been taken over by ANA on a Joint Venture basis but the head office staff remained entirely Guinea Airways.
I became a passenger clerk and freight clerk, in those days we carried out many different functions but as you are aware these functions became more separated as the years went on.
I later became Personnel Officer in S.A. for ANA, Darwin Manager, Brisbane Manager and retiring in 1984.
In 1956 Renmark was very much affected by the flooding of the Murray River and Guinea Airways provided a DC3 to take up as many sandbags as we could stow in the lockers and the staff who were off duty to fill them.
This operation went off very well and went a long way towards helping to save the town.
In the early 1940s with the advent of the Lockheed 14s we received a librascope to be used for loading these aircraft, this was to be used instead of the normal load sheet. A dial was turned to record the weight in each locker and 170 lbs for each passenger seat occupied. Watching a dial in the middle which gave the centre of gravity. This piece of equipment was in advance of its time and DCA (Dept. of Civil Aviation) would not let us use it.
The late Bob Haseldine I believe was going to try and get hold of it before he retired.
When checking in passengers we had to get each person to step on the scales, weigh their luggage and record the luggage checks on the passenger list.
The majority of passengers in those days were checked in at the city office and transported to Parafield by our coaches which also carried the freight and mail which they had picked up from the GPO.
With the West Beach Airport coming on line in the 1950s the trend was for more passengers to go direct to the airport although the city office carried out this function for quite a few years after.
Each year the Guinea Airways directors used to put on a dinner for all of the ANA supervisors who handled the GAL business. This was quite a big event, amongst these directors were Ian Potter a stockbroker from Melbourne, Air Vice Marshal Cole, (my memory has failed me to know the others).
|Like Dickens I would like to share with you "Christmases Past." In the immediate post war years Xmas in the airline in Adelaide was probably spent in a similar manner to which you may have experienced later on. On Christmas Day all of the staff in the terminal in Adelaide were given a substantial lunch by the Strathmore Hotel and a dinner at night, this was paid for by ANA. Similarly the people at Parafield airport were supplied with meals from our catering section.
The days leading up to Xmas were always very busy bearing in mind the staff did more than one job, such as physically handling the luggage and freight as well as checking passengers. The Guinea Airways flights from the West Coast and Kangaroo Island arrived laden with turkeys, sides of beef, hams and crayfish (Live). These usually arrived on Xmas Eve and were distributed from the footpath in front of the ANA terminal to the addressees waiting there. These people were always on time because there was not any refrigeration available, however from time to time a few were left for collection eventually being tossed out.
We of course always had Xmas parties prior to the busy period in a large room decorated upstairs in North Terrace. The children's Xmas party at the airport which was organised by Marjorie Bell was always a great success Santa arriving in an aircraft, Santa at that stage was Snow Miller our foreman loader who played that part for many years.
My wife Kath who is typing this was secretary to the joint manager of Guinea Airways/ANA (George Archibald) on his return from secondment from Air Ceylon, and later Pat Lilley, so I have her memory to call upon also.
I promised you some of the history of the Adelaide to Darwin route in the early 40s.
The route operated was Adelaide/Mt Eba/Oodnadatta/Alice Springs/Tennant Creek/Daly Waters/Katherine/Darwin.
The aircraft used up to 1942 were Lockheed 14s and afterwards DC-3s. The flight departed at 6.00 am from Parafield and it was usually 8.00 pm before it arrived in Darwin.
As was the case in SA all of the ports were operated by agents except Darwin where a Mr Schubert was manager, later during the war Pat Henderson took over this job when the airline operated from Batchelor as Darwin was closed due to the bombing in February 1942. Later in the war two of our staff from Adelaide Aub Hillier went to Katherine and Alf Mellock went to Tennant Creek to manage those ports due to the large amount of traffic generated by the Services.
In 1969 when I was manager in Darwin I had to close down the Daly Waters airport and unfortunately I did not obtain a lot of the documents that went back for about 30 years which showed the history of the operation of that port.
In the late 40s Parafield airport became boggy when a large amount of rain fell; as a result we used the strip at Gawler. This was quite an operation, we had to move all the despatch equipment, engineers, loaders, caterers etc. to Gawler and move the passengers in our buses.
The conditions were primitive but there were very few delays in our schedules. This operation went on almost to the time the move was made to West Beach.
I have recently obtained a very interesting book written by Peter Yule titled 'The Forgotten Giant of Australian Aviation' which gives the history of ANA from its inception in Tasmania until the takeover by Ansett. He is very factual in most aspects but I feel he is in error in some parts when he refers to Adelaide Airport. Still an author is only as good as the information he is given.