PHOTO: A young Bill Crowe during his WWII service, when he fought and was injured in New Guinea. His good nature endeared him to friends, neighbours and the wider community throughout his life.
Eulogy of William Michael Crowe who passed away 31 July and was farewelled at a very small service at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Coonamble on 12 August 2021.
The Eulogy has been provided by the Hogland Family.
William (Bill) Michael Crowe was born in Grenfell Hospital on the 12th August 1922. Bill was the second child of Daniel William Crowe and Johanna Alice O’Brien.
Bill had an older sister Joan who sadly passed away at the age of 3, he had two younger brothers, Peter and Paul and a younger sister Sheila.
Peter sadly passed away at the age of 89. Paul and Sheila are currently living in Sydney.
Paul, Sheila and their families send their apologies for not being here today, as they are unable to travel due to the current lockdown in Sydney.
Bill was raised in Grenfell and attended school there.
When talking with Paul, he said Bill was always one for practical jokes and being a little bit cheeky. Bill and a friend decided they would skip school one day.
There was a cricket match on in Grenfell and one of the great cricket players at the time, Stan McCabe was playing cricket there.
Bill and his mate set themselves up at the cricket only to find the Nuns and the rest of their class turn up to watch the same game.
Paul suggested that Bill and his mate had a lot of explaining to do that day. Bill left school at the age of 14 and went and worked with his dad at the forestry commission.
After that Bill worked on a local property in Grenfell. It was clear then that Bill enjoyed bush life. At the age of 18, Bill was drafted to go to war.
In 1942 Bill was sent to war to fight in the jungles of New Guinea. This is where he caught Malaria. In 1944, Bill returned to war to “help turn the Japs away” as Bill would say.
The 49th Battalion pushed them back from Milne Bay. During this time Bill was injured. A mortar exploded in the canopy of the tree tops and a piece of Shrapnel hit and landed in Bill’s leg.
Sadly, Bill’s mate walking next to him didn’t survive the attack. Bill was then sent home due to his injury. Once home, Bill spent quite a long time recovering in Grenfell Hospital.
Bill was very proud of his time in the war and celebrated Anzac Day every year. He would March in both the Dawn and Midday services, until he felt he could no longer keep up.
As Bill grew older, his friends Kate and Chelsea would pick Bill up early hours Anzac Day and take Bill to the Dawn Service, where we would all meet for the service and then have breakfast afterwards at the RSL Club.
Nancy would then pick Bill up to take him to the Midday service. Bill would often catch a ride in the buggy as part of the procession to the cenotaph, and attend the midday service and lay his wreath.
These are all very special memories for all of us. In 1948, Bill married Molly. Bill, Molly, Bessie and Janet settled in Coonamble. Around 1959 Molly and Bill welcomed their son Michael.
Sadly, Michael passed away in the year 2000. Michael was always in Bill’s heart and he missed him greatly.
Bill had many jobs in his day. He worked on Dairies and on Light Poles that would bring the power through.
He once worked on the Coonamble Shire grading roads. The job Bill spoke most fondly about was when he worked for Tim and Nancy Stratton of “Ningear”.
Bill was very proud that he worked there for over 20 years until his retirement.
Bill always had a grin from ear to ear and a chuckle when telling us of his adventures at Ningear with the Stratton children, Anne, Patti, Tim and John.
Anne, Tim and Annette are unable to be here today, Tim has sent through a few words for Bill.
Bill enjoyed retired life, still offering a lending hand here and there. Bill enjoyed going for coffee with Nancy and friends and loved catching up with the locals whilst he was out and about.
He would go for lunch on Fridays to either the RSL Club, Chinese Restaurant or the Bowling Club up until Bill went into Residential Aged Care.
Bill was a much loved member of the Coonamble Community. Bill was a true gentlemen and a great friend to many of us here today.
It’s a shame Bill that you can’t be here for your 99th Birthday, we all know how much you were looking forward to it. Please know we will have a beer or two for you after this.
Here’s cheers to 99 years mate!
Following is some reflections by Roy Ballard, formerly of Coonamble and intended to be read at Bill Crowe’s funeral
I would like to say a few words about a kind and gentle man who had been a part of my life for over seventy years.
In the late 1940s a company called McClelland and Death came up from the Cowra area to form and top dress the Carinda to Coonamble Road from (I think) the 44 to 52 mile pegs.
The road gang set up camp on “Keverline” where my family was living at the time. They used to come to the house where they were able to obtain fresh food from our self-sufficient setup.
They regularly bought milk, eggs, butter, a dressed sheep and chooks from us. I remember very clearly my first contact with Bill.
One afternoon three men arrived in a small utility to collect their supplies. As they left one man was standing in the back holding a large box of eggs.
Another man called out to him, “Don’t you drop those eggs Bill!”
As a young boy I was amazed that he could stand up in the back of a ute, holding eggs without breaking them. That man was of course, Bill Crowe.
We returned to live at “Gum-Hole” in the early 1950s to find Bill working for the Stratton family at “Ningear”.
From that time onwards Bill was a familiar sight to us driving the Ferguson tractor, with the pipe in his mouth smoking his favourite tobacco, Dr Pat’s Irish Mixture. We saw and spoke with Bill nearly every day and my old Uncles had their own nickname. They called him “Crowie Gully”.
After Bill retired he was always out and about, still a wonderful, caring neighbour and I saw him frequently until I left Coonamble in 2008.
I last saw Bill 18 months ago, he recognised me too and I felt very sure he was well set up to reach his century, but this wasn’t to be. Rest easy old neighbour. They broke the mould when they made you.