Richard Joseph Casey (Service No. 531)
(1894 - 1966)

Richard Joseph Casey was born in August 1894 to parents John Casey and Margaret Teresa Casey (nee Hart) at their family home of ‘Hillside’ in Woodend, Victoria. Richard was the eldest of four children, all of whom were raised within the township of Woodend. John Casey was a councillor with the Newham and Woodend Shire, serving from 1914 until 1924, and had been elected as the Shire President in 1915/16.

After finishing his schooling, Richard commenced work as a postal employee at the Woodend post office. Richard undertook a brief period of military or cadet service, with the citizens forces, which was made compulsory for male teenagers from mid-1911. However, due to his position with the postal service, or his distance from the nearest military unit, he gained an exemption from this after four months.

Richard took his oath and enlisted into the Australian Flying Corps at the Sturt Street Recruitment Depot in Melbourne on 4 July 1916, just one month prior to his 22nd birthday. He was required to wait until near the end of August, before reporting to the Laverton Base in Point Cook for training with the Reinforcements to the Australian Military Flying Squadron. It was there that he was appointed as a Private and assigned to the 2nd Flying Squadron Australian Flying Corps on 21 August 1916. His name was first published as an enlistee from Laverton within the local newspaper’s (Werribee Shire Banner) Roll of Honour on 9 November 1916.

At the completion of his training, Richard embarked from Melbourne aboard the HMAT Ulysses A38 on 25 October 1916. He was now promoted to the rank of Air Mechanic, with No 2 Australian Flying Squadron 1-4 Reinforcements. They disembarked at Plymouth, England, on 23 December 1916 where Richard was attached to the 69th Australian Squadron, Australian Flying Corps stationed at South Carlton, Lincolnshire.


Postcard from A.F.C. from Palestine

In the early months of 1917, Richard attended a course as a Wireless Operator wireless course at South Farnborough, and upon completion of his training, he returned to his unit. On 1 March 1917, he was promoted to a 1st Class Air Mechanic. He was immediately attached to the 37th Radio School at Scampton in Lincolnshire where his assignment continued until 20 May 1917. Richard then returned to the 69th Squadron to resume his duties.  Soon after, on 2 August 1917, he was reclassified as a Wireless Operator, controlling a radio transmitter in a military outpost or unit to communicate over long distances. He was transferred to the Royal Air Force, stationed at Halton Camp in Buckinghamshire.

During the early years of World War 1, the UK’s Royal Flying Corp had enlisted and trained around 2,000 wireless operators. They were mainly attached to artillery units to work with aircrafts that were used as spotters or scouts. Aircraft played vital roles as sometimes a gun battery would be out of sight of their target, and so, this is where the pilot and the wireless operators would work together.  Communication with the planes was mostly one way, with operators sending Morse code to the aircraft, and the pilot responding back to the ground by using flares.

On 30 November 1917, Richard was transferred across to the 69th Squadron 3rd Flying Squadron Australian Flying Corps, who were based at Bailleul in the north of France. The squadron were flying R.E.8 reconnaissance and artillery spotting aircraft. By 2 February 1918, Richard had now been promoted to the rank of Sergeant, but shortly after he was admitted to the 2nd Australian Field Ambulance for treatment of an illness. He was then moved to the 7th General Hospital at St Omer, France, where he was diagnosed as suffering from mumps. In May, upon regaining his health, Richard rejoined the 3rd Flying Squadron.

On 12 August 1918, Richard was attached for duty to the 1st Division Artillery Headquarters in the field within France. At this period, the division was stationed in the area around Villers-Bretonneux, Corbie, and Sailly-Laurette.

Richard spent about a month with this unit before he was transferred back to the 3rd Flying Squadron and the Australian Flying Corps on 16 September 1918. He was then granted one week’s leave in England. He had only just returned to France and his unit when peace was declared, bringing an end to World War 1.

On 6 February 1919, Acting Corporal Casey was detached to 1st Division Artillery Headquarters, now stationed in the area around Morialme, Belgium, who were in the process of demobilising their forces. On 3 March 1919, Richard marched out of Hevere Camp, Belgium, and shipped back to England. He disembarked at Weymouth, where he was to be stationed and awaiting further orders. One month later, on 24 April 1919, Richard was assigned for duties with the Australian Imperial Forces Education Service at the Tidworth Camp on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire.

On 6 May 1919, Richard finally embarked for Australia aboard the RMS Kaiser-i-Hind and arrived in Melbourne on 16 June. He was discharged from service on 28 August 1919 and returned home to Woodend, resuming his old position at the Woodend Post Office.

Following his return to civilian life, Richard felt that it was important to write about his role within the Australian Flying Corps, and the role this arm of the Australian Imperial Force played during the war. A copy of this article has been included, which was sourced from his local newspaper, the Woodend Star, and originally published on 2 August 1919. Given the detail he provides, we can safely presume that it is very much a first-person account of events that Richard experienced during his service in World War 1.

Richard married Brenda Constance Fitzpatrick, of Kyabram, at St Patrick’s Cathedral Melbourne on 5 February 1921, and they spent their honeymoon in the township of Warburton. On their return, the couple moved to Moonee Ponds. From there, Richard’s employment with the postal service took them to Kaniva in country Victoria, where their son John Edward Casey was born in 1922. The Casey family then moved to the post office in Hopetoun, which was a short assignment, before they returned to Melbourne to run the post office in Malvern East. By 1934, Richard and the family had moved to Yarraville where he took up a role at the local post office. It was during this posting that their second son, Kevin Richard Casey, was born in 1930.

Richard continued working at various post offices across Melbourne, which kept the family continually on the move. His wife, Brenda Constance Casey, passed away on 11 June 1957 and was interred within the Boroondara cemetery in Kew. Shortly after Brenda’s death, Richard retired and moved to the Melbourne eastern suburb of Caulfield, before moving again to the suburb of Murrembeena. Richard Joseph Casey passed away on 13 July 1966, at the age of 71, and was interred within the Boroondara cemetery in Kew with his wife.

The following is an article which Richard Casey wrote for the Woodend Star in 1919 that tells more about the Flying Corps, the wireless operators and the key role they played in World War 1.

Woodend Star_Richard Casey


  3. The Werribee Shire Banner Roll of Honor, 9 November 1916
  4. The Bendigo Advertiser, 6 July 1916, p.5.

Research by: Graeme Reilly (ALHS)