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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Romance in The Air

Nhill’s Wartime Love Story: From Dusty Backwater to “The Happy Base”

Dust off your dancing shoes, cobber! Back in the WWII days, Nhill Aerodrome wasn’t just about trainin’ top blokes for the RAAF. Nope, it was also a hub for love stories hotter than a billy on the boil!

Over 10,000 blokes and sheilas came through Nhill under the Empire Air Training Scheme, learnin’ navigation, packin’ heat, and even flyin’ high. On weekends, the young guns from the Air Training Corp, fresh-faced 16 to 18-year-olds, joined the party, preppin’ for their RAAF stints.

Now, Nhill might be a bit out there, some called it a dusty backwater. But for these brave souls, it wasn’t just about trainin’. They found a warm welcome, mateship thicker than vegemite, and even a touch of romance under the Southern Cross.

Corporal Anne Wilson wrote home about the dances, saying, “We were mobbed for a dance the minute we walked in! More blokes than sheilas, and all of them fair dinkum good dancers.”

Merv Schneider and his late wife Shirley even celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in 2018! Merv was in the Air Training Corps and met Shirley when her dad, a RAAF man, was stationed in Nhill.

With over 10,000 people passin’ through in just a few years, who knows how many Valentine’s Day dances, picnics, and sneaky dates happened under those bright stars? Nhill was a place where love blossomed alongside bravery.

Word got around, and Nhill became known as “The Happy Base”. Folks there welcomed these young fellas and sheilas with open arms, true country hospitality that forged friendships for life. And it wasn’t just mateship flourishin’. See that group photo? Ruth James married airman Laurie Crouch, and Doreen White tied the knot with Arthur Williams, both settlin’ down in Nhill.

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