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Hudson, Ray Trevor (1919–1986)

by Doug Hurst

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

Ray Trevor Hudson (1919-1986), air force officer and pilot, was born on 26 July 1919 at Waverley, Sydney, son of New South Wales-born parents John Joseph Hudson, motor driver, and his wife Lillie Hunter, née Halyday. Educated to Intermediate certificate level, Ray worked as a motor salesman before enlisting in the Royal Australian Air Force on 19 August 1940. He was 5 ft 8½ ins (174 cm) tall, with a fair complexion, grey-blue eyes and fair hair.

Following pilot training in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Hudson was commissioned on 21 May 1941 and sent to the Middle East to fly Hurricanes and later also Spitfires with No.451 Squadron, an army co-operation squadron supporting operations in the Western Desert. He was mentioned in despatches in 1942 and promoted to temporary flight lieutenant in May 1943. That month he skilfully and quickly ditched a burning Hurricane, escaping with only minor burns. This capacity for cool and decisive action in the face of danger served him well throughout the war.

From October 1943 Hudson flew Kittyhawk fighter-bombers with No.450 Squadron in Italy. He rapidly gained respect as a flight commander. In January 1944 he led a formation in attacking a large armed merchant vessel near Sibenik Harbour, Yugoslavia, `in the face of a heavy barrage from the harbour defences and the ship’s guns’. For his `courage’, and his `skilful leadership and determined efforts’ which `contributed materially to the success achieved’, and for displaying `skill and courage’ on `a large number of sorties’, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Made acting squadron leader in April 1944 (temporary in July), Hudson commanded the squadron until June. He won a Bar to his DFC for leading many successful missions against ground targets and shipping with `courage and the greatest determination, often in the face of intense anti-aircraft fire’. His bombing accuracy was `of a high order’ and did `much damage to enemy installations’. The citation concluded by stating that his `ability in supporting troop movements has been striking’ and in some areas `has greatly facilitated the advance of our army’. His superior officer, Colonel L. A. Wilmot, described him as `an outstanding squadron commander, very capable operationally and administratively’.

His skill and self-confidence now well appreciated, Hudson was sent to the United States of America in October 1944 for helicopter training before returning to Australia next month. Demobilised on 7 September 1945—there were no military helicopters in Australia at the time—he joined Trans-Australia Airlines in November 1946 and flew as a first officer in DC-3s and as a captain in Viscounts. On 20 November 1947 at St Peter’s Church of England, Brighton Beach, Melbourne, he married Valerie Henley Wilkinson, an air hostess.

TAA sent Hudson to the USA for helicopter training in 1956. In 1960 he flew a helicopter from the ship Magga Dan in Antarctica, helping it to navigate through pack ice to the shore base. He then joined the Bell Helicopter Co. as a sales representative and pilot, flying to check power grids, drop geologists in remote locations and muster cattle. Survived by his wife and their two daughters, Ray Hudson died of cancer on 12 August 1986 at Currumbin, Queensland, and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Herington, Air Power Over Europe 1944-1945 (1963)
  • N. Parnell and T. Boughton, Flypast (1988)
  • L. L. Barton, The Desert Harassers (1991)
  • L. L. Barton, (compiler), Bankstown to Berlin with 451 (R.A.A.F.) Squadron, 1941-1946 (1996)
  • G. Morley-Mower, Messerschmitt Roulette (1993)
  • Wings, Mar 1989, p 12
  • AWM65, item 2749, AWM76, item B255 (Australian War Memorial)
  • series A9300, item Hudson R T (National Archives of Australia)
  • private information.

Citation details

Doug Hurst, 'Hudson, Ray Trevor (1919–1986)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/hudson-ray-trevor-12662/text22819, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 13 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

View the front pages for Volume 17

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