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William Darcy Mason (1911–1992)

by Gregory P. Gilbert

This article was published:

William Darcy Mason (1911–1992), air force officer, was born on 24 October 1911 at Balmain, Sydney, son of Canadian-born William James Mason, master printer, and his Victorian-born wife Charlotte Louisa, née Lawrence. Educated at Chatswood Intermediate High School, Darcy joined the New South Wales Department of Family Endowment as a clerk in 1928. He completed a diploma in commerce (1934) at the University of Sydney and served as a lieutenant in the Citizen Military Forces. On 7 April 1936 he was granted a short service commission in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as a stores and accounting officer, and was then posted to Laverton for training. At the Congregational Church, Chatswood, Sydney, on 12 November that year he married Millicent Amy Adeline Finn, a clerk. He was promoted to flying officer in 1937, while serving at No. 2 Aircraft Depot, Richmond.

During World War II Mason’s diligence and high capacity for work were quickly acknowledged. Although his substantive rank was flight lieutenant (1943), he was to be an acting group captain by the end of the war. He commanded (June 1942–October 1943) No. 2 Stores Depot, Waterloo, where he demonstrated his leadership abilities by overcoming deficiencies in the receipt, storage, and issue of aircraft, propellers, guns, clothing, furnishings, and hazardous materials, at a time when Australian communications were under constant threat.

Mason was sent to Britain in October 1943 to gain essential staff experience. There he contributed to logistics planning for the Italian and Normandy campaigns: from January to April 1944 he was attached to Headquarters, Mediterranean Allied Air Forces, based in North Africa and Italy; and from April to August he served with the Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Air Forces in England. Returning to Australia in October, he was appointed as senior equipment staff officer with the RAAF’s First Tactical Air Force in the South-West Pacific Area, where he was responsible for maintaining and provisioning the force during intensive operations in the Halmahera Islands and Borneo areas. He was mentioned in despatches (1945) for excellent work in this role.

In 1946 Mason gained a permanent commission in the permanent RAAF. While occupying command, policy, and procurement positions in Australia and abroad, he used his detailed knowledge of air logistics and financial management to support wide-ranging operations. He completed the joint services staff course in England in 1950 and graduated from the University of Melbourne (BCom, 1950). Promoted to substantive group captain in 1951, he attended the Imperial Defence College, London, in 1959. For his ability and devotion to duty, he was appointed OBE (1954) and CBE (1967). From October 1960 he was the senior equipment staff officer at Headquarters, Support Command, Melbourne. Promoted to air commodore on 16 December 1963, he retired on 18 February 1969, becoming secretary (1969–76) of Mitchell College of Advanced Education, Bathurst, New South Wales. He then held the position of bursar, St John’s College, University of Queensland. Survived by his wife and daughter, he died on 29 June 1992 at Southport and was cremated. Mason had been a strong leader, a capable manager, and an exceedingly intelligent forward-thinker who helped to foster a high level of professionalism among non-aircrew officers in the RAAF.

Research edited by Brian Wimborne

Select Bibliography

  • National Archives of Australia. A12372, R/3131/P
  • National Archives of Australia. A12372, R/3131/H
  • National Archives of Australia.  A705, 166/27/766
  • Sydney Morning Herald. ‘College Post for Air Commodore.’ 4 December 1968, 33

Additional Resources

Citation details

Gregory P. Gilbert, 'Mason, William Darcy (1911–1992)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published online 2016, accessed online 26 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 19, (ANU Press), 2021

View the front pages for Volume 19

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