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Oswald Francis (Ossie) Mingay (1895–1973)

by Jim Symes

This article was published:

Oswald Francis (Ossie) Mingay (1895-1973), radio engineer, soldier and publisher, was born on 1 July 1895 at Peak Hill, New South Wales, son of 17-year-old Elizabeth Mingay. Ossie was educated at Lithgow District School and Sydney Technical College. He joined the Postmaster General's Department as a telegraph messenger on 1 March 1908 at Lithgow. Moving to Sydney, he was appointed a junior mechanic in the electrical engineers' branch in July 1914. When he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 14 September 1915 he was 5 ft 4 ins (163 cm) tall, with a dark complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. He served on the Western Front, first with the 5th Field Artillery Brigade (March-December 1916) and then with the 2nd Divisional Signal Company. In March 1918 he was promoted corporal.

After the Armistice, Mingay led a party of post office technicians which reconstructed the civil telephone exchange at Charleroi, Belgium, where he also acted as an instructor at the Université du Travail. In 1919 he gained experience with engineers of the General Post Office, London. Mentioned in dispatches, he returned to Sydney and was discharged from the A.I.F. on 16 January 1920. He resumed duties as a mechanic at the P.M.G.'s central exchange and wrote the wireless column for the Daily Telegraph. At St Clement's Anglican Church, Marrickville, on 26 July 1920 he married Winifred Helen Nimmo Esdon (d.1971).

Mingay joined the wireless branch of Burgin Electric Co. in 1922 and became manager of its radio-station 2BE in 1924. He resigned in September 1925, but, instead of visiting England as planned, formed Mingay's Wireless Manufacturing Ltd. In 1930, as the principal and proprietor, he established the Australian Radio College. That year he persuaded a publisher to bring out the Radio Retailer of Australia (1930-33). His critical and provocative editorials embraced politics, economics, education, and humanity. When asked to confine his comments to the trade, Mingay resigned as managing editor, formed the Mingay Publishing Co. Ltd to buy the paper and continued his editorials. He was quick-witted, humorous, thoughtful and knowledgable. His other publications included Broadcasting Business (1933-48) and Mingay's Electrical Weekly. He retired as managing director in 1961 when the firm was sold to the Thomson Organisation Ltd, London.

A member (from 1922) of the State division of the Wireless Institute of Australia, Mingay and (Sir) Ernest Fisk had provided the drive to found the Institution of Radio (and Electronics) Engineers, Australia, in 1932; he was its secretary until 1940. During World War II he served (1941-42) as a signals officer in the 1st Cavalry Division, Militia, and rose to temporary captain. In May 1942 he transferred to the Ministry of Munitions, 'where his experience of the radio industry, his pertinacity and his irrepressible attitude' were valued. He was a representative at Lend-Lease discussions in Washington.

In 1965 Mingay retired from business. He was appointed M.B.E. in the following year. A long-time member of the Imperial Service Club, the Royal Automobile Club of Australia, the Legacy Club of Sydney, and the Roseville Golf and Killara Bowling clubs, he helped to set up the Broadcasting Radio Electrical Industries Fellowship Club. On 10 October 1972 at St Mark's Anglican Church, Darling Point, he married a widow Theodora Florence Lippmann, née Wills. Survived by his wife and the son of his first marriage, he died on 8 August 1973 at his St Ives home and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • Mingay's Electrical Weekly, 4 Dec 1964, 26 Feb 1965
  • Mingay's News, 17 July 1972
  • Proceedingss of the IREE, Aug 1973
  • Monitor, Dec 1982
  • Mingay papers (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

Jim Symes, 'Mingay, Oswald Francis (Ossie) (1895–1973)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 13 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (Melbourne University Press), 2000

View the front pages for Volume 15

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