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Ernest Andrew Mustar (1893–1971)

by Diane Langmore

This article was published:

Ernest Andrew Mustar (1893-1971), soldier and aviator, was born on 21 September 1893 at Oakleigh, Victoria, son of William Edward Mustard, labourer, and his wife Alice, née Usher, both Victorian born. He was educated at state schools and in 1911 was appointed clerk in the engineering branch of Victorian Railways. That year he became an early possessor of an amateur wireless licence.

After a year in the Corps of Australian Signallers and two years in the 21st Signal Troop, Australian Engineers (both militia), Mustard enlisted as a private in August 1914 in the 1st Signal Troop, Australian Imperial Force, and embarked two months later. He served at Gallipoli from the landing (with the 29th British Division at Cape Helles) to the evacuation, and was promoted corporal in November 1915. From July 1916 to January 1917 he served with the signals in the Sinai campaign. Wounded at Bir el Abd on 9 August 1916, he was promoted sergeant in September. After the battle of Rafa he transferred to the Imperial Camel Corps as second lieutenant and signal officer attached to headquarters of the 4th Anzac Battalion.

In June 1917 Mustard joined No.1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, in which, after instruction in aerial gunnery, he became an observer. Short, 'sturdy, snappy and wiry', 'Pard', as he was invariably called, earned respect for his 'bag' of enemy planes and for the accuracy and comprehensiveness of his reconnaissance reports. His exploits with Captain (Sir) Ross Smith, such as interrupting their breakfast to shoot down German aircraft at Deraa, won them a reputation as one of the outstanding pilot-observer partnerships of the war. Mustard was awarded the Order of the Nile and the Distinguished Flying Cross. After flying instruction with the Royal Air Force in England in 1918 he returned to Australia in April 1919.

Demobilized, Mustard spent a short period flying commercially, offering joy-rides to residents of country towns, then in 1922 joined the Royal Australian Air Force as captain. He conducted aerial surveys of Lake Eyre in 1922 and, with the Royal Australian Navy, of the Great Barrier Reef in 1925. Turning to civil aviation, Mustard next year became chief pilot and instructor of the Aero Club of Victoria. While working at Essendon he was approached by representatives of Guinea Gold, No Liability, on behalf of its founder C. J. Levien, who sought to introduce air transport to the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, to service its new Edie Creek goldfield, perched at 7500 ft (2290 m) on a mountainside near Wau.

In March 1927 Mustard arrived with his DH37 by sea at Rabaul and flew it to Lae. In April he lifted it across the densely wooded, precipitous mountains behind Lae and, after three fruitless attempts to locate Wau, landed on 17 April on its newly constructed airstrip. On this pioneer flight of 1½ hours his payload of 600 lbs (272 kg) represented the work of fifteen carriers for three weeks. Later that year as chief pilot of Guinea Airways, a subsidiary of G.G.N.L., he visited Dessau, Germany, and purchased a Junkers W34, an all-metal monoplane, which he assembled at Rabaul and flew to Lae and Wau in April 1928. On his return he was appointed a director of Guinea Airways. In December he flew a second Junkers, as a seaplane, from Point Cook in Victoria to New Guinea. The progress of the first seaplane flight along the entire eastern Australian coast until its completion on schedule was closely monitored by the Australian press.

Exhausted by continual flying and debilitated by malaria, Mustard left New Guinea in March 1929 to become an aviation representative for the Vacuum Oil Co. in Melbourne. On 19 April at Scots Church he married Margot Sara Munro, who had persuaded him to change his name to Mustar. While in Melbourne he encouraged Placer Development Ltd, a Canadian company with an option over the Bulolo valley, to initiate the transportation by air of dredging machinery, and negotiated with Junkers the purchase of a three-engined G31, modified to his specifications. Returning to New Guinea in January 1931 to establish a fuel depot for Vacuum Oil at Lae, he supervised the preparations for the flying-in of the dredges, which in March began operation in the Bulolo valley.

In 1934 Mustar returned to Australia and next year was appointed managing director of Australian Transcontinental Airways. In World War II he served on R.A.A.F. headquarters staff at Laverton and in 1941 was appointed squadron leader. After the war he became officer in charge of records, Department of Air, retiring with the rank of group captain. He died suddenly on holiday at Coolangatta, Queensland, on 10 October 1971 and was cremated. His wife, son and daughter survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • F. M. Cutlack, The Australian Flying Corps (Syd, 1923)
  • I. Idriess, Gold-Dust and Ashes (Syd, 1933)
  • L. W. Sutherland and N. Ellison, Aces and Kings (Syd, 1935)
  • F. Clune, D'air Devil (Syd, 1941)
  • Pacific Islands Monthly, Sept 1932, Aug 1940, Nov 1941
  • Argus (Melbourne), 21 Feb 1940
  • C. V. T. Wells papers (National Library of Australia).

Citation details

Diane Langmore, 'Mustar, Ernest Andrew (1893–1971)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 15 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (Melbourne University Press), 1986

View the front pages for Volume 10

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