ROYAL AUSTRALIAN NAVY COMMUNICATIONS BRANCH ASSOCIATION
Warren William (BILL) BACON
For the first time in mine and my brothers lives, we will celebrate fathers day this year without our dad, for the first time in my mums life she will celebrate her wedding anniversary without her soul mate and for the first time in my nana’s life and the life of my dad’s brothers and sisters they will celebrate Dad’s birthday without their son, brother and best friend.
You can’t sum up the life and character of a man in a few words but if we are going to do so for Dad it will have to be his basic decency. He was a decent Aussie bloke and revelled in his persona as an outback bushie. Some may have mistaken it as a caricature but Dad always wore his heart on his sleeve and he was what he was. He loved a beer or two with mates; XXXX of course, as he would often say that drinking XXXX was like having angels pissing on your tonsils.
He loved his betting on the Saturday races, his regular exercise down the Gym, a round of Golf or two and watching the Cricket and his beloved South Sydney Rabbitohs in the Rugby. It wasn’t the activities in particular; it was the company that he kept – his mates.
He wore his trademark bushy beard for most of his life and wore his uniform of stubbies and a King Gee work shirt daily. He was no fool and was far smarter then he could first appear. Dad’s pleasures were simple ones and he did not trust unnecessary complexity.
Dad was the first and precious son born to Gwendolen and Bill Bacon; he was born and spent his childhood in the Blue Mountains. The family over the years grew to include his brothers Stephen (Doc) and Marty and his sisters Glenda and Lee-Anne (Tooty). As the first born he took his role seriously and he prided himself in looking after and maintaining a wonderful close relationship with his mother, father and siblings. This took on a more crucial role with the passing of his own father and he prided himself in keeping the fabric of the family together.
Dad was a boy from the bush and after his 20 year naval career; it was to the bush that he returned. His passion for Humpty Doo has never diminished and he knew each of the native birds and animals that lived on his block as intimately as they knew him. Butch the butcher bird and his girlfriend still visit Dad’s chair on the veranda daily no doubt wondering where he has gone.
Dad’s marriage to Bobbie, our wonderful mother, was a partnership that only grew in strength over its forty years. A product of their love was their children and grandchildren. They were authentic soul mates and the love of each others lives, their good natured banter a product of knowing each other as well as any two people could. He valued family above all else and relished the role of grandfather to his nine grandchildren.
Fond memories of our childhood were travelling around Australia in a soft top Nissan 4 wheel drive with dad and mum in the front and us kids and the dog in the back, camping in the outback and travelling the road less travelled. Dad loved Australia and wanted to share his love of the country with his kids.
On one such trip as we were breaking camp in the morning dad shot and killed a rabbit, we were all hungry and a day away from civilisation. We begged dad to cook up the rabbit so we could eat it, dad refused as he didn’t have time to tend the fire and he gave the rabbit to our dog for a feed as it was quicker and easier. Well the dog turned its nose up and wouldn’t eat, so dad skinned the rabbit, the dog turned it’s nose up once again, so dad gutted and cooked the rabbit….. The dog then happily ate the rabbit (obviously cooked to perfection) whilst we remained hungry. During those trips dad dared us kids to eat dog food (which we did) and sing silly songs about mum (go figure), he had a great sense of family and a wonderful sense of fun.
This same sense of humour he installed in his beloved grandkids. In the great Bacon tradition of teaching us and the grandkids of how to chuck brown eyes. Quite often visitors to the block were greeted by the Bacon clan, which included Mum, Dad, us kids and the grandkids all greeting them with a bit of moonshine.
When Dad came to the Territory with the Navy after Cyclone Tracey for the clean up he was unable to bring his family unless he met two conditions, 1) he knew someone living in Darwin at the time and 2) he could supply his own accommodation, because as you can imagine accommodation was scare. Even though dad’s brother Doc lived in Darwin, accommodation was the issue, so he told the naval hierarchy that he met both conditions and all the family transferred up to Darwin with him. Dad couldn’t bear to be without mum and us kids so we all ended up living in a 3 man tent and a lean to at the rural caravan park for a number of months until naval accommodation was available, with a caravan underneath the remnants of a house once built upon stilts.
For years Dad has donned the Santa Claus’s red suit at Christmas and played surrogate grandfather for many more children in the rural area. We recall a time when he played Santa at Kowandi, when he decided to spray Santa Snow in his black beard, rather than wear a white fake beard to look more authentic for the kids. He nearly asphyxiated – he didn’t try it again and decided to stick to the fake white beard.
The twenty years Dad spent in the navy defined the rest of his life and he took pride in his active service in Borneo and Vietnam. The navy gave him his sense of civic duty, filled his youth with adventure and gave him a circle of mates that continue on to this day. He spent many hours reading and researching naval history but the hardware did not capture his attention as much as the people, his ship mates. When he said that this ship or that ship were his favourite, it was not the vessel he was talking about but rather those that he served with.
Whether with the Humpty Doo Lions Club, helping to found the Humpty Doo Golf Club, his activities with the Naval Association or just helping out a neighbour because he knew they needed a hand Bill lived his life in service to those around him. In the later years of his retirement he helped and advised other often terminally ill veterans.
Dad took pride in his toughness but he was not a dour man. He often used the Aussie catch phrases of “She’ll be right” and “Stone the Flamin Crows” His impish humour always softened his rugged edges. Dad was a man who carried a plastic mouse called Leonard in his pocket for thirty years, which sat on the bar next to him when he drank.
As a boy in the dead of night he released blue tongue lizards into the girl’s dorm of his boarding school and he had a tendency to wear drag at fancy dress parties. We can recall as kids when dad would say goodnight in semaphore standing in silence at the foot of the bed flapping his arms about. We thought he was very wonderful and clever.
Dad was an active participant in the community and the number of people here today demonstrates just how many lives he has touched. Dads death has been devastating to all that have known him, but in saying that he has let behind a wonderful legacy to all he has touched….. He has left in us kids a strong sense of family, work ethic, a passion for life, family and friends, a sense of fun and a sense that you can achieve anything in life, if you work hard enough.
Dad passed away after a short illness while receiving treatment in Adelaide.
He didn’t like Adelaide much and he wanted to come home.
Today he’ll get his wish and return home to his beloved block at Humpty Doo.
We love you dad, you will be missed not only as our father but as our