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Military career lost in luggage


AN old suitcase somewhere in Ballarat may be home to a piece of WWII history.

The luggage is believed to have been left in the town for decades, and with it a logbook detailing the globetrotting career of Royal Air Force member William Ainsley Reid.

Over the past two decades, William’s son, Colin Reid, has pieced together his father’s military career and said the logbook holds the key to connecting the dots to his legacy.

“It was the only thing I had from dad as a kid. It wasn’t until recently that I realized how much information there would actually be in there,” Colin said.

“If I could get my hands on this logbook, that would be wonderful. This would be the final piece of the puzzle in Dad’s operation.

The Reid family emigrated from England in 1958, where they settled in Newcastle, New South Wales.

On a trip to Geelong in 1969 to work on the railways, Colin stayed in Ballarat for two weeks and lived in Wendouree with a friend.

Using the city “as a base” while he got his job, he left the suitcase and logbook at the house he was staying in.

“I was so young and stupid back then. It didn’t cross my mind to write down names and addresses,” Colin said.

His search for the logbook is a recent development in a collection of photos and recordings dating back decades, having recalled his wanderings last year.

Based in Brisbane and currently overseas, he continues his research remotely with the help of his brother Mervyn.

Together, they reached out to various Facebook groups and military organizations to help piece together their father’s story.

Colin Reid reconstructs his father’s twenty-year military career. Photo: SUPPLIED

Reid’s father died in a car accident when Colin was 14, and the “emotional roller coaster” of re-enacting his wartime activities made him feel more connected to his father.

“Being the youngest in my family, I didn’t get to share a lot of those family stories with him because I wasn’t there yet,” he said.

“And obviously, when you are a child, your mother and your father are your mother and your father. You don’t really think of either as a person.

“Now I’m here all these years later to find out who my father was.”

With each new piece of information pushing him forward, Colin harbors a “realistic but vain hope” that the logbook can be found and returned to him.

He said many Ballarat residents have come forward with their suggestions and that, despite poor health, he will continue to gather information for as long as he can.

Although most of Colin’s memories of the logbook are unclear, he remembers putting a distinctive twist on it in his youth.

“Dad let me take a look at it once, and while his back was turned, I’m pretty sure I got some ink on my thumb and put some prints on it. inch across multiple pages,” he said.

“I’m sure I got a slap for that.”