Olwyn Abigail Wooster

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Flight Lieutenant Olwyn Abigail Wooster. RAAF Number 352277

By Jennifer Rooks


 In Buckinghamshire in the early 1800s there lived two families side by side. John and Sarah Eggleton nee East  were raising a family of 11 children in Monks Risborough, where John was very involved in the Baptist  Church. In 1812 they were blessed with a daughter Sarah.

 At the same time John and Ann Wooster nee Ives were farming in the Great Missenden area and raising their  3 children, their son James Ives was born in 1810.

 By 1839 both families had lost one of their parents and in 1840 John and Ann were married in the Registry  office in Wycombe joining the two families.

 In 1833, Sarah and James married in Monks Risborough and continued to farm, 12 children were born to this  family. Seven children married and remained in England, two sons migrated to Australia and three sons migrated to America. The second son, William, was born in 1838 in Princes Risborough.

In 1859 William and Elizabeth Wooster nee Rayner arrived in Moreton Bay in the Colony of Queensland aboard the "British Empire". They first settled in Ipswich and the Fassifern Valley area but when gold was discovered in Gympie they moved to this area and eventually they started dairy farming, raising a family of nine children. Only one daughter was born of this family and of the remaining eight children two died in infancy and one migrated to New Zealand. The third son, Frederick William, was born in 1863 in Ipswich, Colony of Queensland.

In 1888 Frederick William married Alice Snook, formally of Somerset, at his parents' Gympie residence. Frederick was a gold miner and their marriage produced four sons and three daughters. Two of their sons, Bertram and Frederick saw military service in WW1 in Europe, Bertram was killed in action in 1918 and is buried in Crouy British Cemetery, Crouy-Sur-Somme, France.

Their eldest son Vivien Henry and Ethel Abigail Albrecht were married in 1914 and by 1917, his occupation as a Telephone Mechanic required a move to Charters Towers, NW Queensland. On born 22nd December 1917 their only child, Olwyn Abigail was born, completing her junior public examination at Blackheath College but not sitting for her final Senior exams. In 1934 she commenced her working career as a telephonist in the Postmaster-General's Department and shortly after was transferred to Ayr and then to Townsville in 1941. Both towns are situated in North Queensland.

In the early part of World War II Olwyn joined the Women's Voluntary National Register and trained as a voluntary aid. In 1942 she enrolled in the Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force as a wireless telegraphy operator and apart from periods under training, she spent the whole of her service at the Royal Australian Air Force's Melbourne Wireless Transmitting Station. Commissioned in August 1942, she performed the duties of a cypher officer then a signals traffic officer and her supervisors recognised her intelligence, pleasant personality and great capacity for work. In 1945 she was promoted to temporary flight officer and awarded a card for good service.

She was demobilised on 2 September 1946, and then joined Trans-Australia Airlines (TAA) as its ground communications superintendent, based in Melbourne,Victoria. She applied her technical and management skills to planning and implementing teletype, telephone, public-address and internal communications systems throughout the airline's network in Australia and the Territory of Papua and New Guinea leading a staff of 120 people. In 1961 she was awarded the British Empire Medal for her work.

London Gazette Listing:

Between 1964 and 1967 Olwyn was employed as a communications officer with the Victorian Totalisator Agency Board playing an important role in developing that organisation's communications systems for approximately three hundred metropolitan and country agencies, district centres and racecourses.

Between 15th and 21st June 1964 Olwyn attended a conference in New York where she presented a paper on the general topic of communications, as it relates to the peoples of the world, and efforts to extend man's environment into space.

Newspaper Article:

From 1967 to 1978 she worked for Honeywell Pty Ltd being responsible for integrating the company's equipment into the communications network of the Postmaster-General's Department, also known as the Australian Postal Commission. While working with both the TAB and Honeywell Olwyn received high praise for her competence as a communications and computing specialist. In 1978 she formed a communications and data-network consultancy firm, O. A. Wooster & Associates Pty Ltd but her continued achievements did not stop her receiving business mail addressed to 'Mr O. A. Wooster'.

One of several pioneering women in her field, Olwyn Wooster was an associate of the Institution of Radio and Electronics Engineers, Australia, the Australian Institute of Management, a member of the Society of Women Engineers, United States of America, the Victorian Computer Society and the Telecommunications Society of Australia (Victorian Division). She played an active part in the WAAAF Association, was extremely interested in women's issues, a member of the Lyceum Club and president (1972-73) of the Soroptimist Club of Melbourne. Her pastimes included swimming, golf, photography and playing the piano. She never married, 'Woos', as she was known, died of myocardial infarction on 11 October 1981 at Burwood, Melbourne, and was cremated, her ashes are stored at Fawkner Memorial Park in Melbourne, Victoria.

Sources: Ray Wooster, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Women and Imperial Honours (1901-1989), The Gazette



  Page last updated

  15 December 2014