Air Vice Marshal William Dowling Bostock

Service number 540
Ranks Held Sapper, Air Vice Marshal, Wing Commander
Birth Date 05 February 1892
Birth Place Australia: New South Wales, Sydney
Death Date 28 April 1968
Death Place Australia: Victoria, Benalla
Final Rank Air Vice Marshal
Service Australian Flying Corps
  • Signals units
  • Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division
  • Australian Flying Corps
  • Signals
  • Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division Signal Squadron
  • Royal Australian Air Force
  • First World War, 1914-1918
  • Second World War, 1939-1945
Gazettes Published in London Gazette in 1948-03-16
Published in London Gazette in 1942-01-01
Published in London Gazette in 1935-06-03
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1948-04-15
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1948-03-24

William Bostock, a First World War veteran, was one of the RAAF's senior officers during the Second World War and later a Liberal Party politician. He was born in Surry Hills, Sydney on 5 February 1892. In November 1914, having been a shipboard wireless operator, Bostock joined the AIF. He served on Gallipoli with the 2nd Signal Troop from the landing on 25 April until August when he was evacuated suffering from dysentery.

In April 1916 Bostock, then a sergeant, transferred to the Anzac Mounted Division's Signal Squadron. Like many who had served in the infantry or a mounted unit, Bostock sought to become an airman and in February 1917 he was discharged from the AIF and commissioned into Britain's Royal Flying Corps. After training, in August 1917, Bostock joined 48 Squadron on the Western Front. He was invalided to England in March 1918 and later transferred to the Royal Air Force.

On 6 March 1919 Bostock married Gwendolen Norton in Southhampton and the couple returned to Australia when he retired from the RAF that October. In September 1921 he was appointed flying officer in the Royal Australian Air Force. Thus began a steady rise through the ranks that included a two year stint at the RAF Staff College in England and the directorship of training at the RAAF's headquarters in Melbourne. He took command of 3 Squadron at Richmond in New South Wales in 1931, and was promoted to wing commander in 1934, after a period as Richmond's station commander. An exchange to England followed before Bostock returned to Melbourne, where, in 1938, he became Director of Operations and Intelligence. Shortly afterwards he was promoted to group captain.

Bostock was appointed Deputy Chief of the Air Staff shortly before the Second World War. By June 1940 he had risen to temporary air commodore and in October 1941 to air vice marshal. On 2 May 1942 he became Chief of Staff to the American Allied Air Forces commander. In August he was made Air Officer Commanding RAAF Command and given responsibility for the aerial defence of Australia and operations against the Japanese in the Netherlands East Indies.

In March 1945, having overseen a series of successful operations against the Japanese to Australia's north between 1942-1944, Bostock was given responsibility for air support during the invasion of Borneo. General MacArthur praised Bostock's command and he was highly regarded for his intellect. The culmination of his wartime career came in September 1945 when he was invited to represent the RAAF at the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay.

After the war Bostock ran a grazing property in Victoria and wrote numerous aviation articles for the Herald. In 1949 he won a seat in the House of Representatives for the Liberal Party which he held until 1958. He had also served on the Australian War Memorial's board of management. He died on 28 April 1968 and was survived by his second wife, Nanette.



Date of birth 05 February 1892 Sydney, NSW.
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 23 November 1914 Joined AIF with 2nd Signal Troop.
Date of enlistment 23 November 1914
Other 25 April 1915 Served at Gallipoli with 2nd Signal Troop.
Other units 1916-04 Transferred to ANZAC Mounted Division's Signal Squadron.
Date commissioned 1917-02 Comissioned into the Royal Flying Corps.
Date of discharge 1917-02 Discharged from AIF.
Date of discharge 14 March 1917
Other units 1917-08 Joined 48 Squadron on the Western Front.
Date of honour or award 1918 Belgian Croix de Guerre.
Date wounded 1918-03 Invalided to England in March 1918, and later transferred to the RAF.
Date of discharge 1919-10 Retired from RAF, and returned to Australia.
Other 14 September 1921 Appointed to RAAF on its formation.
Other 1930 - 1931 Director Training RAAF Headquarters.
Other units 22 November 1931 Appointed commanding officer 3rd Squadron RAAF.
Date promoted 1934 Promoted to wing commander.
Date of honour or award 03 June 1935 Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).
Other 1936 - 1938 On exchange with RAF.
Other 1938 - 1939 Appointed director of operations and intelligence RAAF Headquarters.
Other 1939 - 1942 Appointed deputy chief of Air Staff, RAAF.
Date promoted 1940-06 Promoted to temporary air commodore.
Date promoted 1941-10 Promoted to air vice marshal.
Date of honour or award 01 January 1942 Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB).
Other 02 May 1942 Became chief of staff to the American Allied Air Forces Commander, South Western Pacific Area.
Other 1942-08 Appointed air officer commanding RAAF Command, Allied Air Forces, South Western Pacific Area.
Date of honour or award 1946 American Medal of Freedom, Silver Palm.
Date of discharge 19 April 1946
Date of honour or award 16 March 1948 Distinguished Service Order (DSO).
Other 1949 - 1958 Member of the House of Representatives for Indi, Victoria.
Date of death 28 April 1968 Benalla, VIC.