Biography

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 number: 540 - First World War, 1914-1918
7 - Second World War, 1939-1945
Units:
  • Royal Australian Air Force
  • Signals units
  • Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division
  • Australian Flying Corps
  • Signals

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.

Rolls and Awards

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Order of the Bath

  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945

Honours and Awards : Order of the Bath

  • Unit: Royal Australian Air Force
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945

Honours and Awards : Distinguished Service Order

  • Unit: Royal Australian Air Force
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945

Honours and Awards : United States Medal of Freedom

  • Unit: Royal Australian Air Force
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945

Collection Items

Photograph

019067

Probably Australia. August 1945. Informal portrait of Air Vice Marshal W. D. Bostock, Chief of RAAF Operational Command, who is a member of the Australian Official Party proceeding to Tokyo to sign the surrender documents.

019067

019122

With Allied delegations in the background and facing the Japanese officials across the table and General (Gen) Douglas MacArthur at the microphone, Gen Sir Thomas Blamey, Australia, seats himself at the table before signing the surrender document. Behind him are representative officer from...

019122

019123

With Allied delegations in the background and facing the Japanese officials across the table and General (Gen) Douglas MacArthur at the microphone, Gen Sir Thomas Blamey, Australia, seats himself at the table before signing the surrender document. Behind him are representative officer from...

019123

019136

Australian delegates at the Japanese surrender ceremony on board USS Missouri. Left to right: (back row) Captain J. Balfour; Lieutenant Colonel D. H. Dwyer; Air Vice Marshal G. Jones; Lieutenant General F. H. Berryman; Commodore J. A. Collins. Front row: Rear Admiral G. Moore; General Sir Thomas...

019136

012245

1942-05-12. AIR CHIEF MARSHAL SIR CHARLES BURNETT (LEFT) FORMER CHIEF OF AUSTRALIAN AIR STAFF, CONGRATULATING AIR VICE-MARSHALL WILLIAM D. BOSTOCK, RAAF, WHO HAS BEEN APPOINTED CHIEF OF STAFF TO LIEUT. GENERAL GEORGE H. BRETT.

012245

012249

1942-05-12. AIR VICE-MARSHAL G. JONES, D.F.C. NEW CHIEF OF THE AUSTRALIAN AIR STAFF (LEFT) WITH AIR VICE-MARSHAL W.D. BOSTOCK RAAF, CHIEF OF STAFF TO LIEUT.-GENERAL GEORGE H. BRETT (CENTRE) AND AIR CHIEF MARSHAL SIR CHARLES BURNETT (RIGHT) FORMER CHIEF OF AUSTRALIAN AIR STAFF.

012249

040969

SURRENDER OF JAPANESE ABOARD USS MISSOURI. GENERAL SIR THOMAS BLAMEY SIGNS ON BEHALF OF AUSTRALIA. GENERAL MACARTHUR, SUPREME COMMANDER, SOUTH WEST PACIFIC STANDS EXTREME LEFT, WHILE OTHER AUSTRALIAN REPRESENTATIVES STAND BEHIND GENERAL BLAMEY, LEFT TO RIGHT: LIEUTENANT GENERAL F.H. BERRYMAN, CHIEF...

040969

121265

LEFT TO RIGHT: COMMODORE J. A. COLLINS, RAN (PARTLY OBSCURED); AIR VICE MARSHALL W. D. BOSTOCK, RAAF; GENERAL SIR T. A. BLAMEY; AIR VICE MARSHAL G. JONES, RAAF AND LIEUTENANT GENERAL G. H. BERRYMAN ABOARD USS MISSOURI PRIOR TO THE SURRENDER CEREMONY. (PHOTOGRAPHER CAPTAIN J. C. GOODCHILD)

121265

121267

The Australian delegation after the surrender ceremony aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, Japan. Left to right: Air Vice Marshal W. D. Bostock; Commodore J. A. Collins; Rear Admiral G. Moore; General Sir T. A. Blamey; Air Vice Marshal G. Jones; Lieutenant General F. H. Berryman; Captain J....

121267

OG2415

MOROTAI, HALMAHERA ISLANDS, NETHERLANDS EAST INDIES. C. 1945-04-12. PRELIMINARY CONFERENCE ATTENDED BY COMMANDERS OF RAAF COMMAND, FIRST TACTICAL AIR FORCE, RAAF, US NAVY AND AUSTRALIAN ARMY. DETAILS OF THE AUSTRALIAN LANDING ON TARAKAN ISLAND, OFF THE NORTH-EAST COAST OF BORNEO WERE DISCUSSED....

OG2415

OG2416

MOROTAI, HALMAHERA ISLANDS, NETHERLANDS EAST INDIES. C. 1945-04-12. PRELIMINARY CONFERENCE ATTENDED BY COMMANDERS OF RAAF COMMAND, FIRST TACTICAL AIR FORCE, RAAF, US NAVY AND AUSTRALIAN ARMY. DETAILS OF THE AUSTRALIAN LANDING ON TARAKAN ISLAND, OFF THE NORTH-EAST COAST OF BORNEO WERE DISCUSSED....

OG2416

OG2420

MOROTAI, HALMAHERA ISLANDS, NETHERLANDS EAST INDIES. C. 1945-04-12. PRELIMINARY CONFERENCE ATTENDED BY COMMANDERS OF RAAF COMMAND, FIRST TACTICAL AIR FORCE (TAF), RAAF, US NAVY AND AUSTRALIAN ARMY. DETAILS OF THE AUSTRALIAN LANDING ON TARAKAN ISLAND, OFF THE NORTH-EAST COAST OF BORNEO WERE...

OG2420

111164

LABUAN ISLAND, 10 JUNE 1945. GENERAL DOUGLAS MACARTHUR, SUPREME COMMANDER, ALLIED LAND FORCES, SOUTH WEST PACIFIC AREA (1) TALKING TO BRIGADIER S H W C PORTER, COMMANDER, 24 INFANTRY BRIGADE (2) SOON AFTER THE LANDING ON BROWN TWO BEACH BY MEMBERS OF 9 DIVISION DURING THE OBOE 6 OPERATION....

111164

Private Record

Art

Air Vice-Marshal William Bostock

Air Vice Marshal William Dowling Bostock, CB, DSO, OBE, Air Commanding RAAF Command Allied Air Forces

ART27501

Conference at Morotai

2nd Australian Imperial Force, United States Army Air Force; included in work are: Lieutenant General Sir Leslie Morshead, Commanding 1 Australian Corps, Major General G F Wootten, General Commanding 9th Australian Division, Air Vice Marshal W D Bostock, Air Commanding RAAF, Air Commodore A Cobby,...

ART27563

Film

1. Team work in allied air operations 2. Training airmen 3. USA V Australia in baseball 4. Servicemen enjoy breezy hospital show. (Fox Movietone News Vol. 13 No. 24)

1. (1 min 20 sec) Lieutenant-General Brett introduces his chiefs, air Vice-Marshal Bostock and Brigadier General Ralf Royce, US. 2. (1 min 25 sec) Young air training corps cadets inspect US aircraft 3. (1 min 23 sec) American national game is played between Aussies and Yanks at North Sydney Oval....

F00347

Tokyo surrender

On 2 September 1945 the instrument of surrender was signed by the Japanese foreign minister, Mamoru Shigemitsu, at a ceremony held on board the upper deck of the USS Missouri. Four minutes after Shigemitsu signed, General Douglas MacArthur signed, followed by the representatives of Allied countries...

F01272

Team work in Allied air operations

Newsreel item on Lieutenant-General George H. Brett, USAAF Commander Allied Air Forces Australia and SWPA, seated in office, introduces his staff: Air Vice Marshal W.D. Bostock, CB, OBE, RAAF Chief of Staff Allied Air Forces SWPA, Brigadier-General Ralph Royce, USAAF Senior Air Staff Officer, Group...

F02047

Victory loan highlights (News From Home. No. 89)

RAAF and ATC march in Brisbane. A wrecked Mitsubishi "Betty" bomber is part of the parade. Air Vice Marshal Bostock takes the salute. North Sydney school children display propaganda posters. Tivoli ballet girls dance in Martin Place, Sydney; all in aid of a victory loan.

F00778

Morotai strip sitting

Australian airmen sitting around base. Australian and Americans and playing 'Two up' while waiting for next move. Lieutenant-General Morshead, Air Vice Marshall William Dowling Bostock, Major-General George Frederick Wooten and Air Commodore Arthur Henry Cobby shown leaving tent after conference...

F02078

Conference at H.Q. 24 Australian Infantry Brigade on Oboe 6 operations

Coverage of Oboe 6 Conference held at HQ 24 Aust. Inf. Brigade. SX9364 Lieutenant Colonel Mervyn Roderick Jeanes MC, CO 2/43 Australian Infantry Battalion (officer listening); VX133 Brigadier Selwyn Havelock Watson Craig Porter DSO ED, Commander 24 Australian Infantry Brigade (giving instructions);...

F07219

Conference at HQ 1 Aust Corps

At 1100 hours on 7th June 1945, a conference was held at HQ 1 Australian Corps to detail Oboe 2 Operation. Heads of Allied forces outline their particular responsibility and part in the Operation. The conference was attended by service officers of HQ 1 Australian Corps and 7th Australian Division....

F07253

Timeline

Date of birth 1892-02-05 Sydney, NSW.
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 1914-11-23 Joined AIF with 2nd Signal Troop.
Other 1915-04-25 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.
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 1921-09-14 Appointed to RAAF on its formation.
Other 1930 - 1931 Director Training RAAF Headquarters.
Other units 1931-11-22 Appointed commanding officer 3rd Squadron RAAF.
Date promoted 1934 Promoted to wing commander.
Date of honour or award 1935-06-03 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 1942-01-01 Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB).
Other 1942-05-02 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 1946-04-19
Date of honour or award 1948-03-16 Distinguished Service Order (DSO).
Other 1949 - 1958 Member of the House of Representatives for Indi, Victoria.
Date of death 1968-04-28 Benalla, VIC.