Bill Billett

Bill joined the RMSM in March 1952 as a Boy Musician RMB/X2907. However he was not happy in that role and on several occasions absconded even on one occasion stealing a boat from Walmer beach and along with a fellow "escapee" rowed through the the night intended for France to join the French Foreign Legion. On arriving on a beach many hours later Bill approached a chap and enquired of him in schoolboy french "Parlez-vous anglais?" only to be told that they had arrived on the beach near Dover, and were promptly escorted back to Deal.

Bill had always wanted to be a Royal Marine Commando and his wish came true in 1954 when he transferred to the GD branch. He was promoted Cpl when he was just eighteen and became the Corps youngest Sgt at the age of twenty one. Bill served with 40 Cdo during the Suez landings in 1956 and later served at Christmas Island and was 2i/c of the Falklands Island detachment (long before the Falklands War of 1982). He had of course by this time been Commissioned and was a 2nd Lt.

On leaving the corps Bill joined the Australian Special Air Service Regiment (SAS) serving two tours of duty in Vietnam. After a long and interesting life in the armed forces Bill retired to become Curator of Arms at the Melbourne Museum. He also was an author of Military History and his last book titled "Mont St Quentin," [A Soldiers Battle] was only published just before his passing.

Bill's last contact with me was in October 2009 to inform me that he may not be able to attend our coming 2010 reunion In Adelaide because he had been diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. Unfortunately Bill passed on just one week before we ex RMBs gathered in Adelaide.

Our friend Bill was still very proud of the fact that his service started as a Boy Musician in the Royal Marines. RIP my friend.

Eric Hayward

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