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Remembering the Telegraphist Air Gunners
Stars Of Stage, Screen November 9, 2005 Article in The Manly Daily (Australia) By Marj Belessis FEW couples can boast of having their wartime love story feature in a musical 60 years later on the other side of the world. Bill   and   Gwen   West   of   Bayview   have   had   that   honour   and   a DVD   of   one   of   the   scenes   from   the   "Bill   and   Gwen"   story   in the   Canadian   production   Time   to   Remember   -   A   Tribute   to the   Men   and   Women   of   World   War   II   was   screened   at   the Wests'   60th   wedding   anniversary   lunch   at   Palm   Beach   Golf Club   on   Saturday.   How   their   story   came   to   be   told   can   be traced   back   to   the   time   when,   in   1943,   the   17-year-old   Bill applied   to   join   the   Royal   Navy   as   air   crew   in   the   Fleet   Air Arm   and   was   sent   to   Canada   to   train   at   the   RCAF   station   at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, as a telegraphist air gunner (TAG). Several     years     back     George     Egan,     now     a     Yarmouth            schoolteacher   whose   family   had   made   Bill   welcome   as   a young   trainee,   began   running   a   course   at   his   school   in which   students   researched   people   and   events   associated with the wartime TAG camp. The   project   was   embraced   with   such   enthusiasm   the   material   uncovered   by   the   students   was   used   as   the   basis   for   a   series   of musical   productions   which   have   played   to   audiences   both   in   Nova   Scotia   and   in   Bill's   homeland,   England.   The   production company,   440   Productions,   of   which   George   Egan   is   a   director,   has   developed   into   an   entity   outside   the   school   and   school curriculum.   Judi   West   said   she   and   her   sisters   Marilynne   and   Annette   heard   about   the   production   and   wanted   to   turn   on   a special   celebration   for   their   parents'   60th   wedding   anniversary.   They   contacted   Mr   Egan   and,   as   Judi   said,   he   became   a   very willing conspirator. The internet did the rest. The   Bill   and   Gwen   story   began   in   Sydney   when   young   Gwenneth   Jamieson   answered   a   request   posted   on   a   notice   board   at   work for   young   women   to   go   to   the   British   Service   Club   to   help   welcome   young   English   servicemen.   On   her   first   night   at   the   club   she met William West, a member of the 829 Squadron on HMS Indefatigable. He   was   in   Sydney   recuperating   from   an   injury.   After   that   first   meeting   in   early   1945   romance   soon   blossomed   and   they   were married   at   Hurlstone   Park   Baptist   Church   on   November   2,   1945,   before   he   returned   to   England   on   his   ship.   Gwen   followed   nine months   later,   along   with   other Australian   brides   of   British   servicemen. The   couple   returned   to Australia   to   live   12   months   later, living at Ashfield, Chester Hill, Collaroy Plateau, Canberra and most recently Bayview. Gwen   said   Saturday's   anniversary   celebration   was   a   great   surprise.   "I   thought   it   was   going   to   be   just   a   small   family   get-together but   unbeknown   to   me   the   girls   had   been   plotting   something   much   grander   for   more   than   two   months."   Among   those   who helped   them   celebrate   were   their   children,   grandchildren   and   great-grandchildren,   Gwen's   sisters   Betty   and   Marie,   who attended her at her wedding, and friends they have made through church, sport and community involvement.        
Bill and Gwen West got a big surprise on their 60th Wedding Anniversary