FOLLOWING ON FROM GUY MENZIES; A LIFE LIVED AT FAST FORWARD.
Guy Menzies, the dashing young airman who made the first solo crossing from Australia to New Zealand in 1931 had plans for even greater feats; perhaps a flight from England to Australia, which he estimated could be achieved in six days. However, such adventures would have to wait. After moving to England soon after his historic trans-Tasman flight, Guy joined the RAF. He was stationed at North Weald Airport, Epping.
The squadron of young flyers enjoyed themselves to the utmost, with an endless round of parties and dances. Always one to live dangerously, Guy Menzies continued in the same vein by starting an affair with Marcia Grundy, the wife of one of his fellow officers.
In the summer of 1936, newspaper reports appeared in the UK and Australia with a strange tale to tell of the dashing aviator.
Flight – Lieut. Menzies, formerly of Sydney, was found seriously injured, lying in his pyjamas, 40ft beneath a window of his quarters at North Weald Airport, Epping. The doctors were puzzled by the nature of his injuries, which were not wholly consistent with a fall.
‘Not wholly consistent with a fall.’ This was a diplomatic reference to the fact that Guy had broken kneecaps!
The only wound that would account for Flight Lieutenant Menzies condition is a contusion on the back of his head and doctors fear he may have a fracture of the skull. His condition is reported to be very grave. When retiring to bed last night he was reported by his brother officers to be in a happy frame of mind and bade everyone a cheery goodnight. Nothing more was heard from him until he was discovered by his batman. Last night the aerodrome officials were unable to reveal any facts to inquirers,”we are as much in the dark as you are”, said one officer. “We only wish we knew more about it. At the moment the whole thing is a baffling mystery.”
As the days went by, no further information was forthcoming;
He is in the Epping Cottage Hospital in a semi-conscious condition and the police have been unable to interview him. A private Court of Inquiry was arranged for yesterday, but the RAF authorities at North Weald refused any information. The police have been asked for their report. A Reuter message from Sydney quotes Captain Follett, an airman, as saying that in 1930 he stayed at the same hotel as Menzies and twice found him sleep-walking.
Guy remained on the dangerously ill list for nearly a month. There was no mention in the press of an aggrieved husband being in the picture, and the results of the ‘private inquiry’ were never released.
Once Guy was out of danger he faced months of rehabilitation. It was feared he would never fly again, but ever so slowly he improved. Eventually he was well enough to rejoin his squadron.
Marcia and Guy continued their relationship, but did not marry until 1940. By this time Marcia’s marriage to Grundy was dissolved and he had left the country. World War II had begun, and Guy was now a Squadron Leader.
The newly married Guy was serving in Egypt when his wife received the news so many people dreaded at that time. Almost immediately it was reported in Sydney;
GUY MENZIES MISSING, FEARED DEAD
Tuesday 21 Jan 1941
The news of Guy Menzies is wrapped in mystery. He has been reported ‘missing, believed killed,’ but so far no official account of his fate has come to light. I have a feeling that friend Guy was not born to die with his boots on, otherwise he would never have survived that mad fight to New Zealand, and some of the seemingly impossible feats I saw him perform with aircraft in Singapore. Probably he is a very unwilling prisoner in some obscure enemy outpost. I would not like to be his guard. Taking charge of a wet paper bag full of cobras would be much easier. Let’s hope that time will prove me right.
His family and friends found it difficult to accept that he had gone. But it was true; he and his crew had died on November 1 1940. The plan wreckage was never found. RIP Guy Menzies; larrikin, adventurer, war hero.
I would like to acknowledge the wonderful Australian newspaper archive, TROVE, where I found much of my information. How lucky we are to have this amazing, free resource. It allows people like me to record and share our rich social history.
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