Indigenous WWII pilot Len Waters honoured at Williamtown RAAF Base

Williamtown RAAF Base has been undergoing one of the biggest transformations seen since World War II - $1.8 billion works associated with 24 projects.

Some of those projects, costing $270 million, have recently been completed.

They include the two new base entrances on Medowie Road, underground engineering works, refurbishment of two buildings for No. 4 and No. 26 Squadrons, a new 250-seat auditorium and AAFCANS/commercial area with barber, hairdresser, two banks and dry cleaners, and the Len Waters Building.

Group Captain Peter Cluff hosted the opening ceremony of the Len Waters Building, a five-storey office block providing state-of-the-art facilities to approximately 1000 staff, in October.

A Welcome to Country was performed by Worimi elder Uncle John Ridgeway. GPCAPT Cluff rated the structure, fittings, layout and the indigenous artwork and displays as "first class".

"Leonard Waters was Australia's only known indigenous fighter pilot during World War II. But Len's dreams of flying started well before enlisting in the Royal Australian Air Force in August 1942," he said.

"Len, a Kamilaroi man, initially trained as an aircraft mechanic. His long held ambition to fly was recognised in 1943 when he commenced flying training in Tiger Moths and Wirraways before earning his wings and joining No. 78 Squadron in 1944 where he went on to fly the Kittyhawk aircraft.

"During nine months of active service, Len Waters flew a total of 95 sorties before discharging from service in January 1946 with the rank of temporary Warrant Officer."

Despite the fact that Len was never based at Williamtown, GPCAPT Cluff said it was appropriate that he be recognised as the Air Force's only indigenous fighter pilot and to have his memory honoured at the Defence's premier fighter base.

The 21,000sqm building comprises 26 conference and meeting rooms varying in size from six to 50 seat capacity; six dedicated computer training rooms; multiple breakout rooms on each floor; two family/breastfeeding rooms; two first aid rooms; waste optimisation program; state-of-the-art security and fire suppression systems; drying and locker rooms; and 24 hours access.

There is also Worimi storytelling graphically represented in artwork by Melissa Lilley and Saretta Fielding, photographs of long term local residents and historical photography of the base.

Additional adjacent buildings include a brand new facility with retail tenants including Defence Bank, Australian Military Bank, hairdresser and drycleaner, a 250-seat auditorium and 800 carpark spaces.