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Josie McHarg





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Josie was born into an Anglo-Italian household in King Idris’s Libya on 17th March 1949.

After finishing school in Libya she went off to Business College in Sliema, Malta, returning to Benghazi the day before Gadhaffi’s tanks rolled into Benghazi and Tripoli and martial law was declared.

The family was confined to the house, as were all other expats, and Josie posed as the neighbour’s son’s girlfriend to get to the shops to feed them.

They opted to leave with whatever meager possessions Gadhaffi and his thugs allowed, and were heading for the UK when a chance encounter in Rome with the Australian based members of her Mother’s family made them change their mind, and they turned right for Sydney.

Both Alitalia and Qantas were hiring for Sydney’s new Terminal and Josie was interviewed and offered jobs by both Airlines.

One Monday, in April 1970, found Josie and about 20 other newly fledged Ground Hostesses and Traffic Officers in Hangar 85’s classroom, in the care of Brian Etherington, Ian McDonnell and the writer.

One thing led to another and she became engaged, also to the writer happily, and after bringing our wedding forward, January 1971 found us in London for 2 years with me away 2 or 3 days every week looking after the migrant charters we operated in those years.

Josie only worked in the New Terminal for about a year before our wedding. Even without the London posting, one of us would have had to leave Traffic, as back in those unenlightened times, spouses weren’t allowed to work together.

After London, Sydney followed, then 2 hard years in BAH.

Perth next as one of the 4 Duty APMs, then 18 months in MEL as TSM.

Back to PERQF and then a year with BA before returning to Qantas for the 3rd time.

She took it all in her stride and never missed a beat.

10 years for me with Defence and the RAAF at Pearce followed and she loved the military atmosphere and the sense of a close family – her father had been an officer in the British Army, before being seconded to King Idris.

She was a wonderful mother to our 3 children, patient and understanding of the frequent moves and changes of scenery and it was with a sense of disbelief that we found, purely by accident, a runaway, metastatic melanoma in her right heel in 1999.

The doctors called it “amelanotic” – unpigmented - and you could look at her foot for a week and never see it.

She suffered a succession of increasingly difficult operations, but hope was always a fugitive and we lost her on 30th May 2004.

She left the world a much better place for her presence.

John McHarg, Maylands, WA November 2020

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