Paul Joseph McGinness

July 21, 2015

McGINNESS, Paul Joseph- – – – SPC 1910-1911

DoB:- – 1896, Framlingham, near Port Fairy, VIC

Father:- – James McGinness

Mother:- – Catherine, nee Taaffe

Paul McGinness was a boarder at St Patrick’s, along with his brother, James Patrick (SPC 1896) who also enlisted. John McGinness (SPC 1905) was a cousin, and he also volunteered for service.

Service No:- 324

Rank:- – Private, Corporal, Sergeant

Unit:- – 8th Light Horse Regiment, later 67th Squadron AFC

Paul McGinness enlisted on 17 September 1914, soon after the declaration of war. He was 18 years and six months old, five feet, eight inches tall, with a fair complexion, grey eyes and fair wavy hair. He was unmarried and his occupation was farmer. On his attestation papers it was noted that he was able to -‘shoot and ride’ at the same time.

The SPC Annual of 1916-1917 included an extensive review of Corporal McGinness’ war experiences to that date:

-‘-¦ Paul left Australia on 24th February, 1915, with the 8th Regiment of Light Horse, and landed at Gallipoli about 20th May. He was one of the only two who returned of the 150 men who charged in the first line of attack the 8th Regiment made at -‘Walker’s Ridge’ on 7th August. In a letter Paul states -“ -‘My escape was miraculous: the bullets were falling like hail. I don’t know how I got back. My guardian angel must have been very close to me, and someone praying very hard for me’.

-¦ He had succeeded in gaining the brink of the Turkish trench when he was knocked over by a bullet that, while causing very little discomfort, did signal service. In falling, this man had rolled into a depression just a yard away from the enemy front, where he was below the line of fire. By good fortune he managed to creep away unnoticed after dark and regain the spot from which he had jumped at dawn. Questioned as to his feelings during the hours of thirst and starvation under the broiling sun, the trooper said: – -‘I kept my mind employed so that I would not worry. I counted and counted all day, and once I reached seven thousand odd and got off the track, so then I simply numbered off single hundreds. I realised what a prisoner escaping from gaol must feel like when I started back from the line. Bullets seemed to buzz around like mosquitoes’.

At the end of December 1915, (now) Sergeant McGinness proceeded to Egypt, marching out to Serapeum on 26 February 1916.


No 324, Sergeant P McGINNESS, 8th Light Horse Regiment, Australian Imperial Forces.

On the SINAI PENINSULA on 13th April 1916, for good scouting and leadership of his troop in action during the operations at JIFJAFFA.’

The following year, in June 1917, he was transferred to the 3rd Light Horse Training Regiment at Shellal, and later, to the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) Base Depot at Aboukir for military aeronautics instruction. He was then transferred to the 21st Reserve Squadron RFC, then to the 22nd Training Squadron RFC and finally to the 23rd Training Squadron RFC by the 8 October 1917. He graduated on 21 October and was appointed 2nd Lieutenant, 67th Squadron Australian Flying Corps, at Moascar.

He served briefly with a Royal Flying Corps unit attached to Colonel T E Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia). McGinness’ courage and daring in action earned him a Distinguished Flying Cross. With seven confirmed victories, he became one of the few recognised air aces in Palestine. Hudson Fysh was one of those who flew as his gunner.

-‘Second-Lieutenant Paul Joseph McGINNESS, DCM, 1st Squadron Australian Flying Corps.

For conspicuous gallantry in air combats and in attacking ground objectives. On the 24th August, 1918, this Officer with Lieutenant H B FLETCHER as his Observer (and accompanied by Lieutenant G C PETERS and Lieutenant J H TRAILL in a second machine) attacked seven hostile machines, of which he succeeded in crashing two single-seaters, one of which burst into flames on hitting the ground. On two previous occasions (2nd May and 3rd August 1918) this Officer has engaged and destroyed hostile aircraft as well as forcing machines to land on the 14th August 1918. In addition to this, Lieutenant McGINNESS has shown great initiative in attacking ground targets, notably on the 31st July 1918, when under heavy fire from the ground he attacked camps and aerodrome at SEMAKH, causing casualties and a fire, also on the 3rd August, 1918, when he attacked AFULEH aerodrome, camps and station with effect. Other attacks on ground targets were carried on the 11th July, 13th July, 8th August, and 10th August 1918′.

After more than four years of outstanding service, Sergeant Paul Joseph McGinness left Cairo for his return to Australia aboard the Port Sydney on 5 March 1919.

Upon his return to Australia, Paul McGinness with his friend and gunner in the war, Hudson Fysh, planned to enter the Australian government’s -£10,000 contest for a flight from England to Australia. This did not go ahead due to the death of their financial backer, so instead, McGinness and Fysh were commissioned by the Australian Government to survey the Longreach (Qld)-Darwin section of the route.

On 16 November 1920, McGinness and Fysh, with western Queensland graziers Fergus McMaster, Ainslie Templeton and Alan Campbell, formed the Queensland & Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd -“ QANTAS. The company lobbied the government for a regular Charleville-Cloncurry passenger service. On 2 November 1922, QANTAS flew its first passenger, 87-year-old Alexander Kennedy, in one of two surplus war-disposals Armstrong Whitworth aircraft.

Paul McGinness left Qantas at the end of 1922 after a falling-out with Hudson Fysh, and moved to Western Australia where he married Dorothy Maud in 1924. They had two children. Their marriage was not always happy, and around 1934 Paul left the family home, because his wife refused to. They lost contact until six years later when Paul wrote to Dorothy’s father asking him to forward her address to him. It was at this point that Dorothy filed for divorce on the grounds of desertion. The decree nisi was granted in July 1942.

Paul McGinness died in Perth on 25 January 1952, aged 55. He was buried in Karrakatta Cemetery, WA.