Flying Officer Edwin Sautelle Hayes, the son of William George Hayes and Jane Caroline Hayes (nee Sautelle) was born at Toowoomba on 10th August 1911. He was educated at the Toowoomba Grammar School. He was enrolled in the Reserve of the Royal Australian Air Force on 20th July 1940 after swearing an Oath of Affirmation. At the age of 29 years and 5 months he was enlisted into the Citizen Air Force of the R.A.A.F. at No. 3 Recruiting Centre in Brisbane on 2nd February 1941 after giving an undertaking that he would serve for the duration of the war and an additional twelve months. At the time of his enlistment he was married and employed as a Bank Officer at the National Bank of Australia at Goondiwindi. He had previously served for a year and a half in the Militia as a Sergeant-Major with the 25th Infantry Battalion. He was granted a discharge from the Militia to enable him to join the R.A.A.F. His physical description at the time of enlistment was that he was 5 feet 10 inches in height and weighed 167 pounds. He had a fair complexion, blue eyes and light brown hair. He stated that he was of the Church of England religion. He gave his next of kin as his wife, Mrs Jacqueline Morgan Hayes, residing c/- Mrs B. Hamwood at 54 Curzon Street, Toowoomba.
Flying Officer Edwin Hayes joined No. 3 Initial Training School at Sandgate in Queensland on 3rd February 1941. He joined No. 2 Elementary Flying Training School at Archerfield in Queensland on 3rd April 1941. He joined No. 2 Service Flying Training School at Wagga Wagga in New South Wales on 2nd June 1941. He was awarded the Flying Qualification Badge on 24th July 1941. He was appointed to the commissioned rank of Pilot Officer on 20th October 1941. He joined No. 3 Embarkation Depot at Sandgate in Queensland on 20th October 1941 to prepare for overseas service. He embarked from Australia on 17th November 1941 for overseas service on attachment to the Royal Air Force and disembarked in the United Kingdom on 4th February 1942. He joined No. 3 Personnel Despatch and Reception Centre at Bournemouth. He joined the Middle East Pool on 16th March 1942 to prepare for overseas service in the Middle East. He embarked from England on 18th March 1942 and disembarked in Egypt on 26th May 1942. He was appointed to the rank of Temporary Flying Officer on 20th April 1942. He joined No. 2 Pilot and Aircrew Pool at Gordon’s Tree in the Sudan on 2nd July 1942 awaiting training or absorption by operational squadrons. He joined No. 71 Operational Training Unit at Ismailia in the Middle East on 8th October 1942 for training in flying in desert conditions. He joined No. 1 Middle East Training Squadron on 13th December 1942 where he converted to Kittyhawk fighter aircraft. He was posted to No. 2 Aircraft Delivery Unit in the Middle East on 24th December 1942 for aircraft ferrying duties.
Flying Officer Edwin Hayes was the pilot of a No. 2 Aircraft Delivery Unit Royal Air Force Kittyhawk Fighter FR 316 that went missing in bad weather. It was last seen by an accompanying aircraft about 30 miles south east of Barce at 1400 hours on 12th January 1943. Bad visibility prevented the accompanying aircraft seeing Hayes’ aircraft after this. He had been detailed to fly the Kittyhawk from No. 1 Aircraft Replacement Pool to No. 53 Repair & Salvage Unit located in Magrum for reinforcement purposes. He landed at El Adom on the way to Chel Andema during the course of the flight. The Air Ministry notified his wife, Jacqueline Morgan Hayes, residing at 54 Curzon Street, that he was missing as a result of air operations in the Middle East. Enquiries by the International Red Cross failed to find any further news of him. In June 1948, after extensive enquiries were made by No. 5 Missing Research and Enquiry Unit, he was registered as having no known grave. At the time of his death Edwin Hayes was 31 years of age.
Flying Officer Edwin Hayes’ name is commemorated on the Alamein Memorial to the Missing in Egypt and locally on the Toowoomba Mothers’ Memorial, the Toowoomba Memorial Hall Honour Board, the Toowoomba Grammar School WW2 Honour Board and St Luke’s Toowoomba Parish Church Roll of Honour.
On 30th September a Department of Air Minute stated:
The name of the above mentioned member has been included on a list compiled by the Directorate of War Graves Services, of members who cannot be located or who are considered lost in the minefields, by the graves registration units which have now completed operations in the Middle East area. Further search by graves registration units has been abandoned.
The following newspaper article appeared in the Townsville Daily Bulletin on Wednesday 24th February 1943:
FOOTBALL – Flying Officer Edwin Sautelle Hayes, a Queensland representative Rugby Union footballer, is among those reported missing from the Middle East. He played for Queensland from 1932 to 1937, captained the team on six occasions, and played in every position except half back. He captained the Australian team that toured New Zealand in 1936.
The following newspaper report appeared in the Toowoomba Chronicle newspaper:
Leading Aircraftsman E.S. Hayes, son of Mr and Mrs W. Hayes, of Toowoomba, who is serving with the R.A.A.F. He is a former international Rugby Union footballer, and captained the Australian team which toured New Zealand in 1936.
Flying Officer Edwin Hayes had been presented a “Caterpillar Club” badge by the organisation at Hertfordhire in England after the Commanding Officer of Royal Air Force Station, Carthage, Middle East, requested in a letter dated 26th December 1942, that he be granted membership. His eligibility for the badge was based on his parachuting from his aircraft after a mid-air collision with another aircraft on 29th October 1942.
In 1922 Leslie Irvin of the Irvin Parachute Company agreed to give a gold pin to every person whose life has been saved by one of his parachutes. At the end of World War II, over 34,000 members had qualified for the Irvin Caterpillar Club badge.
Flying Officer Edwin Hayes’ son, Peter Edwin Hayes, was born on 27th July 1942.
Toowoomba Grammar School archive records show that he was enrolled as a day student on 1st January 1925 and that he left the School on 31st December 1928. In 1927 he was the Premier team for the 1st XI Cricket team. He was also in the 1st Rugby that same year. In 1928 he was in the 1st XI Cricket and 1st XV Rugby teams. He played international rugby in 1934.
Photo of Caterpillar Club Pin By Halicki [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons