George was born on the 27th September 1921. He was the second last and only boy in a family of 8 children born to Bert and Mary Royes. George was adored and doted on by his 7 sisters. The Royes family lived at 76 Walsh Street in a house consisting of weatherboard on three sides and corrugated iron at the back. Their toilet was a typical Australian out-house (more commonly referred to as “the dunny”). Their back yard had chooks, goats and fruit trees. George’s children fondly remember Grandma’s rocking chair which resided on the front verandah of the house and provided much fun and happy memories.
In his youth, George participated in a variety of sporting activities including Rugby League and Cycling. By all accounts he had a happy, carefree childhood, typical of growing up in a small country town.
During WWII, George served as a Flying Officer with the RAAF and saw service as a Wireless Operator Air Gunner for 4 years 159 days. He was awarded the Defence Medal, War and Australian Service Medals 1939-45, and Returned from Active Service Badge.
From 1942, the quietly spoken George was stationed with the RAF Bomber Squadrons at Talbenny Wales. It was here in 1944 that he met and fell in love with Irish beauty, Veronica Kathleen Reynolds, whom he affectionately dubbed “Paddy”. Paddy had joined the WRAF as a radio operator when she was 18 years of age.
Their wedding was planned for the 5-1-1945, the day of Veronica’s 21st birthday. Coupons saved and gathered by friends were used to purchase a grey suit for George. George just made the wedding on time!! On the 2nd January, he was in Karachi, Pakistan. On the 3rd in Egypt and Malta and he departed Malta on 4th January at 5.45 am bound for England. Their marriage took place at St David’s and St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Dew Street, Haverfordwest. As they were both still in full-time service, they were in separate camps and only saw one another on leave – wild passionate times!!
By July 1945, Paddy was pregnant. She left the deep winter’s cold of Wales in December on board the S.S. “Rangitiki” to venture over 10 000 nautical miles by boat to a country she knew little to nothing about. As the wife of an officer, she was given quite comfortable quarters. There were many war brides on board. At this time George was stationed in New Guinea and was unable to meet his new wife in Brisbane on her arrival. She was instead, met by her brother-in-law, Bill Grumley. After 6 weeks on a rolling ship, Paddy then experienced a Queensland train ride up to Cairns during the wet season. The Burdekin River at Ayr was in full flood, so they spent several days held up there – enduring the heat, mosquitoes and sand flies.
Paddy arrived in Mareeba to a “cool” welcome from her in-laws who were not enthralled with the fact that their only son had married a “Catholic girl”. George and Paddy lived with the Royes Senior family until their own house was built directly across the road at 77 Walsh Street. The Royes Junior house was a two-bedroomed weatherboard home with tongue and groove walls.
Paddy and George produced 4 healthy, energetic children. Sharon Veronica arrived on 22nd March 1946, Rosaleen Patricia on 7th January, 1948, Kieran Richard George, the last male Royes in this line, was born on 15th August 1949, and finally Dympna Patrice on 22nd April 1954.
On return from his active service during WWII, George worked as a draper’s assistant at Jack & Newell’s store for some years until he bought into his own milk run. As a youngster, he had reared milking goats and sold the milk. The whole family became involved in this venture. George worked the milk run from 12 midnight to 12 midday, 6 days a week. Paddy saw to the early 6 am breakfast of bacon and eggs, 6 days a week - yes George ate bacon and eggs every morning and never ever suffered from a cholesterol problem! Paddy generally did the daily counting of the money, with some help from the children. All four kids were encouraged to leave the comfort of their snuggly beds and help their father do his daily rounds on Saturdays and school holidays. They became a necessity on occasions when the milk truck broke down and the milk needed to be delivered. Rosaleen always prides herself on the fact that her dad let her drive the milk truck, and at the tender age of 7 was able to drive it herself. In those days, the milk truck had no doors (for ease of getting in and out regularly), so Rosaleen would peer out of the gap in the door to steer the truck. Bit of a worry for other drivers who wondered how the truck was driving itself!! She loved to help her dad service the truck and to this day is a very competent mechanic thanks to his good instruction and endless patience. Sadly, George’s occupation meant he missed out on attending his children’s sporting and cultural events. Though, doubtless, he was pleased not having to attend the many speech nights that Paddy had to sit through.
George was a fine rugby league footballer, captaining junior teams and representing Mareeba and Tableland District teams. He played in the five-eighth position. The family accompanied their father to his many games usually played all over the Tablelands (Cairns, Atherton, Malanda, Millaa Millaa). One day as they travelled in the old ute to one of those games, a motorbike was travelling in front of them. George hit a bone jolting pot-hole. Suddenly, they saw a wheel bouncing and rolling down the road in front of them, by-passing one very surprised motorbike rider. “Where did that come from?” Before the answer was out, the ute ground to a halt, axle dragging in the dirt.
George and Paddy became members of the local RSL and on many an Anzac Day, Paddy and the four children proudly watched their dad march in the local parade. Of course he also enjoyed indulging in a few too many drinks with his mates afterwards.
George was a very placid character. What father is content to sit in his armchair reading his book whilst daughter Dympna put his hair in rollers, teased and styled it? None of the children ever remembers their dad rousing on them. Generally, that was left to Paddy.
In the mid-70s, George sold the milk run and he and Paddy moved to Tiaro (outside of Maryborough, Qld) and became the local postmaster and postmistress for a few years before George was diagnosed with lung cancer. From Tiaro they moved to Hervey Bay eventually settling in Prince Street, Urangan, just one street from the beach.
George eventually succumbed to his illness and passed away in Hervey Bay hospital on 18th April, 1990 at the age of 68 years. His final words to his wife as his life ebbed away were “Don’t leave me Paddy”. Paddy passed away in July 2002 and was interred with George in Hervey Bay Polson Cemetary.