Sunday, December 31, 2017

Peter Ilbery: Waratah connection lost

We are now the poorer for the passing of Peter, who had a unique and strong connection to one of the greatest sea mysteries of all time; the 108-year-old maritime intrigue surrounding the loss of the passenger steamer, SS Waratah, off the South African coast in 1909.  Commodore of the Blue Anchor Line and commanding the ship was Captain Josiah Edward Ilbery, described by Peter as a highly skilled mariner with an excellent reputation and a lovable man whom he referred to as Cousin Joe.

Peter possessed the only authentic photograph of Captain Josiah Ilbery, as well as the original sketch map detailing the associated ships and coastline sailed by the ill-fated ship. This intriguing relationship established his lifelong interest in the disappearance of the ship and the many attempts to establish her exact resting place.

Peter served in the Royal Australian Air Force during WWII as a bomber pilot and was fortunate to fly many missions and come back each time.  That fortune was not lost to his fallen colleagues or us and he wrote two books detailing the activities of those Beaufighters and their crews of the Empire Air Training Scheme.   He was also instrumental in organizing memorials to his colleagues lost from the Wagga flight schools and Australian Beaufighters in the UK.

Post-war, his academic strengths led to a medical degree and with an interest in nuclear radiation effects, became a specialist in researching, instituting changes and lecturing on the effects of radiation.  

Peter was held in very high regard for his pioneering work leading to significant changes in radiation therapy, becoming a sought-after practitioner for advice and holding numerous top roles in Hospitals and Organisations related to radiation medicine.

For those of us who had the pleasure to spend some time in the company of Peter and Marianne, we will hold his memory dear and fondly recall his dry wit, sharp mind, upright carriage, gentlemanly manner and for someone who achieved so much in the field of nuclear medicine, his humility.

During our lives, some unique people come into our sphere for but a few hours, yet, their presence and charisma permanently remains.  Years later, there is still that clear recollection in what they achieved, who they were and what they stood for.
So it is for Peter.

To Marianne and the families, our thoughts are with you.

Guest post by Suzanne Jo-Leff Patterson who also provided the photograph of Peter.

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