RAAF Warrant Officer James Patrick "Happy" Sullivan
15.03.1923 to 29.11.2007
R.A.A.F. Serial No. A1196
Died at Allora Hospital 29 Nov 2007
after spending some time in the HOMESTEAD nursing Home
From Fred Howie:
I was talking to “Mo” (Bill) Sullivan, Happy’s brother at Pottsville who is involved with Tweed District Rescue Squad, with high recognition, I might add.
He was saying that since Happy had his leg off he changed mentally, expecting to have a peg-leg and it would get better and he’d be able to play football! Like getting a tooth out, you don’t feel it, then the anaesthetic wears off and you have a sore jaw.
Mo talked to Hap saying, “I think you will find it’s a bit more than that,” but, mentally, Happy couldn’t accept it. Then the other leg started to play up, and in February, results after tests showed it should come off.
The Dr. increased the medication and had to further increase it as he was slipping down the ladder. Last Tuesday, 27/11, Mo had a call from the male nurse who had been looking after Happy. He had been on leave for 2 weeks and when he came back and saw Happy, he said he was slipping fast and it wouldn’t be long.
Mo was on a ‘snake job’ at Mt Warning last Thursday, 29/11, when a call came to the house at 15.45; Happy had passed on at 15.30.
A private ceremony was held Monday, 3/12, at Allora. As per Happy’s wish, he will be cremated at Toowoomba, and his ashes will be spread on the out-going tide of the creek at Pottsville in a quiet ceremony.
Happy was FSGT in charge of section at 3AD in Jan 1958 when I reported in as an AC. During the next twelve months he yelled at me, threw things at me, made me clean out the degrease bath just about every Friday afternoon and in general made my life a misery.
At the same time he taught me many tricks of our trade, shouted me many a Coke and became a friend who always had time for a chat with me. I haven't seen him for some years, but I'll miss him. As late as Sat last (01Dec) his name came up a couple of times as we discussed all things gunny at the Townsville St Barbra's get together.
Happy Sullivan was still in charge at 3AD Armament when I arrived at Amberley in 1960. Reported in late with some other apprentices as we had met up and had a few coldies and lunch. Happy of course was not impressed and bawled us out and continued to do so for the rest of the year. So, this is why the called him HAPPY? Frightened the crap out of us at first!
But along the way he taught us a lot including self-discipline and made friends for life. I then went to the Wing and the next time I ran into him was in Malaysia in late 1965. He welcomed me and my wife Bev, with open arms. I went to the fighters and he was with the bombers so I didn't get to mix that much with him after that.
But what he had enstilled in us stuck with us forever. He turned out to be a Big Pussycat when you got to know him properly. Didn't realize he had a real name. Imagine calling him Jimmy Pat, if you were game.
We will be poorer with him gone. I'll get up to Gunny heaven on time when I have to go or Happy'll most probably bawl us out again.
RIP the most memorable Gunnie I know.
Fond Regards, Ken Kane.
The Cremation in Toowoomba:
I got myself up to Toowoomba and after getting a few locals directions, which were only about 90% right, I found where Happy was to be cremated.
I was very fortunate to strike a very helpful staff at the crematorium office. They informed me that I was in the right place but there was no committal service and that his was purely a delivery by the funeral provider and that he had not long arrived.
The trouble was that on a delivery the coffin/person is usually place straight into the burners. They immediately contacted the crematorium and advised me that they had not started the flaming and that the staff would hold off to allow me to pay our respects. And the operator would meet me at the carpark and guide me to the burner.
The actual Crematorium is in the same grounds as the Memorial Gardens and was but a short drive away, and I met the operator and he guided me to the oven with Happy in it. He then graciously left me to pay our respects.Was a bit of a surreal experience and terribly sad and disapointing to see that nobody else was there to see him off.
Then on exiting through the back door, to save me having to climb the spiral staircase that I had come down, I was confronted by other coffins waiting in line. This an experience I had not had before or really wish to have again. It wasn't scary just a strange thing to experience.
I have scanned parts of a brochure that I acquired whilst at the establishment and attached them with this email for what it may be worth. It is truly a lovely and serene place but apparently Happy will not be interred there and the management apparently at the time had not received any instructions as what to do with the ashes.
But I think some where in your correspondence it was mentioned that his ashes were to be scattered at a favoured beach of Happy's.
Further to my previous correspondence Happy's ashes are to be spread at a stream (in the funeral announcement), so I assume that his family or the funeral provider will pick the ashes up and carry out those wishes.
Anyway that is my report on the trip. I did go up to Point Lookout and enjoy a nice big mugachino and a roast turkey and salad with mango pickles on thick multi-grain bread sandwich and took in the vista and contemplated on old times when Happy was around.
Nice way to finish off the visit before heading back to Redland Bay, running into some very heavy rain, stopping at fruit stall and picking up a tray of mangoes, a rock-melon and a pawpaw. YUM.
Cheers to you and your family and all the other Gunnies.