Dot Quinn and Reg Hubbard

Service #103502 and #409706

Only war could keep them apart

Did Dorothy Quinn mean to drop her identity tags between the gaps of the floorboards of Melbourne’s Exhibition Buildings? Did she look for them frantically and give up in despair, or did she want to leave her old life behind?

It was war-time Melbourne, and Dot was serving in the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF) as an Aircraftwoman and sick quarter attendant. She had enlisted in Perth as 19-year-old sales assistant and was soon on her way east. 

A young Dorothy Quinn

Dot was a diligent worker, but soon found herself distracted by the handsome Reg Hubbard—a worldly RAAF Flight Lieutenant. Reg had enlisted at the age of 18 and was already on his way to becoming a Flying Officer when they met in October 1943, at a dance at the Palais Royale in the Exhibition Buildings. Their romance soon blossomed. They were parted while Reg was posted to New Guinea with No. 23 Squadron in November, but kept in touch—writing letters to each other when they could.

Reg returned to Australia to visit Dot in Perth in May 1944. ‘The days that followed I can’t remember too well but all I can say is that I have never felt so happy in my life,’ he wrote in his diary. They were married the following month at the Church of Christ in Spencer Street, Melbourne. Two days after their wedding Reg was off again, back to his squadron’s base in Queensland.

‘Up at 4.30. Said goodbye to the family and then the saddest job of all saying goodbye to my newlywed wife. Never in my life have I loathed the thought of going back to camp so much.’

Dot became pregnant and was discharged from the WAAAF in November 1944. She returned to her parents’ home in Perth to give birth—eagerly awaiting Reg’s home-coming and the dream of a long and happy marriage. The opportunity came when Reg’s appointment as an officer with the RAAF was terminated on 20 September 1945, shortly after the war’s end. The couple bought a farm in northern Victoria, where they raised their three children.

Reg returned home to meet his son Ken in 1945

As for Dot’s identity tags—they lay hidden under the floorboards of the now Royal Exhibition Building until 1989, when they were uncovered during renovations. Her family were astonished to hear they had survived.

Silver octagonal shaped metal tag with stamped text.
SH 961697 – Identity Tag - D. L. Quinn, WAAAF, World War II, 1942-1944

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