Moving Forward eNews

  • McColl’s A Double in Action

  • McColl’s Oldest Living Tanker Driver

    Recently McColl’s was contacted by Alan Jones who claimed his father may well be McColl’s oldest living tanker driver. After contacting Des and chatting about the early days in Geelong, there is no doubt that Des may well be our oldest living driver. Born on 4 May 1923, Des celebrates his 100th birthday this month!

    In 1952, the Geelong Cats brought Des had met and become friends with Stuart and June McColl in the early 1950’s. Des worked for Stuart who was managing the local dairy factory. Whilst managing the factory, Stuart and June began McColl’s Transport in 1952 and after a couple of years purchased their first purpose-built milk tanker. Stuart approached Des to see if he would be interested in driving the tanker. At the time Des was working for Stewart servicing ice cream cabinets that used brine to keep the ice cream cold. Des was on call 24/7 and if a machine played up, he was called to fix the issue. It was a good job that supplied a car with the role. However, when Stuart approached Des to see if he would drive his new tanker Des decided to join McColl’s and worked for around 12 months delivering milk from the western district to the dairy factory in Geelong.

    After 12 months Des decided to go back to his trade and with his business partner started JB Electrics in east Geelong. Des Jones and Max Brown started their new business. Max had an army background whilst Des was from the navy. Des said the J should come first like the Navy does! Hence JB Electrical. Stuart was kind enough to offer finance to Des however with already having a business partner they went off on their own venture.

    Des is also the last remaining survivor of the HMAS Canberra which was struck 24 times by gunfire and struck by torpedo in the battle of salvo island on the 9th of August 1942. Although the Japanese fired 19 torpedos it is now thought that the USS Bagley inadvertently torpedoed the cruiser. Of the 819-strong ships company, 84 were killed and 109 wounded. Des recalls swimming as fast as he could to the life raft as he had a fear of sharks. Des was a stoker on the boat and recalls the day he turned 18 and his pay doubled. Des recently visited Sydney and Canberra as the guest of honour as the Navy held an 80-year reunion from when she was lost in battle.