BRISBANE - Sir Reginald Barnewall, a descendant of Anglo-Norman knights and the founder of Polynesian Airlines, has died at the age of 93.
Sir Reginald, pictured here with his wife Maureen in 2008, served in Papua New Guinea during World War II as a lieutenant with the Royal Australian Engineers and Z Special Unit AIF. He lived at Mt Tamborine in Queensland.
He was in Aitape with the Army engineers in 1944 and after the war flew around many parts of PNG with Mandated Airlines. He had first met the Parer family, pioneering PNG aviators, in the 1930s.
Sir Reginald had been well and attended recent Anzac ceremonies in Brisbane.
Son of a wealthy Victorian grazier, he founded Goulburn Valley Air Services (later Southern Airlines Ltd) in 1954.The airline serviced Victoria and Tasmania including King and Flinders islands.
Having visited Apia in Western Samoa, Sir Reginald and his first wife decided to embark on a new tropical lifestyle and made it their new home.
He quickly identified the need for a local airline to connect Apia with neighbouring Pago Pago in American Samoa and, after encouraging local planters and businessmen to invest, gained the finance to found Polynesian Airlines Ltd in 1959 with a Percival Prince 10-seater aircraft.
A year later it was wrecked on landing and he purchased two of the same type in Tanzania and flew them back to Samoa. He later acquired two DC3s and a DC4 as his airline expanded.
During the 1960s he developed Orchid Beach Resort on Fraser Ireland, selling it in 1973 to purchase motels in Annerley and Toowoomba, Queensland.
In an autobiography, 'Operation Scupper', he described his involvement in 1942 in a commando mission to destroy a radio transmitter being used by Vichy French supporters in the Pacific to provided coded information to Japanese forces regarding allied shipping, air and troop movements.
A requiem mass will be held to celebrate Sir Reginald’s life at Our Lady of Graces Catholic Church, 100 Mayfield Road, Carina at 12 midday on Friday 18 May.