08 October, 2018 Community

Farewell to Mr Keith Bilney – a dear friend of the St Michael’s community

The St Michael’s Grammar School Community has been saddened by the recent passing of our dear friend Keith Bilney at the age of 96.

Keith Bilney was a Member of the 14th/32nd Australian Infantry Battalion AIF Association, and was instrumental in arranging for St Michael’s to be custodian of the Battalion’s regimental banner in 2004 and for the School to provide standard bearers to carry the banner in ANZAC Day marches in perpetuity.

Author of the book, 14/32 Australian Infantry Battalion AIF, 1940-1945 – Australia, New Guinea, New Britain (published 1994 Melbourne: 14/32nd Australian Infantry Battalion), Keith kindly donated a copy of the book, together with other related material, to the School and these are held in the School’s archives.

Together with Mr Basil Smith, Keith was also instrumental in the establishment of the 14th/32nd Battalion AIF Award for Courage and Fortitude, the gift of the 14th/32nd Australian Infantry Battalion AIF Association to the School. This annual award is presented to a student in the Senior Years who has faced significant challenge and difficulty with courage and fortitude. The award honours the memory of the soldiers of the 14th/32nd Australian Infantry Battalion AIF who fought in World War II and acknowledges their courage and sacrifice. This award was first presented by Keith in 2005.

On reading about Guy Grabowsky (8M), who was recipient of the award in 2009, Mr Bilney wrote to Mr Gipson, ‘I felt quite a lump in my throat with your information about the young fellow who won the 14th/32nd Battalion Award. The title “courage and fortitude”, when it gets down to the grass roots of good old Aussie language of guts and determination, brings a tear to the eye when I recall parallels during WWII – young chaps of 19 and 20 being stretchered out, or being piggybacked out giving the thumbs up or a wink or a smile. I know the members of the Association would applaud Guy long and loud.’

To pay tribute, Keith Bilney’s name has been added to the St Michael’s Memory Book, this will ensure that he will be remembered in prayer at Eucharist Services held in the School’s Chapel of St Michael and All Angels at the anniversary of his passing, and that his memory will be honoured by St Michael’s Grammar School. The School has also shown respect for Keith by lowering the School flag to half mast for the first week of Term 4.

Our thoughts are with Keith’s extended family and in particular his son Chris, at this time.

A memorial service will be held on Wednesday 10 October 2018 at 2pm at Herbert King Chapel, 364 Warrigal Road, Ashburton 3147.