William James Robley, the son of Percy Charles and Emily Robley was born in Lithgow in May 1924.
In 1938 he sat the Public Sevice Examination for entry to the GPO, passed, and was appointed to the Haymarket Post Office in Sydney in June 1939. Later, he was posted to the Ryde post office where he attended classes to learn Morse Code. After about 18 months he was transferred to the Money Order Counter as Postal Assistant and then on to Gladesville on the Counter Staff.In 1942, on Bill's 18th birthday, with the Pacific war raging, he attended the Army induction centre at the Sydney Show Grounds and joined the Australian Army. Originally placed in the Infantry at Cowra, he was soon transferred to the Signals Corps at Tamworth. Training finished, he was posted to Brisbane in Queensland awaiting a posting overseas.
Then followed a series of moves around Australia where he served as a radio operator. A rumour spread about involvement in the Philippines Campaign but this was cancelled. Eventually the call came and via the Liberty Ship, Sea Wray, he arrived in Moratai on his 21st. birthday. He then took part in the re-taking of Labuan Island from Brunei Bay. At the end of the war he remained in Rabaul, relaxing and looking after a Japanese POW camp. He was discharged from the Army in July 1946.In Australia, Bill had a short holiday and then returned to work at the GPO, where he was appointed to Postman, Mounted, and instructed to report to Portland with two horses. As they already had a Mounted Postman in Portland he reported for counter duty, less horses!
But William had other ideas, he wanted to become a priest. This desire had surfaced in Kuching, Sarawak on meeting with missionaries released from Japanese incarceration. and then again in Rabaul where he saw the devastation at Vunapope. He was interviewed, accepted and entered St.Columba's College, Springwood. He was ordained in 1956.
He was appointed to Rockdale shortly before Christmas. It was then on to Rosebery and thence to Toronto for three years. In 1964 he was again transferred to Darlinghurst where he was Chaplain to St. Vincents General Hospital, a Private Hospice for the Dying and a Maternity Hospital.
In 1966 he took six months leave of absence on what was to become almost a world tour, visiting Colombo, Aden, Port Said, Cairo, Naples, Amsterdam, London, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Yugoslavia, Austria and Germany as well as a pilgrimage to Lourdes and Fatima. Returning to Australia the ship was diverted via Capetown because of the closure of the Suez canal due to a war between Israel and Egypt.
In 1969 Father Bill was appointed to Merrylands where he stayed until 1973 and thence to Croydon and Narrabeen. In 1975 he was sent as Administrator to Sylvania. He was appointed parish priest of Our Lady of the Way, Sylvania in 1986 until his retirement in 2007.
Fr Bill, who had been been living at the Little Sisters of the Poor at Randwick, had been in ill health for some time before he died on November 8th. 2011. He was 87.
Written by John Robley, from the account of Eileen S. Young.