Born in Sydney, Bill Purdy worked in the grocery industry before joining the RAAF in 1941. After completing his training at Point Cook, he was posted to England as a Pilot Officer, flying Lancasters with No. 463 Squadron RAAF, in Bomber Command. Between April and August 1944, he completed thirty-seven missions, including participating in the famous bombing of Pointe du Hoc on D-Day.
Although on that day the weather was so poor they would not usually have flown, Bill recalls descending through the cloud cover to witness 'the greatest armada in human history' stretching as far as the eye could see. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service, but notes the contributions made by the dedicated aircrews and the exceptional ground crews.
Bill was posted back to Australia in March 1945 to serve in the Pacific against the Japanese. Following the surrender, he was transferred to the Reserves in September 1945 at the rank of Flight Lieutenant. After a brief return to his pre-war job, he joined a firm of manufacturers' agents. With the outbreak of the Korean War in 1951, he was called up to train as a flight instructor on weekends, finishing with a commercial pilot's licence and an instructor's rating.
In 1952, he started a frozen food distribution company with a friend from the air force, selling it to Gordon Edgell Ltd in 1959. Bill stayed on as General Manager of the Frozen Food Division until 1966, when he joined Arnott's Biscuits as Marketing Director, eventually becoming Chairman. He retired from work in 1995, but still holds a current pilot's licence.