Funge, Noel

Noel Funge was born December 26, 1929 in Melbourne, Australia.  He grew up against the backdrop of the 1930s economic crisis, where he was fortunate to win a scholarship to an elite school.  He also grew up during World War Two, when Australia was under severe threat from Japan; as such Noel completed his military training, though the war ended before he could enlist.  With little opportunity in front of him, he chose to emigrate, and Canada became his destination of choice.  He went from Australia to England, and then onto Canada, and then onto a train to Toronto, and as Noel recalls in Toronto of the 1950s he found work and an apartment on the day he arrived.  He worked at Massey-Harris to begin, but after seasonal layoffs he began to look for other opportunities.  The military came to his attention at this point, and while the navy was perhaps his first choice (he wanted to be a pilot on aircraft carriers), age and height took him to the air force, where he became a navigator.  Noel excelled in the various courses and hoped for Transport Command, but his skills were such that he ended up in a photo reconnaissance unit, where he had the chance to travel the world.  He worked with the RAF during this time, mapping the colonies of the British Empire as they were transitioning during the period of decolonization, and he was on the front lines of the Cold War too, ready to strike if the USSR’s aggression was not held in check.  After his stint overseas Noel and his wife returned to Canada, and he was stationed in Rivers, Manitoba.  He was flying in Hercules aircraft by this time, and was now instructing and learning the ins-and-outs of military contracts and purchasing, and rising through the ranks.  He retired as a major in the mid-1980s.  Noel Funge was interviewed via zoom by Scott Masters during the pandemic winter of 2020-21; we thank the Greenwood Military Museum for their assistance in facilitating this.