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Heritage Guide to The Geelong College






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PILLOW, Harry Vincent

PILLOW, Harry Vincent


Harry Pillow, electrical engineer, spent much of his adventurous working life in research and computing with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

Harry first commenced training at the Gordon Institute as a mechanical engineer before joining Kodak Research Laboratories in 1947. He later joined the electrical engineering branch of Australian Newsprint Mills in 1949 as a draughtsman, a career move which encouraged him to return to the Gordon to train as an Electrical Engineer. In 1954, he joined the Weapons Research Establishment in South Australia and commenced early work in computing. During this period, he married Jocelyn nee Nankivell and two sons were born during the next six years.

H V Pillow

H V Pillow

He continued his research interests, joining the Royal Australian Navy Research Laboratory (RANRL) in 1966 to find himself immediately sent to Palm Beach, Florida in the USA, to program the data reduction program for the RAN’s Ikara anti-submarine missile system. This adventurous period of his life involved him flying to the Bahamas every fortnight to obtain data from the deep undersea trench, known as ‘Tongue of the Ocean’. Returning to Sydney in 1968 to run the Exercise Analysis Section of the RANRL, he, as a Senior Research Scientist, became involved in writing programs to reconstruct exercise incidents between ships, submarines and aircraft and collecting data at sea during the three week long exercises. Harry retired in 1988 and moved back to Adelaide where many family members were living.

Harry Pillow is the son of Dr Albert Earnest Pillow (1886-1960), a former College student and School Dux of 1903 who later became a mining engineer, and was first enrolled in the kindergarten (run by Lorna Bechervaise), at the College on 5 June 1934. He appears in several sporting events at the Preparatory School Sports including as the winner of the Under 11 Egg and Spoon Race in 1938. In 1939, he became the Middle IV class Dux. At the Senior School, Harry became a member of Morrison House and rowed in the winning Morrison House crew in the House Sports of 1945. He also became a Cadet Corps corporal in early 1945 before his departure from College in May 1945. Harry also rowed in the No 2 position of the successful 4th VIII of 1944 and then 3rd VIII of 1945. He also assisted in several Glee Club performances.

He made his first set of skis at the College’s House of Guilds (HOG), which was run by John Bechervaise, later to become an Antarctic Explorer. Harry wrote of his time at College: ‘I was removed from the College in mid-1944, as my Father thought I wasn't doing well enough at Leaving (Yr 11). This was despite a request from Albert Bell, the rowing coach, for me stay on to Leaving Honours as he wanted me for the stroke of the 1st VIII crew. I remained involved with rowing, as I coached the 4th VIII which was coxed by Barrie Beach (later Hon Justice, Victorian Supreme Court Judge), who, along with Bill Wheatland ( architectural assistant to Carl Utzon who designed the Sydney Opera House), saved my life after a drowning episode at the Eastern Beach swimming pool. I am indeed very indebted to these two.’

His brother, Dr Albert Fenton Pillow (1921-2006), was educated at the College from 1930-1939. His uncles, Henry Fenton Pillow (1893-1918) and Roy Nelson Pillow (1894 - 1918), were also students at College. Both were killed during World War I.


Sources: H V Pillow.
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