Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2006.Bill “the Mule” Francis was first employed by Jack Campbell in late 1945 as a workshop-hand and offsider for the Leonora-Darlot mail run. In 1946 he drove a Republic truck with 2 x 4 wheel trailers carting woolpacks, windmill parts and station supplies, returning with wool.
Bill got his driver’s licence in 1946 and drove the mail run until 1947, when he went to a KB5 International and trailer carting mining equipment and supplies from the Leonora railhead to the EMU Gold Mine, Agnew.
He left the Goldfield in 1949, went to Fremantle to cart wheat and super until late 1952 when he moved north to cart manganese from Woody Woody to Port Hedland. He then went on to join James Kiernan Pty Ltd in January 1955, and with Laurie Kiernan, pioneered heavy haulage in WA with the delivery, in 1965, of Was first 100 ton transporter moving all heavy machinery and equipment in WA until 1960. Bill then joined Bell Bros. And continued with heavy haulage and low loader work until 1968 when he went to work for Mayne Nickless manager their Port Hedland operations and controlling a 400 ton capacity platform trailer (The Scherle).
In 1968 Bill Francis was instrumental in arranging a demonstration of triple-bottom roadtrains for the WA Traffic Authority and WA Director General Transport. This resulted in permits being issued early in 1969 to allow operators to pull triple roadtrains north of Canarvon adn Meekatharra and did much to enhance both the productivity and efficiency of transportation in remote areas. In 1968 he transported two locomotives, a rail welder and power car for the welder used to build the rail for Mount Newman Mining. They were unloaded at Dampier wharf, placed on the Dampier to Tom Price rail line and towed to within 70 miles of Tom Price where they were then loaded on trucks and transported to Port Hedland. It was the first locomotive brought in through Port Hedland wharf. Bill finally retired from Myne Nickless in 1973. He then started UHS Transport Services and worked with heavy haulage until he retired in January 1997.
Today he enjoys retirement and travels extensively in harsh Australian deserts. He still holds his licence and when in Perth enjoys assisting his son with roadtrains.