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March 2024

A sad milestone reported by our good friend Sandi NIPPERESS of 450 Squadron Association
[Remembering that 3 and 450 fought side-by-side for three years, from 1942 to 1945, across North Africa and Italy.

We believe we have now sadly reached the end of an era of amazing 450 SQN aviators, as our last known surviving 450 SQN veteran, FLTLT Evan 'Jimmy' JAMES, RAF pilot, passed away in his sleep on the morning of 11th January 2024.


His son, Steve, who has helped us maintain contact with Jimmy for many years, has advised that, "He really loved the Australian connection and was very proud to be part of 450 Squadron.  - We’d often get stories of how they would tease him as a Pom, but he found a great acceptance among those fellow pilots."

Our last communication with Jimmy was on the 10th of January 2024, when we responded to his New Year email via Steve.  Apparently he was not ill, and was planning to go shopping the next day, followed by choir practice.  So his passing was quite sudden.  Although according to Steve, from Jimmy's point of view, with no need for hospitalisation, or home care, it was by far the best way to go.

Jimmy was just three months off his 101st birthday - a magnificent innings for one of the Squadron's pilots who also survived a crash followed by his capture and subsequent imprisonment in Stalag Luft 7, Bankau, Poland in 1944.  [Which had a horrible reputation.]

His story can be accessed on the 450 Squadron website.
His funeral service was held at St Mary’s Church, Chesham, Buckinghamshire, England, on the 31st of January 2024.

450 Squadron was represented by the following members of the RAAF currently stationed at  Australian High Commission, Australia House, London:
•    Group Captain Scott WOODLAND (Air & Space Advisor)
•    Wing Commander Teresa WYNTER (Assistant Air Force Advisor)
(The CO of 3SQN, WGCDR Adrian KIELY, who was then deployed overseas, kindly put us in touch with GPCAPT Woodland and his team, for which we are eternally grateful.)

I laid a wreath at the foot of the 450 Squadron public exhibit at Fighter World, Williamtown in the week of his death; and later transferred the wreath to the 450 Squadron Memorial on RAAF Base Williamtown.  [A 3SQN tribute was also added.]

- Lest We Forget -




Our Slovenian archaeologist friend “Miha” MIHEV was in touch for Xmas.  He says:

“Greetings!  First happy and abundant health in the New Year to you and yours!  In our country, several authors will write about various crashed planes in Slovenia.  Eventually a book will be published.  My friend Igor TRATNIK will describe the incident of Mustang pilot Alan CLARK - KH631.
 
I am still looking for planes and there is some success, as long as there are still older witnesses surviving.”




Our ever-active member Peter RING sends in the latest news about Air Force Association communication initiatives:

- AFA NSW has opened a Youtube Channel called Wings Australia.  We wish to put up some original content using video/photo supported stories or existing video/movie/photos to which we can add an appropriate story.  We can digitise old Super 8 etc. movie film.  Or some recordings of events.

If you have any good original exciting stories about your Air Force Life, then please send them to me.  If you have original video clips/photos please send those.  If the files are too large to email then I can give you a Google site where you can drop them.  For really old movies done way back, you can post them and we will digitise and get a digital copy back to you.  - If you are worried about what we make out of anything that you send, then anything you send will be put back in front of you before we post it.

Anything from WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Malaya, Borneo, Timor, Middle East, UN (what have I forgotten).  I want to get some more history recorded as we have done with our Podcasts, which will be continuing.  For those of you who had major emergencies such as ejections, please write your story and we can read it in and put some vision to it.  Over to you.  I hope I get inundated!   - Pete RING, AFA NSW, “Ringo”.

Ringo Postscript 1:  AFA NSW recorded a Video Chat with Lindsay BOYD re his Ejection on 1 April 1974 from a Mirage.  It is up on our YouTube Channel.  If you have not subscribed to our Channel yet, please do so.

Ringo Postscript 2:  AFA NSW intends to do a number of these chats with people who have ejected.  -
If you have ejected from any aircraft at all then please contact me and volunteer which will help me to record more history.  A few of you have ejected from Sabres and then more from the Mirage.  Then there is the F-111 and the F-18, Macchi, Meteor and Vampire.  Additionally, If someone you know has ejected, then please dob them in. 


Ringo Postscript 3:  I can keep things rolling for some time further by video chatting with people who have had experiences in Vietnam on Choppers, Caribous and Canberras and as FACs.  To me this is important history that many people including our current Air Force should be reading about.




Former 3SQN Sabre pilot Mike MATTERS is chasing a contact number or email address for former distinguished pilot Owen WORTH.  If you know Owen, please Contact us.



There are several Facebook groups that run items of 3SQN interest.  Examples include: 
“Friends of RAAF 3 Squadron "Fast Flying Fighting Third"
and “Friends of the RAAF CAC CA-27 Avon Sabre.” 

On the latter, Paul GILL has posted an interesting video covering the history of the innovative Australian Sabre jet, which is widely held to have been the “best” of all the production versions around the world:  

3SQN Sabre artwork by Drew HARRISON, from our website.



Doug NORRIE, the Honorary Historian with 450 Squadron Association, submitted a couple of questions that allowed us to exercise some of our favourite online “Research” resources…   

1) “When did 3SQN start receiving Kittyhawk Mark IIa's?  I am interested in FL301 “CV-T” which I know was at El Djem in April 1943.  Apparently it was struck off charge on 8.3.44”

 
- The MkII Kittyhawks (Rolls-Royce Merlin engined) were something of a 3SQN “special”, as there were not enough to supply all RAF Desert Air Force fighter-bomber squadrons.  (Most were snaffled by the Americans as “Warhawks”.)  3SQN was favoured with the remaining Rolls-Royces, amongst British units, as 3SQN were the Desert “top-scorers”.  Kitty IIs did a huge amount of work for 3SQN and the “FL” serials started appearing in early November 1942.  (See 3SQN Operations Record Book page 834.)  FL301 was one of the first batch and was flown by a variety of pilots including Bob GIBBES.

2) “Re 3SQN's Caproni 309 Ghibli captured at Castel Benito [near Tripoli, Libya].  When did the squadron get rid of it?  At the end of African campaign?” 


  - Despite being heavily used as a 3SQN utility aircraft (both for personnel carrying and beer-carrying!) the Ghibli’s flights were not usually recorded in the 3SQN ORB.   However, there’s a story on our website of CO3 Brian EATON flying this captured Italian aircraft across from Africa to Sicily and being intercepted by hostile British Spitfires!  – Eaton was not amused!  - So maybe that was the end of the Ghibli’s use.  Also presumably the conventional beer supply system got better as the landscape became more civilized…  [And for any reader who is wondering, the famous Japanese animation company Ghibli is actually named after this aircraft type!]




Victorian descendant Steven HORNE has sent us a nice picture of his grandfather R.G.J. Snow” HORNE, a great personality in the WW2 Squadron and post-war Association.

 



Kristen ALEXANDER, the Canberra biographer of Clive CALDWELL [Australia’s top WW2 Ace] has now had her research published on the opposing German ace who shot down 3SQN’s Fred EGGLESTON - and whose subsequent death in combat has been a mystery ever since…  Kristen’s ‘whodunit’ answers all the questions!




Our National Library’s TROVE system is packed with stories that would otherwise be lost to history.  The tale below concerns two of the notable officers of 3rd Squadron AFC during the First World War, who got bored one day and went on a rather eventful joy flight…

Reg FRANCIS DFC was a 3AFC Flight Commander who survived two busy tours of flying in France and Belgium.  Quite famously, Reg’s first plane, RE8 A4397, set the record for the highest number of combat missions of any British aircraft flown over the entire Western Front.

Reg in A4397’s cockpit when the plane was retired.  [AWM P00394.015]
Walter WARNEFORD was one of the Equipment Officers of 3rd Squadron.  He was part of the 3AFC Engineering crew who recovered the body of the Red Baron and his wrecked Fokker triplane.  Warneford later donated some of the most important Red Baron relics now held by the Australian War Memorial.  Post-WW1, he was one of the founding partners in the pioneering Australian Aircraft & Engineering Company at Mascot NSW, along with 3AFC’s Nigel LOVE.
 
Left: Walter WARNEFORD.  [Pic: ASWW1AH.]   Right: Bits and pieces of the Red Baron’s plane at the 3SQN base.

“A Hectic Joy-Ride”

THE day was dull.  The clouds were low.  The Squadron Commander had gone over to Corps Headquarters.   So Reggie Francis and Warneford (better known as Warnie), of the Third Australian Flying Corps, decided to take one of the flying mangles, alias ‘Harry Tates’ (R.E.8.) on a joy flip to St. Omer.

Everything went O.K. till they got beyond Doullens.  Then the mist became pea-soup.  They decided to fly above the pottage.  No sooner had they entered the azure blue, when Warnie frantically hit Reggie on the shoulder. 

He pointed up…  They both looked at six Hun machines, all doing their darndest to get this engined thing of joyous mien.  Reggie put the old mangle down into the soup, engine flat out. 

They kept their course and hit St. Omer aerodrome, and hit it hard.  Undercarriage smashed and one wheel crumpled.  Warnie saw a red-tabbed officer [a Staff Officer] coming over at the double.
 
"Do what I tell you, Reggie.  Leave it to me," he said.

"Just too bad," said Warnie to the officer.  "And we are on a special mission."

Aerodrome Officer: "Dear, dear.  What is the mission?"

"Highly confidential, Sir.  Get some mechanics on to this at once.  
Can you have it finished in two hours?"


It took them three hours. 

Reggie and Warnie enjoyed the cabarets of St. Omer and then started the trip back.  It was nearly dark.

The occupants of that Third Squadron machine never thanked the inaccuracy of our Archie [anti-aircraft*] gunners so much as they did on that return trip.  They were fired at all the way back to Vignacourt.

 

Anti-aircraft shrapnel - "Archie" - bursting near an
Australian RE8 aeroplane.  [AWM E02038]
* “Archie” was a popular WW1 aircrew slang term, which originated in 1914 with a light-hearted British pilot, "Biffy" BORTON, who sang a popular music-hall refrain—‘Archibald, certainly not!’ whenever he was dodging the fire from German anti-aircraft guns. 
- By an interesting coincidence, the same man, later as a senior RAF officer, was instrumental in supporting the pioneering first flight (by the SMITH bros., SHIERS and BENNETT) from England to Australia in 1919.



December 2023


Our member Jennifer BALLARD enjoyed the Gold Coast ‘Pacific Wings’ Airshow in August.  Her uncle, Henry YOUNG, now 100, also attended the airshow and was a big hit with the other invited guests.  During WW2 Henry was a Seafire pilot [the naval version of the Spitfire] with the Royal Navy & later also flew with the RAN.  Henry still has amazing recall of his flying experiences and is currently an outstanding participant in Masters Tennis.
 

Centenarian Henry YOUNG meets one of the youngest airshow attendees, 6-month-old Jett ELLIOTT. 
[Pic: CONTACT magazine.]
Jennifer also had the pleasure of meeting the two US Marine Corps V-22 Osprey display pilots who performed at the airshow.  – But just one week later she heard the shocking news that they had both been killed in the Osprey crash on Melville Island, north of Darwin.  [The cause of the crash is believed to have been a technical failure in the complex transition control systems of this unique VTOL aircraft.  It had been loaded with troops during Exercise Predators Run USMC Corporal Spencer COLLART was also killed.  20 other Marines were injured.]
 

The USMC V-22 Osprey flying over the Gold Coast.
Inset:  Its USMC pilots, Captain Eleanor LeBEAU and Major Tobin LEWIS.



Our colleague Sandi NIPPERESS of 450 Squadron Association sends news that she has purchased a gold & silver-plated commemorative medallion, remembering the Battle of El Alamein in 1942“Where Australia's 9th Division and Nos.3 and 450 RAAF Squadrons fought in a battle that ended Germany's hopes in North Africa." 



War isn’t always hell.  The AWM holds a number of interesting photos of 3SQN members walking the fascinating tourist trails in the unearthed Roman city of Pompei, whilst Mount Vesuvius broods threateningly behind them.  (There was a significant eruption cycle while the Allied Armies were moving through the region.)

Pompei, Italy.  1943.  An elevated view of an Amphitheatre where the airmen of No.3 (Kittyhawk)
Squadron RAAF are standing in the middle of the arena.  [MEA0914]
 
Naples, Italy, 1943.  An informal group portrait of No.3 (Kittyhawk) Squadron RAAF at the foot of
Mt Vesuvius, where smoke is billowing out of the active volcano.
  Left to right, standing: unidentified; unidentified; Jack LOVE; Ben DODD (Fitter IIA); Gibb CALVERT (Armourer); Charlie BARDAS (Parachute Packer); unidentified; unidentified.
 Front row: unidentified; Kev HARRIS (Fitter IIE); Bill GRAHAM (Fitter IIA); Tom JONES (Fitter Electrical). 
[AWM MEA0916.  - The date was Wednesday 3rd November 1943; noted in Tommy Jones’ diary.]



Distinguished aviation history author Anthony COOPER presented an interesting ZOOM talk from The Aviation Historical Society of Australia QLD meeting at Brisbane’s historic Archerfield Airport on October 27 2023, titled: “No.3 Squadron 1940-41 – The RAAF’s WW2 Pioneer Fighter Squadron.”

Pete TURNBULL and John SAUNDERS  (both later KIA) at Rosh Pinna, Palestine, June 1941.  [Colourised by RJ Molloy from the UK.]
The video of the lecture is now available online.  [Begins at 3mins 30sec on the slider.]
 
Anthony has conducted extensive research for his forthcoming 3SQN 1940-41 book.  This lecture is notable for the fascinating facts and figures presented to support his point that 3SQN had a uniquely intensive combat experience, when compared with other RAAF fighter squadrons.  Our member John LOVE commented, “It was most interesting to hear some of 3SQN’s history from that era.  Well put together.  The Middle East was a nasty campaign.  I was surprised at the high casualty numbers that related to those who received limited warfare training before being sent overseas.”

Anthony also mentioned the incredible number of “prangs” that occurred when 3SQN was converting to their new P-40 Tomahawks in Palestine, prior to the invasion of Syria in 1941. 

Our website has C.O. Peter JEFFREY’s explanation: “Well, the main difficulty was the fact that it was an unsuitable aerodrome for a start, with a bitumen runway which wasn't all that wide, and it had very deep and wide drains at both sides so if you went off the runway that was the end of it.  We had a steerable tailwheel which we'd never flown before, which meant that people had to have much less rudder movement than they would normally have had with a non-steering tailwheel.  But the main thing was that there was a weakness in the undercarriage of the original Tomahawks and in fact it was some of my best pilots that had some of the prangs there, so it wasn't a matter of flying, it was this undercarriage collapsing which was the main problem. 

Also although we had two American Army Air Corps people who'd come out to give us some information on the aircraft, their method of landing that they told us was to fly them in on the wheels and fast.  - And that was one of the things that was breaking the undercart, so we modified that type of thing and from then on we had no problems.  But we did have a lot of prangs initially.”




The Air Force Association has continued to add well-produced Biographical Podcast Interviews to their archive.  The latest ones with particular interest for 3SQN are:

- Henry YOUNG:  (The 100 year old Gold Coast star!) WW2 Naval Seafire and Sea Fury Pilot.

Air Marshal Mel HUPFELD:  From 3SQN Flight Commander, via OPERATION FALCONER in Iraq, to Chief of Air Force - in the RAAF’s spectacular Centennial Year!

- Air Commodore Tim ALSOP: Reflections on the Air Combat Group and combat flying in the Air Force, from this popular ex-CO3.

- Wing Commander Tim IRELAND:  Highlighting the F-18A & F-35A.  Former Flight Commander at 3SQN 2012-2015, with numerous exciting operational command deployments to the Middle East since then.

- Group Captain Jason (‘Easty’) EASTHOPE.  Flying fast jets since he was 19, and still going fast!  A former 3SQN XO, he led 77SQN at the time it was super-sized with 2nd-hand 3SQN Hornets.  Easty earned the honour of performing the RAAF’s last-ever Hornet display flight over Williamtown.  Now on a Heritage Binge at 100 Squadron, running the nation’s historic aircraft collection!




Our new member Kev STOW wrote in, concerning the 1976 Mirage crash that resulted in 3SQN’s “last” operational fatality:

 
“I've just discovered the 3 Squadron website and am impressed with what I've read and found out so far.
 
To place my email in context, I'm a retired 'Framie' (eventually ENGO) and was at Butterworth when this accident happened.  I was at 75 SQN after being at 3SQN for 18 months, and had been promoted to Sgt in Nov’75, I think, hence the move.  At the time of the accident, 75 was on Tengah duty and our CO had to fly back and land at Bayan Lepas [Penang Island Civil Airport] to get home that afternoon.  I remember seeing the smoke from the accident rising over the field and being called in to go to Bayan Lepas by chopper to receive and turn around our aircraft, in prep for a return to Butterworth when suitable.

I didn't know who was involved in either of the accident aircraft until after I'd returned to Butterworth.  I then found out that Perry KELLY, who was a friend of mine, had been killed.  I was an Announcer on RRB [Radio RAAF Buttworth] and was in the process of training Perry to become an announcer.  I had completed a training tape and lesson with him only the night before.

I'd never until today read anything official about the accident and it was refreshing and sobering to read Jim HALL's contribution.  And yes, the rumours he mentions were what I'd heard, but this is the first 'official' article that I've read.

I remember speaking to Paul KAYE sometime after the accident, he was on O/O duty as I recall, and he didn't seem to me to be the same man that I knew before the accident, which is understandable.  - As you might guess, it's still with me after all these years.

Hope my email adds to the Squadron story, even though I was with 75 at the time.  I have to say that my four years I spent on the Mirage were the most satisfying of my entire service career.”




Our member David PIETSCH had a long and distinguished RAAF career, but it was almost “terminated” at an early stage, when he inadvertently flew his training Sabre into powerlines that had been strung across a rainforest valley in southern Queensland - by an amateur electrician!  One wire even sliced the top off David’s flying helmet, as if it were a boiled egg!  [Amazingly he remained unscathed and conscious.  He recovered his damaged Sabre to Amberley, but the plane never flew again.] 

Prompted by some questions from Queenslander Matthew DAHLITZ, we have added some further images from David’s collection to our web-page about the incident.  They particularly highlight the glorious blue “racing stripe” colour-scheme of No.5 Operational Training Unit in those “final days” of RAAF Sabre operations. - Very fitting for the plane they called, “The Last of the Sports Models!”
 

The young Dave with one of the No.5 OTU Sabres.
 

CHRISTMAS DETECTIVE.  Our Melbourne member Tony FAEHSE (who is something of a bower-bird…) long-ago purchased an old album of Christmas Cards from a Deceased Estate auction. 
Recently, while sorting through his collection, Tony’s interest was piqued by this mysterious RAAF 1944 Christmas Card [pictured] and he thought that it may be of interest to our Association members. 
He also wondered whether he should find it an appreciative home...

 

We embarked on a little detective work to see if we could uncover the story:  “36 RAAFTS” refers to No.36 RAAF Transport Squadron, who were based at Essendon VIC during 1944, but operated all over Australia and into the South Pacific. 

The card is signed “Nick Horsfield Sgt”, so we consulted the online Veterans Affairs WW2 Nominal Roll Database and found three Horsfields, two of whom were Sergeants. 
But then another minor mystery arose – none of them were named Nicholas!  
- "Nick" must have been a nickname! 

However, by happy coincidence, "Nick" had been publicly dobbed-in by his bride-to-be in a 1951 newspaper gossip column, so the identification could be made. 

36 Squadron has remained in existence over the intervening 79 years and are now based at Amberley QLD.  Following enquiries from Tony, Air Force Heritage in Amberley have now agreed to accept the 1944 card into their collection. 

Tony described the card’s interesting background:  “My wife and I had a vintage furniture and homewares shop here in Melbourne, called Retro Active, from 1996 to 2019.  We also stocked records, magazines and some ephemera to give customers something else to browse if they couldn’t find the Fler chair or Barsony lamp they were looking for.  (This was of course before you could browse everything online!) 

I got a lot of our stock from weekly auction rooms, including Aingers in Richmond VIC.  One day an auction lot came up consisting of two very large scrap books of mostly Christmas Cards from what we call the “mid-century” era.  I bought them and they turned out to be a fascinating trove.  We used to display some at Christmas. There is also a market for these things and we sold a couple at the time.

They all belonged to one person and dated from the 1930’s through to the 1970’s.  (Obviously they would have been part of an estate which the executors couldn’t find a home for with the family.  Such is the nature of things.)
Hundreds of cards carefully collected and sellotaped into the scrapbooks in chronological order, all sent to a Miss Peggy AIRD, nearly all of them care of Myers Emporium.  She was head of the Display Department for makeup and beauty products; and then also Head of the Makeup & Toiletries Department.  She seems to have had a huge circle of friends and business contacts, many of whom courted her with samples of their latest products.  (Including Helena Rubinstein, Cyclax, Palmolive, Coty and all the brands of the day, who were very appreciative of her display and promotional abilities.)  She was well valued by the management with bonuses and citations at Christmas time.

  It sounds like the makings of a movie! “Lady in Black”… 

Needing to downsize soon, I had another look at them and sold bundles of some of the 1950’s and 60’s ones to collectors on eBay.  The earlier ones from the 30’s and 40’s I’ve kept for the moment, as well as some other significant ones.  - Including of course the card we are interested in.”
 


From TROVE, 80 years ago: 
A 1943 XMAS MESSAGE FROM THE MIDDLE EAST…

There is a group of Air Force boys in the Middle East who are almost as famous as the "Tobruk Rats," for many of them left the home shores with the first volunteer drafts - before Pearl Harbour, before Singapore, before Darwin.  Travel where you will throughout the length and breadth of the Mediterranean sectors you will find them at every type of task, carrying their weight according to the best Australian traditions.
 


As Chaplains, moving in and out among these fellows, we have come to have an unbounded admiration for them.  You will recognise them by their weather-beaten fur-felt hats, their grease-stained and dust-seamed shorts, and a desert sore or two.  They smile airily and quietly at any newcomer from Australia who begins talking about what he's done.  - For these men have seen things in the raw from the beginning; they have created a kind of fresh tradition in the Middle East, and withal, they were the ones who bred and cemented the good fellowship with the A.I.F.

We are sending this note to the home folk of some of these 'Old Contemptibles' - their parents, their wives and children, their sweethearts - so that you may have a reminder at Christmas time of their devoted thoughts of you.

Now these fellows would have loved to have been with you for Christmas!  How many of them counted on that! How these fellows, every one of them, long to get home to do something on the Australian Front!  As a matter of fact, certain snippets of information have led them to believe there was a reasonable chance of getting back soon; and we hear that some newspapers at home have published misleading statements.  These false hopes have been as hard for the boys out here to take, as they have been for you at home.

The thoughts of eventual return home are gloriously sweet, but another Christmas in the Middle East seems inevitable - and even though it may bring a lump to the throat of many a loved one at home, just give a bracing three cheers on Christmas Day for these blokes whose exploits have been unsung and whose sacrifice is scarcely known. 

- God bless you all.  And God bless them all.

Yours sincerely,
Bob DAVIES; Fred McKAY; John McNAMARA. 
Chaplaincy Section, R.A.A.F. Middle East.
 

The Squadron’s 1943 Xmas Card design.
[Artist: 3SQN Groundcrew member Norm FRENCH.]



We’re very impressed with the serving Squadron’s work rate, but our member Ken McCRACKEN has also been racking up some impressive totals as the Tow-Meister at Southern Cross Gliding Club... 


Says Ken: “I had a test of stamina a couple of weeks ago, when I did 20 glider launches from 1100hrs to 1800hrs (refuelling twice) after driving an hour to get to the airfield. 
I spent another hour doing the paper-work and cleaning up the aircraft after flying, and then an hour driving home.  - Glad for an ‘old bastard’, I can still do it!    - Cheers Ken.”




Our member Bruce BAILEY sends an interesting photo:

 
I came across this old photo tonight and thought it timely to share it. 

The image was taken by my son Geoffrey PEI, then aged 9, a few minutes after the completion of a re-opening ceremony (after the Sydney City Council's restoration) of Robert Woodward's beautiful El Alamein Fountain, in Kings Cross, in July 2012.  It is a memorial to the men who turned back the Axis forces at El Alamein, in North Africa in October and November 1942.

I was privileged to have been befriended by the man who designed this fountain.  Robert WOODWARD did not patent his nozzle design, and so you will often see this type of nozzle in many fountains around the world.  Robert had worked with the Finnish architect Alvar AALTO in 1953-54.  The fountain required the skills of precision metalworker machinists.

I intentionally took my son Geoffrey to this re-opening ceremony in July 2012.  A special day for me.  We met and talked with a Chinese poet and also met some Sydney celebrities...  Robert Woodward's daughter gave a speech using her Dad's words describing his design intent…  She gave me the full text of it, which included:  "The El Alamein Fountain is a War Memorial.  However it is not the usual sombre structure of granite headstones with bronze plaques and inscribed tablets.  It is a lively burst of water depicting the Ninth Division AIF breaking the deadlock of WW2."  [Not to mention 3SQN!] 

In my words, the fountain is much more than the "wishing-seed-head of a Dandelion" standing in a rowdy disturbed pool.  There are also hundreds of jets in the lower, more-still, levels, quietly creating more-gentle sounds. 
It is certainly a place to make a wish for Peace.





Some comments received on our Williamtown Association Day (22/9/23):

- “Vicki – thanking you for the great day you organised.  It was fantastic seeing the new planes and the Base – how it has grown!”
Allan & Wendy JONES.

- “It was an awesome day, thank you.  Dad has called a number of times to express thanks.”  Greg & Bernie.

- Also we received telephoned messages of thanks from Yvonne THOMPSON and John RILEY.


 

September 2023


A “Big Wing” F-35C, of US Marine Squadron VMFA-314 [left] formates with an F-35A of 3SQN [right].  [Picture by our member Kieron BALL.]
- The larger wing of the F-35C allows lower landing speeds for Aircraft Carrier operations (lessening touchdown impact) and provides some improvements in range and an increased maximum ordinance load. 
[Probably its Maximum Supersonic Speed is also lower, but the USMC doesn’t talk about that!
The F-35C wingtips can be folded, at about the 30% mark, to reduce the deck-space required on the carrier.
 


Now that international travel is becoming more affordable again, Annette GUTERRES, Secretary of Bomber Command Assn. Aust., has given us a recommendation:
2018 saw the opening of the International Bomber Command Centre museum in the beautiful and historic city of Lincoln in the UK.   It is well worth a visit and their website is also very interesting; including stories, historical explanations and many photos of this attractively-landscaped site. 
The British WW2 Strategic Bombing Campaign was for several years the only offensive option against Germany that was available on the Allied side.  Service in Bomber Command was remarkably dangerous and this particular campaign against Germany killed far more Australian service personnel than any of the other major battles of WW2.  [4,145 dead – who were often the “best and brightest” of RAAF recruits.]  The incredible death & destruction wrought on the ground in the Axis countries also became highly controversial after WW2 and for that reason the official recognition of the sacrifices of the individuals in Bomber Command was (quite unfairly) muted, up until recent decades.



Jane GOFFMAN in Canberra has sent us a photo of the bronze plaque erected by the ACT Government to mark the centre of the original Canberra Aerodrome, which was once located where the suburb of Dickson has now been built.  The plaque features a profile of a 3SQN DH-9 aircraft, serial A6-28, which crashed near the north–west boundary of the aerodrome in February 1926.  This sad event involved the first fatalities for the newly-formed No.3 Squadron RAAF and was also the ACT’s first fatal air-crash.

 




Sydney aero-modeller Adrian RAVEN has been building a scale-model of a 3SQN P-51K Mustang from 1945.  He has chosen to depict Lew RANGER’s CV-W “Anita” KH755.  Adrian has made a great job of modelling Lew himself, including a white silk scarf.  [The pilots wore these scarves to prevent chafing of their necks, as they had to keep a constant all-round lookout for bad guys.  Made of fine silk, they were printed with full-colour “escape maps” of the area of operations – manufactured by some of London’s top couturiers!  These maps were very useful to shot-down pilots; they would remain readable despite getting soaking wet or being scrunched-up to be hidden away.]

 

Newly unearthed in the historical aviation collection of Fred MORTON in the National Library of Australia is a 1980 digitised interview with a famous 3SQN Commanding officer from the Desert in 1940-41, Alan RAWLINSON OBE, DFC & Bar, AFC.  Al speaks on quite a wide range of topics for over 40 mins.



Tony FAEHSE from Melbourne, another of our members, had a fabulous time on the Amalfi Coast of Italy, just south of Naples, where his dad Colin and many other 3SQN serving members were able to enjoy some rest and recreation in 1943/44.   Tony found that the Hotel Luna is still on the same spectacular clifftop site and the staff there were very interested in Tony’s picture of his dad in uniform on the terrace.  Tony was able to have a good look around, but he didn’t stay overnight – their room rate now leaves little change from $1,500AUD/day!

 

Our member Peter RING, who was a 3SQN Sabre pilot in the 1960s, has sent in a brilliant collection of photos and press clippings regarding 3 Squadron’s last Sabre operation, which involved the long-distance return of these jets from Butterworth to Australia.  Pete’s materials will be presented in a History article in the next edition of 3SQN News, in time to commemorate the 57th anniversary of this flight.



John LOVE has found some further idyllic pictures of his dad Nigel taking out his Air Training Corps boys in sailboats on Sydney Harbour in 1942, to appreciate the effects of wind

 
We do hope that these boys grew up slowly enough to miss the worst parts of the war, such as Bomber Command's "Battle of Berlin".  But since even their training-flights were perilous, sadly at least some of them must later have become casualties of WW2.



Jason “Westie” WEST, the much-respected current 3SQN “W.O.E.” (Warrant Officer Engineering) at Williamtown, asked an interesting question:  “During my time at 3SQN I have heard various stories as to the origin of the nickname ‘Milk Drinkers’ given to personnel of 3SQN.  Is there someone within the Association that may be able to provide the origin please?

We have already asked several 3SQN history experts where this somewhat derogatory-sounding nickname may have come from.  Bob TRELOAR mentioned the 77 SQN “Lemon Squeezers” being named for their poor maintenance record at one stage, but nobody had any ‘smoking gun’ evidence on “Milk Drinkers”.  Certainly the term was not known in Butterworth, pre-HornetVinny IERVASI also pointed out: “The Squadron has been colloquially tagged that way as long as I can remember.  [But…]  We’ve embraced the term and have happily ‘drunk milk’ in the bar!

So, over to our readers - does anyone out there have the bona-fide “3SQN Milk Drinkers” origin story???


Paul SIMIDAS, of the Western Front Association – Australia, tells us that they have started a new Facebook page.  Well worth browsing for anyone interested in 3AFC’s surroundings in 1917-1918.


The Australian National Memorial and Sir John Monash Centre at Villers Bretonneux,
just south of the Somme River in France.


After the 3AFC boys returned from the Western Front in 1919, most went back to civilian occupations.  However a very small number of highly-qualified individuals were retained in the Australian flying services, to form the core of the future Royal Australian Air Force (31 March 1921).  One such man was Henry WRIGLEY, who had flown RE8s with 3AFC during WW1 and was temporary CO3 after hostilities finished.  Wrigley is now known as “The Father of Australian Airpower”, based on his academic writings in the 1920s, and he also performed the very practical feat of completing the first transcontinental flight across Australia in 1919.  Sydney historian Tom LOCKLEY has discovered a wonderful article in TROVE with many quotes from Wrigley about this pioneering feat.  [NB.  Wrigley remained the Patron of 3SQN Association until his death in 1987.]



Our good friend Kristen ALEXANDER, who is a historian in Canberra, has just published a new book, Kriegies: the Australian Airmen of Stalag Luft III This topic is very relevant to 3SQN, as many of our shot-down pilots ended up in Stalag III in German Lower Silesia (now Poland).  – We even have an amusing poem about the place on our website!  But life there was decidedly NOT fun!  - Stalag III was the site of “The Great Escape” and two 450 Squadron RAAF pilots were murdered by the Gestapo in the disastrous aftermath of that event. 

Kristen kindly says: “Your website’s Alan RIGHETTI interview was a great help with writing the book.” 
Furthermore she has sent us a new photo of the German ace who is thought to have downed Fred EGGLESTON of 3SQN… 


Erbo Graf von KAGENECK, who was himself fatally wounded a few weeks after he shot down our Fred.  (Fred became a POW of the Italians, but then spectacularly escaped to Switzerland.)

Kristen has also recently starred in an enjoyable online interview about her book, hosted by raafdocumentary.com.



Luke SYPKES from Tasmania, who is currently residing in France [lucky chap!] is part of Project 44 Australia, which is undertaking the huge task of mapping the daily locations of all major combatant units in WW2.  Luke has very kindly sent us a long list of latitudes and longitudes of the great majority of the airbases used by 3SQN in WW2.  [If this sort of data floats your boat, then please contact us for a copy!  - Or maybe just enjoy the view from the old Mileni aerodrome near Foggia in Italy!]


More stimulating than a morning mug of coffee is this 4-minute “Top-Gun-esqueTV Report from 2014, about 3SQN’s Hornet operations.  [It certainly looks like Tim ALSOP had his coffee that day!]



Our member Lindsay NAYLOR, a former pilot, was amazed to see the articles and pics about his own career that can be found in the wonderful TROVE system mentioned in our last newsletter. 
Lindsay says: “Wow!!!  Many thanks.  I had no idea that sort of material was available anywhere.  An example of the old adage that shows you are never too old to stop learning.  As you indicated, lots of memories there!



Our member Des SHEEHAN has sent in photos of Les SELL, who flew alongside Des’s father Malcolm in 3AFC and was killed at the Western Front in March 1918.


Lieutenant Leslie Simeon John SELL, from Albert Park, Melbourne, standing in front of a WW1 truck.  Les had been a 25 year old photographer prior to enlisting on 23 October 1916 as 944 Private Sell.  He was then designated as an Air Mechanic 2nd Class. He embarked for overseas with 4th Squadron AFC Headquarters from Melbourne on 17 January 1917 aboard RMS Omrah.  After arriving in England, he undertook further training that lead to promotion and on 20 December 1917 he was commissioned as a Flying Officer (Second Lieutenant in AIF).  In March 1918 he joined 3rd Squadron AFC in France.  3AFC operated against the German Spring Offensive of March 1918.  It was during these operations that 2nd Lt Sell was severely injured, trying to make a forced landing on 25 March 1918.  He died later that day of his wounds.  He is buried in the Hazebrouck Communal Cemetery, France.

 

June 2023

Our artist friend Dom BARTOLO has very generously gifted a total of four of his brilliant aviation art posters to the Association and the serving Squadron.  - Kudos Dom!


 From Italy, Professor Giuseppe ANGELONE tells us that his archaeology team may have found fragments of 3SQN Kittyhawk FS-434, which was shot down by anti-aircraft fire on 6/10/43, behind the German lines in the Termoli-Venafro area.  The Pilot was FSGT Ted HANKEY, who luckily evaded capture and made it back to 3SQN.  (But didn't fly operationally again after returning.)  

  The Professor was looking for more information about Ted, who had arrived at 3SQN in Africa on 13 Nov 1942 and departed for Australia from Italy on 30 Nov 1943.  We were able to send Giuseppe several file references:  

1) During air combat in Tunisia, Ted had claimed the “Probable” shooting-down of one Italian Macchi Mc202 fighter.  [3SQN Combat Claims page 1225.]

2) Ted’s Casualty File on page 5 has a copy of CO3 Brian EATON's crash report, with a map reference.  The mission itself is described on pages 47&48 of the 3SQN ORB

3) There are 14 photos in the Australian War Memorial.

4) Also several entertaining press articles:  Ted had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal for his prowess in ground-attack.  He had also been a champion athlete in 1941 - this may have helped him in running away from the Germans!  Ted distracted his pursuers by ditching his Pilot’s Wings, which the soldiers stopped to pick up!  
- Ted became something of a celebrity back in Australia, when he was sent on tour to raise War Bond subscriptions.




Our member Tricia COONEY has mounted these WW2 BEER LABELS
[collected “in action” by her dad Frank!] into an attractive display.



Adrian RAVEN in Sydney has found an interesting video of a modern-day Mustang pilot saving himself from disaster when his engine failed just after lifting off.  Adrian says, “It must be a scary moment when your engine fails on takeoff, but this pilot handled it very well, with impressive reaction time.”  The pilot immediately glided down ‘straight ahead’ and landed.  [Don’t even think about trying to turn-back in the air!]  He then made a controlled ground-loop to stay within the fence!  [Comparing with 3SQN’s WW2 operations, he was lucky he didn't have bombs on!]


Clive ALSOP (father of Tim) wrote in to say how much he enjoyed our last newsletter…
“Perhaps partly because of the article about Tim...”
  [!] 

Clive also wanted to mention the story of the brilliant planning and execution of OPERATION JERICHO, the 1944 low-level Amiens Prison attack by Mosquitoes, largely flown by Aussies, including WGCDR Bob IREDALE DFC,
“…Who lived very near us when Tim was about 14.”  

Clive’s “ultra–short” version of the story is:
    “1. Amiens Prison 1944… Executions of French Resistance inmates scheduled in near future…
Prison attacked by Mosquito Squadron…
Walls breached…
Prisoners ‘buggered off'!  

    2.  When Tim was about to go into the RAAF, he and I spent a morning with IREDALE and got the full story.   
It was inspirational.”


 
Clive has visited the prison-site in France:  
“…The other indelible memory of being in that part of the world is sitting in a lovely French pub; a bloke came over to us and asked (in French), “Where are you from?”
It took me a minute to reply in very stagnant French.  When I remembered the right word… ”AUSTRALIE!”
…All of a sudden, Sal and I were heroes.  Obviously, we had won WW2 by ourselves!  
Oh, the memories of the past…  

Thanks again for your wonderful work in recording our Squadron’s modern history.”



Peter RITCHIE, a keen sea-kayaker, was offshore from South West Rocks recently and videoed a pair of F-35s flying by at low level.  Peter says, “Just let the pilots know we loved it!”


The AWM has digitised the diary of 3SQN 1942 Kittyhawk pilot Garth CLABBURN.  Also his logbook, where CO3 Bob GIBBES rated Garth “Above Average”.  Following Garth’s exciting time in North Africa, he finished the war back in Australia on training duties.




The AWM also holds a 1926 menu from a 3SQN “Cheerio Dinner” at Richmond.   Given the wild and erratic autographs applied thereon - and the rather good caricature drawn on the back – it appears to have been a very successful night!


The signature of the famous WW1 fighter ace Garnet MALLEY, MC AFC, can be
discerned.  (Near the illustration of the 1920s “Flapper” in the skimpy shift!)
Also note the 'Aviation-themed' dishes, such as "Tight Roll of Camel".


Matthew DAHLITZ, a video producer from Park Ridge, QLD, is creating a website of RAAF History, and hopes to post an original video tribute on his 3SQN page, based on some of the personal stories on our website.


Good News!  The National Library’s TROVE research database system was facing the threat of being shut down, but a large-scale public campaign has secured additional funding in the latest Federal Budget.  - If you’ve not tried it, it’s a wonderful system for unearthing information from old newspapers (sourced from all over Australia, since the earliest days of colonisation).  Also libraries, film collections etc.   – It’s easy to start with the name of a rellie, or any other topic that you’re interested in.


Thanks to new info contributed by Blue FARRELL, we have now added some further memorial text to Jim HALL’s comprehensive article on the 1976 3SQN Mirage Collision that claimed the life of Perry KELLY
(The Squadron’s last operational fatality.)


May 2023

Our mate ‘Boomer’ rang!  - Geoff WONG is a West Australian aviation researcher currently publishing a series of articles on the CAC Boomerang.  The Boomerang was an “emergency fighter”, based on the Wirraway. It was thrown together here in Australia in the impressively short period of five months, in early 1942, under the leadership of Lawrence WACKETT (who previously had distinguished service with 3AFC in WW1). 
 
Geoff is trying to chase down one particular rumour, relating to the development of the CAC-manufactured 20mm cannons for the Boomerang, which seems to link back to 3SQN.  For example, quoting Wikipedia:  “Common to many of the latest fighters at the time, the Boomerang was equipped with automatic cannons.  As no such weapons had previously been manufactured in Australia, a pair of British-made Hispano-Suiza 20mm were used.  Allegedly, an example that an Australian airman had collected as a souvenir in the Middle East was reverse-engineered.

In conversation with Doug NORRIE of 450 SQN Assn, Geoff realised that 3 Squadron was probably the only RAAF unit where ground personnel were returning from the Middle East in the correct timeframe, i.e. late 1941.  We were able to confirm for Geoff that a large cohort of 3SQN "1940 Original" groundcrew were rotated back to Australia from October 1941, after the Syria campaign.  There is a list in the 3SQN ORB, page 495.

However, we could also tell Geoff that the “souvenir” rumour is unfortunately not repeated in any of our 3SQN veteran interviews, nor any other sources known to the Association.  (So that rumour is sounding rather unsupported to us!)  The AWM Official History of WW2 Armament Production also didn’t mention any souveniring, and in fact sounds rather irritated with Wackett wasting his time designing his own cannon:

“Production of 20-mm cannon for aircraft, for different reasons, had a checkered history.  Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Pty Ltd took up the Hispano cannon as a project during a slack period at the end of February 1942...  The cannon was easy to make but progress was slow.  Raw materials for the British design of the Hispano were in short supply and it was estimated that adherence to that design would delay production for up to 18 months, whereas a revised design, it was claimed, could be produced in five months.  By December… the Australian design had been abandoned, after all, in favour of reversion to the British, and the double change in design added to the cost and time required to complete the Air Force order for 420 guns.  That order was confirmed in April 1943, but with a warning that there would be no further orders.  As it turned out, production was slow (about six a week) and the order was terminated by the War Cabinet with only six completed guns that had passed inspection and only 202 fully-assembled guns.  By then, British-made guns were freely available, and the Air Force no longer wanted the Hispano for operational aircraft.”

If any reader has information that may help Geoff to further analyse his rumour, please contact us


Fans of RAAF-themed videos, podcasts and articles may care to check out “Runway”, a stylish new collection of thought-provoking articles (such as “Where is the Confrontation over Ukraine headed?”) on the Air Force website.

The Association was able to help identify a mysterious photo of burning aircraft wreckage (below) in Tasmania in 1937.  It’s a 3SQN Hawker Demon, A1-8, which crashed near the top of a wilderness mountain and was then deliberately incinerated.  Amazingly this burnt airframe was recovered and completely restored by the RAAF 50 years later - now a star exhibit in the RAAF Museum


SQNLDR Eamon HAMILTON will be doing the Anzac Day TV Commentary in Sydney this year.  He has asked us about videos showing the settings of 3 Squadron’s “80th Anniversaries” coming up this year, which are:

  > "Victory in Africa" 12 May 1943.

  > "Invasion of Sicily" 10 July 1943 (with 3SQN flying from Malta for pre-invasion attacks).

  > "Invasion of Mainland Italy" by 3SQN, 15 Sept 1943. 

We have recommended to Eamon:

1) Our member Tony FAEHSE’s YouTube video, “IN THE BLUE”, which shows interesting views of these events, accompanied by Tony’s original music and historic tunes.

2)  An AWM video donated by 3SQN's WW2 Engineering Officer Ken McRAE[Highlights listed below:]
(Timer) 1:30:44
Medenine, Tunisia.  Wrecked German tanks.  Burning British truck.  Road convoy.  Roman ruins. Low angle shot of poppies with P-40 in background. Berber and Tuareg nomads.

1:37:40 Boston bombers fly overhead.  Tunis, city streets, war-damaged buildings.  French national flag flying from buildings.  Burning German halftracks.  Vichy French 155mm heavy artillery piece.  French light machine guns.  Dug-in French 105mm field guns.

1:35:20 Park of captured artillery and machine guns. Captured ammunition.  Tunis.  Panorama of city.

1:47:40 RAAF group in open top car with "RAAF' stencilled on the side of the car waving to camera. General city scenes, civilians, Americans.  [Later streets and buildings are Algiers.]

1:56:15 Axis POWs behind barbed wire enclosures.

1:57:00 Men bathing in sea.  AFRICA VICTORY PARADE FOR GEORGE VI.  3 Squadron men and P-40s line up [Sorman airstrip, Libya] for visit by King George VI.  King bestowing knighthood.  King drives off.  3 Squadron on parade raise a cheer.  RAF P-40s sporting shark's mouth [112 SQN RAF].  Various long-shots of parked aircraft.  Spitfires and Mosquitos.

2:00:20 Shipwrecks in the harbour.  Tank Landing Ships (LSTs) bound for Malta.  Valetta Harbour Malta.  Bomb-damaged buildings.  Views of the city of Valetta and bomb damage.

2:05:10  SICILY INVASION.  Voyage to Sicily aboard LST.  Bivouac Sicily - Pachino.

2:07:10 Captured Italian seaplanes.  City scenes. [Syracuse]  Sicilian police pose for camera.  C-47 parked on airfield.  Air-to-air shot of C-47 in flight.  Italian Breda 25 seaplane painted over in 3 Sqn colours.  Caproni seaplane painted in 3 Sqn colours.  Road convoy including Sherman tanks.  Burning Italian/German bomber, possibly shot on a raid.  [Ragusa hill town scenery.]

2:16:30 Agnone airfield, large bomb crater with 3SQN P-40 in background.  Delayed action bombs exploding.  Men standing next to crater.  Town views Palermo.

2:18:05 ITALY INVASION.  Flight to Italian mainland aboard C-47.  [3 SQN were the FIRST full Allied squadron to mount a attack from a mainland Italy base - Battle of Salerno.]  Note shadows of C-47 on ground while in flight.  RAAF men board truck.  General city scenes possibly Taranto.

2:22:20 Airfield possibly Grottaglie or Bari 3 Sqn P-40.  Studies of 3 Sqn men. 

2:31:20 to 2:33:50.  Later on there is good aircraft footage from Cutella airfield, Italy, near the ‘Gustav Line’, occupied late 1943.  [Long-range fuel tanks fitted; possibly this is the raid against Forli German base.]  The escape of the famous 3SQN ace Nicky BARR from German captivity is also being celebrated.


Nicky BARR [left] visits 3SQN's base at Cutella, Italy, following his escape from behind the German lines.


Aviation researcher Ray CHRISTENSEN has pointed out an excellent online 3SQN WW2 Photo Album, preserved by the Coffs Harbour Regional Museum.  Ray says: “It was donated by the family of No.15080 Leonard BLACK, who was one of the 3 Squadron ‘1940 Originals’.  It has photos of his time in the Middle East and North Africa; also of Morotai where he was later posted with 79 Squadron.  There are a number of cartoons in the album [Page 22 et seq.] drawn by No.12028  Allan Redall “Darby” MUNROE, who was another of the Originals.”  [One of the cartoons and another early photo both feature a "captured" Italian uniform that greatly impressed the boys with the quality of its cut, compared with our Aussie uniforms!] 

The press clippings on page 28 and subsequent colour pix of 3SQN 70th Anniversary, 1986, are also of value to the Association.

Our member Paul McGUINESS, from the NSW mid-North Coast, has painstakingly produced yet another of his fascinating aircraft-histories for our website.  In this case, the Tomahawk - used by 3SQN from May to December 1941.  Paul’s skill in writing interesting but thorough history has created yet another ideal reference that can answer many questions on 3SQN’s “Tommies”.

Our member John LOVE, whose aviation interests span an entire century, has pointed out a ”VERY interestingonline slideshow about “Fighter Design”, delivered to The Military History Society of W.A. in January 2023.  The author, David ARCHIBALD [who has a reputation for being a provocative peanut in quite a few subject areas!] has scraped together every possible criticism of the F-35.  (And for that matter, the Super Hornet.) 

However, perusing these slides will help you to hone your skills for separating truth from propaganda, and real determinants of success from straw-men. 
[And Remember that 3SQN has always been successful in combat, no matter what they were flying.  …Now why would that be, Mr. Archibald?]


Also in W.A., our member John SAINSBURY has been helping the Australian War Memorial to compile a study-guide for schoolchildren, titled “CHIVALRY”, highlighting the North African desert service of John’s 102-year old father, our “W.A. Hon.Pres”, Felix.  John also sent in this posed pic of ex-boxer Felix, still capable of defending his country!  [Maybe he can sort out David Archibald for us!]


John says, “Felix has just had a new pacemaker inserted, which should give him another eight years’ service…”

[But sadly, that was not to be - Vale Felix, May 2023.]

3SQN Association has been able to compile three dossiers of information that point out mistaken dates-of-death on the gravestones of three 3SQN 1941/42 WW2 casualties:
Flying Officer James Andrew McINTOSH;
Flying Officer Donald Erskine KNIGHT;
and Flying Officer Percival Roy BOTHWELL. 
The Office of Australian War Graves has responded to say that these errors will be corrected when the memorials are next maintained.

South Australian aeronautical memorabilia collector Paul OATEN has managed to resurrect a 3SQN History video that he thought has been long-lost.  In the year 2000, Paul recorded Jean DAWKINS, the widow of 3SQN WW2 Kittyhawk pilot Arthur DAWKINS, reading from Arthur’s combat diary.  The focus of the reading is the day that Arthur’s plane (“CV-B”, FS493) was destroyed by a mistaken American strafing raid! 

This was April 29th, 1944.  Arthur’s Engine Fitter, Slim” MOORE, was sitting in the cockpit of CV-B when American 50-cal bullets started bouncing and sparking all around him!  Luckily Slim and his comrade Kev HARRIS escaped serious injury, and then both of them had the presence of mind to unshackle a live 500lb bomb from the burning plane, and drag it to safety.  This action saved many 3SQN assets, including the Ops Tent and Radio Room, from a potentially disastrous secondary explosion.  [Slim and Kev both received “Mentioned in Despatches” medals.]

However, the actual damage was bad enough!  - The whole ‘friendly fire’ incident was deliberately NOT mentioned in the 3SQN Records, but Brian EATON (commanding 239 Wing) recorded, “Casualties were 1 killed, and direct or incidental injuries to 4 others.  Material damage included one aircraft Cat.3 and three Cat.1, plus other minor damage.”

Paul also asked about a latter-day rumour that the American Flight Leader committed suicide in despair.  - This suicide story is probably a ‘furphy’.  The Historian of the USAAF 325th Fighter Group could not find any possible matching casualty in their personnel records after that date.  [Also on the American side: apparently that week’s individual aircraft operational records have gone missing!] 

By happy coincidence, Arthur and Jean’s son Grant has decided to donate some of the items shown in this video (Arthur’s diary, and the clock salvaged from CV-B) to the 3SQN Williamtown collection.

We’ve had a rather unexpected “win” over the AWM’s Collection Management System… 
Readers will be aware that in WW1 the Squadron was referred to as “3rd Squadron AFC” (NOT “No.3”) and our theory has always been that this was due to Aussie Spirit - wanting to differentiate ourselves from the Poms.

Unfortunately Cutlack’s Official WW1 AFC History and many AWM WW1 records have used the wrong name (which of course did apply to RAAF No.3 Squadron - after 1925).  These systematic errors seemed to have become uncorrectable in this modern digital age, as all the AWM’s records were all keyed to a Master “No.3” Index.  (Similarly with all the other AFC Squadrons.)

HOWEVER, in the process of suggesting some caption corrections to a photo of one 3AFC crew, and having our usual whinge about the whole “3rd” situation, Joanne SMEDLEY, the AWM’s Photo Curator, bravely took the issue upstairs to the bureaucrats of their Collection Management Team – and won! 

3rd has now become an official Key and, as Joanne says re the other AFC squadrons, “We are going to attempt a clean-up of other records, but this may take some time!




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