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100 YEARS AGO - Decoding “The Side Slipper”

 Sydney Historian Rod MILLER has sent in some fascinating images of a “trench mag” (a unit newsletter) printed by 3AFC at their aerodrome in August 1918.


Students of WW1 will have noted the small parachutes featured on the cover
– they represent the FIRST Allied “air-drops” of machinegun ammunition
(using equipment designed by Lawrence Wackett of 3AFC),
which greatly helped to increase the firepower of advancing infantry,
and hence their ability to hold on to territory gained.
- This was an achievement that the 3AFC boys were obviously proud of.

The newspaper’s name, “Side Slipper”, comes from a flying manoeuvre where the aircraft is “skidded” sideways through the air.  (This was considered a procedural fault at Flying School, but could be very useful in combat.  A well-timed side-slip could upset the aim of an enemy fighter!)  It could also “wash off” speed and height during a fast approach for landing - impressing the groundcrew with some lairy flying in one’s highly-flammable and fragile RE8!

One of the pages from the newsletter.

As is common with such newsletters, the identities of those involved in the various high-jinx have been concealed with well-crafted puns.  Pleasingly though, the Association has now gleaned enough “inside” information on 3AFC to provide the following “decodes”:

.Gus Paddock” was Corporal Gustav FEILD.  [Sadly he died in the influenza epidemic, 8 November 1918.]

.Lieut MARRIOTT” is the real name of 3AFC’s Assistant Armament Officer. 

. The elderly gent is probably 3AFC’s “Chief Master Mechanic” Alfred TAYLOR.  Alf ended WW1 with a Meritorious Service Medal and a Rumanian Croix de Virtute Militara 2nd Class.  [He must have rendered them some impressive service!]  “Two Blue Chevrons” recognised overseas service in the years 1916 and 1917.

.Professor Schmidt” was Sergeant Vincent SMITH.  (“Vin Blanc” means white wine in French, and was Sgt. Smith’s nickname!)  He had been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal in 1917, back in England, for dragging a crashed pilot out of his burning aircraft.  Vin survived the war and returned to Australia, but died in Melbourne on 18 March 1920, from a war-related head injury. 


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