3 Squadron Stories
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[This page currently being reformatted. Information in Date Order below.]
No.3 Squadron's official badge shows a winged flaming grenade, emblazoned with a French Fleur-de-Lis (or "Heraldic Lily"), recalling the Squadron's days serving with the Australian Flying Corps in France during the First World War.
The Latin motto: OPERTA APERTA means "Secrets Revealed", referring to the value of aerial reconnaissance - one of the important roles of the Squadron in its early operational days (and still an important capability today!).
One of Australia's top flying units, No.3 Squadron is now equipped with F-35 Lightning II fighter-bomber aircraft and based at Williamtown RAAF Base, NSW.
There are around 200 personnel on strength at any one time, including two dozen officers (predominantly pilots).
The Squadron proudly displays, in their crew rooms, many souvenirs and photos portraying their historic achievements.
29 August 1916. Formed
within the Australian Flying Corps - a division of
the 1st Australian Imperial Force. Originally known as "2
Squadron", since it was the second AFC Squadron formed at Point Cook,
Victoria. - However, another AFC "No.2" Squadron had been
formed in Egypt at the same time, so our Squadron became regarded as the
AFC's "3rd", once they landed in England.
BASE 1) LAVERTON, VICTORIA 29 Aug 1916 - 25 Oct 1916
COMMANDING OFFICER Henry. H. STORRER. (Honorary CAPT. during Squadron formation at Point Cook and the voyage to England. Later killed in action on the Western Front.)
25 Oct 1916. Sailed for U.K. Ship A38 'Ulysses' left Melbourne with 18 officers and 230 airmen. Ashore in England in 29th December 1916.
COMMANDING OFFICER Maj. David V. J. BLAKE. (Posted to England from Egypt, not Melbourne.) 1/9/16 - 28/10/18
BASE 2) SOUTH CARLTON, U.K. 29 Dec 1916 - 21 Aug 1917.
Upon arrival in England the Squadron had been designated "No.69 Squadron (Australian), Royal Flying Corps" and proceeded upon an extensive programme of training and preparation for eventual transfer to the Western Front. However the Australian Government objected to any Australian squadron being designated "R.F.C.", so the Squadron's name was changed again, effective 31 March, to "No.69 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps", whilst remaining completely embedded in the RFC organisation.
31 Mar 1917. Territorial designation changed back from "RFC" to AFC.
(Delayed in LYMPNE on the English Channel
Coast for 19 days prior to crossing into France.)
BASE 3) SAVY
9 Sep 1917 - 12 Nov 1917
10 Sep 1917. First Operational AFC Squadron in France. Three flights: A, B and C. Each had six RE8 aircraft, each crewed by pilot + observer-gunner.
SAVY - ARRAS area - The Squadron operated in this relatively quiet sector during their settling-in period ...
first airfield was at SAVY.
Eighteen RE8s took 15 days to get to Savy from Lincoln in England; one RE8 crashed on the way, killing its two man crew.
BASE 4) BAILLEUL
12 Nov 1917 - 22 Mar 1918
15 Nov 1917. No.69 Squadron appointed "Corps Squadron" to 1 ANZAC CORPS.
6 Dec 1917. "First Aerial Victory". RE8 A3815, flown by Captain W. H. Anderson, with observer Lieutenant J. R. Bell, flew an artillery-ranging mission protecting Australian troops at Messines (Ypres). Having completed his "shoot", Anderson dropped two 20lb. bombs on an enemy trench strongpoint. At 1010 the RE8 was attacked by a German DFW two-seater. Lieutenant Bell directed a stream of ninety Lewis-gun rounds into the German aircraft. The DFW fell steeply without firing a shot. An artillery officer on the Messines Ridge saw the DFW crash into the German lines. This was the first German aircraft destroyed by the Squadron on the Western Front.
17 Dec 1917. The "Ghost RE8" incident. Lt. Sandy (pilot) and Sgt Hughes (observer) were both killed by a single bullet during aerial combat. Their RE8 flew until it ran out of fuel then glide-landed 50 miles away in snowy fields, with little damage.
18 Jan 1918. Renamed "3" Officially. From this date the Squadron gained its long-term identity of "3 Squadron".
- YPRES Offensive (which followed the 3rd Battle of Ypres) ...
From Savy, 3 Squadron moved north-east to the war-ravaged BAILLEUL and later (from 22 March 1918) to nearby ABEELE, only 8-10 miles from YPRES and 5-6 miles from ARMENTIERES ... both only a few miles from a very active front line.
The Squadron's duty was to locate enemy artillery batteries and then to range-spot for army artillery; also to drop 25lb Cooper bombs on enemy front line strong points and to photograph enemy defences and trenches. During this time, BAILLEUL was shelled and bombed, several RE8s and their crews were lost but 8 or so enemy aircraft were destroyed.
BASE 5) ABEELE
22 Mar 1918 - 8 Apr 1918
BASE 6) POULAINVILLE
8 Apr 1918 - 4 May 1918
21 Apr 1918. The "Red Baron" incident. During his air pursuit of an RFC Camel, Germany's top ace, Captain Baron Manfred von Richthofen (today called "The Red Baron" because he flew a red-painted Fokker DR1 triplane) was, by evidence, shot down and mortally-wounded by ground fire, although he was also fired at by two 3 Squadron RE8s and an RFC camel aircraft. The Red Baron's aircraft crashed near 3 Squadron's base. Lt. James Lee Smith, DFC, an off-duty 3 Squadron pilot, helped lead a retrieval party to bring the Baron's body and his aircraft back to 3SQN's Poulainville base. 3 Squadron buried The Red Baron with full military honours.
from ABEELE to POULAINVILLE was approx 70 air miles (112 km) south.
The Battles of HAMEL (4 Jul 1918) AMIENS (8 Aug 1918) and The SOMME Offensive (Aug 1918)
The Squadron first moved south to POULAINVILLE from ABEELE and later formed a forward landing ground at GLISY. Air combats became daily affairs whilst RE8s carried out their photographic missions (over 90,000 prints taken), bombing and trench strafing, Corps reconnaissance and troop and artillery spotting duties. They were at POULAINVILLE when the Red Baron went down near Corbie.
To fly from
POULAINVILLE to HAMEL is about 12 air miles (20km). In an RE8, that
could be done in about 10 minutes but, by road, it could take half a day
or more, depending on conditions.
On 4 May 1918, the Squadron moved 3.5 air miles (5.6km) north to VILLERS BOCAGE where they stayed for 4 months carrying out much the same duties as before. The RE8s were also used to create diversions and make noise to cover advancing troops and particularly tank forces. Dropping smoke bombs to screen advancing troops and dropping ammunition to fighting soldiers were other duties.
BASE 7) VILLERS BOCAGE
4 May 1918 - 6 Sep 1918
(Advanced Landing Ground 12 Aug 1918 - 6 Sep 1918:) GLISY
24 Jun 1918. The "Wackett invention". Aerial drops of ammunition to field troops were needed, but almost impossible to achieve with accuracy. Capt L. J. Wackett, DFC, ("A" Flight's Commander) invented a modified bomb-rack that allowed ammunition-box parachuting, which effectively solved the problem for the Allies. Wackett became a leading figure in Australian aviation and was instrumental in the design and manufacture the Sabres and Mirages later operated (from 1956 to 1986) by 3SQN.
BASE 8) PROYART
3 Sep 1918 - 21 Sep 1918
The advance to
the HINDENBURG LINE (5 Sep1918)
The Squadron moved 16 air miles (26km) west to PROYART in preparation for the final thrust by the Allied forces to break through the enemy stronghold line.
BASE 9) BOUVINCOURT
21 Sep 1918 - 6 Oct 1918
BASE 10) BERNES
6 Oct 1918 - 17 Oct 1918
BASE 11) PREMONT
17 Oct 1918 - 28 Nov 1918
COMMANDING OFFICER Maj. W. H. Anderson
28/10/18 - 31/12/18
18 Nov 1918. Germany and Australia's first air-postal service. Seven days after WW1 ended, 3 Squadron were ordered to set up and operate the first air-postal service to cover the newly occupied Rhine and Cologne areas for Army HQ.
The Battle of
THE RIVER SELLE ...
Another move, approx 17 air miles (28km) west to BOUVINCOURT into an airfield evacuated by the German Air Force, allowed the Squadron to support the Allied armies in their storming of the main HINDENBURG LINE which they began to do on 29 Sep 1918. A second move, only a few miles away to BERNES on 6 Oct 1918, brought the front line even closer until, on 17 Oct 1918 they moved to PREMONT, about 13 air miles (21km) north-east. The war ended on 11 Nov 1918 whilst they were there.
COMMANDING OFFICER Capt. H. N. Wrigley
7/1/19 - 24/7/19
(Had been Temporary C.O. Late Nov 1918 - Dec 1919)
BASE 12) TARCIENNES
29 Nov 1918 - 22 Feb 1919
3 Jan 1919. Recording history As well-proven experts in aerial photography, 3 Squadron were assigned the task of photographing WW1 battle sites.
31 Jan 1919. Aircraft change-over. Bristol F2b Fighters had, by then, gradually replaced all RE8s
21 Feb 1919. Return to England. All the new aircraft and stores were handed back to the RAF.
6 May 1919. Return to Australia. 29 officers and 216 airmen embarked on 'Kaisar-i-Hind' ("Emperor of India") at Southampton, UK.
(AFC No.2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 Squadrons also on board.)
16 Jun 1919. Last day of 3AFC activity. Disembarked Melbourne. Discharge of the last airmen.
Squadron Dormant July 1919 to early 1922.
Point Cook 1922
Short-Lived Temporary "3 Squadron" Once the Royal Australian Air Force had been established (taking over from the tiny Australian Air Corps) "3 Squadron" was re-formed - in name only - for about six months, before being disbanded...
Lack of Government funding apparently the cause.
Squadron Dormant late 1922 to June 1925.
OFFICER FLTLT F. W. F. Lukis
(Promoted SQNLDR from 2/7/26)
BASE 13) POINT COOK, Victoria
29 Jun 1925 - 1 July 1925
1 Jul 1925. Re-formed within Royal Australian Air Force.
[Richmond RAAF Base established.]
No.3 (Composite) Squadron positioned from Point Cook, Vic. and formally commenced RAAF operations at Richmond NSW on 1 July 1925, with HQ plus three flights: Two-seat DH9 (Army Co-Op); Two-seat DH9A (Bomber); and Single-seat SE5A (Fighter) aircraft.
2 Jul 1925 - 15 Jul 1940
11 Aug 1925. First RAAF-publicity operations
Two DH9s flew to Brisbane for Brisbane Show.
Shortly after began aerial photography of Australia. Did that for 13 years.
1 Jul 1926. Rename The term "Composite" was deleted to become 3 Squadron.
26 May 1926. Parachute
Pioneers The first parachute descents to be carried out
in Australia by the Royal Australian Air Force were made at Richmond
Aerodrome by members of No.3 Squadron, under the supervision of
December 1929. First Wapitis
arrive With the arrival of the first 2-seat Westland
Wapiti biplanes, the Squadron is officially renamed: "3 (Army
COMMANDING OFFICER SQNLDR A. H. Cobby
(The AFC's highest-scoring fighter ace in WWI.)
13/1/30 - 22/11/31
COMMANDING OFFICER SQNLDR W. D. Bostock OBE
22/11/31 - 8/5/36
RICHMOND, NSW 19 March
1932. Harbour Bridge Opening No.3 Squadron
provided an aerial flypast as part of the official ceremonies for the
opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
(The Squadron was also involved in regular
ceremonials, such as Armistice Day - 11 November.)
1935. Aircraft upgrades. Westland
Wapitis were used with great success for several years. Then Hawker
Demon 2-seat fighters began replacing Wapitis.
Sep 1935. Trophy
winners The Stonehaven Trophy ‘for annual competition by
squadrons of the RAAF’ was awarded to No.3 Squadron over three consecutive
years (1933–35) and, as a result, the competition lapsed.
[This trophy was more recently reinstated into Air Force Awards, after being rediscovered in 2007.]
COMMANDING OFFICER FLTLT R. H. Simm. 8/5/36 - 10/11/36
COMMANDING OFFICER SQNLDR J. V. Lacher. 10/11/36 - 2/2/37
COMMANDING OFFICER SQNLDR J. H. Summers. 2/2/37 - 3/5/37
COMMANDING OFFICER SQNLDR J. Waters. 3/5/37 - 10/5/38
COMMANDING OFFICER SQNLDR A. L. Walters. 10/5/38 - 39
NSW 20 Apr 36 - First Citizens' Air Force ("CAF")
squadrons formed, including No.22 SQN Richmond Since
1925, CAF volunteers had been trained within No.3 Squadron, providing a
significant proportion of total manpower. Now No.3 Squadron (still
based at Richmond) became fully 'Permanent' - as an Army cooperation unit
-although initially short of aircraft and personnel.
Two months later, on 1 July, the new CAF units added to their title the name of the capital city on which they were based, eg. No.22 (City of Sydney) Squadron.
COMMANDING OFFICER SQNLDR A. X. Richards. 1939
3 Sep 1939.
Richmond NSW - WW2 Operational alert England's
declaration of war on Germany. Australia follows as a matter of
COMMANDING OFFICER FLTLT I. D. McLachlan. 4/12/39 - 13/2/41.
(Promoted to SQNLDR 1/2/40. Awarded Australia's FIRST WW2 DFC.)
15 Jul 1940 (Transport to Middle East) Left Richmond, NSW by train.
21 officers and 271 airmen boarded 'Orontes' for Egypt. First RAAF Squadron to arrive in the Middle East.
BASE 15). GERAWALA, Egypt
and IKINGI MARIUT
3 Nov 1940 - 13 Dec 1940
Sep-Oct 1940. First Equipment in
Africa. Three Westland Lysanders followed by Gloster Gladiators and
Gauntlets. Became members of 'Desert Air Force'; the radio call sign
for the Squadron became the word 'SHABBY'.
first LIBYAN Campaign, it took 5 months for the Squadron, and the
6th Division AIF forces they supported, to advance approx 400 air miles
(700 km) westward as far as BENINA, from their starting point at
GERAWLA. To get there, they occupied 9 airfields and their duties
were to carry out bombing, reconnaissance, and air warfare in a
succession of Lysanders, Gauntlets, Gladiators and Hurricanes.
From the end of March 1941 and into early April, the German-Italian forces forced the Allied armies into retreat.
The Squadron's rapid retreat from BENINA to SIDI HANEISH was carried out in under 10 days, in which they occupied seven airstrips.
COMMANDING OFFICER SQNLDR Ian. D. McLachlan DFC MiD. 4/12/39 - 13/2/41.
13 Nov 1940. First operational
flight. FLTLTs G. Steege, DSO, DFC, and C. Gaden carried out
tactical reconnaissance. ("Tac.R")
19 Nov 1940. 1st pilot loss and 1st air-combat victory claims. SQNLDR Peter HEATH killed in action; flying a biplane Gladiator against the Italians. FLTLT B. Pelly, FLGOFFs A. Rawlinson and A. Boyd claimed three Italian CR42 s shot down and at least 3 others damaged. (In fact the Italians lost no aircraft, but did suffer some damage. The Italians also over-claimed six victories, whereas SQNLDR Heath was the only casualty on either side.)
BASE 16). SIDI BARRANI
8 Dec 1940 - 13 Dec 1940
14 Dec 1940 - 23 Dec 1940
BASE 18). SOLLUM
23 Dec 1940 - 11 Jan 1941
14 Dec 1940. 1st bail-out. FLGOFF
L. Winten wounded and parachuted to safety.
BASE 19). GAMBUT, Libya. 8 Jan 1941 - 15 Jan 1941
14 Jan 1941. First ground-crew
casualties. Wireless personnel CPL V. Jarvis killed near
Tobruk and LAC G. Parr taken prisoner by Italian soldiers.
BASE 20). BIR HACHEIM
16 Jan 1941 - 24 Jan 1941
BASE 21). TMIMI. Libya
24 Jan 1941 - 7 Feb 1941
Early 1941. Nickname given.
First, the "phantom squadron" then " hydraulic" (lifts anything) and
finally called the "Clifty Squadron" (in Arabic, means "thieving").
27 Jan 1941. 1st decoration. WGCDR I. McLachlan (1st WW2 C.O.) becomes the first RAAF WW2 officer to be awarded Distinguished Flying Cross.
COMMANDING OFFICER SQNLDR Peter Jeffrey, DSO DFC MiD(2). 13/2/41 - 10/11/41.
BASE 22. BENINA, Libya
7 Feb 1941- 2 Apr 1941
1 Feb 1941. New monoplane fighters. 1st
Hawker Hurricanes arrived.
15 Feb 1941. 1st German aircraft engaged. FLGOFF J. Saunders, flying a Hurricane, claimed a German Ju88 destroyed. [German records only show "severely damaged".]
BASE 23. MARTUBA
(via GOT EL SULTAN)
2 Apr 1941 - 6 Apr 1941
BASE 24. SIDI MAHOUD
BASE 25. SOLLUM
(and 5 other Landing Grounds)
6 Apr 1941 - 12 Apr 1941
First Retreat before Rommel;
Defend Egyptian Frontier
19 Apr 1941. First stand-down. Stand-down before re-equipping with Tomahawks.
- 10 days leave from Aboukir in Nile Delta.
BASE 26. AQIR, Palestine
3 May 1941 - 9 May 1941
BASE 27. LYDDA, Palestine
9 May 1941 - 11 Jul 1941
- Detachment CYPRUS
24 May 1941 - 3 June 1941
-Advanced Landing Grounds: JENIN and ROSH PINNA
14 May 1941. New American aircraft. P40 Curtiss Tomahawks arrived. Despite many conversion accidents, within four months there were 12 "Tommies" on strength.
8 Jun 1941. Syrian Campaign Starts.
12 Jul 1941. Combined Operations 'First'. Armistice with Vichy French in Syria. First wartime "All Arms Combined Operation" in Australian History, when 3SQN operated with both the Australian Navy and Army over the Syrian Coast.
BASE 28. ROSH PINNA, Palestine
12 Jul 1941 - 19 Jul 1941
3SQN Headquarters moves forward after Victory.
The one-month SYRIAN Campaign involved the Squadron, using Tomahawks now, supporting the 7th Division AIF against the Vichy French. Duties were air-combat and ground-strafing, often in mountainous country.
After the Vichy surrendered on 12 Jul 1941, the Squadron provided air protection in the defence of Beirut.
They returned to SIDI HANESH.
COMMANDING OFFICER SQNLDR Peter Jeffrey
13/2/41 - 10/11/41
BASE 29. RAYAK, Syria
20 Jul 1941 - 4 Sep 1941
Peaceable days occupying Syria provide a welcome respite and an opportunity to train new personnel.
OFFICER A/SQNLDR Alan C. Rawlinson, OBE, DFC&Bar,
10/11/41 - 1/1/42.
Back to the Western Desert
SIDI HENEISH, Egypt
9 Sep 1941 - 13 Nov 1941
BASE 31. MADALENA
13 Nov 1941 - 20 Dec 1941
22 Nov 1941. The blackest day. Five pilots were killed during enemy action that day.
Tomahawks (until they were replaced by Kittyhawks in December
1941), the Squadron reached ANTELAT during the second LIBYAN
Campaign. Beginning in January 1942, the enemy forced
another retreat, this time to GAMBUT from where they operated for almost
four months before again having to fall back beyond SIDI HANESH to EL
DABA and later to AMIRIYA (near EL ALAMEIN).
30 Nov 1941. 1st benchmark. Squadron tally of enemy aircraft claimed destroyed in air combat now exceeded 100.
4 Dec 1941. New aircraft.
P40E Curtiss Kittyhawks began arriving. 3SQN is the firstdesert
fighter squadron to receive them.
20 Dec 1941 - 27 Dec 1941 2nd Libyan Advance
COMMANDING OFFICER WGCDR D. R. "Dixie" Chapman
1/1/42 - 26/2/42
BASE 33. MSUS
27 Dec 1941 - 13 Jan 1942
BASE 34. ANTELAT
13 Jan 1942 - 22 Jan 1942
Retreat to Gazala Line
22 Jan 1942 - 26 Feb 1942
OFFICER. SQNLDR R. H. "Bobby" Gibbes, DSO, DFC and
Bar. 26/2/42 - 23/5/42. (First Tour)
COMMANDING OFFICER. SQNLDR A. W. "Nicky" Barr, MC, DFC and Bar, OBE. (Following Gibbes combat injury.) 23/5/42- 26/6/42.
BASE 36. GAMBUT
26 Feb 1942 - 17 Jun 1942
Static Defence of Gazala Line,
BASE 37. SIDI AZEIZ
17 Jun 1942 - 18 Jun 1942
BASE 38. MICHEIFA (LG075)
18 Jun 1942 - 23 Jun 1942
BASE 39. SIDI HANEISH (LG102)
23 Jun 1942 - 27 Jun 1942
BASE 40. EL DABA (LG106)
27 Jun 1942 - 29 Jun 1942
2nd Libyan/Egyptian Retreat to El Alamein Line
OFFICER. SQNLDR R.H. Gibbes
DSO DFC and Bar
(Second tour of command, following Nicky Barr's capture.)
26/6/42 - 19/4/43
BASE 41. AMIRIYA (LG91)
29 Jun 1942 - 19 Oct 1942
22 Jul 1942. Bombing Record. 1,000th bomb dropped in 9 weeks - a record for Desert Air Force.
Battle of El
Alamein - Turning Point of the War in Africa
19 Oct 1942- 6 Nov 1942
29 Oct 1942. "Double Century".
SQNLDR Bobby Gibbes acclaimed after adding the 200th victory to 3
Squadron's WW2 tally.
(But a recheck of records in 1996 disclosed that the correct aerial victory tally was slightly less.)
BASE 43. EL DABA (LG106)
6 Nov 1942 - 9 Nov 1942
BASE 44. SIDI HANEISH (LG101)
9 Nov 1942 - 11 Nov 1942
BASE 45. MICHEIFA (LG076)
11 Nov 1942 - 13 Nov 1942
Pursuit of Rommel across Egypt and into Libya
The final TUNIS Campaign stage of the Squadron's war in the Middle East's North African deserts began just before the history-making, and deciding, Battle of EL ALAMEIN (23 October 1942) in which constant air support to the 8th Army was provided. From then, the enemy forces were on the run.
BASES - During the next 6 months, an approx 1,300 air mile (2,200km) Allied advance, involving 20 airfield locations, ended when the Squadron finally reached KAIROUAN in Tunisia before they moved to ZUARA, western Libya, in anticipation of their next Campaign.
(COMMANDING OFFICER: After Gibbes had been shot down 14/1/43, he walked out from behind enemy lines over 3 days. FLT Ron Watt was promoted to A/SQNLDR and made CO of 3 Squadron 16/1/43. Sadly Watt was KIA on 27/1/43.)
BASE 46. GAMBUT
13 Nov 1942 - 15 Nov 1942
BASE 47. GAZALA
15 Nov 1942 - 19 Nov 1942
BASE 48. MARTUBA
19 Nov 1942 - 8 Dec 1942
BASE 49. BELANDAH
8 Dec 1942 - 18 Dec 1942
Nov 1942. 'Clifty' aircraft 1.
Engineering Officer Ken McRae captured a usable Me109G which was marked
"CV-V" as a 3 Squadron aircraft. CO, SqnLdr Bobby Gibbes, used
it to teach pilots about German tactics.
BASE 50. MARBLE ARCH
18 Dec 1942 - 31 Dec 1942
BASE 51. CHELL 2
31 Dec 1942 - 11 Jan 1943
BASE 52. HAMRIET 3
11 Jan 1943 - 17 Jan 1943
BASE 53. SEDADA
17 Jan 1943 - 20 Jan 1943
BASE 54. SIRRU
20 Jan 1943 - 24 Jan 1943
18 Dec 1942. Marble Arch Landmine
Disaster. Axis mines and booby traps were a
serious hazard during the long advance across North Africa. At
Marble Arch five ground-crew were killed by a singe German 'S' mine (or
BASE 55. CASTEL BENITO
24 Jan 1943 - 15 Feb 1943
BASE 56. EL ASSA
15 Feb 1943 - 8 Mar 1943
BASE 57. NEFFATIA
8 Mar 1943 - 21 Mar 1943
Jan 1943. 'Clifty' aircraft
2. Undamaged Caproni Ghibli recovered at Castel Benito.
Used often as a beer-carrier and a means of ferrying airmen on leave
BASE 58. MEDENIN MAIN
21 Mar 1943 - 3 Apr 1943
BASE 59. EL HAMMA, Tunisia
3 Apr 1943 - 14 Apr 1943
Major Battles on the Tunisian Frontier "Breakthough at El Hamma" sees 3SQN and other Desert Air Force aircraft smash a path through concentrated German anti-tank defences.
OFFICER SQNLDR B.A. Eaton
19/4/43 - 19/6/43
BASE 60. EL DJEM
14 Apr 1943 - 18 Apr 1943
BASE 61. KAIROUAN, Tunisia
18 Apr 1943 - 21 May 1943
BASE 62. ZUARA, Libya
21 May 1943 - 9 Jul 1943
12 May 1943. End of
the War in Africa. When Tunisia fell, the Desert War was over.
3 Squadron were the only Squadron in the D.A.F. who had participated in
the entire African campaign. Celebration parties and leave were
enjoyed before orders came to prepare for operations in Sicily and Italy.
COMMANDING OFFICER SQNLDR Reg N. B. Stevens, DFC and Bar.
19/6/43 - 21/8/43.
BASE 63. TE KALI, Malta
9 Jul 1943 - 13 Jul 1943
BASE 64. LUQA, Malta
13 Jul 1943 - 18 Jul 1943
4 July 1943. Stop-over to Europe 1.
Two parties of personnel and aircraft arrived in Valetta, Malta before
proceeding to Sicily several days later.
Now began the
(almost) 26 month ITALIAN Campaign involving, firstly, short
service stays in MALTA (10 days) and then in SICILY (approx two months)
before the Squadron reached ITALY on 14 September 1943.
Italy's cruel winter in 1944 made life difficult. The early months of this phase were fought using Kittyhawks but Mustangs began to arrive in November 1944. Duties of the fighter-bombers involved dropping 1,000 pounders and, later, attacking enemy forces as far as YUGOSLAVIA. They also participated in the famous Cassino campaign
15 landing grounds were occupied to cover the approx 250 air mile (400km) distance between GROTTAGLIE and CERVIA where the Squadron finished their war when Germany surrendered on 29 April 1945 finishing the war in Europe. In May they moved to LAVARIANO to clean up and await return to Australia.
BASE 65. PACHINO
18 Jul 1943 - 2 Aug 1943
21 July 1943. Stop-over to Europe
2. One more party arrived in Syracuse, Sicily and linked with the
ex-Malta contingent. Within three days, they were flying 12 sorties
per day against German forces in Sicily.
COMMANDING OFFICER SQNLDR Brian A. Eaton, CB, CBE, DSO & Bar, DFC, AMERICAN SILVER STAR. 21/8/43 - 22/2/44.
[Promoted to command of RAF 239 Wing, which included RAAF 3 & 450 squadrons.]
2 Aug 1943 - 14 Sep 1943
5 Sep 1943. 1st targets in mainland
Europe. Flying 12 sorties a day from Sicily; hit German targets in
BASE 67. GROTTAGLIE
14 Sep 1943 - 23 Sep 1943
BASE 68. BARI
23 Sep 1943 - 3 Oct 1943
15 Sep 1943. 1st touchdown in Italy.
An advance party began setting up a new base at Grottaglie, thereby
"invading Europe". 3 Squadron became the first full Allied squadron
to attack from an Italian continental base,
BASE 69. FOGGIA MAIN
3 Oct 1943 - 26 Oct 1943
BASE 70. MILENI
26 Oct 1943 - 4 Jan 1944
13 Oct 1943.
Italy joins Allied forces. Italy's change from foe to friend
encouraged welcome help from (very brave) civilians for pilots who were
stranded behind the Fascist lines, and for escaping POWs.
BASE 71. CUTELLA
4 Jan 1944 - 24 May 1944
13 Jan 1944. Thousand-pound bombs used. FLTLT Jack Doyle hits his target with the Squadron's 1st 1,000 lb bomb. Kittyhawks later lifted 2 x 500lb. bombs plus 1 x 1,000lb. (Previously, only 250lb. bombs generally used.)
16 -17 Feb
1944. Monte Cassino attacks. SQNLDR Brian Eaton led 12
Kittyhawks in the first bomb-strikes on the world-famous Monastery,
which psychologically dominated the Cassino valley. (Ironically it
was not occupied by the Germans at the time.)
COMMANDING OFFICER SQNLDR P. Murray Nash DFC
22/2/44 - 18/4/44
COMMANDING OFFICER SQNLDR Rex H. Bayly DFC
18/4/44 - 29/10/44
5 May 1944. Pescara River Dam-Busting. 12 Kittyhawks participated in a dive-bombing attack, along with No.260 RAF and No.5 SAAF Sqns., using 2,000 lb bomb-loads to successfully breach sluice gates of the hydro-electric dam.
1944. Monte Cassino falls. After over four months of
unrelenting land and air attack, the Benedictines' Monastery (now a rubble
pile defended bitterly by the German paratroops) fell.
BASE 72. SAN ANGELO
24 May 1944 - 13 Jun 1944
24 May 1944.
Goodbye to Cutella. After nearly five months of occupancy at
Cutella, the Squadron's departure completed their longest (and
incidentally, most uncomfortable) period of operations from the one
airfield, since 3SQN's war began in 1940.
BASE 73. GUIDONIA
13 Jun 1944 - 23 Jun 1944
BASE 74. FALERIUM
24 Jun 1944 - 9 Jul 1944
BASE 75. CRETI (Also known as CRETE.)
(Near village of Creti, Italy.)
10 Jul 1944 - 24 Aug 1944
BASE 76. IESI (A.K.A. "Jesi")
25 Aug 1944 - 10 Sep 1944
BASE 77. FOIANO
11 Sep 1944 - 19 Sep 1944
Advance to Rome and the Gothic Line
COMMANDING OFFICER SQNLDR P. Murray Nash DFC and Bar. 29/10/44 - 16/12/45.
[SQNLDR Ken A. Richards DFC and Bar Standing-in Feb/Mar 1945]
BASE 78. Back to IESI
20 Sep 1944 - 18 Nov 1944
BASE 79. FANO
18 Nov 1944 - 26 Feb 1945
13 Nov 1944. Capable New
Aircraft. First P51 Mustang arrived; 11 more arrived during
next 5 days.
16 Nov 1944. Last Kitty flown. Last operational missions flown in Kittyhawks.
Jan 1945. Napalm bombs introduced. Wing orders to equip
Mustangs with 750lb napalm bombs for pin-point bombing at 100 ft height
against rail and road targets.
BASE 80. CERVIA
26 Feb 1945 - 17 May 1945
1945. Last 3SQN operations of WWII. Reconnaissance of Fiume,
Trieste and Udine areas.
END OF WORLD WAR II.
1940, the Squadron had claimed 217 confirmed aerial victories (NB:
revised later), 63 probable, and 141 damaged, making it the
highest-scoring British Commonwealth squadron in the Mediterranean
theatre of operations.
- In raids on enemy airfields it completely destroyed 29 aircraft on the ground, and damaged a similar number.
- In ground-attack operations, 709 motor vehicles (and 87 horse-drawn) and 11 enemy Armoured Fighting Vehicles were claimed destroyed.
12 locomotives and 325 rail-cars were claimed.
- The Squadron scored 73 direct dive-bombing hits on bridges (very difficult and vital targets) and more than 800 other ground targets, including roads, railways, buildings (e.g. pinpoint raids on German headquarters) and enemy artillery.
- Also one large dam was “busted” to prevent the Germans using its water as a weapon.
- In strikes over the sea, 54 vessels of varying sizes were sunk, including 10 ships of more than 1,000 tons each.
17 May 1945 - 31 Aug 19
26 May 1945. "Victory in Europe"
fly-past. 239 Wing led the Desert Air Force in the victory
fly-past at Campoformido.
7 Sep 1945. Depart for Australia. Embarked on 'Winchester Castle' at Taranto before embarking on 'Stratheden' from Egypt 20 days later .
30 July 1946. 3 SQUADRON disbanded. The squadron was disbanded in Melbourne after completing its WWII service.
Squadron Dormant August 1946 to February 1948.
8 Mar 1948 - 15 Jun 1953
OFFICER SQNLDR T. H. H. Saunders
8/3/48 - 1/6/49
COMMANDING OFFICER FLTLT J. W. Hubble (Promoted SQNLDR 20/11/51. Awarded AFC)
1/6/49 - 16/5/52
8 Mar 1948. Re-Formation. Named 3 (Tactical Reconnaissance) Squadron. Based at Fairbairn, A.C.T. with 9 Mustangs, 8 Austers, 2 Wirraways.
Nov '50 to Aug '51. Australian
domestic operations in the Korean-War Era . Darwin: Operation
"Gay Jabiru"; Townsville: "Barrier Reef".
Dec 1951. Redesignation. Became 3 (Fighter Reconnaissance) Squadron.
COMMANDING OFFICER FLTLT H. R. Baldwin
16/5/52 - 12/5/53
COMMANDING OFFICER FLTLT G. L. Waller
12/5/53 - 15/6/53
15 Jun 1953. Redesignation Became "3 (Day Fighter/Ground Attack) Squadron". Army Co-operation Auster aircraft transferred to Army.
Squadron Dormant July 1953 to February 1956.
COMMANDING OFFICER SQNLDR F. W. "Fred" Barnes DFC, AFC
1/3/56 - 13/1/58
BASE 83. WILLIAMTOWN, NSW
17 Mar 1956 - 9 Nov 1958
Mar 1956. Re-Formation Re-designated as 3 (Fighter) Squadron at Williamtown, NSW. 3SQN was equipped with 16 CAC27 Avon Sabres during next 3 months. The first operational RAAF Sabre squadron.
Jun 1956. Speed record
created. FLTLT J. Arthurson created a new Laverton to
Williamtown speed record of 44 minutes and 25 seconds. This was
broken several months later by FLGOFF N Raffin (42 minutes 10 seconds).
COMMANDING OFFICER WGCDR C. G. Thomas DFC
13/1/58 - 24/4/61
Jun 1958. Training aircraft. A two-seat T35 Vampire arrived; used for instrument training and utility work.
15 Oct 1958. Move to Malaya. Ground personnel began moving out. 12 days later Sabres began flying to Butterworth via Darwin. Move completed by mid-November.
9 Nov 1958 - 15 Feb 1967
13 Aug 1959. Strike on guerrilla camps. 6 Sabres dropped their 500lb HE bombs on 3 terrorist areas.
26 Nov 1959. Manila Airshow. Detachment flew via Saigon to Clark AF base, Philippines to participate in International Airshow.
Dec 1959. "Hose-down" ceremony started. FLGOFF Conn achieved 1,000 hours on Sabres. Champagne toast at flight line followed by a hose-down became standard procedure for all pilots achieving 1,000 hours or multiples.
Apr 1960. 1st Sidewinder fired. FLTLT V. Oborn fired the Squadron's first Sidewinder missile.
Jun 1960. Attacks on
insurgents. FLTLT J. Newham led Sabre attacks on Communist
COMMANDING OFFICER WGCDR R. H. Glassop, DFC and Bar
24/4/61 - 29/1/62
11 Sep 1962. Pilot killed on takeoff. Sabre pilot FLTLT R. E. Offord ejected following multiple bird-strikes on takeoff, but was too low for his parachute to open.
COMMANDING OFFICER WGCDR R. M. Hanstein
29/1/62 - 3/1/64
9 Oct 1963. C.O. resorts to "bang seat". WGCDR Hanstein's Sabre (A94- 967) entered an uncontrolled spin at 35,000 ft during a "4x4 Air Combat Manoeuvring" exercise 12 miles northeast of RAAF Butterworth. He rode the spin down to 10,000 ft but was unable to recover and ejected at 170 kts (still spinning). Rod landed in rubber tree, sustaining minor injuries to his elbows. His life-saving parachute had been packed by LAC R. Hetherington.
Sep 1963. Strip alert. The possibility of Indonesian aggression against Malaysia required a full-time alert. Two fully-armed aircraft ready to take off throughout daylight hours.
19 Dec 1963. Sabre abandoned in-flight. FLGOFF M. L. Nosworthy ejected at 10,000 ft and 250 kts over water near Butterworth, after experiencing multiple control and system failures in Sabre A94-947. Pilot recovered safely.
Dec '63 to Jan '64. Alert
scramble sorties. The developing confrontation against Indonesia
resulted in several scrambles being activated but without fatal action
being taken against the Indonesian aircraft.
COMMANDING OFFICER WGCDR E. W. Tonkin OBE
3/1/64 - 14/1/66
5 Sep 1964. Indonesian Confrontation. Most personnel and Sabres transferred to RAF base at Changi to boost defence of Singapore; half stayed approx 1 month. For next few years, Squadron was often split over different bases.
COMMANDING OFFICER WGCDR R. E. Frost
14/1/66 - 24/7/66
COMMANDING OFFICER WGCDR K. A. Martin DFC
COMMANDING OFFICER SQNLDR J. S. Puleston-Jones
12 Aug 1966. Alert rosters cancelled. The Indonesian Confrontation declared over.
10 Sep 1966. 50th birthday. Parade and hanger party to celebrate at Butterworth base.
31 Jan 1967. Last Sabre operational flight. FLTLT J. Jacobsen flew last 3SQN Sabre mission at Butterworth.
16 Feb 1967. Return to Williamtown. 4,060 mile flight via Changi, Denpasar, Darwin, Townsville was safely completed.
15 Feb 1967 - 14 Feb 1969
OFFICER WGCDR Vance DRUMMOND DFC, AFC
2/2/67 - 17/5/67 (*Killed in training accident.)
May 1967. Convert to Mirages. Sabre personnel were retrained on new ground-attack "Lizard" Mirage IIIOs, over several months. Conversion courses were undertaken at 2OCU.
17 May 1967. *Commanding Officer's
Crash. The CO, WGCDR V. Drummond, was killed whilst
COMMANDING OFFICER WGCDR "Jake" W. NEWHAM
3/7/67 - 11/10/68
27 Jul 1967. New
aircraft. The new CO, WGCDR Jake Newham, flew the first
Squadron Mirage from Avalon to Williamtown. Three more arrived
during the next seven days, although there were now 10 pilots to fly them.
25 Sep 1968. 1st Mirage lost. FLGOFF Marty Susans successfully ejected from 20,000 ft after mechanical failure caused a flame-out.
(His battered ejection seat is today displayed in Fighterworld, Williamtown.)
COMMANDING OFFICER WGCDR E. A. "Ted" RADFORD
11/10/68 - 27/12/70
30 Oct 1968. A
spectacular own-goal! No.3 Squadron's
history is replete with record numbers of enemy aircraft "shot
down". - However the "last" aerial victory (to date), in
this glorious series, is unfortunately an example of a 3SQN Mirage
shooting itself down! FLTLT B. Roberts in Mirage III-O A3-70 was
practicing air-to-ground gunnery at the Salt Ash Weapons Range (12
nautical miles north-north-east of RAAF Williamtown). A ricocheting
projectile was ingested by the Mirage's engine. Roberts ejected at
2,800 ft and 210 kts and landed with only minor injuries.
BASE 86. Back to BUTTERWORTH, Malaysia
17 Feb 1969 - 31 Mar 1986
14 Feb 1969.
Butterworth again. 25 aircraft and support personnel began
move to Butterworth, where they operated alongside 75 Squadron. Regular
detachments to Singapore (RAF Tengah) began; continued for the next 22
years with regular rotations of personnel between Williamtown and
Butterworth. The detachments came under the ANZUK Defence System.
Aug 1969. Mirages to the Philippines. In August 1969 two Mirages were flown via Phan Rang, South Vietnam, to Clark AFB in the Philippines where they spent several days evaluating an American "Electronic Countermeasures" pod for training.
Jun 1970. 1st 1,000 hrs in
Mirage. FLTLT J. Dereyter was first 3SQN pilot to log 1,000
COMMANDING OFFICER WGCDR Peter J. SCULLY
27/12/70 - 10/1/73
Tail colours adopted. Red/black flash with "frill neck lizard"
used for Squadron Mirage tails. (Derived from their "Lizard"
ground-attack camouflage scheme.)
COMMANDING OFFICER WGCDR Richard. J. BOMBALL AFC
10/1/73 - 1/12/74
16 Nov 1973. 1st 2,000 hrs in Mirage. FLTLT Geoff L "Speedy" Colman was 1st in RAAF to log 2,000 Mirage hours.
12 Dec 1973. Proficiency award Duke of Gloucester Cup awarded to Squadron.
OFFICER WGCDR D. W. OWENS
1/12/74 - 5/1/76
Dec 1974. Tail colours changed Squadron badge on tail adopted; Southern Cross on rudder too.
OFFICER WGCDR R. J. PHILLIPS
5/1/76 - 14/3/77
6 Jul 1976. Runway tragedy. - Two
Mirages lost 3SQN Mirage pilot FLTLT Perry J. KELLY was
killed when a 75 Squadron Mirage (flown by FLTLT Paul KAYE) landed on top
of Kelly's fighter (A3-26).
Kelly had been holding for takeoff at the end of Butterworth runway. The 75SQN Mirage (A3-64) skidded down the field and broke into pieces, but Kaye survived without severe physical injury.
To date, this is the "LAST" 3 Squadron service fatality (now over four decades ago).
COMMANDING OFFICER WGCDR
Bruce G. GRAYSON
14/3/77 - 7/3/79
10 May 1977. Trophy
awarded Squadron won the Kittyhawk Trophy for weapons
6 Dec 1977. Ejection drama. Flying Officer Brenton Crowhurst was coming in for a night landing at Butterworth when his Mirage experienced engine failure. He turned towards the sea to avoid crashing on the base and ejected, landing on the beach and suffering only a sprained ankle. (To date this is the "LAST" 3 Squadron aircraft lost on Operations. - The exceptional safe period since 1977 provides outstanding proof of 3 Squadron's high maintenance standards and capable flying over multiple decades.)
COMMANDING OFFICER WGCDR
K. J. BRICKNELL
7/3/79 - 16/6/81
COMMANDING OFFICER WGCDR Richard. B GREGORY AFC
16/6/81 - 10/8/83
COMMANDING OFFICER WGCDR R. J. CONROY
10/8/83 - 16/6/84
1 Oct 1983. A "new" aircraft type A Caribou ("The Grumbling Green Gravel Truck") became a useful transporter (complete with a 3 Squadron emblem), supporting Squadron operations, the Royal NZ Army band and the Butterworth football team.
Bruce R. WOOD
16/6/84 - 31/3/86
25 Oct 1984. New missiles The Matra 550 'Magic' missile first fired by CO WGCDR B. Wood.
15 Nov 1985. Trophy award Again, the Kittyhawk Trophy was won.
13 Jan 1986. Hornets on show Two F/A-18 Hornets from 2 OCU Williamtown visited.
31 Mar 1986. Malaysia
close-down 3 Squadron concluded its long occupancy in
the Malaysia / Singapore region, ending an eventful 28-year
commitment. All aircraft, equipment and most personnel (over 250)
were transferred to 79 Squadron.
COMMANDING OFFICER WGCDR
Bruce. J. S. MOUATT
31/3/86 - 14/12/87
6) WILLIAMTOWN, NSW
31 Mar 1986 - Dec 2017
Building the new F/A-18 Squadron 3 Squadron ceased to exist for a few hours, until re-formed later on the same day at Williamtown with three officers and 36 other ranks. The new C.O., WGCDR Bruce Mouatt, began his Hornet conversion course and re-building Squadron's assets & people.
29 Aug 1986
F/A-18 Hornets arrive Two Hornets (flown by WGCDR Bruce Mouatt and
SQNLDR Ross Fox) were delivered from Avalon to Williamtown.
3 Squadron became the First RAAF Operational Squadron on F/A-18s.
8-12 Sep 1986
'60 Minutes' TV program 3 Squadron (now with 10 pilots) worked with TV producers to demonstrate Australia's newly-acquired high-technology aircraft.
25 Jun 1987
1st two-seater F/A-18 Highly-valued (for training) dual seater arrived. Squadron strength was now 152 personnel and settled at Williamtown.
R. B. "Bob" TRELOAR
14/12/87 - 1/3/90
Hornet versus Honda Covered by TV cameras, Wayne Gardner's 500cc GP Honda raced a Hornet over a 1/4 mile sprint.
The Hornet won.
23 May 1988
Mach 1.6 achieved. (Whoops!) Three Hornets (nameless pilots) accelerated over southern NSW; caused broken windows & earthquake reports; CO not amused.
David A. PIETSCH
1/3/90 - 12/1/93
10 Sep 1990
Sentimental visit to Butterworth For 40 days of exercises, 10 Hornets and support personnel returned to Butterworth for the first time since the Mirage days. Deployments to Butterworth have now become a regular feature of the Squadron's calendar, as have exercises in New Zealand, other parts of SE Asia, and the USA.
COMMANDING OFFICER WGCDR
Brenton P. CROWHURST
12/1/93 - 5/5/95
COMMANDING OFFICER WGCDR
K. W. RUSHWORTH CSM
5/5/95 - 7/3/97
COMMANDING OFFICER WGCDR
Geoff. C. BROWN
7/3/97 - 13/12/99
COMMANDING OFFICER WGCDR
Neil C. HART
13/12/99 - 1/3/2003
COMMANDING OFFICER WGCDR
1/3/2003 - 09/12/2005
COMMANDING OFFICER WGCDR
Vincent ("Joe") IERVASI
09/12/2005 - 12/12/2008
COMMANDING OFFICER WGCDR
Terry van HAREN
12/12/2008 to Dec 2011
COMMANDING OFFICER WGCDR
Dec 2011 to Dec 2014
COMMANDING OFFICER WGCDR
John M. HALY
CSC Dec 2014 to Dec 2017
"LAST" aircraft downed by 3SQN: On October 13, 1994, a 3SQN Hornet [A21-53] and a Royal Malaysian Air Force F5E collided during a training exercise over the sea, south-west of Butterworth air base. Both pilots took avoiding action, but the RMAF aircraft sustained major damage and its pilot ejected. [Unharmed: Lt. M. B. MOHAMAD, rescued by helicopter 1˝ hours later.] The 3SQN pilot managed to nurse his damaged Hornet back to Butterworth. [FLTLT Andrew GILLESPIE. - We’re unsure if he was awarded a “kill” for this mission!]
The last three decades of peacetime service have seen a continuation of the regular "exercise" deployments to Northern Australia and overseas. The "Classic" F/A-18 remained in service with 3SQN up to December 2017, with many upgrades to avionics and weapons.
The Squadron recorded "nil losses" of F-18s over the 31 years that they were in the 3SQN inventory. This was a magnificent testimony to the Squadron's Engineering and Maintenance prowess, and the flying skills of the aircrew. (And good luck!)
Many spectacular airshows have also been staged to commemorate 3 Squadron's birthdays and other public events, including the Squadron's significant 100th Anniversary in 2016.
BATTLE HONOUR: In 2016 the Squadron also dropped its first bombs "in anger" since 1959, when deployed over Iraq and Syria for Operation OKRA.
8 Dec 2017
Last F/A-18 Operation Ten "Classic" F/A-18 fighters of 3 Squadron flew an elegant tight "3" formation over RAAF Williamtown. These aircraft were then handed-over to 75 and 77 Squadrons.
COMMANDING OFFICER WGCDR
Dec 2017 to Aug 2020
COMMANDING OFFICER WGCDR
Aug 2020 to Dec 2021
COMMANDING OFFICER WGCDR
Adrian KIELY CSC
Dec 2021 to Present Day
BASE 7) Luke AFB, Phoenix AZ, USA. Personnel for the new "Joint Strike Fighter" incarnation of 3SQN were trained in various locations in the USA during 2018,
especially PHOENIX AZ, before re-establishing at WILLIAMTOWN.
BASE 8) WILLIAMTOWN NSW became 3SQN's home once again. 10 Dec 2018 - Present Day.
10 December 2018. RAAF F-35 Pioneers
3 Squadron was the FIRST RAAF Squadron to introduce the F35 strike fighter to operational service,
The Squadron then played an ongoing mentoring role, sequentially "standing-up" each of the other F-35 units in the RAAF, acting as a source of trained and experienced F-35 ground staff and pilots in each case.
Trans-oceanic training deployments have continued to facilitate valuable training and integration with Allies.
3 Squadron is now fully-operational and a vital component of our Nation's defence.
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