3 Squadron Memorial Speech
Delivered by SQNLDR Brian Rowe
at the No.3 Squadron Memorial, RAAF Base Richmond, 17th April 2011.
Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen.
For those whom I haven’t met so far today, my name
is SQNLDR Brian Rowe and I am the Senior Engineering Officer at No. 3
Squadron. It is my honour to address you today and to represent the
Commanding Officer of 3 Squadron, WGCDR Van Haren.
Just last week, at RAAF Base Williamstown, we
remembered those who had served 450 Squadron, a sister Squadron of ours
in the Desert Air Force, so it is fitting that we gather here today to
remember those who served with the Fighting Third. As a unit, 3
Squadron has a long and proud history of service in both World Wars, and
participation in campaigns in South East Asia. In all these theatres,
the professionalism and dedication of the pilots and ground crews of 3
Squadron has been instrumental in the success of military operations.
However, across many of these campaigns, the Squadron has
brave officers and airmen, all of who left behind loving families and
Whilst aviation is relatively safe in the 21st
Century, it certainly wasn’t so during the First World War, with many
brave aviators, observers and their ground crews - who would often ride
in the observer seat during non-operational flights – falling victim to the
unpredictability of weather and the unreliability of their machines.
Indeed, on the transit from England to France in August 1917,
Lieutenant Shapira and 2nd Airman Sloane survived an engine failure,
only to be killed when their RE8 entered an unrecoverable spin later
that day. Throughout the First World War, many 3 Squadron personnel
lost their lives on missions to support the ground troops (forced to
fight in horrific trench warfare). These brave men were always prepared
to fly in support of their infantry brethren, often in wild winter
weather and against well-trained and well-armed enemy forces. The 3 Squadron
culture of “getting the job done” with little fanfare or bravado was
born over the miserable trenches of Northern France; but at the cost of
many fine men, who never returned from these battlefields.
Our Squadron operations in World War II are just
as remarkable and important, with 3 Squadron operating throughout North
Africa, Syria and Italy. The campaigns across North Africa required not
only superior cunning and airmanship in the skies, but also rapid and
accurate logistics and maintenance planning on the ground, due to the
ever-changing dimensions of the conflict. The support provided by 3
Squadron to the 7th Division in Syria is particularly important to me,
as my Grandfather served as an infantry soldier in the 7th Division
throughout this campaign. The desert warfare environment was deadly to
both air and ground crews, with 90 brave men, most of who were in their
very early twenties, never to return to Australia.
While 3 Squadron has not deployed on combat
operations recently, various members of the Squadron have deployed; and
continue to deploy, in support of our operations in Afghanistan.
Furthermore, as part of our ongoing flying operations here in Australia
we have been providing support to our deploying special forces soldiers,
which we hope will bring this conflict to an end as quickly as possible,
with as little loss as possible.
I’d like to recognise the critical role that the 3
Squadron Association plays in the remembrance of our fallen loved ones
and friends. The work of the Association and the stories of our past 3
Squadron members serve to foster the spirit and culture that has endured
through two world wars and other uncertain times. 2011 commemorates 95
years since the commissioning of 3 Squadron, older than the Royal
Australian Air Force itself, and it is essential that we continue to
tell the stories of those who have served before us.
Finally, I’d like to thank all the former members
of 3 Squadron for their commitment and contribution over the past 95
years; and to remember our family members and friends who fell during
conflict, or have passed away since that time.