3 Squadron LIFETIMES

3 Squadron RAAF HOME / Search

Vale Jim Degenhardt
6 January 1923 - 15 January 2014.

A No.3 Squadron Mustang fighter-bomber taxiing to the runway in Northern Italy, guided by a ground-crewman riding on the port wing.
 This particular aircraft has been fitted by the Squadron Armourers with 2 x 500lb high-explosive bombs.  [AWM MEA2171]

James Edward “Jim” Degenhardt was, to our knowledge, the last surviving South Australian WW2 veteran of No.3 Squadron.

He died just a few days after passing his 91st birthday on January 6th, 2014.   Jim Degenhardt was born in Adelaide in 1923 and he joined the RAAF in the dark days of mid-1942, at the tender age of 19. 

At the time of his enlistment, Jim had training as a wood-machinist and he was at first mustered by the Air Force as a ‘General Hand – Works’, maintaining the service’s buildings.

However he was soon re-mustered and became involved in aircraft handling at No.1 Elementary Flight Training School at Parafield Airport near Adelaide.  Jim had several postings inside Australia and was re-mustered again to ‘Armourer’s Assistant’ and promoted to LAC before he shipped out to Europe in 1944.  He arrived at 3 Squadron in the depths of the Northern Italian Winter when the Squadron was flying their new Mustang fighters from Fano airbase. 

Jim spent the remaining four months of the war in Italy with the Squadron; a period of intensive operations against the retreating German forces when the busy Armourers not only kept the Mustangs topped-up with bombs and ammunition, but also introduced several novel weapons such as rockets and napalm bombs.

Jim celebrated Victory in Italy with the rest of the Squadron and remained on strength in Northern Italy until August 1945, when he was moved to Naples to await a boat home.  Jim arrived back in Australia in March 1946 and was discharged from the RAAF on 15 May 1946. 

In recent years Jim had been a stalwart and inspiring member of 3 Squadron Association in S.A.

 Jim Degenhardt cutting the cake at the Association's 2013 Anzac Day function.

3 Squadron LIFETIMES

3 Squadron RAAF HOME / Search