3 Squadron LIFETIMES

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Air Marshal John William “Jake” NEWHAM, A.C.

30 November 1930 to 27 December 2022.  Age 92.

Jake was a photogenic young fighter pilot and often the preferred model for official photos. 
This “Buck Rodgers” shot features a RAAF 78 Fighter Wing Vampire in Malta, July 1954. 

Over many decades, Jake’ NEWHAM has been one of the most outstanding and well-loved personalities in 3 Squadron Association.  Despite the stellar achievements of his RAAF career, he always had time for the Squadron that he commanded back in 1966-67 (where he introduced the RAAF’s first operational “Lizard” Ground-Attack Mirages).

Jake’s period as CO3 had not been planned in advance, instead he was suddenly drafted for the role after the mysterious Mirage training accident that claimed the life of the previous CO3, Vance DRUMMOND.  Fortunately, Jake did a truly magnificent job from a standing start, building on his experiences as a 3SQN Sabre Flight Commander 1957-1960.  [During which time he flew in the eventful 1958 “Sabre Ferry” to Malaya, and in 3 Squadron’s (very few!) combat strikes against Malayan communist guerilla camps in 1958/59.]

Jake’s career has had many highlights.  [He even has his own Wikipedia page!]  He joined the RAAF for pilot training in 1951 – during the Korean War – and by 1953 found himself flying Meteor jets in combat.

Jake at Kimpo in South Korea with Geoff Colllins.  [AWM JK096.]

From late 1953 to ‘55, Jake was lucky to participate in the RAAF’s expeditionary force to Malta.  The concept was to support NATO, and by all reports a very jolly time was had! 
[The “thinned down” 78 Wing was under the command of Brian EATON, who had stalked the same Mediterranean areas in WW2, as CO3 and later C.O. of 239 Wing.]

The “James Dean” photo.  Jake scores a light from groundcrew member
Jim SABIEN at Ta Kali airbase, Malta, July 1954. 
[AWM MALTA1002.]

4 May 1954: The first (but not the last!) time that Jake met the Queen.  Her Majesty inspects the Guard of Honour
from 78 Fighter Wing RAAF, before unveiling the Air Forces War Memorial in Malta.  Jake was Guard Commander

[At front, holding ceremonial sword.]  The Memorial,
surmounted by a golden eagle sculpture,
commemorates 2,301 RAF and Commonwealth airmen who were killed in air operations in the
Mediterranean Theatre, whose graves could not be traced.  The names on the memorial include
211 missing RAAF flyers. 
(Four of them from 3SQN.)   [AWM JK096.]

As CO3, one of the traditions that Jake was keen to perpetuate was 3SQN’s signature Jaffa Orangecolour. 
[Although possibly not everyone was quite as keen?] 

This July 1967 photo shows 3SQN Mirage pilots on their first day, wearing “International Orange” flight suits.
[From left:] Marty SUSANS, Barry SCHULTZ, Roger WILSON, CO3 Jake NEWHAM, Bob WALSH,

By October 1968, Jake had safely brought the Lizard-equipped 3SQN up to speed.  He then handed the Squadron over to Ted RADFORD and was appointed CO of the RAAF Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU).  
– An exacting job, testing and evaluating new RAAF aircraft and weaponry.  It was a time for flying at the “edge of the envelope”, in some very exciting and colourful machines!

An ARDU Mirage.  [Image: ADF Serials.]

Then, from 1972 to ‘74, Jake became Officer Commanding 82 Strike Wing; introducing the F-111 to the RAAF (and the Australian public).  This expensive and controversial high-tech aircraft was under close scrutiny from hyper-critical news media.  Air Marshal Ray FUNNELL described Jake’s triumph in this job:  "With a light touch, but a very sure hand, he steered the F-111 safely and securely into full operational service.  It was done so smoothly and so well that many people missed the magnitude of what had been achieved."

Jake delivers an F-111 to Australia.

But Jake’s challenging role as OC 82 Wing was just a taste, compared with the strategic conundrums of his term as Chief of Air Staff, from May 1985 to July 1987.  He reached the top after a series of senior appointments: Director General Operational Requirements; Chief of Air Force Operations; Head of Australian Defence Staff Washington; and Deputy Chief of Air Staff.  Jake had to map out the future of the RAAF during a most difficult period.  - Needless to say, he aced it!

Jake had a spectacular sendoff when he retired from the RAAF in 1987.  He flew a 2-seater Hornet from Canberra to Williamtown for the ceremony.  Sitting in the front seat was 3 Squadron's first Hornet CO, WGCDR Bruce MOUATT
[These two men nicely symbolised 3SQN’s leading role introducing new aircraft to RAAF operations.]  Behind them came another F-18, flown by Jake’s successor, Air Marshal FUNNELL...

Jake was very self-effacing about his career.  "Not bad for a country boy from Cowra…" he used to say. 

Jake’s funeral on January 20th packed-out the 200-seat Camelia Chapel at Macquarie Park in Sydney.  (Amusingly, this venue is directly beneath the main Sydney Airport flightpath, which had to be stopped while a 3SQN F-35 blasted across in salute, under the low cloud-base.  After that, spectators were treated to a colourful parade of queued-up airliners climbing past every 90 seconds - saluting Jake in their own way!)

There were kind words during the memorial service from the serving Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal CHIPMAN, and Jake’s long-term friends Air Marshal Ray FUNNELL, Air Vice Marshal Bill SIMMONDS, and Richard KELLOWAY (current day Minister of Religion and one-time 3SQN Mirage pilot!).  The Ode was recited by another “country boy from Cowra”, 3SQN’s very own WGCDR “Kenny” KIELY

Several speakers made the observation that nobody ever had anything bad to say about Jake.  - He was truly a master of inter-personal relations.

Jake’s friends and colleagues lined the route for his departure.

A ‘walking history book’ of the RAAF’s post-war era, Jake often reminisced on his meeting with Harold EDWARDS, who served in 3AFC in WW1 - the two of them bracketing 3SQN's entire century!  Jake often submitted items for the 3SQN Association newsletter, right through to the most recent editions.  Jake also donated some very useful reference books to our Association’s website library. 

In his responsible Air Force roles, Jake always thought of, and cared about, members of the RAAF.  He was always generous with his time and energy, whether helping individuals, or deciding the future of the entire Defence Force.  He will certainly be deeply missed, but his special qualities will remain in the hearts of the many people who were lucky enough to have crossed his path.

Click for:  Temora Aviation Museum Video Interview with Jake.

 A Clear Winter's Day...
(Seal Rocks, NSW)

By Ken "Bushy" SMITH.

My final ride in the back seat of a twin-seater Mirage was at Williamtown.  GPCAPT Jake NEWHAM had reported an aircraft as unserviceable, due to engine vibration. 

I told him that I could run the engine on the ground, put the vibration tester on it, and it would be perfect.

However, he said, “If you’re so sure, come with me on a test flight!”

Once we’d taken off, and done some other checks, we started an engine air-test at about 36,000 feet, abeam Seal Rocks. 
Jake pointed the nose further out to sea and we started the Mach-run.  I was in the back, head-down, pencilling a whole lot of figures about the engine’s performance.  After about 15 seconds at Mach 2.2, we zoomed upward to wash-off speed.

When I lifted my head and looked outside, everything was the most beautiful purple.  It was also a bit confusing, as I thought I could see the horizon with the lighter blue, but it didn’t look right… 


So I asked Jake, “Where are we?”

He said, “55,000 feet, on our back, 20 degrees nose-down and heading towards Broken Bay.”

We levelled out, and because it was a beautiful clear July day, I could see Williamtown ahead and the mountains off in the distance - with a touch of snow on the peaks.  We had a little play around before an uneventful landing at Williamtown.

This was my best (and final) ride in a Mirage.  Thanks Jake.

[Extract from “The Lizards that Flew”.]

Obit. compiled by James Oglethorpe, with thanks to Fighter Squadrons Branch and RAAF News.

3 Squadron LIFETIMES

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