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January 2017

A University research programme is seeking to contact former RAAF Personnel and their families who have lived at Asian bases (such as Butterworth), with a view to studying their experiences.  For more details, please see the Monash University page here.

Australia Post has issued a set of four different commemorative envelopes highlighting the histories of each of the AFC "combat" squadrons in WW1. These attractive pre-stamped envelopes (delivered free within Australia) are sold online at $1.20 per envelope.
(May also be available over-the-counter from Australia Post Shops. The “retail code” for the 3AFC one is 57890.)

Our warm relationship with Diane RUTHERFORD at the Australian War Memorial (a key figure in our February celebrations there) was again confirmed when she posted a very nice article on her AWM Blog precisely on the 19th of September, 3 Squadron's official "100th Birthday".  Dianne highlighted several important 3AFC items from WW1 in the Memorial’s permanent displays.  In particular: the Squadron’s pioneering aerial-supply efforts; interesting personal possessions of the ground-crew; the German Albatros fighter shot down by 3 Squadron’s “Ghost RE8”; and the collected relics of the “Red Baron” (WW1’s highest-scoring ace).

The Australian War Memorial is continuing to release new digitised historical movies on its website.  Many colourful memories of Sabres at Butterworth, Ubon and Labuan from 1964-65 (13-min.) can be seen here: https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/F04785/  [Contents are summarised on the same web-page.]

Mike Terakes sent in some great Mirage photos, including one of a Butterworth “hose down” ceremony in 1981, for a pilot who clocked-up 1,000 hours…  


Butterworth Hose Down.  (Peter Keech driving the Tow-Motor.)

Jim Hall has drawn our attention to another excellent short online film-clip in the AWM collection – showing 3SQN’s then-new “Lizard” Mirages arriving at Butterworth on 7-Mar-1969.  C.O. Ted Radford is featured, with a sign welcoming him as “Tubby Ted”!  https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/F02748/   

And while we’re on the subject of painted “French Ladies”, there’s a nice 3SQN online Mirage album at:
http://motty.hobbyvista.com/Mirages/Mirages-15.html

Bruce Nash has recently commissioned a dramatic 3SQN Mustang painting from artist Drew Harrison:

It shows 3SQN’s Mustangs climbing away after a very successful strike on Bjelovar railway yards in Yugoslavia on 2 December 1944.  This raid involved four squadrons of Mustangs from 239 Wing.  WGCDR Brian Eaton (formerly 3SQN C.O.) won the Bar to his Distinguished Service Order leading this mission, and 3SQN’s C.O. Murray Nash (Bruce’s dad) was also awarded the DSO after a skilful individual feat of pathfinding.  - Murray descended through a thick cloud-layer, into a valley surrounded by mountains, in order to pinpoint the target for the Wing.  

(Researching this operation, we were also astounded to realise that 3SQN regularly flew long missions with an “asymmetric load” of one 500lb bomb under one wing and a drop-tank under the other.  Bruce, a senior commercial jet pilot, was dubious about the “safety” of that arrangement… However we found enough evidence from other missions to confirm the pattern.  - Even some instances of pilots “landing back” at Fano with their bomb still suspended on one wing… and nothing on the other!)

The attractive light-blue rudder (+ white Southern Cross) of 3SQN’s Mustangs, introduced in late 1944 under Murray Nash’s leadership, is the subject of an old photo-caption that Bruce Nash has found.  The photo shows groundcrew-member Lloyd “Grizz” BEAR, posing with a Mustang rudder. 

Murray deemed Grizz: “The instigator of the Southern Cross on all 3 Squadron aircraft during WW2 – and retained to the present.”

Author Owen Zupp has released a new aviation biography, titled "Without Precedent"
"It's the story of my father, Phillip Zupp, who was an Army Commando in WW2, but flew 201 missions in Korea on Meteors.  He served with 3 Squadron in Canberra, training on the Mustang and this period is covered in the book at some length - he loved the Mustang!  (It also includes his forced landing in a 3SQN Auster to the north of Canberra.)"

Our member John Love has spotted a fascinating online recording of the prototype Australian Avon-Sabre diving through the sound barrier back in 1953.  - The re-engining of the Sabre airframe with the powerful Rolls Royce “Avon” engine was the brainchild of Sir Lawrence Wackett (who had flown RE8s in combat with 3AFC in WW1 only 35 years earlier).   

The prototype featured in the recording (A94-101) was the first aircraft to break the sound-barrier in the Southern Hemisphere.  Today it’s displayed at the RAAF Museum, Point Cook.  [In the Malayan Emergency in 1959, 3SQN used sonic booms as a rather dubious weapon, to flush out insurgents hidden in the jungle.  – And reportedly it worked, at least once!] 

There’s also a wonderful story that in 1947 the U.S. test-pilot George Welch in the North American Sabre prototype broke the sound barrier in a dive (despite being ordered not to do so!) just before the “official” Mach 1 level-flight record was achieved by Chuck Yeager in the Bell X-1 research rocket-plane.)

Our “In-House WW2 Airfield Detective” Bruce Nash has done it again!  - This time we have a triple treat! 

After much scanning of satellite pictures (following-up an initial query to us from Marco Gimmillaro, a Sicilian aviation enthusiast) Bruce has finally marked-out the elusive Agnone airstrip in Sicily.  This strip has since been overbuilt by a major freeway and other rural development, but enough traces can be seen to verify the location, and the landscape perfectly matches historical photos.

Bruce’s second achievement has been pinpointing Pachino airfield near the Sicilian invasion beaches.  Although this area has now reverted to mixed industrial and agricultural use, Bruce had no problems, thanks to an excellent historical map he discovered.  [Cec Plumb's Diary records 3SQN's arrival there: 23.7.43 - En route to Pachino L.G.  ...Leaving Syracuse behind we turned south, following the coast through the invasion area.  The stench of death (animal? human?) filled the air in many places.  Cultivation was intense.  Some of the small towns we passed through were badly battered.  At 1800 hours we reached Pachino, where several DUKS and a pranged Flying Fortress littered the beach.  We paused to get our bearings in the town and were immediately surrounded by a group of ragged, near-naked children crying ceaselessly for sigaretti, biscotti, or cioccolato."]

 - And for his third trick, Bruce has used a WW2 German document to determine the location of Falerium, on a plateau just to the west of the historic Italian hill town of Civita Castellana, 65km north of Rome.

 In response to changes in the criteria for the Vietnam Logistic and Support Medal (VLSM) in 2013, the Nominal Roll of Vietnam Veterans now includes RAAF personnel who served in Ubon, on the Thai-Lao border, between 25 June 1965 and 31 August 1968.  (Many 3SQN personnel were rotated through Ubon, under 79 SQN.) - It is recommended that Ubon veterans should check if they are on the database (omissions can be corrected) and claim the campaign medal (and related entitlements) that they have earned.  There are 5,500 RAAF names on this roll.

Kristen Alexander, who runs a bookshop in Canberra [and who previously authored the very successful biography of top RAAF ace Clive Caldwell] tells us that she is currently working on her PhD, researching the experiences of the Australian airmen imprisoned in Stalag Luft III (“Sagan”)

Amazingly, Kristen has compiled the names of at least twelve “Sagan” inmates hailing from 3SQN.  This is a surprisingly large number for this one camp and it indicates the relatively high proportion of 3SQN combat-losses who became Prisoners of War.  They certainly deserve more recognition for the travails they endured and Kristen has placed many interesting snippets on her blog.  (Including a lovely piece on 3SQN’s Alan Righetti.)  She has also kindly typed-up for us the “POW memoir” of 3SQN pilot Tom Wood, from which we will post some interesting extracts in the future.  [Our website also has several other stories written by the POWs (or “kriegies”, as they called themselves) – including some inspiring escapes - and even some rare ‘home runs’ to Switzerland!]

QLD 3SQN Assn. President Jim Hall has been reading that there are several 3AFC graves in Vignacourt Cemetery, in the Somme Valley in France.  This is correct - 3AFC were based near that cemetery for several months in 1918, so this is the key cemetery on the Somme that should be visited for 3AFC interest.  (Our “Somme Valhalla”.)  Thanks to the excellent ‘Commonwealth War Graves’ website, it’s possible to see pictures of the peaceful gardens and list the details of all eight 3AFC men who lie there. 

Another big concentration of 3AFC graves is in northern France at Bailleul, near the Belgian border (just behind the “Ypres Salient”).

Canberra Sabre-aficionado Gordon Bennett recently sent us a photo from the collection of Dennis Stenhouse (RAAF deceased - Sabre pilot in the last group of four to land at Butterworth during the initial “Sabre Ferry” to the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve).  This pic recalls happy days in the “Hong Kong Bar”, Penang, circa 1958/9.  (Gordon says: “It didn’t take long for 3 Squadron to find and set-up in the ‘HKB’”.)


Displaying ‘artistic’ HKB pin-up calendars are:
Back L-R: Ted Radford [later 3 Squadron CO for the move to Butterworth in 1969], Dennis Stenhouse, “Stinky” Terry Walker [Transport Support Flt.], Terry Conn,
Front: Another TSF bod, Unknown, and Peter Dart [who returned to Australia in the "Oranje
" in Oct 1960].

Gordon asks: “…If 3SQN Association members have early photos of the inside of the Hong Kong Bar that they might be willing to share, I would like to reproduce them for presentation to Jenny and her brother, who now run the HKB.  Such photos would help to re-create the photographic history of the fighter world’s presence at Butterworth, which was lost during a major fire a few years ago.” 

Muriel Irwin (WW2 widow in Lithgow NSW) has kindly shared with us her father’s (R.J. Shulstad) WW1 diary.  He was in the Field Ambulance in France.

Stuart Pointon (whose grandfather, Russell Smith enlisted in the RAAF in the 1920s and was based at Richmond and Williamtown, and fought in PNG) sent in a nice "oblique" photo of Richmond RAAF Base, taken flying over the north-east corner of the base, probably circa 1935 (as some of the hangars from the 1934 Defence Plan are shown still under construction).  No.3 was the "senior squadron" on the Richmond base at that stage.

77 SQN Assn’s Peter Ring has recommended a ‘ripper’ 1950-era short newsreel covering the Korean air-war.  [They certainly don't narrate them like that anymore!]  - This film features Lou Spence, who earned his WW2 DFC with 3SQN in North Africa.  It's quite amusing to watch Lou being caught unawares for his US Air Medal presentation by General Stratemeyer! 

Sadly, Lou was one of two ex-3SQN WW2 members killed in the Korean War (the other being Ian Purssey).  [The text transcript for Lou's "Last Post" ceremony at the War Memorial in Canberra (and a 56Mb live video of the proceedings) is available on the AWM website.]

WGCDR Ian Gibson reminds us that it’s exactly 75 years since 3 Squadron FIRST attacked Syria.  3SQN pioneered P-40 Curtiss Tomahawk fighters in the Middle East Command.  (This recognised their previous outstanding results in the African Desert with Hurricanes.)  Their role in Syria was air superiority and interdiction.  Attacks on Syria commenced from 8 June 1941. The first attack on Rayak air base was carefully planned and had a big impact on the Vichy French fighter force.  The Tomahawks flew straight out of the rising sun, down the contour of a nearby mountain-range, attacking at dive-speeds.  (And Bobby Gibbes nearly didn’t make it through his combat debut there...!)

The Oxford Models organisation in the UK is selling a fully-painted 1:72 diecast (metal) model of Lew Ranger’s Mustang CV-W “Anita” for £13.

Jim Hall has authored a terrific illustrated analysis of the tragic loss of Perry Kelly in a Mirage at Butterworth in 1976.

Opening of Sydney Airport “Nigel Love” Bridge

Several Association members were glad to join more than two dozen proud members of the Love family and Sydney Airport Staff at the official opening of a new road-bridge over the Alexandria Canal.  This bridge, which will greatly facilitate the Airport’s future air-freight handling, was named after Nigel Love, who originally purchased the Mascot site and established the airport there in 1919 (after returning from combat-flying with 3AFC in the First World War).  The Airport will also be installing a large portrait of Nigel in the International Terminal, highlighting his pivotal role.  Their press-release has some nice photos, as does the Australian newspaper.  There's also a boppy 4-minute time-lapse video available of the construction.

We’re sad to report that the Williamtown Advocate newspaper is closing.  - But not before printing a nice centre-spread about 3SQN’s Centennial. 

Peter Ring of 77 SQN Association has noted a very nostalgic page of “mug shots” of all RAAF pilot trainees spanning the years 1949 to 1988.  (144 courses in all!)

Pete Scully advises that he had a successful “re-dedication” of the Hobart Air Force Museum (which he “curates”) on 29 July 2016, with the Tasmanian Governor, Her Excellency the Hon. Professor Kate Warner AM, doing the honours.  (This museum was originally opened by Jake Newham, back when he was Chief of Air Staff.)  We have added some pix to our ‘Mementos’ web page.

Former Mirage-driver Jack Smith writes in with another great bit of eyewitness historyI found Brian Weston’s article ‘Mirage Metamorphosis’ quite interesting.  I was one of the original pilots posted to 3SQN in August 1968 when it re-formed as a Mirage unit.  The Squadron deployed to Butterworth in February 1969, the deployment being named ‘Operation Thoroughfare’.  The actual dates were Williamtown to Darwin via Townsville on 14 February, and Darwin to Butterworth via Djuanda on 17 February.

I was also pleased to see that the unofficial logo of the Lizard entwined in the 3 was covered in Brian’s article.  I was posted out of the Squadron in July 1970 to do a Fighter Combat Instructor’s course, and was not aware that the ‘Lizard’ had actually appeared on the Mirage fin in 1971 (until officialdom deemed otherwise).  My interest in the lizard logo stems from the fact that I designed it in 1968.  In 1969 I painted the lizard logo on one of the walls in the Officers’ Mess bar at RAF base Tengah (with the blessing of RAF officialdom).  I sometimes wonder how long it survived, and if it was still there when the RAF finally withdrew from Tengah.  Anyhow, enough trivia.  Thanks for the Newsletter – it’s a very interesting publication.  Long may it continue.

The Monash University Archives have kindly sent us a copy of a letter written by General Sir John Monash in 1918, which indicates his warm relationship with the C.O. of 3rd Squadron, Major David Blake.  The topic of the letter is how much Monash appreciated the aerial photos taken by 3AFC of the Bertangles Chateau (Monash’s headquarters) on August 12th, 1918.

Bertangles, France. An aerial view of the Australian Corps Headquarters showing some activity on the road from the forecourt. (Donor E.J. Richards)

This was the same day Monash was knighted ‘in the field’, by King George V.  (The General’s reward for the stunning Australian breakthrough in the Battle of Amiens.)  The chateau featured a spectacular collection of captured German artillery-pieces lining the driveway.   The surrounding fields contained "practice trenches" where the Australian Infantry later demonstrated their skills to the King

Our website ‘link’ to the Australians at War Film Archive has been updated.  This site features extensive transcripts, videos and photos of many WW2 veterans: www.australiansatwarfilmarchive.unsw.edu.au

Jeff Crowe from Somerset, Tasmania, has identified for us the talented local photographer who took the amazing 1937 crash photos featured in our website story Demon Down in the Devil’s Den

It was John Henry Robinson, Jeff’s grandfather.  [By coincidence, we’ll view the same 3SQN Demon – now salvaged and beautifully restored - after our 9 July Pt. Cook lunch.]

Sunshine Coast resident Ray Williams emailed to ask about another 3AFC aerial photo, which cost Ray $2 some years ago at a local market:

While he has never been able to find out much about it, Ray recently noticed its similarity to one of the photos taken by Lt. Lee Smith DFC on our website.  Fortunately, using the date on the photo (20 May 1918) and the 3AFC online War Diary, we were able to identify the RE8 Crew who took it; Lieutenants Tom BAILLIEU DFC (Pilot) and Edward ROWNTREE DFC (Observer).  The photo is one of the 26 “obliques” that they took over the frontlines on that day, in preparation for the successful Australian assault that captured Morlancourt ridge.  Their combat report mentions that they were subjected to very heavy German machinegun fire over the front.  (Indeed, Tom Bailleu snapped this pic while he had their RE8 in an evasive dive!)  German trenches can be seen, along with a profusion of white shell-holes in the chalk. 

For further profiles of both Tom and Edward, see our article.

Bruce Nash has found an original WW2 photo of his dad Murray pointing at a map of Central Italy in a briefing of 3SQN pilots before a mission.  The location was not noted on the photo, but after some detective work - starting with the sandy conditions underfoot! - we managed to place it in a sequence of photos shot by official photographer Laurie Le Guay at Cutella, outside the “239 Wing Operations Caravans in early 1944.

Vicki Crighton and James Oglethorpe represented 3SQN Assn on 9/10 April at the 75th Anniversary of 450 Squadron “Marching Out to WW2”. 
Many thanks to Sandi Nipperess for organising two most enjoyable days in Williamtown and Newcastle.


450 Squadron Departure Montage”, by Sandi Nipperess.

The desert photos of “Old John” Jackson (a 3SQN ace and Flight Leader in 1940/41) are now displayed in the Australian War Memorial website.  (Search with the collection number “P12424”.)

https://www.awm.gov.au/images/collection/items/ACCNUM_SCREEN/P12424.068.JPG
May 1941.  Informal portrait of Squadron Leader John Francis Jackson reading a letter in the company of members of No. 3 Squadron, RAAF.
Identified left to right: O215094 (260560) Flight Lieutenant William Gordon Kloster, "Lane", Sqn Ldr John Francis Jackson, "Fisher."

Lorenzo Deschodt wrote to us from Belgium about a Daimler RAF4A engine, originally from an RE8 aircraft that crashed in 1917.  In 1972 it was excavated, by Lorenzo’s father, from a farm (Lat./Lon. N 50.784650, E 2.909510) 1.5km east of Wijtschate.  (A village in the southern part of the old WW1 Ypres Salient battle zone.  The Tommies anglicised this as “White-sheet”.)  The engine is now displayed in the Museum FAS at Wevelgem, east of Ypres.  The Daimler engine-number can still clearly be read (“12180”) and Lorenzo would love to know something of the history of this aircraft.  

Unfortunately, we could only confirm to Lorenzo (so far) that this engine did not come from 3AFC.  (Although the Squadron would have flown over that location regularly, all 3AFC aircraft shot-down over Ypres crashed several kilometres away from Wijtschate.)  The British operated up to 300 RE8s at any one time, so the crash could have come from any of several Squadrons.  (RFC No.9 Squadron is a distinct possibility, as they flew operations in that zone.  There is only one RFC grave in the local cemetery, and that is from the wrong type of aircraft  for that engine (Sopwith 1½ Strutter). 

We hope that by listing this question on our website, we can attract the attention of an enthusiast with a list of Triumph RAF4A engine numbers fitted to RE8s!

 

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