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A line-up of our 3SQN veterans, from WW2 to the modern-day, in the sunshine at the Australian Flying Corps Memorial, Point Cook.
100 years ago, on 10 July 1916, Lieutenant James BRAKE became the first man to “sign-on” at Point Cook for the Australian Flying Corps unit that became "3rd Squadron". Brake was one of the Squadron’s Flight Commanders from its formation, and throughout their ocean voyage to England, which finished on 28 December 1916.
[James Brake’s Point Cook photo album, illustrated below, is one of the jewels of the Australian War Memorial collection.]
Exactly one century later, we celebrated this important “first step” in 3 Squadron’s History with a convivial lunch at Shadowfax Winery and a visit to the AFC Memorial and RAAF Museum, Point Cook.
Our celebrations really could not have been better! We had a lovely ‘blue-sky’ day. The lunch went very well and many people brought along excellent photo albums and other items of memorabilia to show around. We then drove to the nearby RAAF Station at Point Cook and paid our respects at the poignant sandstone “Australian Flying Corps Memorial”. Representative members of our party laid twelve individual roses against the 3SQN Banner on the Memorial steps, in memory of the "3SQN Generations" - from WW1 through to the Modern Day.
The RAAF Museum at Point Cook then welcomed us. We enjoyed looking at their fascinating exhibits, including several aircraft formerly operated by 3SQN and now preserved for posterity.
We had 38 attendees. Our keynote guest was Mr Bill Brake. Impressively, at 93 years of age, Bill still has clear memories of his “Uncle Jim” – who was the first man to sign-up for the Squadron at Point Cook in July 1916. We were also delighted to reunite two WW2 Mustang pilots who had flown together on operations, “Dusty” Lane and Arthur Pardey. Groundcrew veteran Donny Nicholls also had come down from northern Victoria and was the life of the party. Supporting the veterans was an excellent showing of descendants and relatives of 3SQN personnel.
Representing our Mirage fraternity were veteran Airframe-Electrician Lindsay Ball, “Elec-Fitt” Graham Oxley, and “Framie” Kevin Doyle. - And from the ranks of modern-day serving personnel, we were delighted to welcome Emma Craven-Griffiths (former 3SQN ADMINO at Williamtown) who recently brought a lovely little daughter into the world and who will soon resume duty as a SQNLDR.
Our member Graeme Oxley came away from the Museum with a nice photo of his Trumph Stag with a 'Bloodhound' hood ornament!
Wow! - That would help him get through the traffic!
100 YEARS AGO
James Brake Photo Collection
Informal portrait of Lieutenant James Brake, "No. 2 Squadron", Australian Flying Corps (AFC).
[This Squadron was later re-designated 3AFC.]
A tutor from Mont Albert, Victoria prior to enlistment, Lt. Brake embarked with B Flight from Melbourne on HMAT Ulysses on 25 October 1916. He was promoted to Captain and returned to Australia on 6 May 1919.
His two brothers 6557 Private William Brake, 4th Field Artillery Brigade [later transferring to 3AFC] and Lt. John Brake, 8th Field Artillery Brigade, also served overseas.
Informal group portrait of Australian Flying Corps (AFC) officers at Point Cook, Victoria. Course. March-June 1916.
A Bristol Boxkite aircraft with a 50 horsepower Gnome engine rotary piston engine, used in pusher mode, installed in the rear.
The propeller was simply bolted to the engine crank-case and the entire assembly rotated, with “total loss” lubrication emitting noxious fumes of castor oil.
Point Cook, 1916, "Waiting their turn to fly." Two members of the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) rest between training flights.
[LEFT] Lieutenant (Lt) Roy Cumestree Trout of "No.2 Squadron" Australian Flying Corps [later re-named 3AFC] seated in a Bristol Boxkite aircraft, one of two operating at Point Cook. Trout is using the foot pedal which operates the forward elevator.
An agricultural chemist from Red Hill, QLD., prior to enlistment, Lt. Trout embarked from Melbourne on HMAT Ulysses on 25 October 1916. He was killed when his aircraft crashed while he was undergoing training at Coventry, England.
He is buried in the Coventry (London Road) Cemetery, England.
[RIGHT] Informal portrait of Lieutenant (Lt) John Robertson Duigan [later Flight Commander, 3AFC]. An electrical engineer from Ivanhoe, Victoria prior to enlistment, Lt. Duigan and his brother Reginald had in 1910 built and flown the first-ever successful Australian-designed aircraft. [He and his brother were commemorated as Australian aviation pioneers on a 6 cent stamp issued by Australia Post in 1970.] He embarked with C Flight from Melbourne on HMAT Ulysses on 25 October 1916. The Squadron was re-named No.69 Squadron RFC on arrival and later "3rd Squadron" of the Australian Flying Corps in 1918. He was promoted to Captain and awarded the Military Cross "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. …He was attacked by four enemy scouts. Although wounded he manoeuvred his machine with great skill... He landed behind the front line and helped remove the observer... and salvaged the photographic plates in spite of being wounded three times himself." He returned to Australia on 19 April 1919.
Members of the Australian Flying Corps prepare a Deperdussin training aircraft.
A member of the ground crew is about to swing the propeller to start the engine.
James Brake poses with the CFS.5 Deperdussin training aircraft of the Australian Flying Corps following a crash at Point Cook.
In 1920 this aircraft was transferred to the Australian War Memorial, where it remains the oldest Australian military aircraft still in existence.
Group portrait of Australian Flying Corps officers on the lower part of a wooden Observation Tower at Point Cook airfield.
View of hangars from the Tower - Point Cook Aviation School.
Members of the Australian Flying Corps recover a Bristol Boxkite aircraft at Point Cook after a damaging landing.
Note that the motor-car is supporting the port wing and towing the port undercarriage..
25 October 1916, "2nd Squadron AFC arriving at Laverton Station."
The men were travelling by train from Laverton to Port Melbourne to embark HMAT Ulysses (A38) later that day for overseas service.
Locomotive that brought "2nd Squadron" [later re-named 3AFC] from Laverton to Port Melbourne pier on day of sailing.
Messages and images have been drawn in chalk on the side of the train.
Aboard the troop ship. Informal portrait of Lieutenant James Brake and Lt. James Lionel Montague Sandy of the AFC.
Lt Sandy, a company secretary from Burwood, NSW prior to enlistment, had originally embarked for overseas service as a Lieutenant in the 1st Field Artillery Brigade and had returned to Australia suffering from pyaemia.
Later qualifying as a pilot, he re-embarked for overseas duty. He was killed in action with 3AFC on 17 December 1917 [see next artwork] and was buried in the St. Pol Communal Cemetery Extension, France.
“Death of Sandy and Hughes” painting by Joseph Simpson.
On 17 December 1917, in the middle of a dogfight, Lt. Sandy and Sgt. Hughes were both killed by a single armour-piercing bullet.
Their aircraft continued to fly in wide circles until it ran out of fuel, whereupon it glided down by itself and landed, without much damage, in a snowdrift behind the lines.
A German Albatros fighter that they shot down in the same battle is now preserved in the collection of the Australian War Memorial.
[LEFT] "Lt Duigan taking a snap" - on board HMAT Ulysses.
Informal portrait taken on board HMAT Ulysses of Captain Clark (captain of
HMAT Ulysses) (rear),
Lieutenant Norman Leslie Petschler, Lt. Albert Griggs and Honorary Captain
Henry Haigh Storrer,
all from 3AFC. Embarked from Melbourne of 25 October 1916.
Lt Petschler, an indenter from Kogarah NSW prior to enlistment, was later promoted to Captain and returned to Australia on 20 October suffering from neurasthenia [“shell shock”].
Storrer, an accountant from Geelong, Victoria prior to enlistment, was killed in action on 2 December 1917. He is buried in the Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension (Nord), France.
- FRANCE -
Bailleul France, November 1917. Group portrait of the Commanding Officer and Officers of 3rd Squadron, Australian Flying Corps.
Lt James Brake, Armament Officer, sixth from left in middle row.
Watercolour by Arthur Streeton of a 3 Squadron R.E.8. (1918)
“AIF aerodrome near Bertangles” - Painting by Henry Fullwood.
Depicts the 3AFC aerodrome [also known as “Poulainville” and “Flesselles”]. Several soldiers and pilots of 3rd Squadron can be seen ,
also RE8 aircraft on the aerodrome and in the sky along with several red petrol cans near the canvas hangar,
and fire-extinguishers on the tripod stands.
Section of German MG08 Machine Gun ammunition belt with bullet, from the red Fokker Triplane of Baron Manfred von Richthofen [“The Red Baron”],
Geschwader 1, German Air Service. This aircraft was salvaged by 3AFC from the front-line after having been brought down by an Australian Army machine-gunner.
Colourised photograph of 3AFC Flight Commander Captain Reg Francis posing with his famous RE8, "Sylvia". In this aircraft, Francis flew a total of 440 hours over the front in the course of 140 missions.
- This was more than any other British aircraft on the Western Front. (Sylvia was preserved for display, back in Australia, after the Armistice, but sadly was lost in a fire in Melbourne in 1925.)
Reg Francis was awarded the DFC for his huge contribution in the Battle of Hamel (4th of July 1918). He flew for over 8½ hours,
and 4 hours on the following day, during which flights he successfully silenced seven hostile Artillery Batteries,
besides sending down 32 "zone calls". [Area bombardments onto targets of opportunity, such as enemy troop concentrations.]
[LEFT] “War planes of the Australian Flying Corps” – painting by Will Longstaff.
[RIGHT] Aerial photo taken by 3AFC of German territory south of Mourlancourt in the Somme Valley. Note the trenches and shell-scars across the fields.
Photo dated 27 June 1918, just prior to the successful Battle of Hamel (4 July 1918).
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