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70th Anniversary of 3 Squadron "Marching Out" to WW2

Saturday, 10th July 2010Richmond Air Base, NSW.

No. 3 Squadron was the first RAAF Squadron to leave Australia as a single unit after the declaration of War.   (And funnily enough, probably the last Australian Squadron to depart as a complete unit... Every other Squadron had to rush off piecemeal!)

A total party of 50 Association Members - including WW2 veterans, relatives, current serving personnel and friends - attended the commemoration.  In a poignant  ceremony, they marched once more through the old art-deco "main gate".   (Thanks to massive wartime expansion, the former perimeter gate is now to be found deep within the heart of the Base.)

Our special guests were four of "The Originals" - still with us, 70 years on!  (See the detailed captions below for their details.)

Our commemoration was accompanied by the same jaunty tune, "Roll out the Barrel", that had sent "The Originals" off in 1940.  Afterwards, everyone enjoyed an excellent lunch, generously catered by the Richmond Sergeant's Mess (in yet another of the historic buildings on the Base, dating from the 1920s).

They sang as they marched off to War...

"Roll out the barrel, we'll have a barrel of fun.
Roll out the barrel, we've got the blues on the run.
Zing boom ta-ra-rel, ring out a song of good cheer.
Now's the time to roll the barrel, for the gang's all here..."

Photos:


(Above) The four "Originals" forming up the front row of the march.

Our "ORIGINALS":

Gordon Steege.  Far left (in blue suit): Gordon marched out of Richmond as a Flight Lieutenant and quickly became an ace fighter pilot in the Egyptian desert, claiming seven enemy aircraft destroyed whilst flying Gladiator and Hurricane aircraft with 3 Squadron, and scoring one further victory after he was promoted to command 450 Squadron.  Gordon was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and Distinguished Flying Cross and finished his Air Force career in 1972 as an Air Commodore.

George Dumont. 2nd left:  George, who left Australia as a stores clerk and had many adventures in the desert where stores were a rare and valuable commodity (especially other peoples' stores!).  After his tour in the Middle East , George returned to Australia and was selected to transfer to aircrew and became a commissioned officer.  He left the RAAF in 1947 as a Flight Lieutenant.

 Les Fitzpatrick. Centre (in wheelchair):  Les was a highly skilled Engine Fitter during his time in 3 Squadron.  These men worked outdoors in atrocious desert conditions of dust and blowing sand (and then mud whenever it rained), maintaining their delicate and tempremental aero-engines.  Les marched out of Richmond as a Leading Aircraftsman and finished the war as a Technical Flight Sergeant.

Eric BakerRight-Centre (with cane):  Eric marched out from Richmond as an Aircraftsman AC1, skilled in radio operation, and returned from the war as a Warrant Officer.

   Other notable figures from 3 Squadron Association (to the right of Eric Baker): Slim Moore (sunglasses; former Engine Fitter), Tom Russell (cap; former Kittyhawk pilot), Arthur Pardey (former Mustang pilot), Vicki Crighton (3SQN Association Secretary) and Wing Commander Terry van Haren, current Commanding Officer of 3SQN, flying FA/18s at Williamtown.

 


Les brings up the Memorial Wreath.  Of the 292 who originally marched out, less than 20 remain throughout Australia today.  Seven of the young men were killed in their initial deployment with 3 Squadron in North Africa, and several others died overseas during the war after transferring to other squadrons in the Middle East, Europe, or the Pacific.  (The combat-experienced men from 3 Squadron formed the nucleus of many new squadrons in the rapidly-expanding Air Force.)

 


Association President Tom Russell recited "The Ode"

 


The solid old gate features Art Deco brickwork, and now also bears a plaque remembering "The Originals".

 


Two of the sons of Wing Commander van Haren helped with the banner. 
(Their proud father smiles on - in uniform at back.)

 


The RAAF provided two serving members for the Honour Guard at the gate.  The female corporal even sported the appropriate .303 rifle of the period!

 


The Orontes departs, 1940.

For a full listing of the names of "The Originals" please see our more recent 75th Anniversary page.

Click here for another page of large-format  "Official Photos" of the commemoration, from the RAAF Photographer

3 Squadron EVENTS

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