Several years ago I was fortunate enough to get hold of a couple of badges that an Australian soldier brought back on a ‘badge belt’ which he had put together whilst serving in the Western Desert campaign during World War 2. The two badges are a South African Air Force cap badge and a rare sand-cast ‘Winged Boot’ badge, which I believe is related to the SAAF badge.
The ‘Winged Boot’ award was an official award, presented by the Late Arrivals Club which originated amongst members of the South African Air Force members of the RAF Western Desert Group in June 1941. The award was presented to servicemen whose aircraft had crashed or been shot down behind enemy lines and had to walk back to the Allied forces. The badge was sand cast and included varying amounts of silver content. This particular badge appears to me, to be mainly brass, but it’s provenance makes it undoubtedly original.
The award badge was presented along with a certificate, which contained the motto, “It is never too late to come back” was to be worn on the pleat of the left pocket, just below the flap. Whilst predominantly a commonwealth award, it was also adopted by some US servicemen (utilising a bullion variation of the design), primarily in the European and CBI theatres.
There is also a short news clip about the Late Arrivals Club showing both the badge and certificate which can also be seen on the Pathe News site.
Note: Click on the smaller images to enlarge and read caption information.
WW1 Australian Flying Corps (AFC) brevet and medal ribbons. Whilst this example is original, the wing featured on the tunic worn by the pilot mannequin at the Sopwith Camel is one of the cheap reproductions that are made by Lukus Productions and sold for $10 in the museum shop. Photo: Julian Tennant
A very unusual A.F.C. insignia in the First World War section. Photo: Julian Tennant
Royal Flying Corps bullion Observer’s brevet. This pattern was also worn by Observers of the Australian Flying Corps up until the uniquely Australian Observer’s brevet was introduced. Photo: Julian Tennant
A piece of fabric from Baron Manfred Von Richtofen’s aircraft, souvenired by 2274 Sergeant J.H. Gratwick of the 44th Battalion AIF on Sunday 21 April 1918. Photo: Julian Tennant
Tunic of ‘Jimmy’ Woods, a Western Australian who flew with the Royal Flying Corps in Egypt in 1918. Photo: Julian Tennant
Air Woman’s cap of the type worn by the Women’s Royal Air Force in 1918. Photo: Julian Tennant
Uniform of Digby Bull, a QANTAS Empire Airways, a PBY-5A Catalina Flight Engineer. Photo: Julian Tennant
Original 1927 period insignia worn by pilots of MacRobertson Miller Airlines (MMA), a civil aviation company established in 1927 and flying until 1993. Photo: Julian Tennant
PBY-5A Catalina. Photo: Julian Tennant
Airport control tower display in the South Wing of the RAAFA Aviation Heritage Museum of WA. Photo: Julian Tennant
MacRobertson Miller Airlines (MMA) display at the RAAFA Aviation Heritage Museum of WA. Photo: Julian Tennant
The North Wing is home to the larger aircraft in the collection and has a greater emphasis on the Royal Australian Air Force and its operations during peace and war. This is very much an ‘old-school’ type museum with an emphasis on artifacts rather than interactive displays or gimmicks to keep the kids entertained. Naturally there is a greater focus on Western Australia’s role and the Second World War does have a much greater emphasis than subsequent conflicts, with Vietnam and more recent conflicts almost entirely absent.
Lancaster bomber and Bomber Command squadron patches. Photo: Julian Tennant
Bomber Command display. Photo: Julian Tennant
Detail of the Avro Lancaster Mk VII which is the centre-piece the North Wing. Photo: Julian Tennant
Pilot wings, ribbons and Pathfinder badge on the tunic of Robert Newbiggin who joined the RAAF in 1942 after serving in the Militia. From 1944 – 45 he flew heavy bombers in Europe with 195 and 35 Squadrons RAF, the latter being part of No. 8 Group (Pathfinder Force). Photo: Julian Tennant
Uniform of Air Chief Marshal Sir Basil Embry G.C.B., K.B.E., D.S.O. and 3 bars, D.F.C., A.F.C., R.A.F. Danish Order of Dannebrog, Commander 1st Class Dutch Order of Orang Nassau, Grand Officer French Croix d Guerre, Legion d’honneure, Croix de Commandeur. Photo: Julian Tennant
WW2 period RAAF Nursing Service sister. Photo: Julian Tennant
WW2 period Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF) officers hat. Photo: Julian Tennant
RAAF Observer officer’s tunic, sam-browne belt and helmet. Photo: Julian Tennant
RAAF trainee pilot of No. 4 Service Training School, Geraldton WA during WW2. Photo: Julian Tennant
RAF Spitfire pilot’s helmet from the Battle of Britain. Photo: Julian Tennant
Aircraft Spotter playing cards from WW2 which were first issued in 1943. Photo: Julian Tennant
Souvenir belt with various insignia brought back from the North African campaign. Photo: Julian Tennant
The layout of the museum may also appear somewhat random, rather than following a cohesive timeline and this may have been dictated due to space considerations. I suspect that it may also be due to the nature of the museum and what it represents in terms of preserving the history of aviation in WA, rather than trying to explain a linear sequence of conflicts or historical events. Many of the items have been donated by members or their families and it is nice to see some of the more unusual (and sometimes banal) objects on display rather than being hidden from public view in a storage facility somewhere. This more than makes up for the somewhat cluttered and disorganised feel of the museum in my opinion.
Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation CA-16 Wirraway Mk. III and other aircraft on display in the North Wing of the RAAFA Aviation Heritage Museum of WA. Photo: Julian Tennant
Air Force Survival Kit carried by air crew in the Burma Campaign. Photo: Julian Tennant
As can be expected, the ‘draw-card’ exhibits for most visitors would be the aircraft on display, however as an insignia collector, it is the uniforms and badges that attracted me. The Aviation Heritage Museum does not disappoint in this aspect. It displays some rare and unusual insignia, including what appears to be an Australian Flying Corps patch (see images above), the likes of which I had never seen before, despite having the AFC as one of my primary areas of collecting interest. It also shows some of the older Squadron patches and some more recent items from the more obscure RAAF support units.
My one criticism re the insignia is that some of the displays include obvious (to the knowledgeable collector) fakes such as the AFC wing which is featured on the pilot by the Sopwith Camel in the South Wing. The brevet is one of the copies sold by Lukus Productions and is even available in the museum shop and yet there is no information stating that the uniform being displayed is not authentic in all respects. There were also others that I was not convinced were genuine, but were not marked as being replicas. This is not a good practice IMO as it does potentially undermine confidence in the descriptor didactic panels for other displays as well. However, I only noticed this in a few displays and overall was very impressed by what I uncovered as I made my way through the museum.
76 Squadron sports uniform patch, circa 1944. Photo: Julian Tennant
76 Squadron sports uniform patch and PT singlet, circa 1944. Photo: Julian Tennant
Vietnam War period Douglas AC-47D “Spooky” gunship crew patch. Photo: Julian Tennant
Vietnam War period Douglas AC-47D “Spooky” gunship crew patch. Photo: Julian Tennant
Patch and model aircraft representing the Royal Australian Navy’s 817 Squadron. The construction of this patch leads me to believe that it is probably Japanese made and dates from the 1950’s or 60’s. Photo: Julian Tennant.
Model aircraft and patch of 77 Squadron RAAF. Photo: Julian Tennant
General Dynamics F-111 “Aardvark” Cockpit Simulator. Photo: Julian Tennant
Link Trainer Type 03. . Developed in the USA by Edwin C. Link to fill the need to train pilots safely (on the ground) in the skills of flying an aircraft blind, in cloud or at night using only instruments on the control panel. The instructor sat at the desk, communicating with the pilot by microphone and headphones whilst conducting various training exercises. Photo: Julian Tennant
RAAF Aermacchi MB326H Macchi training aircraft and pilot. Photo: Julian Tennant
Patch detail of the RAAF fire fighting and aviation rescue teams. Photo: Julian Tennant
Patch detail from a baseball cap used by the RAAF Airfield Construction Squadron. Photo: Julian Tennant
1960’s era RAAF Medical Operational Support Unit patch. Photo: Julian Tennant
Selection of metal dies from the insignia manufacturer Sheridans, Perth that were used to make various aviation badges. Photo: Julian Tennant
Selection of metal dies from the insignia manufacturer Sheridans, Perth that were used to make various aviation badges. Photo: Julian Tennant
In addition to the two display hangars the museum also has a separate library, photo archive, model aeroplane club room and of course a gift shop which features a good selection of aviation related books, including some out of print, second-hand publications, models and other related memorabilia.
The museum is easily accessible by car, or if using public transport by train with Bull Creek train station located approximately 500m away. It is open every day, except Good Friday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day from 10:00 until 16:00 and along with theArmy Museum of Western Australia, should definitely be one of the museums you see when visiting Perth.
The Aviation Heritage Museum Air Force Memorial Estate 2 Bull Creek Drive, Bull Creek WA 6149 Australia
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Situated approximately 30km west of Melbourne at Point Cook, the RAAF Museum was established in 1952 as a repository for the preservation of aircraft, documents and memorabilia associated with the AFC and RAAF. The location is apt as Point Cook is also the birthplace of both the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) and its successor, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). In 1972 the museum opened to the public and the collection has subsequently grown to over 100,000 items. I first visited the museum back in 1981 and have returned several times to see it evolve and grow. Smaller items such as heraldry and ephemera are changed reasonably regularly and some of the things I saw on my previous trip were no longer on display, so for this week’s post I have again included a lot of pictures. Note that as with all my weekly posts, when the pictures are laid out as a mosaic pattern, you can click on them to see a larger view with the caption.
My last visit to the museum had been back in 2014 when I spent some time in the Research Centre trawling through the records relating to the insignia worn by the Australian Flying Corps as part of my research and contribution to Bob Pandis’ book Flight Badges of the Allied Nations 1914-1918, Volume II, but I have been wanting to visit again and reacquaint myself with the exhibits. The opportunity presented itself this past week when I made a trip to Melbourne to visit my ageing parents and I am glad that I was able take a few hours out of my schedule to take another look.
The museum consists of several parts including external displays of aircraft and a Bristol Bloodhound missile launcher. However, most of the aircraft are housed in the various hangar displays which are divided into different sections across the complex. These are descriptively named the Technology Hangar, Training Hangar, Aircraft Display Hangar 180, Strike Reconnaissance Hangar 178 and the Restoration Hangar 187 where one can watch the conservators restore various aircraft including a de Havilland Mosquito (A52-600).
The aircraft collection is no doubt fascinating for the plane buffs, but as an insignia collector for me the really interesting stuff is housed in the Heritage Galleries which are situated in the main building. These galleries feature objects tracing a chronological the history of the AFC and RAAF from its birth as the Central Flying School on the 7th of March 1913 up until the present day. My main aviator collecting interest is focused on wings of the Australian Flying Corps up until the formation of the RAAF in March 1921 and the museum has some incredibly rare pieces on display including the very first set of wings (known as the AMF Pilots Badge) awarded.
NSW Aviation School Insignia. This badge shows the New South Wales Government aviation school which operated from an airfield at Ham Common, near Windsor, NSW during WW1. In 1925 RAAF Base Richmond was established at the same site and remains operational to the present day. Photo: Julian Tennant
Australian Flying Corps shoulder title and colour patch. The small ‘A’ on the patch indicates that the owner had participated in the Gallipoli campaign. Photo: Julian Tennant
Uniform detail showing the Australian Flying Corps colour patch and ‘Australia’ title on the uniform of Private Arthur Goodes of No 1 Sqn AFC. Photo: Julian Tennant
Australian Flying Corps pilots wings and unit colour patch on the tunic of Captain Roby Manuel DFC. Born at Kerang in Victoria in 1895, Roby Manuel enlisted at the age of 20 and served with the 43rd Battalion AIF in 1916 before transferring to the AFC. Manuel flew a SE5a fighter with No 2 Squadron AFC and shot down twelve German aircraft during his service. Photo: Julian Tennant
Wing and ribbon detail from the tropical dress tunic worn by Wing Commander Stanley Goble during his round Australia flight in 1924. Note that the uniform still features the Royal Air Force (RAF) wings. Photo: Julian Tennant
The First World War gallery also includes items such as the maternity jacket with RFC wings worn by Captain Douglas Rutherford (1 Sqn AFC) who was rescued by Lieutenant Frank McNamara V.C. after being shot down behind enemy lines in Palestine in 1917. It was this rescue that resulted in McNamara being awarded the Victoria Cross, the first for an Australian aviator.
WW1 trench warfare diorama detail from ‘Spotting for the guns’. The diorama depicts an Australian forward artillery observation post communicating with an RE8 aircraft of No 3 Sqn AFC (not visible in the photo) to determine enemy positions for artillery bombardment.Photo: Julian Tennant
Royal Australian Air Force Busby used by Air Marshal Sir Richard Williams, Chief of the Air Staff, on ceremonial uniforms for State and Royal occasions during the 1920’s and 30’s. An unpopular form of head-dress, the Busby ceased to be worn by the time of the outbreak of WW2. Photo: Julian Tennant
Maxim MG 08 ‘Spandau’ machine gun captured by Australian forces during WW1 and one of two that were located at the head of the parade ground at Point Cook until the 1960’s. Photo: Julian Tennant
In addition to exhibits relating to Australia’s air power contributions in the world wars, post war conflicts including Korea, Malaya, Borneo, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq plus the various Peacekeeping deployments and Civil Aid Operations, the galleries also feature exhibits about specific branches such as Chaplains, the RAAF Medical Service and Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (later Women’s Royal Australian Air Force). There are also displays that cover aspects such as basic training, life at postings such as the RAAF Base Butterworth in Malaysia and the RAAF Marine Section.
Australian Light Aircraft Pty Ltd (Dominion parachute) ‘Roo Club’ and IRVIN Air Chute Company ‘Caterpillar Club’ pins awarded to Allied aircrew who bailed out using the respective company’s parachutes. Photo: Julian Tennant
‘Caterpillar Club membership card belonging to Warrant Officer David Milne who was taken prisoner after bailing out in Germany. Membership of the ‘Caterpillar Club’ is achieved by people who have saved their lives using parachutes manufactured by the IRVIN company. In addition to the membership card each individual is also presented with a gold pin of a caterpillar with ruby eyes, with their name engraved on the rear. The caterpillar being symbolic of the silk used in the manufacture of early parachutes. Photo: Julian Tennant
World War 2 war in the Pacific display in the Heritage gallery. Photo: Julian Tennant
Japanese life preserver and control wheel from a Mitsubishi Ki-21 heavy bomber. The life-preserver vest was worn by Japanese pilot Hajime Toyoshima who flew a Mistubishi Zero fighter during the first raid on Darwin on 19 February 1942. Toyoshima became the first prisoner of war taken in Australia during WW2 after his aircraft made a forced landing on Melville Island. He later became one of the leaders of the breakout from Cowra POW camp in NSW and committed suicide following recapture in August 1944. Photo: Julian Tennant
Painted steel helmet belonging to Jack Toliday who served in Northern Australia and the South West Pacific area of operations between July 1941 and June 1946. Photo: Julian Tennant
Nose-Art panel from Wellington bomber ‘Y Yorker’ which flew at least 53 operations over Europe as part of No 466 Squadron (Bomber Command) during WW2. Photo: Julian Tennant
RAAF P-40 Kittyhawk pilot in the South-West Pacific theatre of operations during 1943-44. Photo: Julian Tennant
Distinctive Slouch Hat worn by a RAAF Meteor pilot of No. 77 Squadron in Korea. The hat bears the signatures of many of the squadron’s pilots. Photo: Julian Tennant
Propaganda leaflet directed at North Korean soldiers and dropped over enemy positions during the Korean War. Photo: Julian Tennant
Membership card and patch for Junior Staff Club of the Long Range Weapons Project based at Woomera, South Australia. Photo: Julian Tennant
Model of the Mk II Air Sea Rescue boat used by the RAAF Marine Section. These watercraft were built in 1953 and still used in the late 1970’s. Photo: Julian Tennant
Vietnam period Australian Special Air Service Regiment beret, featuring the distinctive beige headband of that period and AN/PRC-9 FM backpack radio set. Photo: Julian Tennant
Medals, log book and No 9 Sqn patch belonging to Corporal William O’Rourke who completed over 4000 combat missions as an assistant crewman and demonstrated a high degree of skill with the M60 machine gun, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM) in March 1969. Photo: Julian Tennant
Patch worn by Caribou aircrews of No 38 Squadron while on operations in Vietnam. Photo: Julian Tennant
Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East Area of Operations display in the Heritage gallery. Photo: Julian Tennant
RAAF ground crewman wearing the distinctive Australian Desert Pattern Disruptive Uniform (DPDU) in the Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East Area of Operations display. Note the selection of sub-unit patches in the background. Unfortunately my iphone could not capture usable quality images of the insignia. Photo: Julian Tennant
Patches made as souvenirs for different RAAF pilot graduation classes. Photo: Julian Tennant
Militia Cap: East Timor. This cap belonged to one of the organised local groups opposed to East Timorese independence. These militias conducted a campaign of violent resistance before and after the ballot on August 30, 1999. Photo: Julian Tennant
CT4A Airtrainer in the Training Hangar. Photo: Julian Tennant
Training Hangar display area. Photo: Julian Tennant
Aermacchi MB 326H (A7-001) on display in the Training Hangar. A Maurice Farman Shorthorn used to train pilots during WW1 can be seen in the back left. Photo: Julian Tennant
Avro 643 MkII Cadet (A6-34) in the foreground, with CAC CA-12 Boomerang (A46-30), de Havilland DH-84 Dragon (A34-92), CAC CA26 Avon Sabre (A94-101) and Hawker Demon (A1-8) on display in the Display Hangar 180. Photo: Julian Tennant
Restoration Hangar 187. The fuselage of a de Havilland Mosquito (A52-600) can be seen in the right foreground and (I think) that’s a DH60 Gypsy Moth behind it. Photo: Julian Tennant
A Flying F-111garoo. Model of a combined F-111C and Kangaroo made by Major Jim Potts of the USAF who worked on the F-111 Program Office in Ohio, USA and presented to Colonel Bradley Heterick (USAF) when Heterick completed his posting as Manager for the RAAF F-111C acquisitions at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. Photo: Julian Tennant
General Dynamics F-111G (A8-272) on display in the Strike/Recce Hangar 178. Photo: Julian Tennant
Avions Marcel Dassault presentation pin given to RAAF test pilot Derek’ Jell’ Cuming in recognition of his first flight at the speed of Mach 2 on 3 June 1960. Derek Cuming was a renowned test pilot and the first to fly a jet aircraft, a Gloster Meteor, in Australia. He achieved the rank of Air Commodore in 1968. Photo: Julian Tennant
There is also a small gift shop which includes books, souvenir items and a comprehensive selection of Squadron patches for purchase. As far as I am aware, these are the same patches that are used by the squadrons, originating from the same manufacturer, the only difference being the lack of Velcro backing. In addition the shop sells some REPRO aviator brevets and collectors should not confuse those with the issue wings.
Every-time I visit this museum I find something new to look at and this visit was no exception as there were pieces on display including some items from recent deployments to the Middle East which had not yet been displayed during my previous trip. There were also some things such as the rare Roo and Caterpillar Club pins that resonated with my parachuting/special forces collecting interests. For a visitor to Melbourne it can be a bit difficult to get to as it is located on the RAAF base about 25 minutes’ drive from Melbourne although there is also a bus service, the Werribee Park Shuttle, which stops at the RAAF Museum on flying days (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays). However, despite its location, the RAAF Museum should be on the agenda for anybody visiting Melbourne with an interest in aviation or military history.
RAAF Base Point Cook
Point Cook Road
The Museum is closed on Mondays (except public holidays), Good Friday, and Christmas Day.
Admission to the RAAF Museum is free, however, donations are gratefully accepted.
Note that as the museum is located within the grounds of the RAAF Base, all visitors over the age of 16 will need to bring photo identification to enter the Base.
Note that this site has NEW content posted every Sunday! If you like what you see here, please follow this page via email or by using either the buttons below or in the column on the right. Knowing that somebody is looking at this gives me the encouragement I need to go through my archives and collection to develop the content for the page. And of course, feel free to contact me here, via email or by visiting my Facebook or Instagram pages