The New South Wales State Aviation School was a civilian organisation whose existence is directly linked to the story of the Australian Flying Corps during the First World War.
The insignia related to Australian aviators of the First World War are one of my areas of collecting interest. Whilst most of these are associated with the Australian Flying Corps (AFC), there are also some lesser known badges which are closely linked to the Australia’s early military aviators. The New South Wales State Aviation School was a civilian organisation whose existence is directly linked to the story of the AFC. The school wore military styled uniforms and distinctive insignia on their caps and jacket sleeve. Very few surviving examples are known to exist and I am still searching for examples for my own collection. If anybody can help, please contact me.
The New South Wales State Aviation School opened on 28 August 1916 as a supplement to the Australian Flying Corps Central Flying School (CFS) at Point Cook in Victoria. The school was located at Ham Common, now site of the Richmond RAAF Base. The Premier of New South Wales, William A. Holman was a keen proponent of military aviation, so he put New South Wales State finances behind the development of the school, financing the procurement of two American Curtiss training aircraft, with two additional Curtiss JN-B4 aircraft acquired in 1917. Whilst the aim was to train pilots for the AFC, it was foreshadowed that after the war the school would continue to train pilots for civil aviation purposes.
Captain William ‘Billy’ John Stutt (1891-1920), the NSW State Aviation School’s chief instructor, sitting on one of the two American Curtiss trainers. Captain William ‘Billy’ John Stutt (1891-1920) was the Richmond flying school’s chief instructor. Born in Hawthorn, Victoria, he was an engineer by trade. After completing his flying training at the Bristol School, Salisbury Plain, England, Stutt became a distinguished pilot, flying across the English Channel 40 times as the first King’s Messenger, and was appointed Chief Test Pilot at the Royal Aircraft Factory at Farnborough in 1915. He was released from military duties in London to take up the position of Chief Pilot at the NSW flying school in 1916. He was an inspirational leader, greatly admired for his flying skills and rapport with his students. Stutt was also a tireless promoter of aviation, flying many daring demonstrations for dignitaries, the press and the public. He used one of the flying school’s Curtiss Jenny JN-4B aircraft to fly from Sydney to Melbourne in November 1917, despite becoming lost in fog and other misadventures, to promote flying as a ‘post-war transport prospect’. The return trip on 12th November 1917 was the first one-day flight between capital cities in Australia. In July 1919 he left the School to take up the position of Officer-in-charge, Aeroplane Repair Section, at the Central Flying School at Point Cook, Victoria. Stutt’s death was officially recorded as the 23rd of September 1920, when he was tragically lost at sea with Abner Dalziell after their plane disappeared during Australia’s first air-sea rescue flight, searching for the missing schooner, ‘Amelia J’, in Bass Strait. Source: Collection of photographs of WWI NSW State Aviation School, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences.
The NSW State Aviation School July 21, 1916, just before officially opening. Timber for the western annexe of the hangar still lies stacked on the ground, as the first Curtis ‘Jenny’ trainer aircraft is checked out by Chief Instructor Billy Stutt (nearest camera) and the workers who had assembled and rigged the airframe. Hurried patches in the aerodrome surface indicate the pace of preparations towards the official opening of the School on August 28, 1916. Picture: http://www.3squadron.org.au. Charter Family Collection
First student intake for the New South Wales State Aviation School, 28 August 1916. Back row, left to right: Nigel Love, who flew 200 hours over the front with 3 Sqn AFC; Garnsey Potts [briefly in 3AFC, invalided out due to sickness, thereafter instructing in England]; William L. King [joined 3AFC but crashed on a ferry flight with serious injuries, invalided to Australia]; Irving Sutherland [Royal Naval Air Service 10SQN, wounded in action]; Alan Weaver [joined 4AFC but soon seriously injured in a training accident]. Chief Instructor Billy Stutt (in centre, without cap); Augustus Woodward-Gregory [flew with 52SQN RAF, wounded in action, French Croix de Guerre]; John Weingarth [flew 151 missions over the lines in 4AFC Sopwith Camels, then instructing duties in England- died on a post-war training flight, 4 Feb 1919]; Jack Faviell [training and administration duties in England]; Edgar Coleman [joined RNAS, but dogged by illness and did not fly in combat]; Robert L. Clark [two months’ combat with 2AFC, injured in an SE5A landing accident, thence instructing in England; died in WW2 as a civilian internee of the Japanese, when the Japanese POW ship Montevideo Maru was torpedoed by submarine USS Sturgeon on 1 July 1942]; Leslie Sampson [4AFC but suffered several accidents flying Camels and was grounded]; Roy Smallwood [combat with 4AFC for four months, shot down by German anti-aircraft fire, but survived]; Leonard Webber [left Richmond course but later saw action in Belgium]; and Charles Dagg [RNAS seaplane pilot, awarded Air Force Cross after he survived a wreck in the Mediterranean, died in WW2 serving in the RAF.] Front Row, left to right: Norman Clark [served with 3AFC for 9 months, pilot and Signals Officer, thence instructor in England, promoted to Captain and Flight Commander]; Cecil R. Burton [4AFC for two months, but invalided to England with illness]; Vernon Burgess [9SQN RFC and Flight Commander with 7SQN RFC on RE8s, shot down and wounded after six months in action, thence instruction duties]; Michael Cleary [served with 62SQN RFC, killed in action flying a Bristol Fighter, 28 March 1918 near Villers-Bretonneux, France]; Hector K. Tiddy [killed on a practice flight in France, 1917, 7SQN RFC]; and D. Reginald Williams [retained as an instructor at Richmond, then joined the AFC in England, but only employed ferrying new aircraft to France, due to medical restrictions.] Photo courtesy: The Nigel Love Photo Collection
Twenty-five students were chosen from 230 applicants for the Flying School’s first course. Applicants had to be 18 to 30 years of age and in good health. Preference was given to commissioned officers, engineers, mechanics or other specified trades. All students trained at their own risk and no compensation was offered on account of death or injury. Instruction included lectures and practical training over 12 weeks followed by an examination. Workshop training, to familiarise students with the construction and operation of aircraft and engines, was required for at least 160 hours while only four hours of flying time were required, of which not less than two were to be ‘in complete charge of the aeroplane‘. The applicant also had to pass the test for the Royal Aero Club Certificate. If unsuccessful, an applicant could qualify as an Aircraft Mechanic, provided he demonstrated ‘the necessary mechanical ability and sufficient merit‘.
Of the initial course, 19 trainees qualified despite delays due to bad weather. Students were housed and taught in purpose-built accommodation on site and referred to themselves as BPs, probably from the term Basic Pilot Training. A total of six training courses were conducted by the flying school with the last completed just before the announcement of the Armistice in 1918. The rationale for the school had always been driven by politics rather than demonstrated need and this did cause some friction with the military. Graduates were deemed as being inexperienced in military flying and tactical skills and as a civilian training school, pilots did not automatically gain commissions in the Australian Flying Corps, but had to submit for further examination by the Central Flying School in Victoria.
NSW State Aviation School Curtiss Jenny JN4 training aircraft after a crash whilst being flown by K.A. Hendy. November 1918. Source: Collection of photographs of WWI NSW State Aviation School, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences.
One of the NSW State Aviation School’s “Jennies” returns to the base during WW1, after a crash-landing. Photo courtesy: 3 Squadron RAAF Association http://www.3squadron.org.au
Richmond, NSW. 1917. Probably Australian Flying Corps (AFC) trainees and instructors of the NSW Aviation School in front of a Curtiss Jenny (JN) aircraft at Ham Common near Richmond. Back row, left to right: S. C. Francis; Alfred C. (Alf) Le Grice; David Reginald (Reg) Williams; William John (Billy) Stutt; Richard Henry Chester; F. C. Collins; L. C. Royle. Middle row: J. H. Summers; Derek Hudson; Brian Lucy; Burton B. Sampson; Walter Roy Boulton; M. A. Watts. Front row: H. G. Murray; Lewis Audet; Gordon Vincent Oxenham (later posted to 1 Squadraon AFC and shot down and killed in Palestine on 27 June 1918. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Jerusalem Memorial, Israel: W A. McDougall. AWM Accession Number: P00731.005
Only a handful of qualifying pilots secured commissions with the AFC leading to considerable frustration. Their services were offered by the Prime Minister to the Royal Flying Corps and some embarked for England to serve either as cadet pilots or mechanics. There was uncertainty as to how long the war would last and their training was also seen to be inadequate by the War Office for the same reasons as those of the Australian military. By the fourth intake a group of students were making their dissatisfaction over their future known. There was also wrangling about allowances and having to fund their own travel to the UK or Egypt to enlist.
Nevertheless, Premier Holman persisted, and two further courses were run prior to the war’s end. The sixth course started in August 1918 and by Armistice in November, a total of 71 pilots had graduated with 20 joining the AFC and 40 going to the RFC (and, after April 1918, the Royal Air Force). Seven graduates lost their lives during the war, 3 in the AFC and 2 in the RFC and 2 in the RAF.
After the war, effort was made to convert the school to a civilian flying school, but the costs associated were becoming prohibitive and the NSW Government eventually asked the Commonwealth Government to take control. In 1923 the Commonwealth purchased the site and in 1925 became RAAF Base Richmond, home to No 3 Squadron.
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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.
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On the 20th of March 1917, Lt. Frank H McNamara became the first Australian aviator to be awarded the Victoria Cross after landing his aircraft behind enemy lines to rescue a downed comrade, whilst serving with No. 1 Squadron Australian Flying Corps in Palestine. The citation for the Victoria Cross reads,
“most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty during an aerial bomb attack upon a hostile construction train, when one of our pilots was forced to land behind the enemy’s lines. Lieutenant McNamara, observing the pilots predicament and the fact that hostile cavalry were approaching, descended to his rescue. He did this under heavy rifle fire and in spite of the fact that he himself had been severely wounded in the thigh. He landed about 200 yards from the damaged machine, the pilot of which climbed on to Lieutenant McNamara’s machine, and an attempt was made to rise. Owing, however, to his disabled leg, Lieutenant McNamara was unable to keep his machine straight, and it turned over. The two officers, having extricated themselves, immediately set fire to the machine and made their way across to the damaged machine, which they succeeded in starting. Finally, Lieutenant McNamara, although weak from loss of blood. flew this machine back to the aerodrome, a distance of seventy miles, and thus completed his comrade’s rescue.”
Frank Hubert McNamara was born at Rushworth, Victoria, on 4 April 1894. After completing secondary schooling in Shepparton, he studied teaching at the Teachers Training College and the University of Melbourne and went on to teach at a number of Victorian Schools where he joined the senior cadet units. In 1912 he transferred to the Brighton Rifles and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in July 1913. After the outbreak of the First World War he served at Queenscliff and then Point Nepean before attending the Officers Training School at Broadmeadows, then between February and May 1915, instructed at the AIF Training Depot at Broadmeadows.
In August 1915 McNamara was selected to attend the Point Cook Flying School, graduating as a pilot in October that year. In January 1916 he was posted as an adjutant to No. 1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps and sailed for Egypt. In May 1916 he was seconded to No. 42 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps to attend the Central Flying School at Upavon, England. Following this he was attached as an instructor to No. 22 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps in Egypt before returning to duty with No. 1 Squadron.
On 20 March 1917 McNamara, flying on a bombing mission in Gaza, saw a fellow squadron member, Captain D. W. Rutherford, shot down. Although having just suffered a serious leg wound, McNamara landed near the stricken Rutherford who climbed aboard, but his wound prevented McNamara from taking off and the aircraft crashed. The two men returned to Rutherford’s plane, which they succeeded in starting and, with McNamara at the controls, they took off just as enemy cavalry arrived. For this action McNamara was awarded the Victoria Cross.
Portrait, maternity jacket and items belonging to Douglas Wallace Rutherford, No. 1 Sqn AFC, who was rescued by Frank McNamara in the action for which he was awarded the VC. These items all comprise part of the collection held at the RAAF Museum at Point Cook in Victoria. Note that despite being an AFC pilot, Wallace’s jacket features the pilot wings of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), whilst the portrait shows him with the Observers brevet for which he originally qualified. Douglas Wallace Rutherford was born in Rockhampton, Queensland on 29 September 1890. He joined 5 Light Horse Regiment on 7 December 1914 and departed Australia later that month with the second contingent destined for Gallipoli. He went into action in May 1915 and was wounded on 28 June. After receiving medical attention in Alexandria, Egypt and London, UK, he returned to the 5th Light Horse in April 1916 and soon transferred to the Australian Flying Corps, qualifying as an Observer in August 1916. After promotion to Captain in November 1916, Rutherford commenced pilot training with the 5th School of Military Aeronautics at Aboukir, Egypt and by 1917 had returned to No. 1 Squadron AFC as a qualified pilot. Rutherford undertook operations against Turkish forces with No. 1 Squadron until being forced down in the Amman area and was captured by the Turks. He was imprisoned in Constantinople for six months before being returned to Australia in December 1918.
In April 1917McNamara was promoted to captain and appointed Flight Commander, but his wound prevented further flying and he was invalided to Australia in August. His appointment with the AFC ended in January 1918 but he was reappointed in September and became an aviation instructor. In 1921 he transferred to the newly established Royal Australian Air Force as a flight lieutenant and held a number of senior RAAF appointments between the wars, including two years on exchange to the RAF in the mid-1920s.
At the outbreak of the World War Two, McNamara was promoted to air commodore and then an air vice marshal in 1942. From 1942 until 1945 he served as Air Officer Commanding British Forces in Aden before returning to London as the RAAF’s representative at Britain’s Ministry of Defence. In July 1946 he became Director of Education at the headquarters of the British Occupation Administration in Germany. He remained in the UK after retiring and died in London on 2nd November 1961.