"What's New" 2011 Archive...
Two new tributes have been added to our "Lifetimes" section. Murray Knox and Arthur Collier were both Kittyhawk pilots who flew in Tunisia, Malta, Sicily and Italy. Both articles include interesting illustrations and Arthur's has the exciting story of how he evaded capture in Italy.
Our Books page has been updated with details of Michael Molkentin's fascinating new history of the Australian Flying Corps in WW1:
"Fire in the Sky".
The spectacular September airshow at Williamtown to celebrate the 95th Anniversary of the formation of 2, 3 and 4 Squadrons (the original Australian Flying Corps Squadrons that served on the Western Front in France) is also illustrated on our Past Events page.
Newly-entered in our "Lifetimes" section, an article on Bob Jones, Tomahawk pilot, Prisoner of War, and successful escaper.
Added an extract from the flying log-book of "Bluey" Beales, one of the Squadron's Mustang pilots in northern Italy at the end of WW2.
Our collection of World War One stories continues to grow:
Latest is a real ripping yarn from "behind the machinegun" - From ANZAC to AFC.
Also our poignant new article: Letters from the Western Front.
Some interesting colour illustrations have been added to our Butterworth Airbase article.
Our information on 3 Squadron's Commanding Officers, Landing Grounds and Historical Dates has now all been tabulated onto a useful single page.
There are many fascinating snippets to be enjoyed on this new page and readers are encouraged to please send in any additions or corrections.
A new piece of ephemera added to our "Virtual Museum" of Mementos: a 1942 Christmas Greeting signed by Bobby Gibbes,
surprisingly produced to quite nice standards while the break-out from El Alamein was going on...
There's a new addition to our "Aircraft" index: Reminiscences on "Flying the Kittyhawk", by Desert Air Ace "Eddie" Edwards.
Also new illustrations have been added to our WW1 RE8 page.
And a new feature article on the Supermarine Walrus - a genuine life-saver for several 3 Squadron pilots.
New photos have been added to Val St. Leon's interesting "Desert Days" story. Val is a former 3 Squadron WW2 Engine Fitter who
went on to become a senior flight engineer and then a high-ranking jetliner pilot with Qantas.
Another great story: Geoff Chinchen's POW Escape to Switzerland, 1943: "Bricked-in to Break Out".
Our Australian War Memorial Collection page has some excellent new interview transcripts listed:
- A special interview with Air Vice Marshal Henry Wrigley, who flew with 3 Squadron in WW1 and later visited the WW2 No.3 Squadron in North Africa as the most senior RAAF officer in Europe. Amongst his many achievements, Wrigley made the first-ever transcontinental flight across Australia in 1919 and in 1945 he came up with the idea that the Air Force Memorial should be established in the re-built St Clement Danes church in London. (Some interesting illustrations have also been added to this interview.)
- Peter Jeffrey, the much-admired Squadron Leader who set out from Australia with "The Originals" in 1940.
- AVM Brian Eaton, who fought with 3 Squadron in Africa and commanded the Squadron in Sicily and Italy. Brian was later promoted
to lead 239 Wing and (post-war) rose up to the highest levels of the RAAF. (Brian's frank and rather shocking memories
of the Ksar Rhilane battle have also been added to that page.)
- Leon Henry, Airframe Fitter from Libya in 1942 to the end of the war in Italy 1945.
A new poem "Our Fred...85", dedicated to Padre Fred McKay, has been listed on our Poems page. The poem is accompanied by some photos of the Fred and Meg McKay Memorial "Peace Garden" in Alice Springs, plus a picture of Fred from 1937, using a pedal-radio in the outback (where he was one of the important pioneers of the Flying Doctor Service, working under the Rev. Dr. John Flynn).
Another amusing poem from 1941: "Safe and Well".
A new entry in our "Lifetimes" section: Allen Wand - "All the way from Alamein to the Alps."
Another of Steve Mackenzie's excellent illustrated articles has been added to our Aircraft page:
"The Westland Lysander in 3 Sqn RAAF Service"
Steve very competently describes the markings and colour-schemes used by the Squadron in 1940.
Added three new articles to our "Stories" page:
- Bob Ulrich's Dalmatian Dogpaddles, describing his daredevil "ditchings" off the coast of Yugoslavia.
Barry Weymouth's "Flying the RAAF's Avon Sabre"
- And "A Knight Bold and Brave"; explaining how groundcrew member Harry Knight won his British Empire Medal for Bravery.
Some interesting new photos have been added to the war diary of Harold Roberts, (a.k.a. "Hal" or "Robbie" Roberts) a Tomahawk Pilot in the Western Desert in 1941. Hal's diary contains excellent descriptions of Fighter Pilot Training, his journey to the Middle East and his baptism of fire. (And it wasn't necessarily "all work" either. - There is some mention of "drink", a number of beautiful women are left in Harold's wake and we are often reminded of his love of flying.) Hal became a seasoned operational pilot and, towards the end, his diary exhibits typical gritty fighter-pilot banter.
- But little did Hal realise that he had a date with destiny; one of the "Black Days" of 3 Squadron history...
Neil Smith's popular illustrated 3 Squadron History article (in four parts covering the complete timespan since 1916)
has now had its illustrations enhanced, with many new pictures added. Well worth a look.
To bring the story right up-to date, an article about 3 Squadron's recent outstanding participation in the Bersama Padu 2010
exercise in Malaysia is available in the "Defence News" section of our our website "Links" page.
Added our latest rollicking story: 3 Squadron's (Captured!) Italian Air Force
and placed new illustrations on Eric Canning's POW Mass-Escape page.
Sadly, two of our remaining WW2 veterans passed away in the course of the last two weeks of November 2010:
- Les Fitzpatrick ("Big Fitzy") was an Engine Fitter and one of "The Originals" who sailed out from Australia with the Squadron in 1940.
- Alan Clark was a Mustang pilot in Italy, who heard news of the end of WW2 whilst "on the run" in the Yugoslavian hills with the Partisans.
(Alan's popular evasion memoir: "Lousy Long March" has now had several new illustrations added, including a very remarkable
one showing Australia House in London being hit by a V1 flying--bomb in 1944.)
As part of our enhancement of our Stories page (grouping the stories by era and topic) an interesting new history article has been added:
3 Squadron in Malaysia - by FLGOFF Michael Keightley.
Also added new illustrations to Roy Fitzgerald's entertaining Desert Gunner story;
Blackie and Blondie's War - about two of our top aces, Al Rawlinson and Jock Perrin;
and our "Dam Busting" story - one of the Squadron's most spectacular missions from 1944.
Aircraft can be bought down by many things in wartime, but "witch-doctoring" and "a misplaced sense of duty" come strangely together in our new story:
"Peter Turnbull Points the Bone".
Added a very moving poem, written by David McNicoll in Syria in 1941, "Build Me No Monument".
A dramatic illustrated action tale: "Nicky Barr Shot Down" has been added to our Stories page.
"Sentimental Journey" : This new photo-essay follows David Higgins as, with the help of our favourite Italian Aviation Archaeologists, he visits old airfield sites in Italy (Fano and Cervia) that his dad (Ken Higgins) operated from. They also visited the rural village where Ken had to crash-land his Mustang after being hit by flak. (Fortunately, Ken was able to climb out of the wreck, despite being wounded...)
Some outstanding new illustrations have been added to one of our most frequently-read stories, Murray Nash's tale of his chance link with the rescue of Mussolini in 1943 from the "Gran Sasso" mountain-top hotel in central Italy.
We've added a new story: "The Kindness of Strangers", which describes the heart-warming care provided by a simple Italian farmer after Kittyhawk pilot Ray Faria had been shot down and killed in September 1944. We are hoping that this story may attract the attention of someone from the modern-day Faria family, as the Italian farmer is still alive today and if possible would like to send a memento to Ray's nephew Phillip.
The 3 Squadron Family Day, celebrating the Squadron's 94th Birthday and held on the practice day preceding the Williamtown Air-Show, was a great success. Some interesting photos have been added to our "Past Events" page.
1944 Operations over Central Italy and the Adriatic are summarised in Bruce Birchfield's Cutella Diary, just added to our "Stories" page. (Cutella was the base from which 3 Squadron operated for the longest period of all of its WW2 Landing Grounds. Interestingly, Cutella is not an original Italian place-name, it's a Queensland aboriginal word meaning "Eagle" and was adopted by 239 Wing when this metal-plate strip was set up in the sand-dunes beside the Adriatic.)
Also see Giuseppe Marini's photo-set: "Cutella Today" - depicting the beautiful and now-peaceful seaside location of this busy wartime airfield.
Bobby Gibbes' moving article: "There's No Glamour in Air Warfare", has had a portrait photo added.
This page includes an interesting image of one of Bobby's original Air Combat Reports.
A great new article by Peter Larard is available, covering the relatively-unknown "Indonesian Confrontation", which required much effort from 3 Squadron's Sabre crews in the mid-1960s, and for which a Battle Honour has only recently (rather belatedly!) been awarded to the Squadron.
Fred Eggleston was a 3 Squadron Tomahawk pilot who was captured in Africa in 1941. He later escaped from Italy across the Alps into Switzerland. We've recently added several beautiful new illustrations of the alpine passes that Fred and his party crossed (with the assistance of many brave Italian civilians):
"Fred Eggleston's Amazing Escapades".
Click Here to see our Archived 2010 "What's New" Entries