"Anzac and Aviator"
- By Michael MOLKENTIN.
As with Molkentin's previous WW1 Aviation History books, this work leaves the reader with a great admiration for Michael's prodigious ability to research primary sources, turn up interesting insights and integrate everything into a compelling narrative.
The release of this book coincides with the 100th Anniversary of the epoch-making "first flight" from England to Australia in Nov-Dec 1919. (Under the pressured circumstances of a highly-challenging "Air- Race", conceived by the Australian Government.) The winning pilot was Ross SMITH. His achievement was so highly-regarded at the time that he received a immediate Knighthood.
However, this book is much more than a straightforward biography of Sir Ross Smith. It successfully weaves together many significant threads of Australian (and indeed Global) History. All of the important individuals and formative influences acting on Ross's remarkable life are described. - It's an inspiring tale of adventure, luck, determination and teamwork.
Ross Smith had a tragically short (but action-packed) 29-year lifespan. He rose to fame on the strength of his military abilities: firstly as a (dismounted) Light Horse Sergeant with lengthy service at Gallipoli; promoted - in the field - to Lieutenant. Then serving with distinction on horseback in the sands of the Sinai desert. And then being selected into 1st Squadron Australian Flying Corps, fighting in the air above Egypt, Palestine and Syria.
Ross began flying as an Observer; converted to Pilot and eventually rose to Flight Leader. (His bravery awards were an exceptional combination of Military Cross with Bar and Distinguished Flying Cross with two Bars.) His prowess as an airman led him to being recruited by senior British officers intending to fly a Handley Page bomber on the first-ever flight through to India. They then conducted a survey of possible landing-grounds for a new air-route to Australia. Ross's outstanding success in these ventures (besides winning him the Air Force Cross) subsequently attracted valuable sponsorship from Vickers Ltd. to fly one of their modern 4-man "Vimy" aircraft in the great 1919 air-race to Australia.
While the book is an engrossing page-turner, peppered with "death-defying" thrills, it is also highly educational. There are many insights into the lives of all the men of the Australian Flying Corps, their machines, and the rapidly-changing age that they lived through.
Ordering Information and a
[The Vickers Vimy aircraft is today preserved in Adelaide.]
"Billy Stutt and the Richmond Flyboys."
- By Neville HAYES.
- 1916 aviation pioneering, mixed explosively with State politics!
This is an enlightening and comprehensive book on the turbulent three-year tenure of the WW1 State Aviation School at Richmond NSW.
While this organisation has largely been forgotten today, it marked the key moment when large amounts of Government funding began to be poured into the site of the future Richmond RAAF Base.
This unique work presents a cornucopia of 25 years' research by author Neville F. Hayes, delving into diverse official sources and the family collections of the various participants.
Click here to see our full review and ordering information.
"Centenary History of Australia and the Great War.
Volume 1: Australia and the War in the Air."
- By Michael MOLKENTIN.
This new book is a triumph! In it, Michael Molkentin builds on the Great War expertise that he developed when writing his well-received 'Fire in the Sky' (see below).
However, 'Australia and the War in the Air' has been written from the completely new angle (as far as the AFC is concerned) of "Operational History". - It makes a very worthy companion to 'Fire', as there is little overlap between the two. Molkentin has researched and catalogued the Who?, What? and Why? of Australia's air-efforts in the Great War. Here (at last!) is the analysis that has been missing ever since the 'official history' was written in the 1920s.
The key decision-makers are named (and, in some cases, shamed). Many individual tales of bravery and sacrifice add colour to the account, but are set systematically against the background of what our nation was really trying to do, and what our actual achievements were. Importantly, the substantial (and in many cases dazzlingly successful) group of Australians who flew for the (British) RFC, RNAS and RAF are given the most complete coverage yet seen.
Whilst the format may initially look dauntingly dense (shoehorned as it is into just one volume in a compact scholarly set), in fact the prose is delightful. The illustrations very well-chosen and the standards of attention-to-detail are very high. It is definitely a page-turner and the sheer bounty of new historical revelation is astonishing. Many dusty old Great War myths have been blown away!
(And the cover features the boys of 3AFC - what's not to like!) Click here for ordering information.
“A True Story of The Great Escape." - by Louise WILLIAMS.
Several 3SQN WW2 Veterans were invited to the launch of this impressive book. (Launched by Mike BAIRD, Premier of NSW.) It draws on both the latest historical research and poignant family papers, striking just the right balance between "big-picture" history and an engrossing personal story. No.450 Squadron flew beside No.3 for more than three years in the famous 239 'Fighter-Bomber' Wing of the Desert Air Force. Both squadrons had several POWs confined in the Luftwaffe camp at Sagan, but only 450 Squadron suffered the sad distinction of having two members murdered by the Gestapo, in the aftermath to the ill-fated Great Escape of March, 1944.
Click here for purchasing details and to read the inspirational and informative speeches delivered at the launch, including the following highlights:
Peter Devitt, Curator, RAF Museum, London: Congratulations to Louise for writing 'A True Story of the Great Escape', which traces the personal odysseys of two fine young Australians:
her uncle, Squadron Leader John Edwin WILLIAMS; and his close friend, Flight Lieutenant Reginald Victor KIERATH. (“Willy” and “Rusty".)
...Her warm, wise, meticulously researched book restores the human dimension of the Escape. She reminds us that the brave young men engaged in the enterprise had lives and loved ones
before they were held at Stalag Luft III, and that the families of "The Fifty" [murdered escapers] had lives to lead afterwards.
GPCAPT Terry van Haren DSM, Officer Commanding 78 Wing, Williamtown NSW: I must congratulate Louise on her fantastic recount of John Williams’ and Rusty’s lives, service and tragic murders. The book is a masterpiece of storytelling, with in-depth research, great insight and a beautifully crafted narration. I will recommend ‘A True Story of the Great Escape’ to all interested in a good read and in our proud military history.
“The Decisive Campaigns of the Desert Air Force 1942-1945.” - by Bryn EVANS.
This book will be of great interest. Released in April 2014, it provides a startlingly fresh perspective - even to regular readers of WW2 military history - combining the “big picture” of military strategy with the thoughts and feelings of the individuals who were there. (Including several men from 3 Squadron!)
- The balance is just right, with a thriller-like pace in many sections, but also with a very welcome focus on the intricate ‘Combined Arms’ nature of key battles in WW2.
All of 3SQN’s really crucial victorious battles are in this book:
● Alamein ● Coming to the rescue at Ksar Rhilane ● Spear-heading the breakthrough against Rommel at Tegaba Gap ● The capture of the huge Axis Army in Tunis ● The Sicily landings ● Knife-edged Salerno landings ● Bloodstained Sangro River ● The heartbreak of Cassino and Anzio ● The formidable Gothic Line ● The Ravenna Breakthrough into Northern Italy.
The Desert Air Force not only contributed decisive Tactical Air Power in North Africa and Italy, but also effectively ‘wrote the book’ on how to do it! The lessons learned by the DAF were later applied around the world. Although this book is published in the UK, Bryn lives in Australia and he is offering signed first-editions of his book at a special discount price to 3SQN readers of $30 (plus Aus. p&p of about $12). Bryn can be contacted on Tel. (0407) 694-968 or Email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Featured extract: The Battle of Termoli, October 1943.
THE ILLUSTRATED AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF NIGEL LOVE - AUSTRALIAN AVIATION PIONEER
This book is a wonderful treat – the fascinating story of one of 3AFC’s dashing RE8 pilots, Nigel LOVE; a man who flew many missions over the Western Front in WW1 and then came back home with big plans to ‘kick-start’ Australia’s home-grown aviation manufacturing industry, no less!
This visually-impressive and generously-sized volume has been painstakingly compiled by Jeff LOVE, Nigel’s son. (Jeff himself was a distinguished Mosquito navigator in WW2.)
- The book will appeal greatly to anyone with an interest in the Australian Flying Corps and the pioneering days of Australian Aviation.
There are many notable aspects to this publication:
● Large-format photographs of the aircraft and men of 3AFC.
(Especially Nigel’s RE8 'B3420', which has been the subject of a recent excellent scale model kit; Nigel's descendants still preserve the original canvas serial-number of this aircraft!)
● Facsimiles of Nigel’s original 1918 logbook.
● Aerial photography - including map-making and “oblique” shots of the Somme trenches.
● Historical and contemporary news articles.
● Photos of Australia’s first aeroplane factory (“AVRO” – suppliers of the first aircraft to Qantas and the first Australian-made aircraft to the RAAF) established by Nigel at Sydney’s Mascot airport – which he also founded!
● Many pictures of 1920s stunting, racing and record-setting.
● And last but not least, an 80-page transcript, in Nigel’s own words, of his fascinating and historic aviation story.
The volume even comes in a distinctive olive-brown binding that closely matches the “PC-10” camouflage colour of the original RE8 canvas!
Extract: Nigel Love Rains Destruction on German Artillery on the Western Front
‘FIGHTER PILOT’ – By Mac ‘Serge’ Tucker.
Subtitled: Mis-Adventures beyond the Sound Barrier, with an Australian Top Gun.
This book is laugh-out-loud hilarious. It’s also extremely rude, irreverent to RAAF discipline (not to mention that of the Australian Defence Forces as a whole) and describes the misuse of Taxpayer-funded equipment in a wide variety of scenarios (up to and including an attempted Moon-shot in an F-18!). - In other words, it’s fantastic! There’s something for everyone interested in what really goes on in the Fighter Squadrons of the modern RAAF! (Except for readers with a low four-letter-word tolerance, that is…) Although of course it’s simply impossible for me to believe that such high-jinx can actually have happened…. There must be a lot of exaggeration….? (That’s right, isn’t it guys???)
Mac Tucker (Callsign 'Serge') also includes many interesting pictures in this autobiography. At first it seems strange that he has blurred-out his own face wherever he appears, but after he’s called the Navy’s ships “gin barges” and the Army’s elite S.A.S. “chicken stranglers” within the first few pages, one realises his need for anonymity!
‘Serge’ has also taken great care to conceal the identity of his fellow pilots, such as the person whose name has been indecipherably encoded as ‘TVH’ in our featured extract….
FIRE IN THE SKY
Author Michael Molkentin gave a very interesting talk at 3 Squadron's 95th Anniversary dinner in Williamtown in September 2011. His excellent book sheds much new light on an exciting period of Australia's history, which deserves to be better-remembered.
"Fire in the Sky" provides us with an accessible, entertaining, and thorough overview of the role of the Australian Flying Corps throughout the First World War. Using an impressive range of contemporary letters, diaries and official reports, Molkentin depicts a great many stirring episodes from this dashing era of individual bravery, but he also reflects on the human tragedy of "The War To End All Wars". Forgotten campaigns such as Australia's first aerial operations in Mesopotamia [modern-day Iraq; nothing changes...] and the Sinai desert are presented from start to finish in their own chapters, allowing the modern reader to easily grasp the whole story.
The later dazzling campaigns in Palestine by 1 Squadron AFC are then related, right through to the end of their war. Several of 1AFC's pilots were later to become famous Australian Aviation pioneers, including Lawrence Wackett, who went on to serve in 3AFC in France, where he designed a brilliant and widely-used invention for parachuting ammunition crates to the attacking infantry. (Over the subsequent half-century, Wackett led the development of large-scale aviation manufacturing in Australia.)
Extract: Australia's First Air Combat - Lawrence Wackett.
The second half of the book is devoted to the Western Front in France, it explains the training experienced by AFC aircrew and ground-crew in England, their baptism of fire and their eventual outstanding contribution to Victory in 1918. Again the structure is chronological, with major battles depicted as a whole, usually from the perspective of individual AFC Squadrons. 3AFC is well-represented and famous incidents such as the shooting-down of "The Red Falcon" (as the Red Baron was actually known in 1918) are presented with authority. Much recent research is integrated to provide a fascinating explanation of what really happened.
Extract: The Tragic Loss of Lewis & Best.
Extract: 3SQN and the 'Black Day' of the German Army.
Searchable Sample of opening chapters, from Google Books
A LOT TO FIGHT FOR
The outstanding biography of John Jackson; a 3 Squadron desert ace who completed his hazardous operational tour in the Middle East and then subsequently sacrificed his life leading the desperate defence of Port Moresby in 1942...
For interesting quotes from the book click: "A Lot To Fight For"
GROUND CREW - A MIDDLE EAST DIARY
Felix Sainsbury's "Ground Crew" describes life in No.3 Squadron RAAF, 1941-43, in a most engaging manner that will appeal to anyone who wants to know what life was really like in a Desert Air Force squadron.
For description, purchasing details, sample photos and extracts, click: "Ground Crew" .
NICKY BARR - AN AUSTRALIAN AIR ACE
Nicky Barr was 3 Squadron's highest-scoring ace, flying over the North African desert in the frantic days of 1942. His service history reads like something from the "Boys Own Paper"! Besides being an international footballer pre-war, becoming a gifted pilot and inspirational leader of men, Nicky was an inveterate escaper and evader. He earned the Military Cross for his actions behind enemy lines with partisans in Italy - a most unusual accompaniment for his Distinguished Flying Cross and Bar.
Popular historian Peter FitzSimons praises this book as, "an unbelievable yarn".
(The story of how Physiotherapist Peter Dornan came to write this biography was told on ABC-TV's "Australian Story" program in 2002.)
Featured extract: "Nicky Barr Shot Down"
GOON IN THE BLOCK
"Goon in the Block" is a POW memoir by Canadian pilot Don Edy, who - after surviving being shot down in Libya and then having his Italian POW transport ship torpedoed in the Mediterranean (!) - spent extensive time "inside" with some of 3 Squadron's captured fliers: Fred Eggleston; "Robbie" Roberts and Robert Sydney "Bob" Jones.
To see photos and a description of the content from Don's book, along with ordering details, click here.
WING OVER AND DIVE
"Operation Bowler", the pinpoint strike on the Venice docks.
Stan WATT's interesting flying experiences with 450 Squadron RAAF (serving alongside 3 Squadron in Italy).
Click to see details of "Wing Over and Dive".
THE IMPERIAL GIFT
John BENNETT's excellent book about the foundation aircraft and equipment for the Australian Air Force in 1921,
generously provided by Great Britain for the fledgling air arm.
These WW1-era aircraft comprised 3 Squadron's sole equipment 1925-29.
There is also detailed research on the "magnificent men" who flew these machines.
For ordering details and our illustrated review click: "The Imperial Gift"
CLIVE CALDWELL AIR ACE
Kristen Alexander, who has a bookshop in Canberra specialising in Military Books, has thoroughly researched the life of Clive Caldwell; Australia's top ace of WW2 and the most successful P-40 pilot in any of the Allied air forces.
Clive was was C.O. of 112 Squadron in North Africa, under 239 Wing, alongside 3 Squadron. Kristen's successful book is highly recommendable. It relates not only the historical and operational aspects of Caldwell's career, but reveals the more human side: the lighter moments, the anecdotes, the stories that flesh out the "bare bones" of the historical record. Caldwell had a tumultuous flying career and RAAF veterans who knew Caldwell have shared their personal memories of him, covering his E.A.T.S. training days, service in the Middle East, his brief period of service in England, and in the Pacific Theatre, his service with No.1 Fighter Wing, No 80 Fighter Wing, and No.2 O.T.U. Mildura.
Clive Caldwell Air Ace - Searchable Preview
Kristen's Website is: www.alexanderfaxbooks.com.au, Phone (02) 6259 0540. She kindly offers any 3 Squadron enthusiast a 10% discount from any purchase made from her bookshop.
Further 3 Squadron and RAAF history is described in the fine books below....
WRITTEN BY H. N. WRIGLEY, "THE BATTLE BELOW" IS A HISTORY OF THE SQUADRON DURING WWI. OUT OF PRINT AND TODAY HIGHLY VALUED BY COLLECTORS. (~$1,000)
"SECRETS REVEALED" (This title comes from of 3SQN's Latin Motto) WAS PRODUCED IN 1991 TO COMMEMORATE THE SQUADRON'S 75th ANNIVERSARY. IT WAS WRITTEN BY PETER MULLER and JOHN HUTCHISON. IT IS AN EXCELLENT AND CONCISE HISTORY. (~$100 Resale Value)
WGCDR JOHN WATSON and LOUIS JONES PRODUCED THIS CLASSIC WWII UNIT-HISTORY "3 SQUADRON AT WAR" IN 1959 FOR OUR ASSOCIATION. DENNIS ADAMS' ARTWORK ADORNS THE COVER. THIS BOOK CONTAINS SOME COMPILATION ERRORS AND IS NOW VERY DIFFICULT TO OBTAIN, BUT INFORMATION FROM MANY OF ITS PAGES IS REPEATED ON OUR WEBSITE. (Resale Value ~$600).
This is a really well-researched record of many of the aces who fought in both wars.
INSPIRING BIOGRAPHY ABOUT THE REVEREND FRED McKAY. WRITTEN BY MAISIE McKENZIE IN 1990, IT PRESENTS A REVEALING PROFILE OF ONE OF 3 SQUADRON'S DEAREST COLLEAGUES, IN BOTH WARTIME AND IN PEACETIME, DESCRIBING HIS ROLE AS THE SUCCESSOR TO THE FAMOUS "FLYNN OF THE INLAND".
Russell Brown's marvellous classic, "Desert Warriors", dedicated to the P40s and their pilots who fought the Desert Air Force's war between 1941 and 1943.
Available from Banner Books, 122 Walker St. Maryborough QLD. 4650 or visit www.banner-books.com.au
"THEY FLEW FOR THE KING". THIS CLASSIC COLLECTION OF INDIVIDUAL STORIES OF 34 FAMOUS AIRMEN IN WWII WAS PRODUCED BY FRANK HARDING. IT INCLUDES HIS MAGNIFICENT PAINTINGS PORTRAYING INCIDENTS RELATING TO AIR HISTORY. (SAMPLE)
FOR AVAILABILITY CONTACT: NAN or MEGAN HARDING AT FOLKLORE GALLERY, RENMARK. S.A. 5341 PH: (08) 8586 6972
IN HIS BOOK, "THE DESERT
HARASSERS", LEN BARTON HAS
WRITTEN ABOUT HIS OWN 450 SQUADRON, RAAF.
CONTACT: (02) 9960 2271
THIS STORY OF THE BASE IS AVAILABLE FROM THE ADMIN-OFFICE, RAAF BASE, WILLIAMTOWN. IT WAS WRITTEN BY PETER MULLER and JOHN HUTCHISON IN 1991 AND DESCRIBES LIFE ON THE RAAF BASE THAT 3 SQUADRON HAS CALLED HOME FOR MANY YEARS.
THIS EXCELLENT BOOK BY KEITH ISSACS SHOWS FULL DETAILS, DESCRIPTIONS AND ILLUSTRATIONS OF MANY AIRCRAFT USED ON ALL SIDES DURING WWl (3 Squadron's aircraft are there).
"Catch 22" A fictional book
about fictional and unhinged WW2 airmen fictionally
bombing the same places in Italy that 3 Squadron really
Russell Brown recommends the next three books and here's what he has to say about them:
Billy Drake's Autobiography,
written in collaboration with Chris Shores,
is a valuable addition to the history of the Desert air
war. Since 112 Squadron
flew in the same wing as 3, it might be of interest to
members of the Association. He
mentions in passing that '3 was particularly
distinguished, and home to some seriously tough
operators'. Be warned
however, that mentions of 3 are only as background to
Billy Drake's book ($50.00) is published by
Grub Street - which handles all of Chris Shores' work.
Osprey's Gladiator Aces covers 3 Squadron's use of the machine quite thoroughly, but it is only a minor part of the book. Three and a half pages, six photos and two colour profiles.
Osprey, part of a very comprehensive series: average price
Elms Court, Chapel Way, Botley,
"Tomahawk and Kittyhawk Aces of the RAF
and Commonwealth" is a terrific book, and deals with all
the Australian Aces, with numerous photos and
As its title suggests, it is concerned with the role played by the Hurricane squadrons in the defence of Tobruk. All of 3 Squadron's Tobruk Hurricane operations are included, and there is much material from the diary of John Jackson. A fine record.
By Lex McAulay, also from Banner Books, (1998). This book has a very detailed section on Nicky Barr's career with 3 Squadron. The other pilots in the book are Hugo Armstrong, Peter Panitz and Dickie Williams.
PETER A DAVIDSON WROTE THIS HISTORY OF RAAF CHAPLAINCY IN 1990. IT HAS MANY INSIGHTS INTO THE WORKINGS OF THE MINISTRY WITHIN THE SERVICE.
SOCIETY OF WORLD WAR I AERO
John Bennett has discovered a new book that includes 3 Squadron AFC. He bought it over the Internet from the US. It covers all the British WWI squadrons, including the 69 Sqn/3 Sqn data. He says it's a great book, 296 pages, from the US specialist military publisher Schiffer.