This relic is a section of plywood cut out
from the leading edge of one of the wings of
The Red Baron's
Fokker DRl triplane on 22 April 1918 at 3 Squadron's aerodrome at
Poulainville near Amiens in France.
It is held by the family of Lieut.
James (Lee) Smith, DFC, who was
placed in charge of the party that brought back the Red Baron's body
(together with his crashed aircraft) to 3 Squadron's base after dusk on
21 April 1918.
"PYANCUS" ... a mythical
pre-historic character dreamt up, and carved into a walking stick from
the broken propeller of an RE8, by
Lieut. James (Lee) Smith, DFC,
in 1918. As he had a limp, due to one leg being shorter than the other
after a motorbike accident in 1913, he used the stick as an aid to
Pyancus became his aircraft mascot symbol and it was also painted on
the fuselage of his RE8 (C2275).
Pyancus also became his nickname within 3 Squadron.
FIRST WORLD WAR TRENCH GRID MAP
Maps like this, mounted on 3 ply, were
typically standard cockpit-aids used by RE8 pilots for navigation
reconnaissance flights over enemy sectors (e.g. sector ED).
This map, whilst it was housed in a side pocket of Lieut.
Smith's RE8, was holed by the photographed steel balls of shrapnel which
finished up rolling around the cockpit floor after having also nicked
one of his flying boots.
Original WW1 Flying Helmet
Brown-tanned leather with fur and felt lining.
This helmet was issued to a distinguished young Australian Infantry
Lt. Colonel Noel
DSO MiD**, who visited 3 Squadron AFC in July 1918 for a two-day
"Liaison Course" prior to the break-through
Battle of Amiens.
[He was accompanied by his his Batman, H.J. Billow.] It is
quite possible that Loutit was issued with the helmet at this time for a
flight over his own front-lines, but if so the helmet may have been
Poster Art by Norman Clifford. This poster is
displayed in the 'Hobart
Air Force Museum' (RAAF Association aviation-history collection maintained by Pete Scully in
Hobart). It shows 3AFC Flight Commander Captain Reg
Francis posing on his famous RE8 "Sylvia".
In this RE8, No.A4397, Francis flew a total of 440 hours
35 minutes over the front and made 140 trips.
- This was more than any
other British aircraft on the Western Front. (The airframe was
preserved for display back in Australia after the Armistice, but sadly was
lost in a fire in
Reg Francis was awarded the DFC for his huge contribution in the
Battle of Hamel, ranging British artillery onto German gun emplacements.
On 4th of July 1918, he flew for over 8½
hours, and 4 hours on the following day, during which flights he
successfully silenced seven hostile Artillery Batteries, besides sending down 32
"zone calls" (area bombardments called-in by radio on targets of opportunity
- enemy troops, guns or transport).
MELBOURNE, Saturday [June 7,
1941] - Australia's only air squadron in the Middle East is the
toughest of all squadrons in that theatre of war, according to a
Digger who has just returned to Australia from Libya.
This R.A.A.F. squadron has shot down more than 60 enemy
aircraft, he says.
"If you knew and saw what I did, it would make
you weep," he says in a letter sent to
the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender) and passed on to the Minister
for Air (Mr. McEwen).
"I for one would not be here today if it had not been for those
Australian heroes of the air. I
include them all - from the highest officer
down to the most junior member of the ground staff. They
should all be decorated, every one of them.
"The squadron's men are working day and night, never complaining, with
dust in their eyes, sometimes attacked from the rear and sometimes
Three of the pilots of this squadron have received the D.F.C. These
boys are going to save our bacon.".
Mr. McEwen said that the Near East squadron had
fought magnificently. Its work would soon be supported by
other Australian squadrons recruited from R.A.A.F. Empire air scheme
The commencement of operations by these new
squadrons would be the signal for an air offensive which would test
the Luftwaffe more severely than ever before.
Submitted by the Fitzgerald
family, this is what the newspapers were saying in 1941 about the
Squadron's performance in the "Near East" (as it was then
Note that any reference to 3 Squadron's
number isn't made ... censorship at the time would have prevented any
mention of the whereabouts of any of the forces.
...Although it wouldn't have taken
an enemy spy long to figure out exactly who "Australia's only air squadron
in the Near East..." was at that particular time!
[In addition to the Association's collection of clippings, there are
many similar obscure references to 3SQN's history in the online
TROVE newspaper database.]
Western Desert, North Africa. 1940-11. Two
members of No. 3 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, prepare a cross
for the grave of SQNLDR P. R. Heath who was shot down in air
combat on Nov 19, 1940,
when four of the Squadron's Gladiator aircraft were attacked east of
Rabia by eighteen Italian CR-42 fighters. [AWM
Peter Heath Propeller-Fragment
Information from "3 Squadron News" from
A fragment of the propeller
of the late Squadron Leader Peter Heath was collected by Peter Mordaunt
in the Egyptian Western Desert. In 1951 it was presented to S/Ldr.
Heath's son, Peter. The fragment was polished , mounted in wood
and had a suitably-inscribed silver plate attached.
If anyone can provide a photograph of this
This small leather-composite case,
manufactured by Manok and Renkert Ltd. in Sydney and painted with the
letters “R.A.A.F.” in gold (and still showing traces of red Libyan dust)
served as ‘the office’ for 3 Squadron during its mobile operations in the
Egyptian Western Desert, Libya and Syria in 1940/41.
Donated to 3 Squadron Association from the estate of former 3SQN Supply
Officer (later Air Commodore), “Mac” Macinnis.
It is now preserved in
the display cabinet in the entrance to 3SQN HQ.
The Messerschmitt gun-sight still in its case.
After the Allied break-out at El Alamein, Tom writes: "...by
the 6th of November 1942 the Luftwaffe was forced to evacuate LG106 El
Daba. 3 Squadron flew there on the 7th. The German retreat
had been so hasty that we found heaps of unopened mail, food parcels
etc. I searched through the buildings (too eager to be sacred of
booby-traps!) and found the gunsight..."
This is an authentic Me109 gun-sight,
complete with all attachments, which Kittyhawk pilot FLTLT Tom Russell was able to
quickly secure after 3 Squadron occupied the landing ground at El Daba
Egypt. The gun-sight is housed within a neatly-fabricated case and
it is stamped REVI C/12DV (Vorrat). Its production date was 1/5/1942.
had never been fitted to an Me109 ... obviously a spare part.
external power, it works perfectly well
and demonstrates how the Luftwaffe's Me109's aligned their "lead
computing" gun-sights onto our own aircraft.
[Held in 3 Squadron Collection, Williamtown.]
Squadron Leader Bobby Gibbes autographed this
Christmas and New Year Greeting Card from the end of 1942 (the start of
the final victorious advance in Africa), featuring a map of the North
African and Levant Coastline, superimposed on a photograph of a line-up
of Kittyhawk aircraft.
From the collection of "Mac" Macinnis.
"Tarp and Razor Blades" by Frank Harding.
The late Frank
Harding was one of Australia's most gifted aviation artists.
His wife Nan, and her family, display
Frank's collection in their Folklore Gallery at 177 Sixteenth Street, Renmark,
South Australia, 5341. Call Nan on (08)8586-6972 to make an appointment to view
this unique collection.
to view a few of
Frank's "3 Squadron" paintings,
plus photos of the gallery and a short biography of
During WWII, illustrated comic stories
about war heroes were often published by "The Argus", a
The first of these examples (6
November 1943) describes the escapades of 3 Squadron's famous top-scoring
ace, Nicky Barr.
The following week,
another story appeared in "The Argus" describing the way Reg
Stevens rose from the ranks to become Commanding Officer of the
There's more about Reg Stevens
on our "Dogfighters"
The full versions of the comics
are held in 3 Squadron's
Crew Room Collection at Williamtown, NSW.
Gold ring last worn by 3SQN Kittyhawk pilot Murdo McLEOD in 1943
A 9-karat gold ring last worn by 3SQN Kittyhawk pilot Murdo "Doc" McLEOD
in 1943. The ring was given to Doc by his fiancé Kay prior to his
embarking for the Middle East. It then travelled with Doc in 3SQN’s
advance to Tunis in the North Africa campaign, and on to Malta and Sicily.
Doc was wearing this ring when he was shot down and captured by the
Germans in Sicily and evacuated to France.
Very sadly, Doc was then wounded in an American bombing raid
in August 1943 and died three weeks later in hospital in Avignon, France.
Given all the evil that was going on in the world at that time, it is quite
astounding that the Germans then sent the ring back back via the Swiss Red Cross
to Doc's mother in Perth!
For more details about Doc
and the bizarre sequence of events that followed his death, see our feature
"The Four Funerals of Doc
This plaque was laid at the
in Canberra on the 14th of April, 2000, to commemorate the proud history
and sacrifices of 3
Squadron in WW1 and WW2.
The contents of the Williamtown TIME-CAPSULE which
preserved mementoes of the Squadron's past.
It was ceremonially interred at Williamtown, on 18 December 1992.
The capsule was opened at the Squadron's
Birthday celebration in 2016.
Serving Squadron members were privileged
to glimpse (and taste) some reminders of the previous Squadron's
Arthur Pardey's "cliftied"
Austrian flag, with insignia sewn onto
it. Brian Griffin, a relative
of Brian Thompson (ex-3 Squadron pilot)
has identified each German
insignia for us...
Click here to see the descriptions.
HAPPY CHRISTMAS 1943!
Service Flight Training School Menu from the
Felt Pennant produced by 3
Squadron Association for Members in the 1960s,
showing the Squadron's "Kittybomber 3" logo (a Kittyhawk bird
carrying a bomb, superimposed on the number "3" and the 8th Army Shield).
This logo was created by Norm French, a talented ground-crew member, and
used in Italy during the 2nd World War, especially on Brian Eaton's
he was Squadron Leader.
Kittyhawk Mk.IIa, CV-V, FS490, Italy, 1943/44. Pilot: S/Ldr Brian Eaton
(Sample from the aviation history collection maintained
by Pete Scully in Hobart Tasmania.)
The fantastic rack of medals of
Air Vice Marshal
Brian Eaton, one of the outstanding WW2 C.O.s of 3 Squadron.
Auctioned in 2010 for more than $70K.
The 3 Squadron Crest, engraved in slate, set into the
floor at RAF Chapel,
St Clement Danes in London, 26/3/09.
Click for the full story:
Dedication of the
RAAF Squadron Memorial Plaques
By Vicki Crighton.
A moving pilgrimage and a
[The idea that this
bombed-out church should become a memorial to the British and Commonwealth
Air Force squadrons of WW2 originated with
Henry Wrigley, a former
WW1 pilot with 3AFC and the RAAF's most senior officer in Britain in WW2.]