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.
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!
Western Desert, North Africa. 1940-11. Two
members of No 3 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, prepare a cross
for the grave of Squadron Leader 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
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.]
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.
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 a TIME-CAPSULE which
contains mementoes of the Squadron's past.
It was ceremonially interred at Williamtown, on 18 December 1992.
The capsule will not be opened until 25 years have elapsed
On that day, serving Squadron members of that era will be 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
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.