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.
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 walking.
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
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
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
Original WW1 Flying Helmet
leather with fur and felt lining. This helmet was issued
to a distinguished young Australian Infantry officer,
Lt. Colonel Noel LOUTIT
DSO MiD**, who visited 3 Squadron AFC in July 1918 for a
two-day "Liaison Course" prior to the break-through
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 an RE8.
The record-breaking RE8, No.A4397, flew a
total of 440 hours 35 minutes over the front and made 140
trips, the majority of these with Reg Francis at the
controls. - 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
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
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 gravely
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 trainees.
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.
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 called).
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.
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.
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
If anyone can provide a photograph of
this memento, please
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
The Messerschmitt gun-sight still in
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
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. It
had never been fitted to an Me109
... obviously a spare part.
Nevertheless, under 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,
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
From the collection of "Mac"
"Tarp and Razor Blades" by Frank Harding.
The late Frank
Harding was one of Australia's most gifted aviation
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.
view a few of Frank's "3
Squadron" paintings, plus photos
of the gallery and a short biography of
illustrated comic stories about war heroes were often
published by "The Argus", a Melbourne newspaper.
The first of these
examples (6 November 1943) describes
the escapades of 3 Squadron's famous top-scoring
The following week, another story
appeared in "The Argus" describing the way Reg
Stevens rose from the ranks to become Commanding Officer of
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
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
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!
details about Doc and the bizarre sequence of events that
followed his death, see our feature
Four Funerals of Doc McLeod".
An iron splinter from a 1,000lb bomb, and two
0.5in.-calibre machinegun cartridges.
Relics from the 3SQN anti-shipping
attack of March 17th, 1944.
Recovered by historian and author Sime
LISICA, when diving in Petrcane harbour, Croatia.
Kittyhawk II Cockpit Clock
This clock was recovered
from the wreckage of Arthur Dawkins' Kittyhawk II FS493, which
was “destroyed” in the famous “friendly fire” incident when
USAAF P-47 Thunderbolts (in error) strafed 3 SQN’s
Kittyhawk Mk.II aircraft at Cutella on 29 April
The scene at Cutella Airfield, Italy, 29
AIRCRAFT CRASH INVESTIGATION
and engine fragments from the crashed Kittyhawk of Ray FARIA.
(Shot down and fatally wounded by German flak while
dive-bombing a bridge in Northern Italy on 25 September 1944.)
Items recovered by aviation archaeologist Enzo LANCONELLI.
This plaque was
laid at the War
Memorial 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
Birthday celebration in 2016.
Serving Squadron members were
privileged to glimpse (and taste) some reminders of the
previous Squadron's treasures.
Arthur Pardey's "cliftied" Austrian
flag, with insignia sewn onto
it. Brian Griffin, a
relative of Brian
Squadron pilot) has
identified each German
insignia for us...
here to see the descriptions.
HAPPY CHRISTMAS 1943!
(5 Service Flight Training School Menu from
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
when he was Squadron Leader.
Kittyhawk Mk.IIa, CV-V, FS490, Italy,
1943/44. Pilot: S/Ldr Brian Eaton
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
The 3 Squadron
Badge, engraved in slate, set into the floor at RAF
St Clement Danes in London, 26/3/09.
Click for the
of the RAAF Squadron Memorial Plaques
By Vicki Crighton.
pilgrimage and a permanent memento.
[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.]