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No. 3 Squadron (RAAF): Second World War

No. 3 Squadron (RAAF): Second World War



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No. 3 Squadron (RAAF) during the Second World War

Aircraft - Locations - Group and Duty - Books

No.3 Squadron (RAAF) was originally a reconnaissance unit, but in 1941 it became a fighter squadron and served in that role in North Africa, Sicily and Italy, ending the war as a ground attack unit.

Australia purchased twelve Avro Ansons which were delivered in November 1936. They were split between Nos.2, 3 and 5 (General Reconnaissance) Squadrons.

In 1940 it was decided to send No.3 Squadron to North Africa, where it would use aircraft available in the area. The squadron's personnel began to reach Egypt in August 1940, and the squadron was re-equipped with a mix of Gladiator biplanes and Lysander air cooperation aircraft.

The squadron became operational on 23 September 1940 at Helwan, where it formed part of the force defending the Suez Canal. The squadron was used for tactical reconnaissance, with the Gladiators (and six Gauntlets) escorting the Lysanders.

In February 1941 the squadron converted to the Hawker Hurricane, and became a fighter squadron. The squadron spent two months flying fighter patrols over the Western Desert, but in May it was withdrawn to convert to the Tomahawk.

The squadron first used its Tomahawks in July 1941 during the Allied invasion of Syria. After the end of the successful Allied campaign the squadron remained in Syria.

The squadron returned to the Western Desert in September 1941 and accompanied the 8th Army as it advanced and retreated across the desert. When the army retreated to the El Alamein line the squadron withdrew to Amriya, from where it was used to attack Rommel's advancing army.

In November 1942 the Tomahawks were replaced with Kittyhawks. The re-equipped squadron followed the 8th Army as it advanced through Libya and into Tunisia. During this phase of the battle the squadron flew a mix of bomber escort and ground attack duties.

In July 1943 the squadron moved to Malta, from where it was used to support the invasion of Sicily. Later in the same month the squadron moved onto Sicily, to reduce the distance it had to fly to reach combat.

In September 1943 the squadron moved to Italy, where it was used on ground attack duties. At first it operated in support of the Eighth Army, fighting in Italy, but in November 1944 the Kittyhawks were replaced with Mustangs. The longer range aircraft allowed the squadron to carry out long range sweeps over Yugoslavia in support of the partisans and over northern Italy. The squadron was also used against Axis shipping.

In August 1945 the squadron's personnel left Naples at the start of the journey back to Australia. The squadron was the most successful RAAF fighter squadron of the Second World War. The RAAF Museum credits the squadron with 217 victories, but the Squadron Association has done research that convincingly reduces that total to 192 enemy aircraft (still the highest in the RAAF), tracking down the point at which the extra victories were accidentally added to the total.

During the war the squadron destroyed 217 enemy aircraft, the highest achieved by any RAAF squadron during the Second World War.

Links
3 Squadron Association Website

Aircraft
September 1940-February 1941: Gloster Gladiator I and II and Gauntlet II
September 1940-March 1941: Westland Lysander II
February-June 1941: Hawker Hurricane I
May 1941-November 1942: Curtiss Tomahawk II
November-December 1942: Curtiss Kittyhawk I
November 1942-March 1944: Curtiss Kittyhawk II
April 1943-May 1944: Curtiss Kittyhawk III
May-November 1944: Curtiss Kittyhawk IV
November 1944-August 1945: North American Mustang III

Location
September-November 1940: Helwan
November 1940-January 1941: Gerawla
November-December 1940: Detachment to Maryut
January 1941: Tmimi
January-February 1941: Martuba
February 1941: Berka
February-April 1941: Benina
April 1941: Got-es-Sultan
April-May 1941: Maraua
May-April 1941: Martuba
April 1941: Gazala East
April 1941: Sidi Mahmoud
April 1941: LG.79
April 1941: Mersa Matruh
April 1941: Sidi Haneish
April-May 1941: Aboukir
May 1941: Aqir
May 1941-July 1941: Lydda
May-June 1941: Detachment to Nicosia
July 1941: Rosh Pinna
July-September 1941: Rayak
September 1941: Amriya
September-November 1941: Sidi Haneish
November 1941-February 1942: LG.110
February-June 1942: Sidi Haneish
June 1942: Wadi Natrun
June-November 1942: LG.91 Amriya
November 1942: LG.106
November 1942: LG.101
November 1942: LG.76
November 1942: Gambut
November 1942: Gazala
November-December 1942: Martuba I
December 1942: Antelat
December 1942: Belandah
December 1942-January 1943: Detachment to Marble Arch
December 1942-January 1943: Alem el Gzina
January 1943: Hamraiet
January 1943: Sedada
January-February 1943: Castel Benito
February-March 1943: El Assa
March 1943: Nefatia
March-April 1943: Medenine Main
April 1943: El Hamma
April-May 1943: Kairouan
May-July 1943: Zuara
July 1943: Takali
July 1943: Luqa
July-August 1943: Pachino
August-September 1943: Agnone
September 1943: Grottaglie
September-October 1943: Bari
October 1943: Foggia Main
October 1943-January 1944: Mileni
January-May 1944: Cutella
May-June 1944: San Angelo
June 1944: Guidonia
June-July 1944: Falerium
July-August 1944: Crete
August-November 1944: Iesi
November 1944-February 1945: Fano
February-May 1945: Cervia
May-August 1945: Lavariano

Squadron Codes: -

Duty
1936-40: General Reconnaissance, Australia
1940-42: Fighter Squadron, Mediterranean
1942-1945: Fighter/ Fighter bomber, Mediterranean

Books

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3 Squadron at War

Comments: The history of No 3 Squadron, RAAF. One of the rarest of all the RAAF Squadron history books.

Originally formed on 1 July 1925, 3 Squadron was one of twelve permanent Royal Australian Air Force Squadrons in existence at the beginning of the Second World War. In the first months of the war the squadron adopted an operational alert status, absorbed new personnel and intensified its training, prior to being identified to accompany the 6th Division of the Second AIF overseas as an attached army co-operation squadron.

Leaving its aircraft behind, 3 Squadron sailed from Sydney on 15 July 1940. Arriving in Egypt on 23 August 1940, the squadron was placed under the command of the Royal Air Force’s Middle East Command and organised a three flight army co-operation squadron: two flights were equipped with Gloster Gauntlet and Gladiator fighters and the third with Westland Lysander utility aircraft. It commenced active operations in support of British Commonwealth land operations in the Western Desert on 3 November 1940.

During the next four and a half years, 3 Squadron became one of the most active squadrons in the RAAF, quickly becoming a jack-of-all-trades. In addition to the conventional reconnaissance and ground attack roles of an army co-operation squadron, it defended ground forces and bombers from enemy aircraft, and conducted strikes against enemy shipping. The squadron was involved in the first Allied campaign in Libya between November 1940 and April 1941, and played a critical role in the invasion of Syria in June and July 1941. In September 1941 it returned to the see-sawing war in North Africa, which finally ended with the defeat of the Axis forces in Tunisia in May 1943. Operating from Malta initially, the squadron supported Allied operations in Sicily between July and August 1943. Sicily was a stepping-stone to Italy, which became 3 Squadron’s principal area of operations for the rest of the war.

3 Squadron’s original aircraft had been replaced by Hawker Hurricanes by January 1941, but for most of the war its principal workhorse was the Curtis P-40, with which it was first equipped in May 1941. Two successive variants of the P-40, known as Tomahawks and Kittyhawks, were employed by the squadron before they were finally replaced by North American P-51 Mustangs in November 1944. In Italy, the squadron adorned its aircraft with a southern cross painted on the rudder, a practice which has been continued by more modern incarnations of 3 Squadron to the current day.

3 Squadron’s war was brought to an end by the surrender of German forces in Italy on 2 May 1945. Since November 1940, the squadron had been responsible for shooting down 217 ½ enemy aircraft, making it the highest scoring British Commonwealth squadron in the Mediterranean theatre of operations. It destroyed another 29 aircraft on the ground in addition to 709 motor vehicles, 28 water vessels of varying sizes, and 12 locomotives. The squadron sailed from Egypt for home on 27 September 1945 and was disbanded at Point Cook in Victoria on 30 July 1946. 3 Squadron was, however, destined to reform in 1948.

Has previous owners name on the title page.

Includes – Operational statistics, honour roll, squadron personnel Jul 1940 – Sep 1944.


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Stories

An Eventful Homecoming

Late on the night of 26 April 1944, 25 Lancasters from No 460 Squadron headed for Essen in the middle of the Ruhr. Almost over the target, Vic, our bomb aimer took over and began the familiar, "Left, left, steady, right, steady, bomb doors open, steady, right, steady, bombs gone, steady for photo". When the 14,000 lbs of bombs fell away the aircraft leapt upwards as it was relieved of the weight. A moment later, with the bomb doors still open and the aircraft steady on course, the plane rocked as a shower of bombs hit us from a Lancaster just over our heads. Fortunately, the 4,000 lb bomb missed us or we would have been blown to Kingdom Come. We were hit by a shower of incendiaries which immediately knocked out one engine and badly damaged another so that it was useless and the propeller could not be feathered, greatly increasing the drag on one side of the plane. A third motor was hit but kept going on reduced power. Another incendiary damaged the starboard fuel tank but did not set it alight. Yet another smashed the hydraulic system which operated the bomb doors, undercarriage and flaps. By a miracle no one was hit.
The Lancaster had started to dive away to port and the pilot and engineer struggled and brought the plane under control. With limited control and lack of speed giving us a much reduced airspeed, the skipper opted for a direct flight to base, even though we would be on our own across Germany. Losing altitude as we approached the Dutch coast we decided on the long sea crossing hoping to maintain enough height to make England. As we crossed the sea in the early hours of the morning the aircraft gradually lost height. With the bomb doors wide open, the bomb inspection covers had blown off and an icy gale whistled through the cabin. On two motors and the third propeller uselessly windmilling adding to the drag, we could go no faster than 140mph.
At 0345 we crossed the darkened coast of Lincolnshire at 1500 feet and turned for the short leg to Binbrook. In sight of the base beacon the third motor stopped. Bob, at once, feathered the engine and we began to lose what little altitude we had. We were now down to 600 feet above the Wolds. Bob called up flying control and asked for an emergency landing. To our incredulity and disgust, we were refused and told to go away to an emergency airfield in East Anglia.
Because we were arriving at the same time as the rest of 460 squadron aircraft flying control didn't want the runway blocked by a crashed aircraft. Bob Wade, with an understandably temper outburst at this callous unconcern by flying control for a Lancaster in such dire straits, told flying control with a few Australian adjectives included ignored the instructions and continued the approach telling Harry to operate the emergency lever to lower the undercarriage.
Just imagine coming in on a wing and a prayer. One motor, one wheel, and one ambition to get down in one try. ( a wartime song 'Comin' In On a Wing and a Prayer')
The only difference in this picture is that 460 squadron Lancs had Rolls Royce in line motors.
Only the right wheel came down and when an attempt was made to retract it, it remained down. With one engine working, one propeller windmilling, the bomb doors open, no flaps and one wheel up and one wheel down, and too low to bail out our only option was to ride the Lancaster to the ground.
Not wanting to block the runway, after telling control he was coming in whether they liked it or not, Bob lined up some 300 yards to the right. Even though it was very dark off to the side of the runway, he began the short final approach with no flaps to maintain lift at our low speed and holding the right wing low to counter balance the dead engines.
The Lancaster "B2" touched down on one wheel and ran along the grass at about 100 mph while Bob fought in the dark to keep the left wing up as long as possible. Gradually the wing sank lower and as the speed dropped shut off the last throttle. Suddenly the left wing tip touched the ground and immediately the aircraft ground–looped violently, spinning across the grass and finally coming to rest in the middle of the runway, right in the path of another Lancaster which was on the point of touching down.
As our aircraft came to rest there was a wild scramble to get clear in case the damaged fuel tank caught fire. First man out got stuck in the escape hatch but was quickly shoved out by those following.
Scrambling down the fuselage we ran for our lives. In the glow of the searchlight, the fire truck and ambulance raced across the grass, but we did not hear them because of the shattering roar of the engines of the Lancaster which had just touched down. Faced with a wrecked Lancaster in the middle of the runway, the pilot gunned his motors to emergency power and slowly struggled over our heads to safety. As the roar of the climbing aircraft died away, even though I was about 40 yards away, I knew Bob was still alive as I could hear him cursing and swearing as he turned off the switches.
Arthur Hoyle, 460squadronraaf.com

Submitted 3 May 2020 by Steve Larkins

Late on the night of 26 April 1944, 25 Lancasters from No 460 Squadron headed for Essen in the middle of the Ruhr. Almost over the target, Vic, our bomb aimer took over and began the familiar, "Left, left, steady, right, steady, bomb doors open, steady, right, steady, bombs gone, steady for photo". When the 14,000 lbs of bombs fell away the aircraft leapt upwards as it was relieved of the weight. A moment later, with the bomb doors still open and the aircraft steady on course, the plane rocked as a shower of bombs hit us from a Lancaster just over our heads. Fortunately, the 4,000 lb bomb missed us or we would have been blown to Kingdom Come. We were hit by a shower of incendiaries which immediately knocked out one engine and badly damaged another so that it was useless and the propeller could not be feathered, greatly increasing the drag on one side of the plane. A third motor was hit but kept going on reduced power. Another incendiary damaged the starboard fuel tank but did not set it alight. Yet another smashed the hydraulic system which operated the bomb doors, undercarriage and flaps. By a miracle no one was hit.
The Lancaster had started to dive away to port and the pilot and engineer struggled and brought the plane under control. With limited control and lack of speed giving us a much reduced airspeed, the skipper opted for a direct flight to base, even though we would be on our own across Germany. Losing altitude as we approached the Dutch coast we decided on the long sea crossing hoping to maintain enough height to make England. As we crossed the sea in the early hours of the morning the aircraft gradually lost height. With the bomb doors wide open, the bomb inspection covers had blown off and an icy gale whistled through the cabin. On two motors and the third propeller uselessly windmilling adding to the drag, we could go no faster than 140mph.
At 0345 we crossed the darkened coast of Lincolnshire at 1500 feet and turned for the short leg to Binbrook. In sight of the base beacon the third motor stopped. Bob, at once, feathered the engine and we began to lose what little altitude we had. We were now down to 600 feet above the Wolds. Bob called up flying control and asked for an emergency landing. To our incredulity and disgust, we were refused and told to go away to an emergency airfield in East Anglia.
Because we were arriving at the same time as the rest of 460 squadron aircraft flying control didn't want the runway blocked by a crashed aircraft. Bob Wade, with an understandably temper outburst at this callous unconcern by flying control for a Lancaster in such dire straits, told flying control with a few Australian adjectives included ignored the instructions and continued the approach telling Harry to operate the emergency lever to lower the undercarriage.
Just imagine coming in on a wing and a prayer. One motor, one wheel, and one ambition to get down in one try. ( a wartime song 'Comin' In On a Wing and a Prayer')
The only difference in this picture is that 460 squadron Lancs had Rolls Royce in line motors.
Only the right wheel came down and when an attempt was made to retract it, it remained down. With one engine working, one propeller windmilling, the bomb doors open, no flaps and one wheel up and one wheel down, and too low to bail out our only option was to ride the Lancaster to the ground.
Not wanting to block the runway, after telling control he was coming in whether they liked it or not, Bob lined up some 300 yards to the right. Even though it was very dark off to the side of the runway, he began the short final approach with no flaps to maintain lift at our low speed and holding the right wing low to counter balance the dead engines.
The Lancaster "B2" touched down on one wheel and ran along the grass at about 100 mph while Bob fought in the dark to keep the left wing up as long as possible. Gradually the wing sank lower and as the speed dropped shut off the last throttle. Suddenly the left wing tip touched the ground and immediately the aircraft ground–looped violently, spinning across the grass and finally coming to rest in the middle of the runway, right in the path of another Lancaster which was on the point of touching down.
As our aircraft came to rest there was a wild scramble to get clear in case the damaged fuel tank caught fire. First man out got stuck in the escape hatch but was quickly shoved out by those following.
Scrambling down the fuselage we ran for our lives. In the glow of the searchlight, the fire truck and ambulance raced across the grass, but we did not hear them because of the shattering roar of the engines of the Lancaster which had just touched down. Faced with a wrecked Lancaster in the middle of the runway, the pilot gunned his motors to emergency power and slowly struggled over our heads to safety. As the roar of the climbing aircraft died away, even though I was about 40 yards away, I knew Bob was still alive as I could hear him cursing and swearing as he turned off the switches.
Arthur Hoyle, 460squadronraaf.com

"Somewhere in France"

On the evening of 14th July 1944, with the D Day invasion in full swing, a massive air effort was being mounted to disrupt German transport links.

Having taken off from Binbrock (Lincolnshire-UK) on July 14, 1944, around 9:38 pm, for a bombing mission on the Révigny-sur-Ornain (Meuse) railroad, Lancaster ME755 AR-Z was shot down by a night fighter on the 15th. July 1944 around 02:05, near Chevillon Haute Marne in eastern France..

Only two crew members managed to escape:
F / Sgt Brian Francis RAFTERY, Wireless Operator, RAAF,
Sgt David WADE, AIr Gunner, of the RAF.

The rest died in the crash and are buried at Chevillon Communal Cemetery.

ALLAN, ALEXANDER, Sergeant, 562335, RAFVR, Flight Engineer,

DICKERSON, KEVIN LESLIE THOMAS, Flight Sergeant, 421578, RAAF, Age 20, Bomb Aimer

JEFFRIES, FREDERICK, Flight Sergeant, 1323904, RAFVR, Age 33, Navigator

KILSBY, HORACE SIDNEY, Sergeant, 1575038, RAFVR, Age 21, Air Gunner

VAUGHAN, WILLIAM ALAN HENRY, Pilot Officer, 421774, RAAF, Age 25, Pilot

Submitted 12 October 2019 by Steve Larkins

On the evening of 14th July 1944, with the D Day invasion in full swing, a massive air effort was being mounted to disrupt German transport links.

Having taken off from Binbrock (Lincolnshire-UK) on July 14, 1944, around 9:38 pm, for a bombing mission on the Révigny-sur-Ornain (Meuse) railroad, Lancaster ME755 AR-Z was shot down by a night fighter on the 15th. July 1944 around 02:05, near Chevillon Haute Marne in eastern France..

Only two crew members managed to escape:
F / Sgt Brian Francis RAFTERY, Wireless Operator, RAAF,
Sgt David WADE, AIr Gunner, of the RAF.

The rest died in the crash and are buried at Chevillon Communal Cemetery.

ALLAN, ALEXANDER, Sergeant, 562335, RAFVR, Flight Engineer,

DICKERSON, KEVIN LESLIE THOMAS, Flight Sergeant, 421578, RAAF, Age 20, Bomb Aimer

JEFFRIES, FREDERICK, Flight Sergeant, 1323904, RAFVR, Age 33, Navigator

KILSBY, HORACE SIDNEY, Sergeant, 1575038, RAFVR, Age 21, Air Gunner

VAUGHAN, WILLIAM ALAN HENRY, Pilot Officer, 421774, RAAF, Age 25, Pilot

G for George - a survivor. Started her career with 460 Squadron on 22 October 1942

Mk 1 Lancaster W4783 was built by Metropolitan-Vickers Limited in Manchester in the United Kingdom in mid-1942. It was taken on charge by the RAF on 22 October 1942 and then allocated to A Flight of No 460 Squadron as 'G for George' on this day.
During its 17 month operational career with No 460 Squadron, W4783 flew 89 missions. The first was on the night of 5 December 1942 to attack Mannheim, and the last on the night of 20 April 1944 against Cologne. When 'G for George' retired from operational service after this raid it had completed more operations than almost any other aircraft in RAF Bomber Command.
Having been identified for the purpose as early as November 1943, W4783 was flown to Australia in late 1944 to publicise the Victory Loans drive. It left the United Kingdom on 11 October and, flying via Iceland, Canada, the United States and various Pacific Islands, arrived at Amberley outside of Brisbane on 8 November.
W4783 toured Australia during 1945, and made its last flight, to RAAF Base Canberra, on 24 September 1945. W4738 spent almost ten years -- most of them exposed to the elements -- at RAAF Canberra before being installed at the Australian War Memorial (AWM) in Canberra where it was the centrepiece of Aircraft Hall for 44 years before being disassembled and removed for an extensive conservation program in March 1999. In the second half of 2003 it was reassembled, and returned to display, in Anzac Hall.
One of the icons of the AWM's collection, it is now one of only 17 Lancasters left in the world from the 7,378 originally manufactured.

Submitted 25 May 2018 by Steve Larkins

Mk 1 Lancaster W4783 was built by Metropolitan-Vickers Limited in Manchester in the United Kingdom in mid-1942. It was taken on charge by the RAF on 22 October 1942 and then allocated to A Flight of No 460 Squadron as 'G for George' on this day.
During its 17 month operational career with No 460 Squadron, W4783 flew 89 missions. The first was on the night of 5 December 1942 to attack Mannheim, and the last on the night of 20 April 1944 against Cologne. When 'G for George' retired from operational service after this raid it had completed more operations than almost any other aircraft in RAF Bomber Command.
Having been identified for the purpose as early as November 1943, W4783 was flown to Australia in late 1944 to publicise the Victory Loans drive. It left the United Kingdom on 11 October and, flying via Iceland, Canada, the United States and various Pacific Islands, arrived at Amberley outside of Brisbane on 8 November.
W4783 toured Australia during 1945, and made its last flight, to RAAF Base Canberra, on 24 September 1945. W4738 spent almost ten years -- most of them exposed to the elements -- at RAAF Canberra before being installed at the Australian War Memorial (AWM) in Canberra where it was the centrepiece of Aircraft Hall for 44 years before being disassembled and removed for an extensive conservation program in March 1999. In the second half of 2003 it was reassembled, and returned to display, in Anzac Hall.
One of the icons of the AWM's collection, it is now one of only 17 Lancasters left in the world from the 7,378 originally manufactured.

Odds On

Courtesy of RAAF History Unit

'Air crew knew – or could know – what the losses were. They were quickly broadcast on the BBC and printed in newspapers. The only losses omitted were those unknown to the enemy – those “operational crashes” that took place in or close to England. In any case, the losses on an operating station were only too obvious to other crews as they waited in hope for friends late to land, and then saw the quick work of the Committee of Adjustment removing the possessions of those “missing as a result of air operations” so the rooms could be occupied quickly by a new crew. Before setting off on a raid experienced crew could make a quick assessment of the key factors – length of the flight, strength of the defences, the weather, the moon, and what had happened on previous raids to that target – and make a fairly accurate guess about how many were “for the chop”. So here was a strange situation where men going into battle could make a fairly accurate assessment of the likely losses.

For the men who did think about the odds they faced, a 3 per cent chance of dying on any one raid might seem reasonable. But they had to do this 30 times, and any air man could do the simple calculation that 30 times 3 per cent was 90 per cent. A 90 per cent chance of being among the missing was near enough to a certainty. If the tour was in the tough times of the Battle of Berlin, then the average loss on a raid was more like 4 per cent, and 30 times 4 per cent was 120 per cent. That was no chance. In fact, that simple multiplication does not give the odds of survival. A 3 per cent chance repeated 30 times gives a 40 per cent of completing a tour, still less than half but a lot better than 90 per cent. If the average loss rate was 5 per cent, then 21.5 per cent would complete a tour. Crews asked to fly a tour faced the probability of death, and all could know this.

The loss rate can be looked at another way. If a squadron was able to put into the air an average of twenty bombers on operating nights, and that was often the case with 460 Squadron, then over five operating nights it had to expect to lose three aircraft. In just three months (December 1943, and January and February 1944) 460 Squadron lost twenty aircraft, equal to its average fighting force. In the entire war 460 Squadron lost 1,083 aircrew. No Australian army battalion in the Second World War had anything like those battle losses, and the fighting force of a battalion is four or five times that of a bomber squadron.

In summary, the Australians who served in Bomber Command were:

Subjected to the most stringent selection and most demanding and dangerous training of any large group of servicemen to leave Australia
Young compared with the men in other services and with those of equivalent rank
Equipped with the most advanced technology then available and they used it in ways that were unknown even three years into the war
Trained in a highly structured sequence of schools where others decided what they did and where they went, but they themselves chose who went into battle with them
Sent into battle in crews that operated alone, were mutually dependent, and responsible for decisions that could kill themselves or large numbers of others
Required to go into action when the odds of survival were known and consistent
Committed to a tour of thirty operations when the cumulative losses over a tour meant that death was more likely than survival
Engaged in the longest and most closely contested battles of the Second World War
From their training days were often in situations of extreme danger, and all who survived knew many close colleagues who were killed in accidents and air battles
Shifted sharply between peace and war
In closer and more numerous associations with women than any other large group of servicemen in action in the Second World War
In units that suffered the greatest battle losses of any Australian units in the Second World War, and whose total losses made up over 20 per cent of all Australian battle deaths
Dispersed widely through RAF training and operating squadrons
Directed to implement policies subjected to greater scrutiny for their morality and effectiveness than those of any other major Allied force and
Appropriately remembered in the immediate postwar period, but since then have been given slight official and popular recognition.
The sum of all those points confirms that those in Bomber Command had a different war: it had no precedent and it will not recur. The disjunction lies between the last point and all those that go before it. A nation that asked so much of its citizens should remember them.'

Submitted 8 June 2016 by Steve Larkins

Courtesy of RAAF History Unit

'Air crew knew – or could know – what the losses were. They were quickly broadcast on the BBC and printed in newspapers. The only losses omitted were those unknown to the enemy – those “operational crashes” that took place in or close to England. In any case, the losses on an operating station were only too obvious to other crews as they waited in hope for friends late to land, and then saw the quick work of the Committee of Adjustment removing the possessions of those “missing as a result of air operations” so the rooms could be occupied quickly by a new crew. Before setting off on a raid experienced crew could make a quick assessment of the key factors – length of the flight, strength of the defences, the weather, the moon, and what had happened on previous raids to that target – and make a fairly accurate guess about how many were “for the chop”. So here was a strange situation where men going into battle could make a fairly accurate assessment of the likely losses.

For the men who did think about the odds they faced, a 3 per cent chance of dying on any one raid might seem reasonable. But they had to do this 30 times, and any air man could do the simple calculation that 30 times 3 per cent was 90 per cent. A 90 per cent chance of being among the missing was near enough to a certainty. If the tour was in the tough times of the Battle of Berlin, then the average loss on a raid was more like 4 per cent, and 30 times 4 per cent was 120 per cent. That was no chance. In fact, that simple multiplication does not give the odds of survival. A 3 per cent chance repeated 30 times gives a 40 per cent of completing a tour, still less than half but a lot better than 90 per cent. If the average loss rate was 5 per cent, then 21.5 per cent would complete a tour. Crews asked to fly a tour faced the probability of death, and all could know this.

The loss rate can be looked at another way. If a squadron was able to put into the air an average of twenty bombers on operating nights, and that was often the case with 460 Squadron, then over five operating nights it had to expect to lose three aircraft. In just three months (December 1943, and January and February 1944) 460 Squadron lost twenty aircraft, equal to its average fighting force. In the entire war 460 Squadron lost 1,083 aircrew. No Australian army battalion in the Second World War had anything like those battle losses, and the fighting force of a battalion is four or five times that of a bomber squadron.

In summary, the Australians who served in Bomber Command were:

Subjected to the most stringent selection and most demanding and dangerous training of any large group of servicemen to leave Australia
Young compared with the men in other services and with those of equivalent rank
Equipped with the most advanced technology then available and they used it in ways that were unknown even three years into the war
Trained in a highly structured sequence of schools where others decided what they did and where they went, but they themselves chose who went into battle with them
Sent into battle in crews that operated alone, were mutually dependent, and responsible for decisions that could kill themselves or large numbers of others
Required to go into action when the odds of survival were known and consistent
Committed to a tour of thirty operations when the cumulative losses over a tour meant that death was more likely than survival
Engaged in the longest and most closely contested battles of the Second World War
From their training days were often in situations of extreme danger, and all who survived knew many close colleagues who were killed in accidents and air battles
Shifted sharply between peace and war
In closer and more numerous associations with women than any other large group of servicemen in action in the Second World War
In units that suffered the greatest battle losses of any Australian units in the Second World War, and whose total losses made up over 20 per cent of all Australian battle deaths
Dispersed widely through RAF training and operating squadrons
Directed to implement policies subjected to greater scrutiny for their morality and effectiveness than those of any other major Allied force and
Appropriately remembered in the immediate postwar period, but since then have been given slight official and popular recognition.
The sum of all those points confirms that those in Bomber Command had a different war: it had no precedent and it will not recur. The disjunction lies between the last point and all those that go before it. A nation that asked so much of its citizens should remember them.'

If the enemy doesn't get you.

A No 460 Squadron Lancaster was returning to Binbrook from a raid over Europe. The mid-upper gunner was leaving his turret when he accidentally trod on the aileron cables.
The aircraft was at 18,000 feet and suddenly went into a power dive.
The pilot and most of the crew were not strapped in and for a few seconds were pinned to the roof of the diving aircraft. One of the front Browning machine guns flew out of its mounting and went through the cockpit canopy. The pilot tried to order the crew to bale out but his intercom connection had been pulled out. He finally managed to bring the aircraft under control by using his foot on the aileron wheel when they were down to just 6,000 feet.
When they arrived back at Binbrook it was discovered the force of the dive had bent the wings while the prop blades were deeply pitted. The aircraft was later struck off charge as unairworthy and a few choice words were said to the mid upper gunner.

Submitted 31 January 2015 by Steve Larkins

A No 460 Squadron Lancaster was returning to Binbrook from a raid over Europe. The mid-upper gunner was leaving his turret when he accidentally trod on the aileron cables.
The aircraft was at 18,000 feet and suddenly went into a power dive.
The pilot and most of the crew were not strapped in and for a few seconds were pinned to the roof of the diving aircraft. One of the front Browning machine guns flew out of its mounting and went through the cockpit canopy. The pilot tried to order the crew to bale out but his intercom connection had been pulled out. He finally managed to bring the aircraft under control by using his foot on the aileron wheel when they were down to just 6,000 feet.
When they arrived back at Binbrook it was discovered the force of the dive had bent the wings while the prop blades were deeply pitted. The aircraft was later struck off charge as unairworthy and a few choice words were said to the mid upper gunner.


The Wartime Memories Project is the original WW1 and WW2 commemoration website.

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OC 3(F) Squadron Wg Cdr Steve Kenworthy

3(F) Squadron Association is the official former comrades association of No. 3(Fighter) Squadron, Royal Air Force. Membership of the Association is open to those of all Ranks, Trades and Services who have ever been posted, or attached to the Squadron strength at any time since its formation on 13 May 1912. The Membership form can be found here: Membership Form

This is the Membership Secretary’s email: Phil’s email

Aims of 3(F) Squadron Association:

  • To foster the spirit and comradeship founded during service with No. 3 (F) Squadron
  • To provide means of maintaining contact with former colleagues
  • To nurture and encourage the special relationship between the Squadron and its Association
  • To locate and preserve any document, photograph or information which will enhance the official Squadron history.
  • For further details on the history of the association, either navigate via the About 3(F) Sqn tab or click here

Common Questions

WHY JOIN THE ASSOCIATION?

By joining the Association you are help us maintain our support to past and present members of the Squadron. It’s about friendship and maintaining those links though annual reunions and other events.

WHAT’S INCLUDED IN MY MEMBERSHIP?

You get full access to all areas of the website and 3 times a year we issue Three’s Company our newsletter full of stories about 3(F) Squadron past and present. We also have an annual reunion which is starting again this year.

WHY DO WE CHARGE A MEMBERSHIP FEE?

We provide 3 Newsletters a year and together with the web site fees, these cost over £350 to produce and print.

HOW DO I PAY?

You can pay for your membership online:

By Bank Transfer to: A/C No 02550283 S/C: 30-92-33 Ref: 3F Squadron Association or via PayPal @ [email protected]

We only accept cheques from overseas members.

Any Three’s Company articles to the editor please.

There are cockatrice ties available, £16.00 each contact Clive Handy (due in two months time)

The DVD ‘The Stories of 3(F) Squadron’ from the 2007 reunion are also available from me, £7 including UK postage. http://paypal.me/cliverh

I have been sent a sample of new style cumberbund which has the sqn colours on one side and The Wickets or a Cockatrice on the other side. Please see the merchandise page for details. Clive Handy

The CO’s (Wg Cdr Steve Kenworthy) page is under ‘About 3(F) Sqn and the Association’.

This website is designed to be informative and a point of reference for all association members, if you as an association member would like to see a particular item added to the site please contact the webmaster, to contact himclick here.


The Wartime Memories Project is the original WW1 and WW2 commemoration website.

  • The Wartime Memories Project has been running for 21 years. If you would like to support us, a donation, no matter how small, would be much appreciated, annually we need to raise enough funds to pay for our web hosting and admin or this site will vanish from the web.
  • Looking for help with Family History Research? Please read our Family History FAQ's
  • The Wartime Memories Project is run by volunteers and this website is funded by donations from our visitors. If the information here has been helpful or you have enjoyed reaching the stories please conside making a donation, no matter how small, would be much appreciated, annually we need to raise enough funds to pay for our web hosting or this site will vanish from the web.

If you enjoy this site

please consider making a donation.

16th June 2021 - Please note we currently have a large backlog of submitted material, our volunteers are working through this as quickly as possible and all names, stories and photos will be added to the site. If you have already submitted a story to the site and your UID reference number is higher than 255865 your information is still in the queue, please do not resubmit without contacting us first.

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RAAF Richmond Air Force Base

Training, accommodation, recreation facilities, conference and briefing room facilities, ablution facilities, change rooms, a secure and storage area.

Number of Staff in Base

Contractors

Serco Sodexho, Defence Maintenance Management, Qantas Defence Services, Lockheed Martin, Australian Aerospace, Marshall Aerospace, Air New Zealand Engineering Services,

Baulderstone Haurnibrook, Carson Group, Bovis Land and Lease, Rudds Consulting Engineers, Huggs Truman, Arup, Bligh Voller Nield

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The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Richmond base is located 50km north-west of Sydney between the towns of Windsor and Richmond. Built on a 270ha site, the base opened in June 1925. It is the second oldest air force base in Australia and served as the supplementary airport for people living in the vicinity from 1923 to 1936. It is currently used as a main military base and endorses the air lift capabilities for the Australian Defence Forces (ADF).

The Richmond base can handle long-haul aircraft and low-cost jetliners, including those of Jetstar and Tiger Airways. The base is a hub for C130J and C130H medium transport aircraft, which perform troop transport, parachuting, airdrop stores, search and rescue, disaster relief and medical evacuation operations.

The Department of Defence (DoD) unveiled its decision in 1998 that the renovation of the RAAF base would begin before 2010.

RAAF Richmond base history

Owned by the Richmond State Government, the military flying school was established in August 1916. The base was developed on the 270ha site of the school. The No. 3 Squadron was the first to migrate to the base in July 1925 and commence operations. Four flying squadrons (3, 6, 9 and 22) were transferred to the Richmond base along with the No. 2 aircraft depot during the outbreak of World War II in 1935.

The No. 8 and 11 squadrons were formed at the base in September 1939. The Air Lift Group was later situated at the base in February 1987.

Since World War II, the base has been serving as a combat centre for the ADF. The repainting of Qantas Airways and Jetstar aircraft is also executed at the base.

A ำm reinvestment project was proposed to the Government of Australia in August 2003. The project was intended to support the airlift capabilities of the Richmond base. Upon approval of the project by the government, the 36th and 37th Squadron headquarters building was constructed.

Other works involved in the reinvestment project included building the 33rd Squadron hangar, ablution facilities, and the 36th and 37th Squadron hangars. The upgradation of high-voltage reticulation and stormwater management facilities were also part of the project.

RAAF base design

The headquarters building of the 36th and 37th Squadron is located in the northern side of RAAF Richmond base. It was designed at a cost of ผ.6m as part of the reinvestment project. Work on the project included the construction of two two-level buildings, a single-storey building comprising a plant room and stores, car parking and landscaping. The entire building occupies a 4,200m² area, while the total floor area is 2,582m².

The building was designed by Bovis Land and Lease, Rudds Consulting Engineers, Hughes Truman and Arup, while Bligh Voller Nield was the architect. The first floor and roof were designed with concrete slab and light-weight hollow core precast concrete panels. The front of the building features aluminium windows and shop fronts.

The parking has been designed to accommodate about 110 vehicles. The electrical, hydraulic and mechanical plant installed in the building offers maximum energy, more water and maximum emissions to meet the quality standards of the GREEN STAR environmental rating system. The project has won the New South Wales (NSW) and the National MBA Award for energy efficiency.

The construction commenced in October 2004 and was completed in the last quarter of 2005. Baulderstone Hornibrook was the main contractor and Carson Group provided the project management services.

Richmond RAAF garrison facilities

The base serves as the headquarters for the Air Lift Group (ALP). It also houses No. 84 Wing (air-to-air refuelling), No. 86, No. 37 (transport), No.44 (air traffic control), No. 1 (combat communication), No. 22 (air force reserve), No. 87 (photography), No. 285 (flight simulator) and No. 3 (combat support hospital) wings.

ALP executes command, transport, operations, maintenance, training, and logistic support. It can also perform airborne operations, VIP transport, aeromedical evacuation and training.

The No. 84 Wing is primarily used for performing aircraft movements, air-to-air refuelling, training and ground services. It comprises two air transport squadrons (No. 33 and No. 34) and two training units.

The No. 86 Wing has three squadrons (No. 36, No. 37 and No. 38). It is used for light, medium and heavy airlift operations as well as for military transport. The military troops can be transferred to different locations using Hercules medium transport aircraft.

The No. 44 wing provides air traffic control (ATC) services throughout Australia. It controls the 11 ATC stations across Australia. This wing endorses the ATC technical ground electronic services (GES) to the base. It also controls the radars of the army, navy and air force. The ATC station monitors aircraft in the air and alerts the base when an enemy’s aircraft flies in the skies of Australia.

Richmond base air facilities

The Richmond base can accommodate the Hercules medium transport aircraft for carrying military troops. It features a single 2,134m runway, which is surfaced with asphalt material.

The base provides accommodation, ablutions, change rooms and a secure storage area to its staff. A conference and briefing room, aircraft engine run up, Boeing 707 and C130 simulator and mobile hospital storage facilities are also available at the base.


No.3 RAAF Recruiting Centre was established in Brisbane during the first month of World War Two. The Centre leased office space in a building located in Creek Street in Brisbane’s CBD on 29 September 1939. By 6 November, the first 36 Brisbane recruits to join the RAAF in the Second World War had enlisted through the Centre. No.3 RAAF Recruiting Centre was formally recognised as a unit of the RAAF on 4 December 1939.

Having a small establishment, the Unit initially only warranted an administrator who acted as the Unit’s adjutant. This was Flying Officer C.G. Williams. Pilot Officer P.J.B. Dawkins replaced him on 19 August 1941. In December 1941, No.3 RAAF Recruiting Centre Unit finally received its first commanding officer Squadron Leader K.L. Williams.

The Unit was responsible for RAAF recruitment throughout Queensland. Mobile Recruitment Teams visited towns and cities across the state encouraging enlistments in the RAAF and then conducting an on-the-spot initial assessment of each applicant.

On 9 February 1943, Squadron Leader T.A. Humble became the Unit commander. Such was the demand for replacement aircrew that by August 1943, No.3 RAAF Recruiting Centre Unit had grown to a strength of 23 officers, 54 airmen and 50 embers of the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF). Still, the Unit was under strength as its full establishment was 221 personnel.

Flight Lieutenant K. Millbrook was appointed the Unit commander on 1 March 1944. Enlistments for joining the RAAF to be trained as aircrew ended in May 1945. Thereafter only recruits who wanted to train as ground crew were accepted. The Unit disbanded on 2 November 1945.


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