ADF Serials Newsletter

For those interested in Australian Military Aircraft History and Serials

ã 2003

January 2004

In this Issue:



Editor’s blurb Welcome to 2004. I hope everyone is rested after their holidays. Judging from the number of new subscribers to the newsletter, the holiday season was an opportunity to surf the net and stumble across our site. Please feel free to email us at any time with information, articles etc.

The first day in January brought home the stark reality of the thinning numbers of WW 2 veterans with the death of "Bull" Garing. A biography released by Defence Media has been included in the newsletter.

Due to the work commitments of SOTH (Spouse of the House) or rather SLOTH (spouse lately of the House) in the first part of this year, I will be taking a break from the role of editor for the next six months. I will continue as the Beaufort page administrator and indexing the newsletter. See you all in September,




Website Updates:

A new section has been added to the website that will enable people to come forward with documents to aid us with research for the website. If you hold material that you think might be of interest to others, please submit details via the link:

A marvellous example of how this can assist others occurred recently when an initial request submitted via the ADF-Serials updates/feedback system, resulted in two of Darren’s images (Kalkara and Challenger 604), being used in a forthcoming book with the website being listed in credits page!



Vale Air Commodore William Henry 'Bull' Garing (Rtd), CBE, DFC, DSC

On 1 January this year, Australian aviation lost one of its memorable WW2 figures – "Bull" Garing. The following biographical information was released by Defence Media:

William Henry Garing was born in Corryong on 26 July 1910, and completed his schooling to intermediate certificate standard at Thougla State College, Corryong Higher Elementary School, and Melbourne Technical School. After 18 months service with the Citizen Air Force he entered the Royal Military College, Duntroon, in January 1930, transferring from the Army to the Air Force when he started flying training at Point Cook in December 1930.

During the 1930s Garing became the RAAF's leading specialist in air/sea operations. While at the School of Air Pilotage and Specialist Navigation School in the UK during 1934-35, he qualified for his Air Master Navigation Certificate. By the outbreak of war he had spent several years with the RAAF's seaplane squadron at Point Cook. In 1938 he had become the first person in Australia to qualify for a First Class Aircraft Navigator's license.

Flight Lieutenant Garing was in the United Kingdom in September 1939 with No 10 Squadron, taking delivery of the RAAF's new Short Sunderland maritime patrol aircraft, when the war in Europe started. Instead of returning to Australia as planned, No 10 Squadron stayed in England to fight the Nazis.

In June 1940 FLTLT Garing was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for engaging five German bombers which were attacking an armed merchant cruiser.

When Garing returned to Australia his operational experience was utilised in a series of important planning activities including the development of reconnaissance and attack plans for the Air Force units stationed in New Guinea, anticipating the probable outbreak of war with Japan.

Two of the RAAF's major successes during the war in the Southwest Pacific from 1941 to 1945 were at Milne Bay in August 1942 and in the Bismarck Sea in March 1943. The RAAF's commander on the scene for both successes was Group Captain William Henry Garing. Garing’s nickname "Bull" was attributed to his pugnacious, forceful style and it was his aggressive leadership that made a crucial contribution to both victories.

One aspect of Garing's wartime service which stood out above all else was his expert planning and inspirational leadership at Milne Bay and the Bismarck Sea. Then with the rank of Group Captain, Garing arrived at Milne Bay as air commander several days after the fighting began. He brought a keen understanding of the developing situation and, even more importantly, an indomitable will to win.

Under Garing's aggressive leadership, the RAAF made a vital contribution to the eventual victory, the first time Japanese land forces had been defeated.

And at a time when senior American Army commanders in the theatre questioned the capabilities of some of their Australian counterparts, Garing won the respect of the theatre's senior airman, General George Kenney, and the supreme commander, General Douglas MacArthur.

Seven months after Milne Bay, the Japanese made one last attempt to re-establish their loosening grip on New Guinea by despatching 6400 troops from Rabaul to their major garrison at Lae, using a convoy of eight troop transports defended by eight destroyers and about 100 fighter aircraft.

Drawing on his expertise in maritime warfare, Garing convinced Kenney to prepare a massive, coordinated air attack against the enemy convoy. Garing envisaged large numbers of aircraft striking from different directions and altitudes, with precise timing.

In the early morning of 3 March more than 90 RAAF and US strike aircraft, plus their fighter escorts, took off from Port Moresby, with the intention of intercepting the convoy in the Bismarck Sea, about 140 kilometres north of Lae. By 10:00 a.m. the battle had been joined, and by 10:30 a.m. the brilliantly conceived and coordinated attack had routed the enemy fleet. Eventually, for the loss of only a handful of aircraft, the allies sank all eight troop transports and four destroyers. Three thousand Japanese soldiers were killed and the remainder left in disarray.

Described by General MacArthur as 'the decisive aerial engagement' of the war in the Southwest Pacific, the battle of the Bismarck Sea was one of the most devastatingly one-sided air/sea battles of World War II. Never again did the Japanese try to reinforce New Guinea; which in turn meant that never again could they threaten to invade Australia.

Bull Garing's great strength was in the area of command on the battlefield. Nevertheless, in the ensuing years, Air Commodore Garing, CBE, DFC, DSC (US), continued to represent the RAAF with dignity and flair in senior posts which included Air Officer Commanding Overseas Headquarters London, commandant of the RAAF College, and officer commanding the bases at Pearce, Point Cook, Richmond and Edinburgh. He also continued to fly aircraft with considerable dash until he retired in 1964. During a flying career that spanned 60 years, he logged over 3,900 hours and flew over 90 aircraft types as Captain-in-Command. After leaving the RAAF Garing maintained an active interest in military affairs.

Bull Garing could reasonably claim to have been Australia's most successful operational-level air commander in the Pacific. He was a unique, respected and loved figure in RAAF circles.

Garing was laid to rest with full military honours on Thursday 8 January 2004 at the North Suburbs Crematorium, North Ryde. Lest We Forget.


Vietnam Veterans Nominal Roll Extended

Some of you would be aware that a Nominal Roll of Vietnam Veterans was released in 1997 and covered all Australian Defence Force members who landed in Vietnam or served in Vietnamese waters between 23 Mazy 1962 and 1 July 1973 as well as medical teams. Following representations from ex-services organisations, the Minister for Veterans Affairs, Danna Vaile, has decided that the end date for the Nominal Roll should be extended.

Anyone who served in Vietnam between 2 July 1973 and 29 April 1975, or who believe that they should be added to the Nominal Roll need to contact"

Dept of Veterans Affairs 1300 780 133 or

Email: or


Nominal Rolls and Health Studies Support

PO Box 21

Woden ACT 2606.


Update on Point Cook Closure

Following last month’s newsletter, we received an email questioning Point Cook’s operational status stating that: In the early 1970's I was informed by someone who had just completed over 30 years in the RAAF that when there were no sealed runways, grass runways and/or taxiways then it was NOT an operational airfield it was MERELY an airstrip.  Which means there is a MAJOR difference between an operational airfield and an airstrip.

Thanks to the following readers who submitted additional information clarifying this issue:

Grahame sent in the following: I can guarantee that in my time as a Controller at Point Cook 1983 - 1984, runways 04/22 and 17/35 were concrete and had been for quite awhile.   My guess 15-20 years, they were getting pretty rough around the edges.  The ERSA would indicate that they are now bitumen.   I can also guarantee that we were an operational airfield, a fairly busy one with left and right circuits and three lanes.

Bruce, now living in the UK sent the following:

There was the main runway which headed towards the old seaplane hangars at one end and Laverton at the other. Don't remember the numbers. Although I've seen photos of Point Cook with another, shorter, sealed runway crossing the main one, I don't recall it being there. I certainly remember landing on a grass strip in about the same place but we sometimes did land beside the sealed runway anyway so that I can't really be sure. There was another grass strip that ran from near the main gate at an angle to the main runway. We only ever used it to practice precautionary landings encouraged by the large trees growing at the main gate.

The Winjeel has very large flaps which, I seem to recall, would drop to about 60 degrees max. You could make like a helicopter when they were down. In fact with full flap and full power you wouldn't go anywhere but down! The other reason I recall the sealed runway was a claim in the Cadets' Mess line book put there by an Army cadet on the course ahead of me that the Winjeel had a grooved tail wheel so that he wouldn't rub out the centre line when he landed.

Thanks to Grahame and Bruce. I should also point out that in the Dec newsletter I did not use the word operational, but operating [Ed]


Can you Help Updates

Moth/Mirage Photo

Bruce from the UK has provided the following information on the Moth/Mirage photo taken at Williamtown in 1978: I've no idea of the identity of the Mirage but the Tigers are interesting. The lead bird looks a bit different, almost as though it has a canopy but can't tell from the photo. It also has anti-spin strakes forward of the tailplane which were unusual on Australian Tigers. I understand that they were originally fitted to aid spin recovery on Tigers which were carrying bomb racks in the UK. The second Tiger I can't identify but wonder if it might be old VH-ALH which was owned by the Royal Newcastle Aero Club and operated out of Rutherford!

I flew that particular aircraft quite a bit in the mid-sixties and my last flights were at Williamtown towing gliders in 1966.

Grahame was able to provide additional information: The second Tiger was VH-RIN aka A17-588 and apparently the lead Tiger was a Brit registered aircraft taking part in an air race or record attempt.

More on Sea Venom WZ909

Bob Geale passed on the following info: The panel from the port wheel is still on display in the Australian Museum of Flight which brings me to:


Australian Museum of Flight (AMOF) update

The AMOF incorporating the Australian Naval Aviation Museum officially opened the fifth phase of its update. There are around thirty nine aircraft on display including a Macchi, a Skyhawk, a Heron and three helicopters hanging from the rafters, most impressive and worth a visit.

Great to see the progress being made by this dedicated band of aviation enthusiasts [Ed].

Thanks to all those that submitted updates – it shows what a depth of collective knowledge we have in our readers [Ed].


Meteor Project

Andrew is a member of a UK group restoring a Meteor T7 (WA591) back to airworthiness at Yatesbury near Swindon and recently found the Meteor listings on our website which provided him with information on previously unknown RAAF airframes.

The groups is endeavouring to compile a complete list of aircraft worldwide and would like to hear from anyone who can provide corrections, updates, photographs etc to assist them and in particular would love any historical or technical data on WA591’s history with the RAAF.

If you can assist Andrew please use the feedback link:

Alternatively you can visit the group’s website:



Can you help?

Bruce from the UK is looking for the accident report of Sabre A94-351 which crashed on 9 December 1968, killing a close friend, Malcolm Chick. The accident occurred on return from an air-to-air banner towing sortie when the banner was dropped and the aircraft then stalled out on the base leg on his landing approach and crashed. If anyone can tell me how I can get hold of the report or has any further information such as where he is buried, I would be grateful.

The group has suggested that Bruce contact the Directorate of Flying Safety and also the National Archives of Australia site. There are no details on their online catalogue but as only about 10% of their records have been added to the catalogue, it is always worth contacting them for further clarification.

Any other suggestions that we can pass onto Bruce would be appreciated. As usual submit via the feedback link:



Update on A97-468

Col has contacted us to provide an update on A97-468 which was grounded since sustaining wing damage from the storm of 2001. It has now had its outer wings removed, and repairs have commenced. Col will keep us updated on its progress.


Reunion at Parkes for WW2 personnel Anzac weekend 2004

The Parkes RSL and Parkes Shire Council will be holding a reunion on 23-25 April 2004, for airmen and women who served in the district during WW2. The reunion will focus on operational facilities at Bogan Gate and the Parkes Aerodrome where 23 lives were lost in training accidents between 1941 and 1945.

For further information please contact:

Arthur Parker

PO Box 259

Parkes 2870 or

Mike Greenwood

Parkes Shire Council

PO Box 337

Parkes 2870


On this Day

1 Jan 2004 The death of Commodore William Henry 'Bull' Garing (Rtd), CBE, DFC, DSC

3 Jan 1968 PLTOFF M McGrath killed when Sabre A94-986 from 79 Sqn stalled and crashed on base circuit at Ubon, Thailand. A three year old girl, Nuan, was killed by the aircraft or wreckage.

4 Jan 1942 Japanese air attacks against Rabaul

20 Jan 1942 The RAAF sends 6 Wirraways against 100 Japanese aircraft over Rabaul. With only one Hudson and a damaged Wirraway surviving the onslaught, Wing Commander Lerew was ordered to attack the convoy. A later signal ordered Lerew to evacuate all aircrew and to assist the army with keeping the aerodrome open which led to the following signal being sent to Headquarters ‘nos morituri te salutamus’ We who are about to die, salute you.

28 Jan 1941 The crew of Anson A4-5, PLTOFF John I. Newman 819 (Pilot),FLGOFF Henry Theodore Skillman 625 (Nav),AC Charles Richard Tysoe 5922 (Wireless Op), SQNLDR James Manning Rainbow 43589 (Medical Officer) and PLTOFF Bailey Middlebrook Sawyer 1704 (patient) were killed when their aircraft on a medical flight from Parkes to Mascot, crashed at Glenbrook, NSW (near the current site of RAAF Base Glenbrook).

Thank you to Dean and his aircrew losses research, the Australian War Memorial’s "This Month" and the RSL Diary for dates for this month’s On this Day segment- Jan



If you have something for the newsletter or would like to submit an article, query or image, please use the following links: