ADF Serials Newsletter
For those interested in Australian Military Aircraft History and Serials
In this issue:
Editor’s blurb: Hi everyone. Well another bumper edition this month. Part 4 of Gordon B ‘s P40’s continues this month. Gordon will be taking a break from this subject for a couple of months and plans to dabble in Spitfire history. Dean continues his reports on RAAF aircraft losses and looks at the loss of a Sabre at Williamtown this month. Gordon C continues his look at printed bloopers in the Ooops pass that by me again section. The Kiowa helicopters recently reached a milestone in this history, read on to see what this was. Gordon and Dean provide information on how a lone RAAF member is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington. We also have some request for help from newsletter subscribers so if you can assist them, please do so.
On a personal note, my workplace has been invaded by the Australian Idol phenomenon with one of our support staff, Anton making the top 40! I don’t know that I was happy about being described as working in a straight laced library (straight jacket would be closer to the mark on most days J ) but while I have slipped into the librarian persona, please read the section on copyright and how to avoid intentional or unintentional infringements.
While I’m still in straight-laced mode, a recent submission to the feedback section of the site, suggested that we submit an application to PANDORA, a project undertaken by the National Library of Australia, which preserves and catalogues Australian websites. More details of this in the newsletter so read on.
Please feel free to contact us with feedback, suggestions etc
Changes to the Website:
Dean Norman’s Aircrew Loss pages have been removed from the ADF-Serials website at his request. Those who have accessed Dean’s research would be aware of the thousands of hours that Dean has spent in documenting all RAAF military crashes, and producing a valuable work that has filled a gap in RAAF military history. I know how invaluable Dean’s research was to me when I first started the Beaufort page and I have been able to provide some additional details to him as well.
Recently Dean was made aware of an inappropriate usage of his material and reluctantly, made the decision to remove his research from the website in order to protect his ownership of this material.
I’m sure Dean would only be too glad to provide assistance to bona fide researchers who are interested in finding out more about aircraft losses. Dean still remains an active member of the ADF-Serials team and continues his articles on aircraft accidents in this month’s newsletter.
P40E/E-1 Operations in Australia Part 4 V4 –Gordon B
2nd US Convoy shipments to Brisbane 13-30/01/42
Following the formation of this reinforcement plan, all shipments, then destined to the Philippines were re-routed to Brisbane for unloading, erection and assembly of the P40Es, whereupon they would be organised into provisional fighter squadrons and flown to Java. The list of ships that loosely could be termed as the second convoy is as follows:
Following the arrival of these fifty-five P40Es, assembly commenced in earnest so that another two Provisional Squadrons could be dispatched to Java. The first P40E accident since the departure of the 17th Pursuit Squadron (Prov) happened on the 23rd January 1942. From this accident, the first P40E fatality occurred in Australia. A 2nd Lt. Hamilton was alighting off the wing of his recently landed P40E, when another landing P40E’s wing tip struck him in the middle of the back. He died of those injuries a few hours later.
The following day, 2nd Lt. Jack R. Peres crash-landed at Amberley Airbase, resulting in his P40E #36, suffering undercarriage, wing tip, main plane, aileron, and flap and airscrew damage. At least these three and more were repaired for later service in other squadrons.
Again, building up upon their experience and establishing logistical support, these two provisional squadrons. (The 20th & 3rd Pursuit Squadrons (Prov), respectively commanded by Capt. William Lane Jr. and Capt. Grant Mahoney) were formed from this shipment of fifty-five P40Es. These two squadrons, the 20th and the 3rd Pursuit Squadrons (provisional) were hastily staffed by the limited number of Philippine veterans and with a greater ration of in-experienced pilots from the states. 20thPS(Prov) departed on the 29th January 1942 with twenty-five P40Es from Brisbane, escorted by a B24A (40-2374). However they lost two P40Es in accidents on route, with only one replacement provided before it too left Darwin.
The 3rd PS (Prov) departed on the 6th February 1942 from Brisbane with twenty-five P40Es. It had a heavy loss in numbers during its transit, with five* damaged on-route to Darwin. Two aircraft remained at Darwin for maintenance and repairs (Lt’s Buel & Oestreicher).
The 55 tentative P40E Serials of the Second Convoy that were most likely initially issued to the 20th/3rd Pursuit Squadrons (Provisional) are as follows:
After researching USAAF Aircraft data cards, particularly their shipping dates and arrival dates, accident records and known identities:
FY Serials: 40-599,41-5335, 41-5360,41-5363,41-5364,41-5365*, #41-5366**, 41-5367,41-5368**, 41-5369**, 41-5370,41-5371,41-5373,41-5374,41-5384, 41-5386,41-5392,41-5394, 41-5395,
41-5397,41-5398,41-5399,41-5400,41-5401,41-5402, 41-5413**, #41-5415**, 41-5421, 41-5423,
41-5497,41-5498,41-5499, #41-5503**, 41-5504,41-5506, (Repo Russian/British DA P40Es in bold italic)
*41-5365 was #36 flown by 2ndLt. Jack Peres (later 33rdPS(Prov) on the 24/01/42 accident.
** 7 Later repaired 20th /3rd PS (Prov) P40Es served in the 49thPG/RAAF. What’s interesting is that #41-5366, #41-5415 and #41-5503 of the above shipment were latter taken over by the RAAF sometime during March and for the latter August 1942, becoming A29-68, 26, &163 respectively
The extreme difficulty of reviewing serials for this batch has been due to seldom initiated kept records of this period. There are another 3 P40Es to obtain, their origin are cloudy, but there appears to be some re-directed Russian/British Defense Aid P40Es delivered at this time to Australia (DAAC 15/03/42 CORRECTED FROM 15/01/42). Though the records show an on-date of DAAC 15/03/42 entries, this appears to be an administration cleanup done some two years later by the 5thAAF in 1944 as mentioned earlier. Things were desperate at the time I guess, and these possibly were in the same batch, boxed and shipped to Australia as those with the date of 15/01/42 as per the italic Russians/British.
This has been supported by at least two of these aircraft crashing late January and early February 1942 in Australia (41-5436 & 41-5349 respectively.
Another fact is the number of P40Es assembled to the 4/02/42.The USAAF and RAAF crews had since 20/12/41 to 4/02/42 assembled 138 P40E’s at Amberley. The New USAAF Geelong assembly point only started to deliver new assembled P40E’s from the 16/02/42 to the 49th Pursuit Group, or so it seemed even if you confirm with cards as well, which commenced per 21/02/42. But that’s in Part VI.
This is where currently my research has been concentrated on. Again I stress that the a/c cards were updated some two years after their arrival, therefore there is conjecture on their exact date of arrival.
It appears that the dates given as arrival were in line with their allocation to the provisional Squadrons, hence a problematical allocation is given to their Squadrons, backed up with the few examples "tagged" so far, which support this reconciliation. As exemplified by the 17th Pursuit Squadron (Prov), all of their aircraft have an arrival date of the 20/12/41, when it is known that the last one was assembled, was on the 9th January 1942.
Therefore, to use the arrival date to establish the research base is used for the following, 15/01/42 for the 20th/3rd PS and the 21-30/01/42 for the 33rd/13th PS. There is some overlap between the two, as expected due to the commencement of assembly of the third batch prior to the 3rd PS (Prov) departure, with the need to replace their training losses.
Those initial P40E-1’s that were initially lost have a generic write-off date of 07/04/42.
So from this basis we get the card totals per arrival dates as marked on the a/c Cards
Card totals are as follows:
Actual a/c record Arrival dates:
Date No Destination Primary Unit
20/12/41 18 Brisbane 17thPS(Prov)
15/01/42 42 " " 20th/3rdPS(Prov)
15/01/42 13 " " 20th/3rdPS(Prov) DAAC* (Date correction from 15/1 to15/3)
20/01/42 49 " " 13th/33rd PS (Prov)
21/01/42 32 Transhipped to Bne DAAC (Date correction from 21/1 to 15/3)
?/?/42 4 Missing 4
Total 138 *DAAC stands for Defence Aid Air Corps
Up to this stage, the number of P40E accidents were increasing due mainly to the fact that most of the Philippine Veterans Pilots of the evacuated 24th Pursuit Group had by now been sent to Java. This also included exhausting most of the erected P40Es of this time.
A few were left in Australia, including Lt Buzz Wagner, who had suffered glass splinter damage to his eye earlier in the Philippines campaign, mainly to train and lead the final two Pursuit Squadrons to be raised, namely the 33rd and the 13th Pursuit Squadrons (Prov).
Therefore the arrival of the third shipment of 71 P40E on the USAT Monroe on the 30th January 1942 in Australian waters, provided for enough aircraft to establish these last two squadrons.
What have we gleamed so far out of all this? With all of the deliveries of these Warhawks up to the end of February 1942, not one was available for our RAAF fighter squadrons to use in the defence of Australian territory. A fact sorely felt when Darwin was attacked on the 19th February 1942.
There will be a 2month break between this and Part V due to some interesting developments that have come to light. Time will be needed to sort this information out. In Part V, we will examine the assembly and dispatch of the last two Provisional Squadrons and the MS (Melbourne to Singapore)-5 Convoy.
Follow up to June’s Article by Gordon C
‘The first ‘aluminium’ finished P40N for the RAAF was A29-415 in early 1944." However I don't think that was the case. This P-40N was received by 78 Sqn in mid-Sept 1943 and was in the standard foliage green of the time with the small height serial in black under the tailplane. That was changed sometime in Dec 1943 with the painting of the empennage in white with the larger serial numbers applied. On the 5th March 1944 it meet with an accident when some tree or branches of a tree fell on it. Up until that time I know of no change to the colour scheme or of it being stripped during that time. It returned to 78 Sqn on the 6th April. The very next day F/O Griffiths in -415 ran up the tail of -467 (Bob Crawford) writing the latter off. Bob doesn't remember the offending plane being of a metal finish, but of the standard green.
-415 was back in 78 Sqn for few weeks from mid-May then back again on the 24th June. Maybe after that date it may have had the paint stripped. Do you have any photos of it in a metal finish? If so do you know when the photo was taken?
There was a metal P-40N in 78 flown by S/L Brydon, but I don't think it was this a/c. The main pilot of -415 was F/L Shiells and to a lesser extent S/L Davidson. Any info that can shed new light on this subject I'd love to see.
Copyright – What to do if you wish to use something from the newsletter or ADF-Serials Website
A recent incident regarding the downloading of an entire section of the ADF-Serials website has highlighted the issue of copyright infringement. Any research on the ADF-Serials website has been placed online to assist those interested in military/aviation history and the ownership (intellectual property) remains with the ADF-Serials group or the individual researcher.
If you wish to use material from the newsletter or from the ADF-Serials website, please be aware that copyright laws apply to all material whether in print or electronic versions. If using material, you need to acknowledge the source. The Australian Copyright Councilhttp://www.copyright.org.au advises the following:
Please check their site for additional information.
On This Day ….
6 August 1945 First atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima
12 August 1940 Loss of the first RAAF Hudson. A16-27 from 23 Sqn went missing near Stradbroke Island Qld while on a navigation exercise (Source Dean Norman’s Aircraft losses).
13 August 1940 Loss of second RAAF Hudson A 16-97 Canberra. Ten killed including the crew of 4, the Air Minister James Fairbairn, the Secretary to the Air Minister Richard Elford, the Chief of General Staff LT GEN Brudenall, Sir Henry Gullett, Minister for the Army Geoffrey Street and LT COL Thornwaite (Source Dean Norman’s Aircraft losses).
15 August 1945 Victory in the Pacific (VP) Day
Loss of Sabre Mk 31 A94-937 – Dean Norman
(Article reproduced courtesy of Directorate of Flying Safety-Air Force)
Brief Account of the Accident
On Tuesday, 12 April 1960 at 1453 hours a Sabre Mk3l was being flown by a student pilot at Number 2 (F) OCU Williamtown. He was engaged in a period of practice forced-landings on Williamtown airfield. He had initiated an overshoot from his third approach on Runway 12; he is recorded as having called over the Rtf "I think I have got a fire in the instrument panel. I am not sure. Smoke coming out of the nose." He was requested to repeat the message and he called "Mayday. Mayday. I have fire in the nose. Switching off the electric power." No further transmission was heard from him. The aircraft flew on for about one mile, then turned port through approximately 90 degrees and levelled out on a northerly heading at a height of 300-500 feet AGL. The canopy was jettisoned. The aircraft dipped the port wing and then rolled into the incipient stage of a spin to starboard at which time an unidentified object was seen to detach from it. The aircraft then entered a steep dive, struck the ground and exploded. The pilot, who was found in the wreckage area, was killed. The aircraft crashed one nautical mile from the eastern end of the 12/30 runway and on a bearing of 060 degrees M from the end of the runway.
Condition of the Pilot
There was no evidence to indicate that the pilot was not capable, both mentally and physically, of flying the exercise. A post- mortem examination revealed that the cause of death was multiple fractures of the skull and multiple injuries to the body.
Meteorological records covering the time of the accident show the cloud as 3/8 at 16000 feet, wind velocity as east to east-north- east at six knots, low level turbulence as slight and intermittent and relative humidity at 67%. The importance of this humidity observation will be discussed further on in this Critique.
Pre-Flight Briefing and Authorization
The pilot was briefed to fly Sabre Mission Number 5 in accordance with Number 2 (F) OCD Jet Training Syllabus Sabre. This exercise calls for a series of simulated forced-landing approaches, each followed by an overshoot. It was expected that he would execute some five or six approaches during the period. He was briefed to land from his final practice forced-landing if he was satisfied with the approach.
Eye Witness Observations
The Sabre had been airborne about 33 minutes when the pilot announced his intention to overshoot from his third practice approach. The aerodrome controller on duty in the control tower watched the aircraft fly past the tower and he estimated that it was about 100 feet AGL when it reached the end of the duty runway, Runway 12. At this time, 1454 hours, he heard a radio transmission from the pilot but was unsure of the exact message because of simultaneous transmissions from other aircraft on different frequencies. This message was picked up by the tape recorder in the tower. The controller asked the pilot to repeat the message and he heard the reply "Mayday. Mayday. I have fire in the nose, switching off the electric power." The controller then sounded the crash alarm. He estimated the aircraft at this time to be 150 feet AGL climbing on a heading of approximately 120 degrees M; he saw neither flame nor smoke coming from it. Because of other noises around him he was unable to tell whether the aircraft was still under power. He saw the aircraft commence a turn to port, and he then transmitted to the pilot that he was clear to land downwind if he wished. He heard no reply to this message. He then saw the aircraft straighten out from the port turn onto a northerly heading at about 300 feet AGL. He observed that the aircraft's attitude appeared to be nose high. As he watched he saw an object, which he took to be the canopy, detach from the aircraft, travel backwards, kick up end-first and strike the aircraft's fin. His attention was distracted momentarily and when he next saw the aircraft it turned to starboard, flicked on to its back and dived inverted to the ground. He thought that the canopy and aircraft separated but they fell in company and struck the ground together. The time was 1455 hours.
The VHF duty operator agreed with this report adding that he estimated the distance separating the aircraft and the object falling with it, which he thought to be the canopy, to be about 20 feet. He stated that he estimated the total distance from the end of the port turn to the point where the aircraft crashed was about one mile.
From the time of the sounding of the crash alarm a number of civilians and a large number of the personnel stationed at RAAF Base William town watched the aircraft until it finally disappeared behind some low trees and crashed. The eye witnesses' accounts supplemented the observations of the duty aircraft controllers, the main additional points being:
(a.) Two witnesses saw a puff of smoke come from the aircraft at a time which coincided with the jettisoning of the canopy. Others heard several sharp reports: these reports were likened variously to rifle fire or Bofors gun fire.
(b.) Pieces of shiny material were seen to fall from the aircraft: several witnesses saw perspex on the ground as they proceeded to the scene of the accident.
(c.) An unidentified object was seen by many to leave the aircraft at about the time the aircraft commenced the final diving manoeuvre.
(d.) One civilian witness heard the major explosion followed instantaneously by a single sharp report.
The exact order of events following the ground impact was difficult to establish in view of the nature of the distribution of the wreckage, however, the accompanying diagram depicts the most likely flight path and sequence of events.
The Ejection Seat
The seat which fired on impact came to rest on its port side some 30 feet away from the cockpit area. Stains on each of the shoulder harness straps were positively identified as being human bloodstains. The canopy jettison left hand lever was fully up and locked.
From the location of scorch marks on the ejection seat and evidence of unburnt grass under it, it was clear that the ejection seat was on the ground before the fire spread to that point.
The Cockpit Canopy
Pieces of canopy perspex, including the portion to which the rear vision mirror had been attached, demister pipe, and a piece of metal from the vertical stabiliser were found in a small area some 900 feet back from the point of impact. The main portion of the canopy frame was adjacent to the starboard wing tip whilst the canopy bow had tom away and was 155 feet further along the wreckage trail. Marks on the bow indicated that it had struck the tops of the ejection seat guide rails: scratching and scoring on the port inside lower edge was consistent with its having hooked on to the stabiliser; the vertical stabiliser was found to be gouged front and rear near the tip. A mark on the inside centre of the bow matched marks on the pilot's helmet visor rail. The canopy initiator was recovered and had been fired.
The findings indicate that the canopy remained attached to the aircraft stabilizer until ground impact and that the canopy bow was tom off and flicked away by the gyration of the tail assembly and engine. They further indicate that a major injury occurred to the pilot in the cockpit at the time he jettisoned the canopy.
The Pilot's Attempt to Eject
Following a declared emergency at low level the pilot initiated the ejection sequence by jettisoning the cockpit canopy. He did not complete the sequence. Post-mortem examination revealed that he had suffered multiple fractures of the skull.
Stains on the seat safety harness shoulder straps show bleeding to have occurred whilst the pilot was still in the seat. It is clear that at the time he was sitting relatively erect, and therefore would have been struck by the canopy bow. This was unusual in the light of the briefings which had been given to pilots after the two previous Sabre fatal accidents, the ejection drill precis notes, and his participation in a canopy demonstration. Nevertheless, the evidence on this point was clear: the pilot failed to lean forward, as required, prior to canopy jettison initiation.
The Pilot's Seat Harness
The pilot was found outside of but near the wreckage still with his parachute attached. Also attached to the pilot were items of the seat harness buckle mechanism which, in a correct and complete automatic ejection, should have been found attached to the ejection seat port lap strap. The most probable reason for this was that the safety harness was not fully secured at the time the pilot strapped himself into the cockpit.
It is considered that through inexperience or distraction he omitted to complete his pre-flight strapping-in procedure in regard to the belt locking key mechanism. Subsequently, his flying clothing could have lightly snagged the release lever and thus undone the harness or, having sustained the head injuries at the time of jettisoning the canopy, some random movement of his body could have caused the safety harness lock to spring open leaving him free in the cockpit.
Evidence found within a few feet of the port wing tip indicated that the pilot first struck the ground on his back close to that point. The impact burst open the back type parachute. The body then bounced and travelled through the air a further 40 feet trailing the partly deployed parachute. The fire, started by sprayed fuel, was extinguished under the body at the point where the body finally stopped. This, coupled with the charring of the parachute from the ground upwards, indicated that the fire was already burning when the pilot and parachute arrived on the ground.
From this evidence it is deduced that the object seen to fall from the aircraft at about 300 feet AGL at the start of the final diving starboard turn was the unencumbered free falling pilot who had been thrown from the aircraft as a result of forces acting on him during the incipient stage of a starboard spin. Considering that the pilot and the aircraft separated at 300 feet and that the ejection seat remained with the aircraft until ground impact, the blood stains found on the shoulder straps of the seat safety harness proved conclusively that the pilot had suffered severe injury whilst he was still in the aircraft. The direction of travel of the body through the bush and onwards from the point of first ground impact to where it came to rest was such as to render it impossible for the pilot to have been in the aircraft when the aircraft hit the ground.
Cockpit Pressurisation and Air Conditioning Units
The possibility of the origin of smoke or other evidence of burning entering the cockpit by means of the pressurised air was given consideration. No evidence was found to support this.
A potential source of "smoke" in the cockpit was the air conditioning unit. It is known that this unit produces a bluish-white smoke-like vapour in the cockpit under certain conditions of engine RPM, ambient temperature and humidity. The smoke, in reality fog, appears firstly in wisps from vents at the front of the cockpit. The fog is produced usually when the air conditioning controls have been set to produce maximum cold air and the engine is running at high RPM. The effect of the appearance and the volume of this fog creates a general impression of smoke in the cockpit; this has been described by experienced Sabre pilots as "frightening." In fact, several emergencies have been declared in the past when smoke or fire was reported in the cockpit.
The possibility of an electrical fire behind the instrument panel is so improbable as to have been unlikely. No sudden load was placed on the aircraft electrical system at this stage of flight so that there was no new circumstance introduced to increase the likelihood of cockpit fire. Sabre aircraft are not disposed towards defects of this nature.
Greater confidence is felt towards the theory of the air conditioning unit developing fog in the cockpit. The pilot had been obliged to overshoot on short final because of other traffic and so applied high engine power. The air conditioning system began producing fog which he mistook for smoke- and thus he assumed that there was an emergency. It is considered that it was such a situation which prompted his "Mayday" call and induced him to take the action he did.
On the basis of the evidence available it is considered most likely that the pilot mistook fog from the air conditioning system for smoke and declared an emergency at low level. Following his stated intention he switched off the electric power. He also switched off the engine master switch; this action cut off fuel to the engine and thus brought about an actual emergency. The nature of the terrain forced the pilot to attempt to abandon the aircraft rather than force-land it.
As an essential preliminary to ejecting the pilot initiated the canopy jettison system and was struck on the head by the canopy bow. This rendered him incapable of completing the ejection sequence. Through an oversight during his initial strapping-in procedure the pilot had not completed his safety harness drill.
Subsequently, his harness became unfastened. This left him unsecured in the cockpit.
The aircraft stalled at about 300 feet AGL and rolled into an incipient spin to starboard. At this stage the pilot was thrown from the cockpit. The aircraft dived inverted into the ground, exploded and burned. The pilot's body fell into the wreckage area.
Can You Help - DH-9A
Jack Zimmerley recently submitted the following to the feedback section of the website:
I have greatly enjoyed reading the history of the DH-9 series aircraft. Maybe you could help me with a project.
I am working on building a full sized reproduction of the DH-9A, while a friend of mine is also concurrently rebuilding and Imperial Gift DH-9. Unfortunately, I just found out yesterday that the blue prints for both
Of these aircraft were destroyed at Hatfield England during a 1940 German
and Mathew and Hassell).
Any leads would be appreciated by Jack. If you can assist, please email Jack Zimmerley firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kiowa Milestone – Army News
A recent article in Army News gave details of a Kiowa milestone – the logging of the 10,000th hour while on service in East Timor. The Kiowa has been in service since 1974 and has served with a number of units. It is due to be phased out in 2005 when the armed reconnaissance helicopter is introduced. For further details please click on the link below:http://www.defence.gov.au/news/armynews/editions/1075/Default.htm
Collaborative Research – RAAF Burial at Arlington National Cemetery - Gordon B and Dean
Gordon B was recently searching the National Archives of Australia site when he came across the following snippet and brought it to the attention of the group:
RAAF casualty file - 33516, Pilot Officer, MILNE, Francis Debenham [born 9/2/1917 killed air operations in New Guinea on 26/11/1942. File does not record that Pilot Officer Milne is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC in the USA. His grave is located in section 34, collective grave number 4754. P/O Milne may be the only Australian buried in Arlington]Series number
Dean was able to provide the following details that cleared up the mystery:
The reason why the file would not have mentioned his burial at Arlington was because his remains, as well as those of some USAAF aircrew were only discovered in 1987 by a bushwalker who discovered the C-47 Dakota that Milne was flying in at the time. PLTOFF Milne was attached to a USAAF transport unit to provide local knowledge and gain experience as a Dakota Co-pilot.
The Dakota was intercepted and shot down by a Zero in early 42. The pilot attempted to force land in a swamp but was unsuccessful. The crash, caused by elevator structural failure, was observed by friendly forces but the inhospitable NG jungle was so rough the site was never accessed.
However, upon discovery Milne's remains could not be isolated from that of the Flight Engineer and the family agreed to have all the remains in one casket and have them interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
At the time of Milne's internment at Arlington in Nov 1988 his widow was still alive. PLTOFF Milne has the distinction of being the only member of the RAAF to be buried at Arlington.
Oooops... Pass That By Me Again – Gordon C
This is the fourth in an occasional column looking at errors in books or magazines I or others come across. For a look at the rationale for the column please see the first article in the December issue of last year.
We will revisit "The RAAF and the Flying Squadrons" by Norman Barnes and have a look at "Units of the Royal Australian Air Force – A Concise History vol 2 Fighter Units" by the RAAF Historical Section as well.
Now let's jump to 78 Sqn on page 204 of Barnes' book for a look at the COs of that squadron. The details are:
20 Jul 1943 F/L R S Osment (temp)
14 Aug 1943 S/L G F Walker
28 Jun 1944 S/L A H Bryce
25 Aug 1945 S/L R J Cowan
12 Feb 1947 S/L J R Kinninmont
1 Apr 1948 disbanded
Again the most immediate item is that S/L Bryce [sic] was CO for some 14 months of an operational squadron. Just not on. Further when one checks the records for 78 Squadron there was no one called Bryce in it! So what are we to make of it all? Clearly someone has been missed and we need to track down who this Bryce character really was.
Now a quick look at the "... Concise History vol 2 Fighter Units" that should hopefully clear up the matter. On page 68 they have this list of 78 Sqn COs:
14 August 1943 S/L G F Walker
28 June 1944 S/L A H Brydon
25 August 1944 S/L R J Cowan
12 February 1947 S/L J R Kinninmont
Unfortunately it may have helped in one area but has added a few extra questions. Whose date is correct about S/L Cowan? He couldn't have been CO of the squadron for two and a half years could he? Is S/L Brydon the CO who is misspelt in Mr Barnes' book?
In my research for writing a book about 78 Sqn I've managed to track down those answers and found that the COs for this Sqn was more complex than the above discrepancies would suggest. Certainly 78 Sqn was formed on 20/7/43 and their first CO, though temporary, was F/L Osment. The complete list should be:
20 Jul 1943 F/L R S Osment (temp)
14 Aug 1943 S/L G F Walker (later W/C)
28 Jun 1944 S/L A H Brydon
12 Oct 1944 F/L D R Baker (temp)
03 Nov 1944 S/L R P Sudlow
25 Aug 1945 S/L R J Cowan
17 Dec 1945 G/C A C Rawlinson CO 78 Wing
11 Dec 1946 W/C R C Cresswell CO 78 Wing
?? Jan 1947 F/L N H Bradbury (temp)
17 Feb 1947 S/L J R Kinninmont
1 Apr 1948 disbanded
My sources for this article were: Arch Simpson, ORB (Operation Record Book) of 78 Sqn, combat reports from 78 Sqn, numerous photos from many members of 78 Sqn (too many to list) and the status card for A29-401.
So if you have come across some errors or omissions in books or magazines please drop me a line giving details of the material and where the issue is and what sources you have used in determining this error. There is heaps of material out there. Go for it!
[Thanks Gordon, your research shows the importance of checking information in more than one source. Ed]
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