AWM UK2338 Bowen working on her portrait of Group Captain Dudley Forsyth DFC
AWM UK2338

RAAF in Britain during the Second World War

Stella's main task as official war artist was to record the activities of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) servicemen in Britain. After the Pacific War began, this was one of the few defence forces that continued to fight in Europe for the duration.

Approximately 38,000 young Australians joined their British and Commonwealth colleagues in the three Royal Air Force (RAF) commands: Bomber Command, Coastal Command, and Fighter Command. Each organisation had a critical part in first defending Britain against invasion and then attacking and defeating Germany.

Activity

Stella painted two types of aircraft: the dark, foreboding Lancaster and Halifax bombers and the pale, pot-bellied Sunderland flying boats. Australians in Britain also flew Spitfire, Wellington and Mosquito aircraft.

Select your own Second World War aircraft from books or the Australian War Memorial photograph database. Draw or paint your aircraft. Find out about camouflage and colour the plane with the colours for service in Europe.

Read more about the people, planes and battles in the Allied air war against Germany:

Peter Stanley, Air Battle, Europe 1939-1945 [1987]

Don Charlwood, No Moon Tonight  [1991]

  • Don Charlwood was one of the many young Australian men who served in Bomber Command, losing many of his friends and colleagues in these dangerous operations. He wrote this moving account of his time in England ten years after the end of the war.