Monday 19 September 2016 by Dianne Rutherford. 3 comments
First World War Centenary, Collection Highlights, Military Heraldry and Technology, First World War, Australian Flying Corps, Exhibitions

The unit that became known as 3 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps (AFC), was formed at Point Cook, in Victoria on 19 September 1916. However, it was initially designated 2 Squadron AFC. On 31 March 1917 it was re-designated 69 Squadron (Australian) Royal Flying Corps (RFC), before finally being designated 3 Squadron AFC on 20 January 1918.

Below is a selection of objects associated with 3 Squadron AFC that are currently on display in the Memorial's galleries.

 

First ammunition drop, Battle of Hamel 1918

 

Parachute used to supply soldiers with ammunition during the Battle of Hamel. On display in the First World War 1918 Gallery Parachute used to supply soldiers with ammunition during the Battle of Hamel. On display in the First World War 1918 Gallery RELAWM11629

This parachute was used to drop ammunition to the 13th Battalion near Vaire Wood on 4 July 1918 during the Battle of Hamel. According to the 3 Squadron war diary, about 90 boxes, consisting of about 114,000 rounds of ammunition, were dropped by 9 Squadron Royal Air Force, (operating from 3 Squadron's aerodrome) behind the new front line. This was the first time dropping supplies to troops in the middle of battle had been attempted. The parachutes and system to carry and drop the ammunition from RE8 aircraft were designed by Captain Lawrence Wackett, 3 Squadron and tested by members of the squadron in the lead up to the battle. Later, during the Battle of Amiens in August - September 1918, 3 Squadron dropped ammunition to Australian troops using Wackett's system.

Lawrence Wackett in 1916. Lawrence Wackett in 1916. DAAV00011

An ammunition delivery parachute during the testing phase, before the Battle of Hamel, 1918. An ammunition delivery parachute during the testing phase, before the Battle of Hamel, 1918. P09378.012

 

 

Identification discs and good luck charms

Identification bracelet with good luck charms. On display in Anzac Hall, Over the Front Gallery Identification bracelet with good luck charms. On display in Anzac Hall, Over the Front Gallery REL33983

Good luck charms and religious medallions were very popular among First World War soldiers, sailors and airmen. Henry Marston’s good luck charms include an 'I Go To Return' boomerang, a 'lucky' black cat and a FUMSUP charm (a play on 'thumbs up').

The latter was popular in Britain and FUMSUP dolls sometimes came with a poem:

Behold in me the birth of luck,
Two charms combined TOUCH WOOD-FUMSUP.
My head is made of wood most rare
My thumbs turn up to touch me there.
To speed my feet they’ve Cupid’s wings,
They’ll help true love 'mongst other things.
Proverbial is my power to bring
Good luck to you in everything.
I’ll bring good luck to all away,
Just send me to a friend today.

Marston had good luck in 1918 when he escaped a serious accident. He was standing near the landing strip at 3 Squadron’s aerodrome, when an aircraft crashed nearby and exploded. Finding he was unhurt, he helped the observer who had been blown out of the cockpit by the blast.

Unofficial identity bracelet on display in the Over the Front Gallery Unofficial identity bracelet on display in the Over the Front Gallery REL33984

Marston wore his identity disc and identity bracelet on his wrists. He also probably wore two fibre discs around his neck as per AIF orders. However, as many soldiers had a horror of losing their identity discs or of being unidentified if they were killed - especially by a shell - they often wore unofficial or extra identity discs on other parts of their bodies.

 

 

Manfred von Richthofen's death and burial

Members of 3 Squadron AFC firing a volley at the funeral of Baron Manfred von Richthofen 1918. Members of 3 Squadron AFC firing a volley at the funeral of Baron Manfred von Richthofen 1918. K00044

After Baron Manfred von Richthofen was shot down on 21 April 1918, his body and aircraft were recovered by 3 Squadron The squadron took an active role at his funeral the next day – including making his coffin in the squadron’s workshops and providing a guard of honour.

 

Control column from Baron Manfred von Richthofen. On display in the Over the Front Gallery Control column from Baron Manfred von Richthofen. On display in the Over the Front Gallery RELAWM00704

Flying overboot taken from the body of Baron Manfred von Richthofen. On display in the Over the Front Gallery Flying overboot taken from the body of Baron Manfred von Richthofen. On display in the Over the Front Gallery RELAWM00705

Von Richthofen's control column and left flying overboot were salvaged by Lieutenant Walter John Warneford, 3 Squadron. Warneford led a recovery party from the squadron’s aerodrome to map reference 1:40,000 Sheet 62D, grid J19 b 44, north east of Corbie, where they were in full view of the enemy.

Sheet 62D, showing the approximate location (in red) of the crash site of von Richthofen's aircraft.

The other members of the party were 726 Sergeant Lewis Richard Foale, 1456 Air Mechanic 2nd Class Benjamin John Harper, 756 Air Mechanic 1st Class Sidney Guy Penistan, 606 Air Mechanic 1st Class Alfred Alexander Boxall-Chapman, 1434 Air Mechanic 2nd Class Leonard Chapple, 662 Air Mechanic 1st Class Colin Campbell Collins, 682 Air Mechanic 1st Class James William Robert Bryce Roland.

It is thought von Richthofen originally acquired his overboots from a British pilot he had shot down. They were made from narrow sections of deer pelt, sewn together in vertical strips. The right overboot was collected by Captain William Valentine Herbert, who was also serving with 3 Squadron. It is also held in the Memorial’s collection but had lost most of its fur before it was donated.

RELAWM16615 - Right overboot

 

 

The Deaths of Sandy and Hughes

On 17 December 1917 RE8 A3618, crewed by Lieutenant J L M Sandy (pilot) and Sergeant H F Hughes (observer) from 3 Squadron was attacked by six German Albatros D.Va fighters. Sandy and Hughes successfully defended themselves for some minutes and shot down an Albatros piloted by Leutnant Rudolf Clausz. Another RE8 joined the action, and the two 3 Squadron machines then fought for a further 10 minutes. As a third RE8 flew to join the action, the Germans broke off combat. The third RE8 flew close to Sandy and Hughes, whose aircraft was flying normally and appeared to have resumed its patrol. However, they did not return to base. Nothing was heard until the next day, when their machine was found over 80 km away. Both men had been killed by a single bullet, but their aircraft continued flying until fuel ran out and it landed with little damage.

 

Albatros D.Va scout aircraft

Albatros D.Va scout aircraft shot down by Sandy and Hughes. On display in the Over the Front Gallery. Albatros D.Va scout aircraft shot down by Sandy and Hughes. On display in the Over the Front Gallery. RELAWM04806

After D.Va D5390/17 was shot down by Sandy and Hughes, the aircraft was recovered under heavy artillery fire by personnel of 3 Squadron. After it was examined, it was displayed at Australia House, London from December 1918 until it was shipped to Australia in mid-1919. It was displayed in South Australia in October 1920 before being displayed in Melbourne and Sydney. From 1941 it was displayed in Canberra, where it remained until the early 1960s. In the mid 1960s substantial reconstruction of this aircraft was undertaken, with more major work completed in 2008.

 

Fying overboots of Leutnant Rudolf Clausz, Jasta 29, German Air Service

Leutnant Clausz Leutnant Clausz RELAWM00668

Flying over-boots worn by Leutnant Rudolf Clausz of Royal Prussian Jasta 29, the pilot of Albatros D5390/17, shot down by Sandy and Hughes. Leutnant Clausz received a shrapnel wound in the thigh from anti-aircraft fire and was taken prisoner by members of 21 Battalion AIF and his boots were souvenired when he was brought to battalion headquarters, where his wound was bandaged.

 

Mounted grave marker of James Lionel Sandy

Grave marker for James Sandy. On display in the Over the Front Gallery. Grave marker for James Sandy. On display in the Over the Front Gallery. REL37499

Aluminium grave plaque recovered from the St Pol gravesite of Lieutenant James Lionel Montague Sandy. It was originally attached to a cross made from a wooden propeller that was replaced by an official war graves headstone in the 1920s. The plaque was sent to Sandy's family and mounted on this decorative wooden frame.

Photograph of James Sandy Photograph of James Sandy P09378.014

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Graham O'Brien

I've visited the site where Von Richtofen crashed, on the road out of Corbie, it's marked by a simple historical plaque giving brief details of the incident. The pity is the lack of detail on historical sites of the AFC for us to visit on the Western Front, old airfield sites and the like. Indeed, the AFC is overlooked too often in historical accounts of World War 1. Les Carlyon, for example, in over 800 pages of his otherwise excellent account 'The Great War', makes no mention of the AFC other than their encounter with Von Richtofen. Thanks for commemorating this anniversary, but I think we need to do more.

Geoff McIntosh Murwillumbah NSW

I have just had the pleasure of sharing this 3 Squadron Centenary information with a 3 Squadron WW 2 member , Armourer F/Sgt Alex Thompson who joined the unit in 1941 in Libya going then to Syria . He is looking foreward very much attending the Centenary gathering at Williamtown this week. Interesting reading about Lawrence Wackett , his efficient method of parachuting ammunition to troops in France, and for WW 2 his great involvement with design and production of the Boomerang fighter , the pilot of one seen generously dropping sweets to troops in New Guinea in 1943 . I had RAAF friends who knew Gordon Steege and Peter Turnbull . Bob Whittle DFC , Murwillumbah , was another WW 2 member.

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