• Lucky Charms

    Monday 11 February 2008 by Amanda Rebbeck. 17 comments

    It is not unusual for servicemen and women to carry with them good luck charms while on overseas service. However one particularly superstitious serviceman was Aircraft Mechanic 2nd Class Henry James Marston, of No. 3 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps (AFC). Marston wore a wrist chain with an identity tag and three lucky charms – a boomerang, a black cat and a doll. 2AM Henry J Marston’s aluminium identity disc and …

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  • The Dangers of Flying

    Wednesday 6 February 2008 by Amanda Rebbeck. 1 comments

    The aircraft of the 1914-18 period were visibly frail and delicate and quite unlike the capable machines we know today. First World War aircraft were prone to structural or mechanical failures and could easily catch fire. Armament was limited to rifle-calibre machine guns and protection for the crew through armour and parachutes were only beginning to be used in the closing stages of the war. Aircrew operated with few aids to navigation,…

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  • The Role of Aircraft

    Wednesday 6 February 2008 by Peter Burness.

    In war there has always been the need to see the enemy behind the hill; reconnaissance became a role of cavalry.  Eventually observation balloons played a part as well.  By the First World War, it was apparent that aircraft, being able to get above and well behind the enemy’s lines, could do it so much better. This work was further enhanced by the development of aerial photography.  Observers in aircraft could also direct artillery …

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  • Who Killed the Red Baron?

    Wednesday 6 February 2008 by Amanda Rebbeck. 13 comments

    A posthumous photograph of Captain Baron Manfred von Richthofen (the Red Baron). I came across a number of first and second hand accounts of the death of Baron von Richthofen whilst I was examining various Private Record Collections in the Memorial’s Research Centre. They made for interesting reading since the events of 21 April 1918 have long been the subject of many enthusiastic debates in the history of the First …

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  • Operations

    Monday 10 December 2007 by Peter Burness.

    Four Australian squadrons flew operationally. No.1 Squadron AFC had a unique role, serving in Egypt, Palestine and Syria. Its airmen undertook reconnaissance and bombing and were often drawn into aerial combat. Lieutenant Frank McNamara won the Victoria Cross for rescuing a downed comrade under fire; it was the first to an Australian airman. Portrait of Lieutenant Frank Hubert McNamara, No. 1 Squadron, AFC. Meanwhile …

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  • Training

    Friday 7 December 2007 by Peter Burness.

    Trainees, instructors and staff for the Australian Flying Corps first flying training course which began 17 August 1914. They are pictured in front of a BE2A aircraft in a hangar at the Central Flying School, Point Cook, Victoria. Some Australian pilots qualified at courses at Point Cook, Victoria, and at Richmond, New South Wales; however, from 1917, most were trained in England. It took about 8 months to produce a …

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  • The Concept of the Ace

    Friday 7 December 2007 by Peter Burness. 1 comments

    The bold exploits of the fighter pilots caught the attention of the public. Aerial duels fought by young men in the clear skies satisfied the heroic notion of warfare; something that the bloody trench fighting could no longer do. Each nation had its air heroes, although many of them had only short lives. Those who destroyed five enemy aircraft were referred to as ‘aces’. The greatest of these, of any side, was the German, Manfred …

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  • The Role of Aircraft

    Thursday 6 December 2007 by Amanda Rebbeck.

    Reconnaissance was once the role of the cavalry. In the First World War, aircraft being able to get above and well behind the enemy’s lines, could do it so much better. This role was further enhanced by aerial photography. Observers in aircraft could also direct artillery fire onto targets. Soon armed single-seater fighter-scouts were hunting the reconnaissance planes, and it became necessary to protect them. A …

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  • The Australian War Theatres

    Thursday 6 December 2007 by Peter Burness.

    Australian airmen served overseas from the earliest days of the First World War. Two pilots were sent to New Guinea in 1914, but were not needed. The following year a group, to become known as the Mesopotamian half-flight, went to the Middle East and were absorbed into the Royal Flying Corps. Here, in a disastrous campaign for the British against the Turks, the Australian Flying Corps suffered its first casualties and some of the men …

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  • Captain E. J. McCloughry DSO, DFC*, MID, No. 4 Squadron, AFC

    Wednesday 5 December 2007 by Amanda Rebbeck. 1 comments

    On 21 February 1919 Captain Edgar J. McCloughry wrote a review of his experiences in France whilst serving with No. 4 Squadron AFC. This review, in the form of a thirteen page letter, covered the period from June-September 1918 and was written in response to a request from the Officer in Command of the Australian War Records Section. It is rare to come across a document such as this; there are only a handful held amongst the …

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