Blog: Aerial Operations
65 years ago a very special operation began to provide food to the starving civilians in the German occupied Netherlands. During the harsh winter of 1944-1945 the Dutch population endured a major famine. Known as the ‘hungerwinter’ it was concentrated in the densely populated urban areas bounded by Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam and The Hague. By 1945 the daily ration had been reduced to 600 calories – a third of what it had been in 1941.
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, and were usually exposed to the elements while in flight.
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.