Distinguished Flying Cross : Flight Lieutenant W S Arthur, 3 Squadron, RAAF

Unit No. 3 Squadron
Accession Number REL27812.002
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Award
Physical description Silver
Location Anzac Hall: Mezzanine Level: Courage Column
Maker Unknown
Date made c 1942
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Distinguished Flying Cross (Geo VI). Engraved on reverse with date of award.

History / Summary

Wilfred Stanley 'Woof' Arthur was born in Sydney, NSW, in December 1919, and enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force at the age of 19. He was a regular officer serving with 22 Squadron (operating Avro Ansons and Hawker Demons) when war was declared in 1939. Posted to North Africa in 1940, he served with 3 Squadron RAAF, flying Gloster Gladiators, Hawker Hurricanes and Curtiss Tomahawks. On 13 December 1940, his Gladiator was shot down by an Italian Fiat CR42 and he was forced to bail out, but went on to become a successful fighter pilot, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in November 1941. Arthur returned to Australia as a flight lieutenant in 1942, and flew Curtiss Kittyhawks with 76 Squadron in New Guinea until January 1943. He was then promoted to become the CO of 75 Squadron RAAF, and in April 1943 was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for an action over Milne Bay. He later led 71 and 81 Wings, operating from Noemfoor and Morotai, and was one of the youngest group captains in the RAAF by 1945. Concerned by what he saw as wasteful ground support operations, (in support of the Borneo landings) Arthur was one of the leaders of the 'mutiny' against Air Commodore AH Cobby, the officer commanding 1 Tactical Air Force, in which several senior officers tendered their resignations. This action, and its unhappy consequences, led to his taking a discharge from the Air Force in early 1946, and settling in Darwin, NT. He was credited with destroying eight enemy aircraft, as well as probably destroying two more and damaging six. Wilfred Arthur died in late 2000. The citation for the DFC reads as follows 'In November, 1941, this officer participated in an operational sweep over the Bir El Gubi area. A large formation of enemy aircraft was intercepted and, in the ensuing combat, F/Lt. ARTHUR destroyed 4 of them. This officer has displayed great skill and gallantry on many occasions and he has destroyed at least 7 hostile aircraft.'