3 Squadron AFC

Note on Squadron numbering: The unit that would become known as 3 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps (AFC), was formed at Point Cook, in Victoria on 19 September 1916. It was initially designated 2 Squadron. On 31 March 1917 (in England) it was redesignated 69 Squadron (Australian) Royal Flying Corps (RFC). On 20 January 1918 the unit was finally designated 3 Squadron AFC. For ease of comprehension 3 Squadron has been used throughout the following entry.

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3 Squadron, the first Australian flying unit to arrive on the Western Front, was originally formed in September 1916 at Point Cook in Victoria. Transported to Europe on HMAT Ulysses, it landed in England on 28 December 1916 and was sent for training to South Carlton, Lincolnshire. Training on AVRO 504 and BE-2e aircraft lasted eight months and in July 1917 the squadron was mobilised for France. On 24 August 1917 three flights (each of six RE-8 aircraft) left South Molton for Lympne in Kent. Delayed by bad weather, the squadron finally arrived at their appointed aerodrome in France (Savy) on 10 September 1917. The squadron was subsequently employed in support of the ground forces, operating over the Canadian and XIII Corps’ front near Arras.

In November 1917, the squadron moved to Flanders to operate in support of the Australian Corps. Its duties included locating enemy gun emplacements, artillery spotting and bombing patrols. In early 1918, operations extended to dropping propaganda leaflets and, in February, photographic reconnaissance work. During the German spring offensive, the squadron moved to the Somme valley and was involved in vital artillery spotting operations. On 21 April 1918, 3 Squadron aircraftbecame involved in the action leading to the death of the German air ace Manfred von Richthofen.

In late June 1918 the squadron was involved in experiments in aerial supply methods for ground troops and in July contributed to noise diversion operations in connection with the battle of Hamel. The squadron also assisted Allied movements in the battle of Amiens by dropping smoke bombs and continued its reconnaissance duties during the Allied advance to the Hindenburg Line. The squadron’s last offensive operations took place on 10 November 1918, the day before the signing of the Armistice.

After the Armistice the squadron supported Allied forces in the move to the German frontier and was also used to provide a postal air service for the AIF. On 21 February 1919 the squadron began its move to Hurcott Camp, near Salisbury and on 6 May 1919 embarked on RMS Kaisar-i-Hind at Southampton and sailed for Australia, arriving at Port Adelaide on 16 June 1919.

Colour Patch

Colour patch for 3 Squadron AFC

Glossary

Equipment

Battle Honours

Casualties

  • 32 killed, 23 wounded

For more information please see the Roll of Honour, Wounded and Missing, First World War Nominal Roll and Embarkation Roll databases.

Commanding Officers

Decorations

  • 1 MC
  • 4 DFC
  • 1 MBE
  • 1 MM
  • 5 MSM, 1 bar
  • 2 foreign awards

For more information please see Honours and Awards database

Collection Items

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References

  • AWM4/8/6/1: December 1916 unit diary
  • P. Muller & J. Hutchinson, Secrets revealed: a brief history of No 3 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force, (Adelaide: Lutheran Publishing House, 1991).
  • Units of the Royal Australian Air Force. A concise history. Volume 2, fighter units. (Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service, 1995).