RAAF WW2

Apropos of nothing in particular I came across this video made by the Commonwealth Film Unit in 1967 which contained a lot of footage I have not seen before and thought it might be worth posting here. At the time of its making the Commonwealth Film Unit was one of the more creative elements of the media in Australia.

While the subject is the RAAF the first half could apply to any of the British and Commonwealth forces in Europe but the second half is more RAAF orientated. The Lancaster shown at the beginning and end of the video is "G for George" and is a central exhibit in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

 
Always thought Clive Caldwell got a royal shafting
 
Always thought Clive Caldwell got a royal shafting
You are absolutely right about that. With some very limited exceptions the Australian high command was very ropey during the second great unpleasantness across the services. I got great enjoyment when reading Alanbrooke's diaries his description of Blamey who was Australian CoS, "Blamey is not an impressive specimen. He looks entirely drink sodden and somewhat repulsive." And at another meeting, "Blamey looked as if he had the most frightful hangover from a debauched night! his eyes were swimming in alcohol!"
 

Bad Smell

Old-Salt
On a personal note, I had an uncle by marriage who flew as the second pilot on the ferry flight of "G for George" from the UK to Oz. Even though they had a couple of fitters on board, they flew without a Flight Engineer and early into the trip the auto pilot failed, so both pilots manually flew the aircraft all the way to Oz. This info was obtained from the AWM book, G for George. His name was F/O Francis Smith DFC and he was recognisable in the book by his rather large proboscis. My Aunt who passed away last November remembered him post war and I sent her a copy of the photo. Unfortunately he continued as a pilot post war and was killed a few years later in a flying accident. There was a family nickname for him but I will keep that to myself.

So off I trots to the AWM library on a trip to Canberra after I found out they had a copy of his log book on file. Unfortunately it had a note saying it was not to be copied so I transcribed all his Ops for later reference. As he flew with 101 Squadron he was only required to complete 25 Ops and not the usual 30 for a tour. That tour was a total of 27 Ops as twice they had to turn back with mechanical problems.

Later on I found out that his daughter lived around the corner from me in Brisbane but I never got around to saying hello. I still kick myself for that.
 

Bad Smell

Old-Salt
Some photos of "George".

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1627727019648.png
 
With some very limited exceptions the Australian high command was very ropey during the second great unpleasantness across the services.

The divisive relationship between George Jones and Bill Bostock with the RAAF was nothing short of a disgrace. Both should have been removed, and if the RAAF had no-one suitable to replace them, Oz should have swallowed its pride and asked for RAF officers on secondment, as had occurred previously with Burnett.

Blamey was, unfortunately, to overshadow a number of very capable 2- and 3-stars who were not as well connected politically.
 
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Always thought Clive Caldwell got a royal shafting
I watched a documentary on 73 Squadron, with its superb leader, John Jackson, and the disgusting way that WW1 vintage senior RAAF officers accused them of cowardice for their highly successful hit and run tactics with the Kittyhawk against the greatly superior Zero, ordering them to dogfight instead, which caused John Jackson's death the following day.
Was Air Commodore Harry Cobby involved in that as well as the death of the many brave Australians that triggered the Morotai Mutiny?
 

Bad Smell

Old-Salt
Just a slight correction as it was 75 Sqn and yes the commanders still had a lot to learn in "modern" air warfare. I grew up knowing the airport in Port Moresby as both Jackson's Airport or 7 Mile. The aerial fighting around Moresby at that time was quite confusing and the early warning system if you could call it that was very, very rudimentary. Three shots in the air with a .303 from the first who saw them. Usually on those air raids, it was a combination of Zeros and Bettys. The Zeros strafing with the air defence being SA as the AA guns were few in number or had not yet arrived whilst the Betty's bombed with impunity at altitude. The fighters depending on when it was were RAAF P40s (75 Sqn) or USAAC P-39s and were largely ineffectual as they were very few in numbers. Think of two or three on CAP as the Japs were coming in around similar times. The Zeros came in from Lae and the Bettys from Rabaul. Lae was a very shitty airstrip and was unable to support the larger aircraft.

April '42, I think he was killed. I have a signed copy of his autobiography produced by his son and daughter.

I read Caldwell's book a long time ago and most of their work was strafing isolated Jap garrisons for no real change in moving the war forward. The Yanks had buggered off and were in the Philippines and on their way to Japan.
 
“G” was the centrepiece (altho’ currently dismantled for the AWM’s renovations and creation of larger displays) for the award and presentation of the Unit Citation for Gallantry to the RAN Helicopter Flight VietNam personnel, in which my wife’s cousin served. An Iroquois aircrewman, he was KIA 21 Aug '68, along with the pilot, also RAN, and the co-pilot and another crewman who were US Army. The RANHFV was incorporated into 135th AHC (Assault Helicopter Coy), an 'EMU' (Experimental Military Unit), as an element of 222 Combat Support Aviation Bn, 12 Combat Air Gp, 1st Avn Bde. Our son, also now serving in the RAN as an aircrewman, was chosen to represent, and receive the Award, on behalf of my wife’s cousin’s widow who was unable to attend the Ceremony. “G” was a spectacular centrepiece, and we can only hope that the renovations and display areas continue to portray her activities in a sympathetic setting.
9308D32B-F746-4D69-B3BA-C5595C84216E.jpeg
 
Was Air Commodore Harry Cobby involved in that as well as the death of the many brave Australians that triggered the Morotai Mutiny?
Harry Cobby didn't take over command of North-East Area (which included New Guinea) until August '42, just in time for Milne Bay. John Jackson was, as @Bad Smell said, killed in April '42.

While, as AOC, Cobby must shoulder some of the blame for the Morotai Mutiny due to his lack of leadership, I wonder whether his relationship up the CoC meant that he was in no position to influence what 1TAF was being ordered to do. He'd already burnt bridges with Bostock and Jones.

'It is impossible to campaign under such conditions. The 1st Tactical Air Force R.A.A.F. is now either administered or directed by R.A.A.F. Headquarters (with Forward Echelon thrown in for luck), R.A.A.F. Command, G.H.Q., and the Commanding General, 13th Air Force. I do not relish the role of the Duke of Plaza Toro.' - Harry Cobby, October 1944
 
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Harry Cobby didn't take over command of North-East Area (which included New Guinea) until August '42, just in time for Milne Bay. John Jackson was, as @Bad Smell said, killed in April '42.

While, as AOC, Cobby must shoulder some of the blame for the Morotai Mutiny due to his lack of leadership, I wonder whether his relationship up the CoC meant that he was in no position to influence what 1TAF was being ordered to do. He'd already burnt bridges with Bostock and Jones.

'It is impossible to campaign under such conditions. The 1st Tactical Air Force R.A.A.F. is now either administered or directed by R.A.A.F. Headquarters (with Forward Echelon thrown in for luck), R.A.A.F. Command, G.H.Q., and the Commanding General, 13th Air Force. I do not relish the role of the Duke of Plaza Toro.' - Harry Cobby, October 1944
Fair point.
Was MacArthur putting in his three-happence of questionable experience and micro-management, from way behind the lines, by the time of the mutiny? I ask this as he earmarked Peleliu early on as vital for the retaking of the Philippines, and yet the taking of Peleliu was entirely unnecessary by the times the allies were ready to invade the Philippines but, he ordered it anyway. Two and a half months fighting and 21000 casualties on both sides to capture less than 20sq km of no longer important real estate.
 
Fair point.
Was MacArthur putting in his three-happence of questionable experience and micro-management, from way behind the lines, by the time of the mutiny? I ask this as he earmarked Peleliu early on as vital for the retaking of the Philippines, and yet the taking of Peleliu was entirely unnecessary by the times the allies were ready to invade the Philippines but, he ordered it anyway. Two and a half months fighting and 21000 casualties on both sides to capture less than 20sq km of no longer important real estate.


Hmmm, I think I'd put it at least equally down to the RAAF hierarchy, knowing that their forces had been side-lined, to need to show (to themselves, the Australian government and the USA) that they were still busy doing things, even if they were of questionable to no military value.
 
Hmmm, I think I'd put it at least equally down to the RAAF hierarchy, knowing that their forces had been side-lined, to need to show (to themselves, the Australian government and the USA) that they were still busy doing things, even if they were of questionable to no military value.
Hard to put it down to them alone when he had assumed command of allied forces. He was only ever any cop when it was going his way, as soon as his plan encountered the inevitable, 'No plan survives contact with the enemy' he was stuffed. Anyone can be great when the enemy are retreating but he was godawful when they held, and even worse when they took the initiative.
MacArthur takes charge
 
Just a slight correction as it was 75 Sqn and yes the commanders still had a lot to learn in "modern" air warfare. I grew up knowing the airport in Port Moresby as both Jackson's Airport or 7 Mile. The aerial fighting around Moresby at that time was quite confusing and the early warning system if you could call it that was very, very rudimentary. Three shots in the air with a .303 from the first who saw them. Usually on those air raids, it was a combination of Zeros and Bettys. The Zeros strafing with the air defence being SA as the AA guns were few in number or had not yet arrived whilst the Betty's bombed with impunity at altitude. The fighters depending on when it was were RAAF P40s (75 Sqn) or USAAC P-39s and were largely ineffectual as they were very few in numbers. Think of two or three on CAP as the Japs were coming in around similar times. The Zeros came in from Lae and the Bettys from Rabaul. Lae was a very shitty airstrip and was unable to support the larger aircraft.

April '42, I think he was killed. I have a signed copy of his autobiography produced by his son and daughter.

I read Caldwell's book a long time ago and most of their work was strafing isolated Jap garrisons for no real change in moving the war forward. The Yanks had buggered off and were in the Philippines and on their way to Japan.
Thank you for the correction. Being on ROPs means the 'edit' function has been withdrawn so I cannot correct it for at least another week.

The documentary series is ' '44 Days: Squadron 75 Squadron' and begins with the RAAF having no air defence of Australia. They are fortunate enough to have crated up US Kittyhawks that were meant for the Dutch but they were overrun in Indonesia before delivery. There were no experienced fighter pilots except John Jackson home on leave from the Western Desert. Getting from Sydney to Townsville saw the first losses due to poor / incomplete training.
John Jackson did a remarkable job and it makes my blood boil when the shiny arses rocked up and called them cowards.
 

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