Australian Flying Corp (AFC)

Discussion in 'World War 1' started by spidge, Dec 27, 2008.

  1. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    From: more!

    Read their war diaries online here:

    1 Squadron AFC

    Following an invitation from Britain to the dominions to form complete flying squadrons for service with the British forces, the first squadron of the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) was formed at Point Cook in Victoria in January 1916. It sailed from Melbourne on 16 March, and arrived in Egypt on 14 April. The squadron’s less experienced pilots were sent to the United Kingdom for further training, while other personnel were attached to the Royal Flying Corps to further hone their skills. Upon joining the British forces in Egypt the squadron became known as 67 (Australian) Squadron, Royal Flying Corps (RFC), and would not revert to its original name until 19 January 1918.

    The squadron began flying operations in its own right on 12 June 1916, although its three flights operated independently from dispersed airfields. Initially the squadron’s main role was aerial reconnaissance and its aircraft operated both out across the Sinai desert in search of Turkish forces, and across Egypt’s western desert to monitor activity by the rebellious Senussi. Increasingly, though, its aircraft were involved in attacks against Turkish ground forces.

    After being reunited in December 1916, the squadron supported the British and dominion advance into Palestine. It became a “jack of all trades” carrying out reconnaissance, photography, ground attack and liaison missions, in addition to having to fight off aggressive German adversaries. For his actions following an attack on the railway line at Tel el Hesi, near Gaza, on 20 March 1917, Lieutenant Frank MacNamara was awarded the Victoria Cross. During the raid one of McNamara’s comrades was forced down and, despite being wounded himself, McNamara landed to rescue him from beneath the guns of a Turkish cavalry unit.

    With the arrival of new aircraft in the second half of 1917, the British and dominion air forces were able to gradually wrest control of the air from the German squadrons. This allowed them to range over Turkish territory with virtual impunity and airpower contributed greatly to the success of British and dominion operations in 1918, particularly the last great offensive of the campaign, launched with the Battle of Megiddo on 19 September 1918. The Turkish forces surrendered on 31 October. Addressing the squadron after the Armistice, General Sir Edmund Allenby, the British Commander-in-Chief, congratulated it for its role in the victory:

    This squadron played an important part in making this achievement possible. You gained for us absolute supremacy of the air, thereby enabling my cavalry, artillery and infantry to carry out their work on the ground practically unmolested by hostile aircraft. This undoubtedly was a factor of paramount importance in the success of our arms here.

    1 Squadron returned to Egypt in February 1919, embarked for home on 5 March, and was disbanded upon its arrival in Australia.
  2. Adrian Roberts

    Adrian Roberts Active Member

    Australia was the only Dominion country to have its own air service in WW1. The Canadian Air Force was not founded as an independent force until March 1919, despite the fact that at some periods of the war, a third of all RFC pilots and two-thirds of RNAS pilots were Canadian.

    The other three squadrons of the Australian Flying Corps, 2,3, and 4 sqdns were founded in the UK in the summer of 1917, and just as 1 sqdn was under RFC control as 67 (Australian) Sqdn RFC until March 1918 when it reverted to Australian control as 1 sqdn AFC, so the others were respectively known as 68(A), 69(A) and 71(A) sqdns during that time (there was already a prominent 70 sqdn RFC).

    2/ 68 sqdn was intially equipped with DH5 single seaters which it used for ground attack during the Battle of Cambrai in November 1917; the first time that aircraft had been directly and systematically used in support of the infantry. From February 1918 it was equipped with SE5a fighters.

    3 / 69 sqdn was an RE8 artillery co-operation unit throughout its existence. 4 / 71 sqdn had Sopwith Camels until October 1918 when it became one of the few units to re-equip with Sopwith Snipe in time to see action with this type.

    Just to round off Spidge's information: 1/ 67 sqdn was equipped with a mixture of BE2c and Martinsyde Elephants for most of its existence; it acquired some Bristol F2Bs (usually know as Bristol Fighters) in the last few months of the war.

    The AFC also had four training squadrons; three in the UK and one in Egypt.
  3. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    Thanks Adrian,

    Great stuff.

    A bit more on 1 AFC!

    Allenby, Edmund Henry Hynman ; Point Cook ; Australian Flying Corps ; Battle of Megiddo ; Battles of Gaza ; McNamara, Francis Hubert (Frank) ; Royal Flying Corps ; Senussi ; Sinai Campaign

    * RE8 aircraft
    * BE-2c
    * Bristol F-2 Fighter
    * Martinsyde G100/G102
    * Handley Page 0/400
    * Bristol Scout
    * BE-2e
    * BE-12a

    Battle Honours

    * Palestine 1917-1918
    * Egypt 1915-1917


    * 10 dead, 5 wounded

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

    * Macartney, Henry Dundas Keith
    * Reynolds, Edgar Hurcules
    * Broun, Alexander Arthur Johnstone
    * Rutledge, Geoffrey Lloyd
    * Williams, Richard
    * Addison, Sydney Wentworth


    * 1 VC
    * 1 DSO
    * 1 OBE
    * 18 MC
    * 20 DFC
    * 2 MM
    * 9 MSM
    * 3 AF MSM
    * 39 MID
    * 2 foreign awards
  4. Adrian Roberts

    Adrian Roberts Active Member

    This is an SE5a of 2 sqdn AFC, flown by Henry Forrest.

    Note the boomerang squadron marking

    Attached Files:

  5. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

  6. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    In which film?:p

    Do not get to Canberra very often as it is a bit of a trek from Melbourne. Same distance as from London to Edinburgh.

    The exhibition looks really great.

    The Australian War Memorial really does it well don't you think?

    Some of their websites and available to the public databases leave many other countries green with envy.

    Their WW1 diaries are a credit to them.
  7. Kyt

    Kyt Άρης

    I would also recommend The Australian Flying Corps in the western and eastern theatres of war, 1914-1918 by F.M. Cutlack

    ISBN: 9781843429128

  8. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Frank Hurley is one of my favourites ... thought you might enjoy these !! :)

    Attached Files:

  9. Dolphin

    Dolphin New Member

    I saw the AWM's Over the Front exhibit last month, and it is simply brilliant! The restored aeroplanes and other artifacts are very good, and the Peter Jackson video is superb. By showing life-sized CGI aeroplanes on a huge screen, it gives a good impression of what life and death over the Western Front in 1918 must have been like.

    If anyone is near Canberra, it's well worth going to see it.

  10. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Looking for something else ..... I noticed the famous Hudson Fysh was with No. 1 Squadron AFC too !

    Attached Files:

  11. Jeff

    Jeff Member

    That was all just so interesting. Thank you everyone for sharing all of this historical treasure.
  12. avbodder

    avbodder New Member

    The Australian Flying Corp are of interest to me, forming the basis for what would eventually become the RAAF. Although it only had four squadrons, and air power was considerably less important in WW1 than in WW2, my country having its own air force in WW1 when it considered itself nothing more than an extension of Britain is another small piece that forms our national narrative.

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