3SQN HOME/Search Stories Poems & Songs Aircraft Dogfighters Images Mementos Historic Dates Honour Roll Books Lifetimes Reader Queries Shop Contact Us Events Research Links What's New?

- 3 Squadron HISTORIC DATES -

Squadron's official badge shows a winged flaming grenade, emblazoned with a French Fleur-de-Lis (or "Heraldic Lily"), recalling the Squadron's days serving with the Australian Flying Corps in France during the First World War

The Latin motto: OPERTA APERTA means "Secrets Revealed", referring to the value of aerial reconnaissance - one of the important roles of the Squadron in its early operational days (and still an important capability today!).  

One of Australia's top flying units, No.3 Squadron is now equipped with F-35 Lightning II fighter-bomber aircraft and based at Williamtown RAAF Base, NSW. 

There are around 200 airmen and airwomen and two dozen officers (predominantly pilots) on strength at any one time.

  The Squadron proudly displays, in their crew rooms, many souvenirs and photos portraying their historic achievements.



(Honorary CAPT.
during Squadron formation at Point Cook and the voyage to England,


MAJ.  David V. J. BLAKE 
(Posted to England from Egypt, not Melbourne.) 1/9/16 -28/10/18

29 Aug 1916 - 25 Oct 1916

29 August 1916
Formed within  the Australian Flying Corps
- A division of the 1st Australian Imperial Force
Originally known as "2 Squadron", since it was the second AFC Squadron formed at Point Cook, Victoria.  
However, another AFC "No.2" Squadron had been  formed in Egypt at the same time, so our Squadron became regarded as the AFC's "3rd", once they landed in England.
(Enroute by HMAT Ulysses to U.K.)
25 Oct 1916 - 28 Dec 1916

25 Oct 1916
Sailed for U.K.

Ship 'Ulysses' left Melbourne with 18 officers and 230 airmen.  Ashore in England in 29th December 1916.
29 Dec 1916 - 21 Aug 1917

(Delayed in LYMPNE on the English Channel Coast for 19 days prior to crossing into France.)

31 Mar 1917
Territorial designation changed
back from "RFC" to AFC

Upon arrival in England the Squadron had been designated
"No.69 Squadron (Australian), Royal Flying Corps" and proceeded upon an extensive programme of training and preparation for eventual transfer to the Western Front.
However the Australian Government objected to any Australian squadron being designated "R.F.C.", so the Squadron's name was changed again, effective 31 March, to
"No.69 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps",
whilst remaining completely embedded in the RFC organisation.

9 Sep 1917 - 12 Nov 1917

10 Sep 1917
First Operational AFC Squadron in  France
Three flights: A, B and C.  Each had six RE8 aircraft crewed by pilot and observer-gunner.



SAVY - ARRAS area - The Squadron operated in this relatively quiet sector during their settling-in period ...

The black pointer-tip shows where 3 Squadron's first airfield at  SAVY was in relation to England  (top left). 

Eighteen RE8s took 15 days to get to Savy from Lincoln in England; one RE8  went down on the way killing its two man crew.

The red square represents the area that the Squadron reached 12 months later ... but after moving north to the Ypres area and later south .

MAJ.  David V. J. Blake 
1/9/16 -28/10/18
  12 Nov 1917
22 Mar 1918
15 Nov 1917 No.69 Squadron appointed "Corps Squadron"
6 Dec 1917
"First Aerial Victory"
RE8 A3815, flown by Captain W. H. Anderson, with observer Lieutenant J. R. Bell, flew an artillery-ranging mission protecting Australian troops at Messines (Ypres).  Having completed his "shoot", Anderson dropped two 20lb. bombs on an enemy trench strongpoint.  At 1010 the RE8 was attacked by a German DFW two-seater.  Lieutenant Bell directed a stream of ninety Lewis-gun rounds into the German aircraft.  The DFW fell steeply without firing a shot.  An artillery officer on the Messines Ridge saw the DFW crash into the German lines.  This was the first German aircraft destroyed by the Squadron on the Western Front.
17 Dec 1917
The "Ghost RE8" incident

Lt. Sandy (pilot) and Sgt Hughes (observer) were both killed by a single bullet during aerial combat.  Their RE8 flew until it ran out of fuel then glide-landed 50 miles away in snowy fields, with little damage.

18 Jan 1918
Renamed "3rd" Officially


From this date the Squadron gained its long-term identity of "3 Squadron".


The ARMENTIERES - YPRES Offensive (which followed the 3rd Battle of Ypres) ...

From Savy, 3 Squadron moved north-east to the war-ravaged BAILLEUL and later (from 22 March 1918) to nearby ABEELE, only 8-10 miles from YPRES and 5-6 miles from ARMENTIERES  ... both only a few miles from a very active front line. 

The Squadron's duty was to locate enemy artillery batteries and then to range-spot for army artillery; also to drop 25lb Cooper bombs on enemy front line strong points and to photograph enemy defences and trenches. During this time, BAILLEUL was shelled and bombed, several RE8s and their crews were lost but 8 or so  enemy aircraft were destroyed.

MAJ.  David V. J. Blake 
1/9/16 -28/10/18
 22 Mar 1918 - 8 Apr 1918


 8 Apr 1918 - 4 May 1918


21 Apr 1918
The "Red Baron" incident
During his air pursuit of an RFC Camel, Germany's top ace, Captain Baron Manfred von Richthofen (called "The Red Baron" because he flew a red-painted Fokker DR1 triplane) was, by evidence, shot down and mortally-wounded by ground fire, although he was also fired at by two 3 Squadron RE8s and an RFC camel aircraft.  The Red Baron's aircraft crashed  near 3 Squadron's base.  Lt. James Lee Smith, DFC, an off-duty 3 Squadron pilot, helped lead a retrieval party to bring the Baron's  body and his aircraft back to 3SQN's Poulainville base.  3 Squadron buried The Red Baron with full military honours.

Transfer from ABEELE to POULAINVILLE was approx 70 air miles (112 km) south.

The Battles of  HAMEL (4 Jul 1918) AMIENS (8 Aug 1918) and The SOMME Offensive (Aug 1918)

The Squadron first moved south to POULAINVILLE from ABEELE and later formed a forward landing ground at GLISY.  Air combats became daily affairs whilst RE8s carried out their photographic missions (over 90,000 prints taken), bombing and trench strafing, Corps reconnaissance and troop and artillery spotting duties.  They were at POULAINVILLE when the Red Baron went down near Corbie. 

On 4 May 1918, the Squadron moved 3.5 air miles (5.6km) north to VILLERS BOCAGE where they stayed for 4 months carrying out much the same duties as before. The RE8s were also used to create diversions and make noise to cover advancing troops and particularly tank forces. Dropping smoke bombs to screen advancing troops and dropping ammunition to fighting soldiers were other duties.

To fly from POULAINVILLE to HAMEL is about 12 air miles (20km). In an RE8, that could be done in about 10 minutes but, by road, it could take half a day or more, depending on conditions.

MAJ.  David V. J. Blake 
1/9/16 -28/10/18

4 May 1918 - 6 Sep 1918

(Advanced Landing Ground: GLISY
12 Aug 1918 - 6 Sep 1918)

 3 Sep 1918 - 21 Sep 1918

24 Jun 1918
The "Wackett invention"
Aerial drops of ammunition to field troops were needed, but almost impossible to achieve with accuracy.  Capt L. J. Wackett,  DFC,  ("A" Flight's Commander) invented a modified bomb-rack that allowed ammunition-box parachuting, which effectively solved the problem for the Allies.  Wackett became a leading figure in Australian aviation and was instrumental in the design and manufacture the Sabres and Mirages later operated (from 1956 to 1986) by 3SQN.



The advance to the HINDENBURG LINE (5 Sep1918)

The Squadron moved 16 air miles (26km) west to PROYART in preparation for the final thrust by the Allied forces to break through the enemy stronghold line.

MAJ. W. H. Anderson  
28/10/18 - 31/12/18

21 Sep 1918 - 6 Oct 1918

6 Oct 1918 - 17 Oct 1918

 17 Oct 1918 - 28 Nov 1918

18 Nov 1918
Germany and Australia's first air-postal service
Seven days after WW1 ended, 3 Squadron were ordered to set up and operate the first air-postal service to cover the newly occupied Rhine and Cologne areas for Army HQ.


The Battle of THE  RIVER SELLE ...

Another move, approx 17 air miles (28km) west to BOUVINCOURT into an airfield evacuated by the German Air Force, allowed the Squadron to support the Allied armies in their storming of the main HINDENBURG LINE which they began to do on 29 Sep 1918.  A second move, only a few miles away to BERNES on 6 Oct 1918, brought the front line even closer until, on 17 Oct 1918 they moved to PREMONT, about 13 air miles (21km)  north-east.  The war ended on 11 Nov 1918 whilst they were there.

CAPT.  H. N. Wrigley
(Temporary C.O.
Late Nov 1918 - Dec 1919)
7/1/19 - 24/7/19

29 Nov 1918 - 22 Feb 1919

 3 Jan 1919
Recording history
As well-proven experts in aerial photography, 3 Squadron were assigned the task of photographing WW1 battle sites.
31 Jan 1919
Aircraft change-over
Bristol F2b Fighters had, by then, gradually replaced all RE8s
21 Feb 1919
Return to England
All the new aircraft and stores were handed back to the RAF.
 6 May 1919
Return to Australia
29 officers and 216 airmen embarked on 'Kaisar-i-Hind' ("Emperor of India") at Southampton, UK. 
(AFC No.2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 Squadrons also on board.)
16 Jun 1919
Last day of A.F.C. activity
Disembarked Melbourne.  Discharge of the last airmen.
Squadron Dormant July 1919 to early 1922.



Point Cook   1922
Temporary Squadron
 Once the Royal Australian Air Force had been established (taking over from the tiny Australian Air Corps) "3 Squadron" was re-formed - in name only - for about six months, before being disbanded...
Government funding apparently the cause.
Squadron Dormant late 1922 to June 1925.
FLTLT F. W. F. Lukis  
(Promoted SQNLDR 2/7/26)
1/7/25- 13/1/30

1) POINT COOK, Victoria
29 Jun 1925 - 1 July 1925

1 Jul 1925
Re-formed within Royal Australian Air Force.
[Richmond RAAF Base established.]

No.3 (Composite) Squadron positioned from Point Cook, Vic. and formally commenced RAAF operations at Richmond NSW on 1 July 1925, with HQ plus three flights.  Flying: two-seat DH9 (Army Co-Op);
DH9A  (Bomber);
and single-seat SE5A (Fighter) aircraft.  
2 Jul 1925 - 15  Jul  1940

11 Aug 1925
First RAAF-branded operations

Two DH9s flew to Brisbane for Brisbane Show.  Shortly after began aerial photography of Australia.  Did that for 13 years.
 1 Jul 1926
The term "Composite" was deleted to become 3 Squadron.
26 May 1926
Parachute Pioneers
The first parachute descents to be carried out in Australia by the Royal Australian Air Force were conducted at the Richmond aerodrome by members of No.3 Squadron, under the supervision of Flight-Lieutenant Wackett. 
December 1929
First Wapitis arrive
With the arrival of the first 2-seat Westland Wapiti biplanes, the Squadron is officially renamed:
3 (Army Co-Operation) Squadron

SQNLDR A. H. Cobby
DSO, DFC    
(The AFC's highest-scoring fighter ace in WWI)
13/1/30 -  22/11/31

SQNLDR W. D. Bostock OBE    
22/11/31 - 8/5/36
RICHMOND, NSW 19 March 1932
Harbour Bridge Opening
No.3 Squadron provided an aerial flypast as part of the official ceremonies for the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. 
(The Squadron was also involved in regular ceremonials, such as Armistice Day - 11 November.)
Aircraft changes
Westland Wapitis were used with great success for several years.  Then Hawker Demon 2-seat fighters began replacing Wapitis.
 Sep 1935
Trophy winners
The Stonehaven Trophy ‘for annual competition by squadrons of the RAAF’ was awarded to No.3 Squadron over three consecutive years (1933–35) and, as a result, the competition lapsed.
[This trophy was more recently reinstated into Air Force Awards, after being rediscovered in 2007.]

FLTLT R. H. Simm
8/5/36 - 10/11/36

SQNLDR J. V. Lacher 10/11/36 - 2/2/37

SQNLDR J. H. Summers
2/2/37 - 3/5/37

SQNLDR J. Waters
3/5/37 - 10/5/38

SQNLDR A. L. Walters
10/5/38 - 39

RICHMOND, NSW 20 Apr 36 - First Citizens' Air Force ("CAF") squadrons formed, including No.22 SQN Richmond Since 1925, CAF volunteers had been trained within No.3 Squadron, providing a significant proportion of total manpower.  Now No.3 Squadron (still based at Richmond) became fully 'Permanent' - as an Army cooperation unit -although initially short of aircraft and personnel. 

Two months later, on 1 July, the new CAF units added to their title the name of the capital city on which they were based, eg. No.22 (City of Sydney) Squadron.

SQNLDR A. X. Richards

RICHMOND, NSW  3 Sep 1939
Operational alert
England's declaration of war on Germany. 
Australia follows as a matter of course.


FLTLT I. D. McLachlan
(Promoted to SQNLDR  1/2/40.  Won DFC)
4/12/39 - 13/2/41

(Transport to Middle East) 15 Jul 1940
Left Richmond, NSW

21 officers and 271 airmen sailed on 'Orontes' for Egypt.
First RAAF Squadron to arrive in the Middle East.

1) GERAWALA, Egypt
 (two Flights)
(one Flight)
 3 Nov 1940 - 14 Dec 1940

Sep-Oct 1940
First Equipment in Africa

Three Westland Lysanders followed by Gloster Gladiators and Gauntlets.  Became members of 'Desert Air Force'; the radio call sign for the Squadron became the word  'SHABBY'.



During the first LIBYAN Campaign,  it took 5 months for the Squadron, and the 6th Division AIF forces they supported, to advance approx 400 air miles (700 km) westward as far as BENINA, from their starting point at GERAWLA.  To get there, they occupied 9 airfields and their duties were to carry out bombing, reconnaissance, and air warfare in a succession of Lysanders, Gauntlets, Gladiators and Hurricanes . At the end of  March and early April, the German-Italian forces forced the Allied armies into retreat.  The Squadron's rapid retreat from BENINA to SIDI HANEISH was carried out in under 10 days in which they occupied seven airstrips.

SQNLDR I. D. McLachlan
4/12/39 - 13/2/41
  13 Nov 1940
First operational flight

FltLts G. Steege, DSO, DFC, and C Gaden carried out reconnaissance("Tac.R")

  19 Nov 1940
1st pilot loss and 1st air-combat victory claims

SqnLdr Peter Heath killed in action; flying a biplane Gladiator against the Italians.  FltLt B. Pelly, FlgOffs A. Rawlinson and A. Boyd claimed three Italian CR42 s shot down and at least 3 others damaged.  (In fact the Italians lost no aircraft, but did suffer some damage.  The Italians also over-claimed six victories, whereas SqnLdr Heath was the only casualty on either side.)

 14 Dec 1940 - 23 Dec 1940

 23 Dec 1940 - 11 Jan 1941

14 Dec 1940
1st bail-out

FlgOff L. Winten was wounded and parachuted to safety.

4) GAMBUT, Libya
11 Jan 1941 - 21 Jan 1941

14 Jan 1941
First ground casualties

Wireless personnel Cpl V. Jarvis  killed near Tobruk and LAC G. Parr taken prisoner by Italian soldiers.

21 Jan 1941 - 24 Jan 1941

6. TMIMI. Libya
24 Jan 1941 - 7 Feb 1941

21 Jan 1941
New monoplane fighters

1st Hawker Hurricane arrived.

Early 1941
Nickname given

First, the "phantom" then the " hydraulic" (lifts anything) and finally called the "Clifty" (in Arabic means "thieving") squadron.

27 Jan 1941
1st decoration

WGCDR I. McLachlan (1st WW2 C.O.) awarded D.F.C.

SQNLDR Peter Jeffrey
13/2/41 - 10/11/41





7.  BENINA, Libya
7 Feb 1941- 2 Apr 1941
15 Feb 1941
1st German aircraft shot down

FlgOff J. Saunders, in Hurricane, shot down German JU88.

2 Apr 1941 - 6 Apr 1941


(and 5 other Landing Grounds)
6 Apr 1941 - 12 Apr 1941

First Retreat before Rommel;
Tobruk Besieged;
Defend Egyptian Frontier

30 Apr 1941
1st stand-down

Stand-down whilst re-equipping with Tomahawks
10 days leave from Aboukir in Nile Delta.

11. AQIR, Palestine
3 May 1941 - 9 May 1941



12. LYDDA, Palestine
9 May 1941 - 11 Jul 1941

- Detachment CYPRUS
24 May 1941 - 3 June 1941

-Advance Landing Grounds: JENIN and ROSH PINNA


14 May 1941
New American aircraft

8 Jun 1941
Syrian Campaign Starts

Combined Operations 'First'

12 Jul 1941
Armistice with Vichy French in Syria

P40 Curtiss Tomahawks arrived.  
Despite many conversion accidents, within four months there were 12 "Tommies" on strength.

First wartime "All Arms Combined Operation" in Australian History, when 3SQN operated with both the Australian Navy and Army over the Syrian Coast.

13. ROSH PINNA, Palestine
12 Jul 1941 - 19 Jul 1941


3SQN Headquarters moves forward after Victory.


The one-month SYRIAN Campaign involved the Squadron, using Tomahawks now, supporting the 7th Division AIF against the Vichy French.  Duties were air-combat and ground-strafing, often in mountainous country.

 After the Vichy surrendered on 12 Jul 1941, the Squadron provided air protection in the defence of Beirut.

They returned to SIDI HANESH.

SQNLDR Peter Jeffrey
13/2/41 - 10/11/41

14. RAYAK, Syria
20 Jul 1941 - 4 Sep 1941

  Peaceable days occupying Syria provide a welcome respite and an opportunity to train new personnel.
C. Rawlinson
10/11/41 - 1/1/42

9 Sep 1941 - 13 Nov 1941

13 Nov 1941 - 20 Dec 1941

Back to the Western Desert

22 Nov 1941
The blackest day


Five pilots were killed during enemy action that day.



Still using Tomahawks (until they were replaced by  Kittyhawks in December 1941), the Squadron reached ANTELAT  during the second LIBYAN Campaign.  Beginning in January 1942, the enemy  forced another retreat, this time to GAMBUT from where they operated for almost four months before again having to fall back beyond SIDI HANESH to EL DABA and later to AMIRIYA (near EL ALAMEIN).

C. Rawlinson
10/11/41 - 1/1/42
  30 Nov 1941
1st benchmark

Squadron tally of enemy aircraft claimed destroyed in
air combat
now exceeded 100.

   4 Dec 1941
New aircraft

P40E Curtiss Kittyhawks began arriving.  3SQN is the first
desert fighter squadron to receive them.

20 Dec 1941 - 27 Dec 1941
2nd Libyan Advance  

WGCDR D. R. Chapman
1/1/42 - 26/2/42          


18. MSUS
27 Dec 1941 - 13 Jan 1942

13 Jan 1942 - 22 Jan 1942

22 Jan 1942 - 26 Feb 1942

Retreat to Gazala Line  

SQNLDR R. H. "Bobby" Gibbes, DFC
26/2/42 - 23/5/42

(First Tour)

SQNLDR A. W. "Nicky" Barr, MC, DFC and Bar
(Following Gibbes combat injury.)
23/5/42- 26/6/42


26 Feb 1942 - 17 Jun 1942
Static Defence of Gazala Line, Libya  

17 Jun 1942 - 18 Jun 1942

23. MICHEIFA (LG075)
18 Jun 1942 - 23 Jun 1942

23 Jun 1942 - 27 Jun 1942

25. EL DABA (LG106) 
27 Jun 1942 - 29 Jun 1942

2nd Libyan/Egyptian Retreat to El Alamein Line  
SQNLDR R.H. Gibbes
DSO DFC and Bar
(Second tour following Nicky Barr's capture.)
26/6/42 - 19/4/43

26. AMIRIYA (LG91)
29 Jun 1942 - 19 Oct 1942

22 Jul 1942
Bombing Record

1,000th bomb dropped in 9 weeks - a record for Desert Air Force.

  Battle of El Alamein
- Turning Point of the War in Africa
27. AMIRIYA (LG175)
19 Oct 1942- 6 Nov 1942
29 Oct 1942
"Double Century"

SqnLdr Bobby Gibbes acclaimed after adding the 200th victory to 3 Squadron's WW2 tally.  
(But a
recheck of records in 1996 disclosed that the
correct aerial victory tally was slightly less.)

28. EL DABA (LG106)
6 Nov 1942 - 9 Nov 1942

9 Nov 1942 - 11 Nov 1942

30. MICHEIFA (LG076)
11 Nov 1942 - 13 Nov 1942

Pursuit of Rommel across Egypt and into Libya  


The final TUNIS Campaign stage of the Squadron's war in the Middle East's North African deserts began just before the history-making, and deciding, Battle of EL ALAMEIN (23 October 1942) in which constant air support to the 8th Army was provided. From then, the enemy forces were on the run.

During the next 6 months, an approx 1,300 air mile (2,200km) Allied advance , involving 20 airfield locations, ended when the Squadron finally reached KAIROUAN in TUNIS before they moved to ZUARA in anticipation of their next Campaign.

SQNLDR R.H. Gibbes
DSO DFC and Bar
26/6/42 - 19/4/43

(After Gibbes had been shot down 14/1/43 he walked out from behind enemy lines over 3 days. FLT Ron Watt was promoted to A/SQNLDR and made CO of 3 Squadron 16/1/43.  Sadly Watt was KIA on 27/1/43.)


13 Nov 1942 - 15 Nov 1942

15 Nov 1942 - 19 Nov 1942

19 Nov 1942 - 8 Dec 1942

8 Dec 1942 - 18 Dec 1942

Nov 1942
'Clifty' aircraft 1

FlgOff Ken McRae captured a usable Me109G which was marked "CV" as a  3 Squadron aircraft.  CO, SqnLdr Bobby Gibbes, DSO DFC, used it to teach pilots about German tactics.  

18 Dec 1942 - 31 Dec 1942

36. CHELL 2
31 Dec 1942 - 11 Jan 1943

11 Jan 1943 - 17 Jan 1943

17 Jan 1943 - 20 Jan 1943

20 Jan 1943 - 24 Jan 1943

18 Dec 1942
Marble Arch Mine Disaster






Axis mines and booby traps were a serious hazard during the long advance across North Africa.  At Marble Arch five ground-crew were killed by a singe German 'S' mine (or "bouncing betty").





24 Jan 1943 - 15 Feb 1943

15 Feb 1943 - 8 Mar 1943

8 Mar 1943 - 21 Mar 1943

Jan 1943
'Clifty' aircraft 2

Undamaged Caproni Ghibli recovered at Castel Benito.  Used often as a beer-carrier and a means of ferrying airmen on leave passes.

21 Mar 1943 - 3 Apr 1943

44. EL HAMMA, Tunisia
3 Apr 1943 - 14 Apr 1943

Major Battles on the Tunisian Frontier "Breakthough at El Hamma" sees 3SQN aircraft smash a path through concentrated German anti-tank defences.

SQNLDR B.A. Eaton 
19/4/43 - 19/6/43


14 Apr 1943 - 18 Apr 1943

46. KAIROUAN, Tunisia
18 Apr 1943 - 21 May 1943

47. ZUARA, Libya
21 May 1943 - 9 Jul 1943

12 May 1943
End of the War in Africa

When Tunisia fell, the Desert War was over.  3 Squadron were the only Squadron in the D.A.F. who'd participated in the entire African campaign.  Celebration parties and leave were enjoyed before orders came to prepare for operations in Sicily and Italy.

SQNLDR Reg N. B.  Stevens DFC  and Bar   
19/6/43 - 21/8/43


48. TE KALI, Malta
9 Jul 1943 - 13 Jul 1943

49. LUQA, Malta
13 Jul 1943 - 18 Jul 1943

 4 July 1943
Stop-over to Europe 1

Two parties of personnel and aircraft arrived in Valetta, Malta before proceeding to Sicily several days later.


Now began the (almost) 26 month  ITALIAN Campaign involving, firstly,  short service stays in MALTA (10 days) and then in SICILY (approx two months) before the Squadron reached ITALY on 14 September 1943.

Italy's cruel winter in 1944 made life difficult. The early months of this phase were fought using Kittyhawks but Mustangs began to arrive in November 1944. Duties of the fighter-bombers involved dropping 1,000 pounders and, later, attacking enemy forces as far as YUGOSLAVIA. They also participated in the  famous Cassino campaign

15 landing grounds were occupied to cover the approx 250 air mile (400km) distance between GROTTAGLIE and CERVIA  where the Squadron finished their war when Germany surrendered on 29 April 1945 finishing the war in Europe.  In May they moved to LAVARIANO to clean up and await return to Australia.


18 Jul 1943 - 2 Aug 1943

21 July 1943
Stop-over to Europe 2

One more party arrived in Syracuse, Sicily and linked with the ex-Malta contingent.  Within three days, they were flying 12 sorties per day against German forces in Sicily.

SQNLDR Brian A. Eaton DFC
21/8/43 - 22/2/44

2 Aug 1943 - 14 Sep 1943
 5 Sep 1943
1st targets in mainland Europe

Flying 12 sorties a day from Sicily; hit German targets in Italy .

14 Sep 1943 - 23 Sep 1943

53. BARI
23 Sep 1943 - 3 Oct 1943

15 Sep 1943

1st touchdown in Italy

An advance party began setting up a new base at Grottaglie, thereby "invading Europe".  3 Squadron became the first Allied squadron to operate from an Italian continental base,

3 Oct 1943 - 26 Oct 1943

26 Oct 1943 - 4 Jan 1944

13 Oct 1943
Italy joins Allied forces

Italy's change from foe to friend encouraged welcome help from (very brave) civilians for pilots who were stranded behind the Fascist lines, and for escaping POWs.

4 Jan 1944 - 24 May 1944

13 Jan 1944
1,000lb bombs used

FLTLT Jack Doyle, (later DSO, DFC & Bar) hit his target with the Squadron's 1st 1,000 lb bomb.  Kittyhawks later lifted 2 x 500lb. bombs plus 1 x 1,000lb.  (Previously, only 250lb. bombs generally used.)

  16 -17 Feb 1944
Monte Cassino attacks

SQNLDR Brian Eaton, DSO, DFC, led 12 Kittyhawks in the first bomb-strikes on the world-famous Monastery,  which psychologically dominated the Cassino valley.  (Ironically it was not occupied by the Germans at the time.)

SQNLDR P. Murray Nash DFC           
22/2/44 - 18/4/44

SQNLDR Rex H. Bayly DFC             
18/4/44 - 29/10/44

  5 May 1944
Pescara River Dam attack

12 Kittyhawks participated in a dive-bombing attack, along with No.260 RAF and No.5 SAAF Sqns., using 2,000 lb bomb-loads to successfully breach sluice gates of the hydro-electric dam.

  18 May 1944
Monte Cassino falls

After over four months of unrelenting land and air attack, the Benedictines' Monastery (now a rubble pile defended bitterly by the German paratroops) fell.

24 May 1944 - 13 Jun 1944

24 May 1944
Goodbye to Cutella

After nearly five months of occupancy at Cutella, the Squadron's departure completed the longest (and most uncomfortable) period of operations from the one airfield since 3 Sqn's war began in 1940.

13 Jun 1944 - 23 Jun 1944

24 Jun 1944 - 9 Jul 1944

(near village of Creti, Italy)

10 Jul 1944 - 24 Aug 1944

61) IESI (A.K.A. "Jesi")
25 Aug 1944 - 10 Sep 1944

11 Sep 1944 - 19 Sep 1944


Advance to Rome and the Gothic Line  

SQNLDR P. Murray Nash DFC and Bar
29/10/44 - 16/12/45

[SQNLDR Ken A. Richards DFC and Bar
Standing-in Feb/Mar 1945]

63) IESI
20 Sep 1944 - 18 Nov 1944

64) FANO
18 Nov 1944 - 26 Feb 1945

13 Nov 1944
New Aircraft

First P51 Mustang arrived; 11 more arrived during next 5 days.

  16 Nov 1944

Last Kitty flown

Last operational missions flown in Kittyhawks.

   1 Jan 1945

Napalm bombs introduced

Wing orders to equip Mustangs with 750lb napalm bombs for pin-point bombing at 100 ft height against rail and road targets.

26 Feb 1945 - 17 May 1945

 5 May 1945
Last 3SQN operations WWII

Reconnaissance of Fiume, Trieste and Udine areas.

Since November 1940, the Squadron had claimed
217 confirmed aerial victories (Note: Revised later),
63 probable, and 141 damaged, making it
the highest-scoring British Commonwealth squadron in the Mediterranean theatre of operations.  In raids on enemy airfields it completely destroyed 29 aircraft on the ground,
and damaged a similar number. 
In ground-attack operations, 709 motor vehicles
(and 87 horse-drawn)
and 11 enemy Armoured Fighting Vehicles were claimed destroyed.  
12 locomotives and 325 rail-cars were claimed.  
The Squadron scored 73 direct dive-bombing hits on bridges (very difficult and vital targets) and more than 800 other ground targets, including roads, railways, buildings (e.g. pinpoint raids on German headquarters) and enemy artillery.  Also one large
dam was “busted” to prevent the Germans using its water as a weapon. 
In strikes over the sea, 54 vessels of varying sizes were sunk, including 10 ships of more than 1,000 tons each.

17 May 1945 - 31 Aug 19
26 May 1945
"Victory in Europe"  fly-past

239 Wing led the Desert Air Force in the victory fly-past at  Campoformido.

   7 Sep 1945
Return to Australia

Embarked on 'Winchester Castle' at Taranto before embarking on 'Stratheden' from Egypt 20 days later .

30 JULY 1946

3 SQUADRON disbanded after completing its WWII service.

LATE 1940s and into THE JET AGE


- - Squadron Dormant August 1946 to February 1948.

SQNLDR T. H. H. Sanders
8/3/48 - 1/6/49

FLTLT J. W. Hubble      (Promoted SQNLDR 20/11/51Awarded AFC)
1/6/49 - 16/5/52

8 Mar 1948 - 15 Jun 1953

 8 Mar 1948
Named 3 (Tactical Reconnaissance) Squadron. Based at Fairbairn, A.C.T. with 9 Mustangs, 8 Austers, 2 Wirraways.
Nov '50 to Aug '51
Korean-War Era Operations
Darwin: Operation "Gay Jabiru". Townsville: "Barrier Reef".

Dec 1951
Became 3 (Fighter Reconnaissance) Squadron.

FLTLT H. R. Baldwin
 16/5/52 - 12/5/53

FLTLT G. L. Waller
12/5/53 - 15/6/53

15 Jun 1953
Became "3 (Day Fighter/Ground Attack) Squadron".  
Assets transferred to Army. 
Squadron Dormant July 1953 to February 1956.

SQNLDR F. W. Barnes
1/3/56 - 13/1/58

17 Mar 1956 - 9 Nov 1958

 Mar 1956
Re-designated as 3 (Fighter) Squadron at Williamtown, NSW.  
3SQN was equipped with 16 CAC27 Avon Sabres during next 3 months.  The first operational RAAF Sabre squadron.
 Jun 1956
Speed record created
FLTLT J. Arthurson created a new Laverton to Williamtown speed record of 44 minutes and 25 seconds.  This was broken several months later by FLGOFF N Raffin (42 minutes 10 seconds).

WGCDR C. G. Thomas
13/1/58 - 24/4/61

 Jun 1958
Training aircraft
A 2-seat T35 Vampire arrived; used for instrument training.

9 Nov 1958 - 15 Feb 1967

15 Oct 1958
Move to Malaya
Ground personnel began moving out.  12 days later Sabres began flying to Butterworth via Darwin.  Move completed by mid November.

13 Aug 1959
Strike on guerrilla camps

6 Sabres dropped their 500lb HE  bombs on 3 terrorist areas.
26 Nov 1959
Manila Airshow
Detachment flew via Saigon to Clark AF base, Philippines to participate in International Airshow.
 Dec 1959
"Hose-down" ceremony started
FLGOFF Conn achieved 1,000 hours on Sabres.  Champagne toast at flight line followed by a hose-down became standard procedure for all pilots achieving 1,000 hours or multiples.
 Apr 1960
1st Sidewinder fired
FLTLT V. Oborn fired the Squadron's first Sidewinder missile.
 Jun 1960
Attacks on insurgents
FLTLT J. Newham led Sabre attacks on Communist camps.

WGCDR R. H. Glassop
DFC and Bar
24/4/61 - 29/1/62

9 Nov 1958 - 15 Feb 1967


11 Sep 1962
Pilot killed on takeoff
Sabre pilot FLTLT R. E. Offord ejected following multiple bird-strikes on takeoff, but was too low for his parachute to open.

WGCDR R. M. Hanstein
29/1/62 - 3/1/64

9 Oct 1963
C.O. resorts to "bang seat"
WGCDR Hanstein's Sabre (A94- 967) entered an uncontrolled spin at 35,000 ft during a "4x4 Air Combat Manoeuvring" exercise 12 miles northeast of RAAF Butterworth.  He rode the spin down to 10,000 ft but was unable to recover and ejected at 170 kts (still spinning). 
Rod landed in rubber tree, sustaining minor injuries to his elbows.  The life-saving parachute had been packed by LAC R. Hetherington.
 Sep 1963
Strip alert
The possibility of Indonesian aggression against Malaysia required a full-time alert.  Two fully-armed aircraft ready to take off throughout daylight hours.
19 Dec 1963
Sabre abandoned in-flight
FLGOFF M. L. Nosworthy ejected at 10,000 ft and 250 kts over water near Butterworth, after experiencing multiple control and system failures in Sabre A94-947.  Pilot recovered safely.
Dec '63 to  Jan '64
Alert scramble sorties
The developing confrontation against Indonesia resulted in several scrambles being activated but without fatal action being taken against the Indonesian aircraft.

WGCDR E. W. Tonkin
3/1/64 - 14/1/66

9 Nov 1958 - 15 Feb 1967


 5 Sep 1964
Indonesian Confrontation
Most personnel and Sabres transferred to RAF base at Changi to boost defence of Singapore; half stayed approx 1 month.  For next few years, Squadron was often split over different bases.

WGCDR R. E. Frost
14/1/66 - 24/7/66

WGCDR K. A. Martin
24/7/66 -  

SQNLDR J. S. Puleson-Jones    1966

12 Aug 1966
Alert rosters cancelled
The Indonesian Confrontation declared over.
10 Sep 1966
50th birthday
Parade and hanger party to celebrate at Butterworth base.
31 Jan 1967
Last Sabre operational flight
FLTLT J. Jacobsen flew last mission at Butterworth.

WGCDR Vance Drummond
2/2/67 - 17/5/67*

15 Feb 1967 - 14 Feb 1969

16 Feb 1967
Return: Williamtown
4,060 mile flight via Changi, Denpasar, Darwin, Townsville was safely completed.
 May 1967
Convert to Mirages
Sabres were to be replaced by Mirage IIIO over several months, Conversion Courses were undertaken.
17 May 1967
*Commanding Officer's Crash
The CO, WGCDR V. Drummond, was killed whilst training.

WGCDR Jake W. Newham
3/7/67 - 11/10/68

27 Jul 1967
New aircraft
The new CO, WGCDR Jake Newham flew the first Squadron Mirage from Avalon to Williamtown.  Three more arrived during the next 7 days although there were now 10 pilots to fly them.
25 Sep 1968
1st Mirage lost
FLGOFF M. Susans successfully ejected from 20,000 ft after mechanical failure caused a flame-out.

WGCDR E. A. Radford
 11/10/68 - 27/12/70

30 Oct 1968
A spectacular own-goal!
 No.3 Squadron's history is replete with record numbers of enemy aircraft "shot down".  - However  the "last"  aerial victory (to date), in this glorious series, is unfortunately an example of a 3SQN Mirage shooting itself down!  FLTLT B. Roberts in Mirage III-O A3-70 was practicing air-to-ground gunnery at the Salt Ash Weapons Range (12 nautical miles north-north-east of RAAF Williamtown).  A ricocheting projectile was ingested by the Mirage's engine.  Roberts ejected at 2,800 ft and 210 kts and landed with only minor injuries.

17 Feb 1969 - 31 Mar 1986

14 Feb 1969
Butterworth again
25 aircraft and support personnel began move to Butterworth, where they operated alongside 75 Squadron. Regular detachments to Singapore (RAF Tengah) began; continued for the next 22 years with regular rotations of personnel between Williamtown and Butterworth.  The detachments came under the ANZUK Defence System.
Aug 1969
Mirages to the Philippines
In August 1969 two Mirages were flown via Phan Rang, South Vietnam, to Clark AFB in the Philippines where they spent several days evaluating an American "Electronic Countermeasures" pod for training.
 Jun 1970
1st 1,000 hrs in Mirage
FLTLT J. Dereyter was first to log 1,000 Mirage hours

WGCDR Peter J. Scully
 27/12/70 - 10/1/73

 Dec 1970
Tail colours adopted
Red/black flash with "frill neck lizard" used for Squadron Mirage tails.  (Derived from their "Lizard" ground-attack camouflage scheme.)

WGCDR Richard. J. Bomball  AFC
10/1/73 - 1/12/74

16 Nov 1973
1st 2,000 hrs in Mirage
FLTLT Geoff L "Speedy" Colman was 1st in RAAF to log 2,000 Mirage hours.
12 Dec 1973
Proficiency award
Duke of Gloucester Cup awarded to Squadron.
WGCDR D. W. Owens
 1/12/74 - 5/1/76
Dec 1974
Tail colours changed
Squadron badge on tail adopted; Southern Cross on rudder too.
WGCDR R. J. Phillips
 5/1/76 - 14/3/77
 6 Jul 1976
Runway tragedy
- Two Mirages lost
3SQN Mirage pilot FLTLT Perry J. Kelly was killed when a 75 Squadron Mirage (flown by FLTLT Paul Kaye) landed on top of Kelly's fighter (A3-26).  Kelly had been holding for takeoff at the end of Butterworth runway.  The 75SQN Mirage (A3-64) skidded down the field and broke into pieces, but Kaye survived without severe physical injury.

To date, this is the "LAST" 3 Squadron service fatality (now four decades ago). 


WGCDR B. G. Grayson
 14/3/77 - 7/3/79

10 May 1977
Trophy awarded
Squadron won the Kittyhawk Trophy for weapons efficiency.

6  Dec 1977
Ejection drama

Flying Officer Brenton Crowhurst was coming in for a night landing at Butterworth when his Mirage experienced engine failure.  He turned towards the sea to avoid crashing on the base and ejected, landing on the beach and suffering only a sprained ankle.

To date this is the "LAST" 3 Squadron aircraft lost on Operations

(The extended safe period since 1977 provides outstanding proof of the Squadron's high maintenance standards and capable flying over recent decades.)

WGCDR K. J. Bricknell
 7/3/79 - 16/6/81

WGCDR Richard. B Gregory AFC
16/6/81 - 10/8/83

WGCDR R. J. Conroy 
 10/8/83 - 16/6/84

17 Feb 1969 - 31 Mar 1986


 1 Oct 1983
A "new" aircraft
A Caribou ("The Grumbling Green Gravel Truck") became a useful transporter (complete with a 3 Squadron emblem), supporting Squadron operations, the Royal NZ Army band and the Butterworth football team.
B. R. WOOD     
16/6/84 - 31/3/86



25 Oct 1984
New missiles
The Matra 550 'Magic' missile first fired by CO WGCDR B. Wood.
15 Nov 1985
Trophy award
Again, the Kittyhawk Trophy was won.
13 Jan 1986
Hornets on show
Two F/A-18 Hornets from 2 OCU Williamtown visited.
31 Mar 1986
Malaysia close-down
3 Squadron concluded its long occupancy in the Malaysia / Singapore region, ending an eventful 28-year commitment.  All aircraft, equipment and most personnel (over 250) were transferred to 79 Squadron. 

Bruce. J. S. MOUATT  

31/3/86 - 14/12/87

31 Mar 1986 - Present Day
April 1986
Building the new F/A-18 Squadron
3 Squadron ceased to exist briefly, until re-formed later on the same day at Williamtown with three officers and 36 other ranks.  New C.O. WGCDR Bruce Mouatt began his Hornet conversion course and re-building Squadron's assets & people.
29 Aug 1986
F/A-18 Hornets arrive
Two Hornets (flown by WGCDR Bruce Mouatt and 
SQNLDR Ross Fox) were delivered from Avalon to Williamtown.
3 Squadron became the First RAAF Operational Squadron on F/A-18s.
8-12 Sep 1986
'60 Minutes' TV program
3 Squadron (now with 10 pilots) worked with TV producers to demonstrate Australia's newly-acquired high-technology aircraft.
25 Jun 1987
1st two-seater F/A-18
Highly-valued (for training) dual seater arrived.  Squadron strength was now 152 personnel and settled at Williamtown.
R. B. "Bob" TRELOAR  

14/12/87 - 1/3/90
 Feb 1988
Hornet versus Honda
Covered by TV cameras, Wayne Gardner's 500cc GP Honda raced a Hornet over a 1/4 mile sprint.
The Hornet won. 
23 May 1988
Mach 1.6 achieved. (Whoops!)
Three Hornets (nameless pilots) accelerated over southern NSW;  caused broken windows & earthquake reports; CO not amused.
1/3/90 - 12/1/93
10 Sep 1990
Sentimental visit to Butterworth
For 40 days of exercises, 10 Hornets and support personnel returned to Butterworth for the first time since the Mirage days.  Deployments to Butterworth have now become a regular feature of the Squadron's calendar, as have exercises in New Zealand, other parts of SE Asia, and the USA.

Brenton P. CROWHURST     
12/1/93 - 5/5/95

5/5/95 - 7/3/97

Geoff. C. BROWN     
7/3/97 - 13/12/99

Neil C. HART     
13/12/99 - 1/3/2003

1/3/2003 -

Vincent ("Joe") IERVASI
09/12/2005 - 12/12/2008

Terry van HAREN  
12/12/2008 to Dec 2011

 Dec 2011 to Dec 2014

John M. HALY
Dec 2014
to Dec 2017

Darren CLARE
Dec 2017 to
Aug 2020

Matthew HARPER
Aug 2020 to
Present Day

31 Mar 1986 - Present Day


The last two decades of peacetime service have seen a continuation of the regular "exercise" deployments to Northern Australia and overseasThe "classic" F/A-18 is still in service, but with many upgrades to avionics and weapons. 

Several spectacular airshows have also been staged to commemorate 3 Squadron's birthdays, including the Squadron's significant 100th Anniversary in 2016.

BATTLE HONOUR: In 2016 the Squadron also dropped its first bombs "in anger" since 1959, when deployed over Iraq and Syria for Operation OKRA

8 Dec 2017
Last F/A-18 Operation
Ten "Classic" F/A-18 fighters of 3 Squadron flew an elegant tight "3" formation over RAAF Williamtown.  These aircraft were then handed-over to 75 and 77 Squadrons.
7) Personnel for the "revitalised" 3SQN were trained in various locations in the USA during 2018. F-35 Pioneers 3 Squadron was the FIRST RAAF Squadron to introduce the F35 strike fighter to operational service,
at Williamtown on 10 December 2018.



  3SQN HOME/Search Stories Poems & Songs Aircraft Dogfighters Images Mementos Historic Dates Honour Roll Books Lifetimes Reader Queries Shop Contact Us Events Research Links What's New?