Today (23rd September) three of the Royal Australian Air Force’s oldest and most distinguished squadrons celebrated their 95 th anniversaries at RAAF Base Williamtown in NSW.
Numbers 2, 3 and 4 Squadrons were formed during the period 19 September – 16 October 1916. The three units were immediately sent to England to train as RFC units and later deployed to France under the banner of the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) in 1917.
Senior Australian Defence Force Officer Williamtown, Air Commodore Mel Hupfeld, DSC, said the combined 95 th anniversaries of Numbers 2, 3 and 4 Squadrons provided a unique opportunity to celebrate the rich histories of the original AFC units.
Four AFC squadrons joined the British during World War One. No 1 Squadron, now based at Amberley in Queensland, flew against the Turks and Germans in the Middle East, while Squadrons 2, 3 and 4 served on the Western Front between September 1917 and November 1918.
The Australian airmen engaged in photographic reconnaissance, artillery spotting, strafing and bombing raids on enemy troops and positions, and air to air combat with German aircraft.
The leading scorer of the AFC was 24 year old Captain Harry Cobby from No 4 Squadron who was credited with 29 aerial victories and awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC with two bars) and a Mention in Dispatches (MID).
“These decorated squadrons have gone on to serve in a variety of roles since the inception of military aviation in Australia and continue to serve with a great sense of pride today,” Air Commodore Hupfeld said.
Over the past 95 years the three units have served with distinction in times of peace and conflict, including operational service in the Pacific, Middle East, North Africa, Southern Europe, Malaysia and Vietnam.
Today, Number 4 Squadron has personnel deployed on operations performing enduring Combat Control duties with the Special Operations Task Group in Afghanistan.
Numbers 2, 3 and 4 Squadrons are now resident at RAAF Base Williamtown, operating in the roles of airborne surveillance and control, fighter combat, combat control and joint terminal attack control.
“The combined parade and family day was an elegant celebration of these histories and provided an opportunity for Air Force to display its rich heritage and build esprit de corps between the generations,” Air Commodore Hupfeld said.
Air Force’s diverse history was on display at Williamtown with a 2 Squadron Wedgetail, 3 Squadron F/A-18 Hornets and a 4 Squadron PC-9 on the flightline along side warbirds, including a Tiger Moth, Boomerang, Sabre and Mirage.
“RAAF Williamtown is proud of its rich and unique history as the home to three of the Air Force’s most distinguished units 95 years since they were formed,” Air Commodore Hupfeld said.
“In 2011 as the Royal Australian Air Force celebrates its 90 th Anniversary, we look to the future and remember those who came before us and their sacrifices that contributed to our success as a modern integrated Air Force today.”
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