Australian War Memorial Visit

Australian War Memorial Visit

Joined: August 18th, 2009, 1:37 pm

May 29th, 2012, 5:05 am #1

Returned from a visit to the Australian War memorial the other week after a seven years since my last visit. It was nice to see that the World War 2 halls had been completely refurbished with new displays and presentations. Although predictably mailnly dedicated to Australia's Pacific Campaigns there were some extra new displays of tunics and relics associated to Australian airmen in Europe & Nth Africa. Of note was Dave SHANNON's medals DFC, DSO and the tunic he wore on the Dams Raid in Lancaster AJ-L. Also on display was the tunic & medals of S/Ldr Adrian GOLDSMITH DFM, DFC who scored 11 victories over Malta. One of my favorite items is the officers mess sign of 450 Sqn RAAF 'Harrasers House' which shows a Kittyhawk flying low over a running Hitler with a Kanagaroo on the wing about to drop a bomb.
Not a lot of flying kit on display at all which is disapointing & the fighter command boys hardly rate a look in. There is no mention at all in the whole memorial about the B of B or very minor Costal Command mentions. Not one Irvin Jacket, 'B' helmet, D, E, G Mask.
Clive CALDWELL'S medals are attached to a pole in a non descript area above 'G' George which is hardly fitting in my opinion for Australias greatest WW2 air ace.
Although a vast improvement I believe the WW2 halls could focus a lot more on representations of our airforce members.
The WW1 galleries were as usual spectacular and the new 'Over The Trenches' WW1 display is very nice.

With the imminent unveiling of the Bomber Command memorial in London 'hugely overdue' it was nice to see the new Australian Bomber Command memorial in the grounds outside the War Memorial. It is a lattice work cone reaching into the sky which represents the search lights encountered over enemy territory with shillouettes of aircraft flown in bomber command at the base and an image of a bomber crew standing together at the rear of the memorial. Inscribed around it is 'In memory of all Royal Australian Airforce members who served and those who died in the service of Royal Airforce Bomber Command in the Second World War 1939-1945'. Very fitting monument in my opinion. Cheers

Jason

P.S - Anyone intersested in some pictures e-mail me.
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Joined: February 28th, 2004, 3:00 pm

May 29th, 2012, 9:02 pm #2

Jason

I'd like to see Shannon's tunic, although I think your post needs correcting a little. I know the AWM have his service dress tunic, and I assume this is what you are referring to? Aside from the fact I think (I may be wrong) its a later tunic, he actually wore an RAF blue/grey battledress on the dams raid, which is now long since gone as far as I am aware.

Cheers

Al
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Joined: August 18th, 2009, 1:37 pm

May 30th, 2012, 2:59 am #3

Hi Alex, I thought the same as well - the description board actually states that he wore the tunic on the Dams Raid which I thought was unusual for that time of the war. Unfortunalety most of the collectors at the AWM on staff have been given the boot & replaced by academics.
Even the RAAF museum in Victoria has a curator with no real interest in aviation (personally admitted to myself) on a visit. Likes items because they look pretty instead of the historic value (a very nice person though). cheers

Jason
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Joined: February 28th, 2004, 3:00 pm

May 30th, 2012, 7:35 am #4

Hi Jason. I can empathise. I have a couple of good Aussie collector mates, one used to be the uniforms curator at AWM, another is currently writing a book on RAAF insignia, and has contacts in some very high places. They say the same. It's a great shame...
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Joined: August 18th, 2009, 1:37 pm

May 30th, 2012, 9:45 am #5

I was doing some research on a tunic to an Aussie pilot who flew with 617's sister squadron and participated in the so called 'second dams raid'. I was going through his self written service personal file which he compiled when he applied to fly fighters in Korea. He lists himself as serving time with 617 squadron.
He is mentioned in the official history RAAF Vol 4 Air Power Over Europe 1944-45. He also participated in the Tirpitz Raids.
Bit of a story - washed out as a fighter pilot, applied to transfer to the navy (denied) - re trained as a bomber pilot (rated average), shot down by an intruder whilst at OTU & bailed out (awarded caterpillar badge), taken on strength by specialist squadron 'tallboys & grandslams' almost immediately after training, shot down over Norway, bailed out and evaded returned to England (Late Arrivals Badge) - later shot down a third time, test pilot for new merlin XX (I think) engines in Lancaster. After war re-trained on Mustang Fighters, served with BCOF, went to Korea where he ended in a shit fight with the CO who rated his fighter pilot ability as a danger to himself and the squadron after he nosed a P-51 into the ground upon landing bending the props and then got out of the plane leaving the engine running for the next pilot to take it up. Suprisingly the CO won, he was demobed. He later 'unofficially' went to Malaya to fight as a gurilla for Australia (I'm sure without Aus Government approval) and eventually became a TAA pilot. He is also eligable for the Order Of The Red Star and was decorated by the government of Norway.
At the moment his name slips my mind & I cannot find my research notes (sorry mate) but I will find it tommorrow and let you know his name.
After all this did he serve any missions with 617 (the plot thickens)

Jas
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Joined: September 5th, 2004, 10:59 am

May 30th, 2012, 10:13 am #6

Returned from a visit to the Australian War memorial the other week after a seven years since my last visit. It was nice to see that the World War 2 halls had been completely refurbished with new displays and presentations. Although predictably mailnly dedicated to Australia's Pacific Campaigns there were some extra new displays of tunics and relics associated to Australian airmen in Europe & Nth Africa. Of note was Dave SHANNON's medals DFC, DSO and the tunic he wore on the Dams Raid in Lancaster AJ-L. Also on display was the tunic & medals of S/Ldr Adrian GOLDSMITH DFM, DFC who scored 11 victories over Malta. One of my favorite items is the officers mess sign of 450 Sqn RAAF 'Harrasers House' which shows a Kittyhawk flying low over a running Hitler with a Kanagaroo on the wing about to drop a bomb.
Not a lot of flying kit on display at all which is disapointing & the fighter command boys hardly rate a look in. There is no mention at all in the whole memorial about the B of B or very minor Costal Command mentions. Not one Irvin Jacket, 'B' helmet, D, E, G Mask.
Clive CALDWELL'S medals are attached to a pole in a non descript area above 'G' George which is hardly fitting in my opinion for Australias greatest WW2 air ace.
Although a vast improvement I believe the WW2 halls could focus a lot more on representations of our airforce members.
The WW1 galleries were as usual spectacular and the new 'Over The Trenches' WW1 display is very nice.

With the imminent unveiling of the Bomber Command memorial in London 'hugely overdue' it was nice to see the new Australian Bomber Command memorial in the grounds outside the War Memorial. It is a lattice work cone reaching into the sky which represents the search lights encountered over enemy territory with shillouettes of aircraft flown in bomber command at the base and an image of a bomber crew standing together at the rear of the memorial. Inscribed around it is 'In memory of all Royal Australian Airforce members who served and those who died in the service of Royal Airforce Bomber Command in the Second World War 1939-1945'. Very fitting monument in my opinion. Cheers

Jason

P.S - Anyone intersested in some pictures e-mail me.
The tunic is definitely not Dams Raid vintage. The label inside the collar is dated 1944.
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Joined: August 18th, 2009, 1:37 pm

June 2nd, 2012, 11:20 am #7

Alex - above is name of pilot I was refering to. cheers

Jason
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Joined: February 16th, 2005, 11:34 pm

June 5th, 2012, 10:55 am #8

Er...sorry but am reading this right. 'Surprisingly the CO won' This guy didn't make the grade as a fighter pilot in the first place. He then tries again whereupon he ploughs a Mustang into the ground, bends the props and waltzes off presumably to leave the next poor sod in it to kill himself!
Shurely shome mishtake (hic). Shouldn't that be UNsurprisinly?
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Joined: August 18th, 2009, 1:37 pm

June 6th, 2012, 7:11 am #9

'Suprisingly' was a sarcastic comment - with that track record on fighters it was no wonder that the CO won his argument but Mr WILLIAMS fought tooth & nail to prove his CO was out to get him and was targeting him in a campaign - including multiple letters to the airboard.
He would no doubt have been awarded a DFC or similar but his disdain for authority was legendary apparently - one described as a real #%&!hole.
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Joined: February 28th, 2004, 3:00 pm

June 11th, 2012, 3:08 pm #10

Jason

Sorry, Ive been away from base for a week or two so having seen this will check it out and give you the gen asap.
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