Brief History of the Royal Australian Air Force
The Royal Australian Air Force was created on 31 March
1921. It followed on the service experience of the
Australian Flying Corps in World War 1. The AFC had been
formed at Point Cook, Victoria, effectively in 1914, with the
first Australian military flight carried out by Lieutenant
Richard Williams. The Flying Corps had distinguished
service in the Middle East, Britain and France.
One AFC member was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1917, he was:
Air Vice Marshall Francis Hubert McNamara, CBE
Following its formation in 1921, the Australian Air Force (it
became Royal shortly after formation) was equipped with Hawker
Demons - a gift from the Royal Air Force. The first
commander was Richard Williams, then a Lieutenant Colonel and he
remained effectively in command through the inter-war year
periods. Others involved in command included Group Captain
Throughout the subsequent years, while suffering from
financial restrictions, Air Commodore Williams concentrated on
the structure of the Service, its Bases, its Messes, etc.
Various other names notable in Air Force history, who were active
in the inter-war years included Murray Jones, Lucas, Cole,
Wrigley and George Jones.
The forming Service kept in touch with the Royal Air Force and
Williams reports finding Lord Trenchard, the founder of the Royal
Air Force, to be helpful.
With the coming of World War 2, the Air Force have been
financially restricted, was not at full strength. World War
2 brought rapid development of the RAAF, including a major
involvement in Europe through Bomber Commander (in which 3,500
Australian airmen died - the highest Australian casualty list in
any campaign in World War 2) and in the Mediterranian area -
Egypt, Palestine, Tunisia, Italy and Gibraltar.
The Service also, of course, was very active with training and
the defence of Australia, and participation in the Pacific Island
There were three Australian Victoria Cross winners.:
- Hughie Edwards (an Australian in the RAF)
- Rawdon Middleton
- W.E. Newton
Some of the aircraft flown included the Wellington, Lancaster,
Spitfire, Hurricane and Kittyhawk.
Following the end of World War 2, the Service, as with the
Navy and Army, was principally involved with demobilisation and
reorganisation, and concentrated on high training efficiency and
the best aircraft and weapons available within budgetary
restrictions. It had an involvement in various campaigns
starting with the Berlin Air Lift and including Vietnam.
There was also substantial involvement in the Occupation Forces
- Post World War 2, Chiefs of Air Force have included:
- Sir Frederick Scherger
- Sir John McCauley
- Sir Valston Hancock
- Sir Charles Reid
- Sir James Rowland
- Air Marshal J. Newnham
- Air Marshal Errol McCormack and currently
- Air Marshal G D shepherd
The current Air Force is regarded as an efficient and powerful