Tuesday, 17 April 2018

A video tribute to the Lancaster

An Avro Lancaster - F for Freddie - that was I was commissioned to create and research by the descendants of Flight Lieutenant Robert Anderson, RAAF.

The Avro Lancaster was one of the critical aircraft of World War II and along with the other four-engined giants such as the Short Stirling and Handley-Page Halifax were the mainstay of Bomber Command.

This video shows some Lancasters flying and is overlaid with a recording of the conversation of a Lancaster crew on a bombing mission being attacked by a German aircraft.

RAAF aircrew flew in Bomber Command in RAF squadrons and special 'Article XV' squadrons - RAAF squadrons raised for service with the RAF.

Friday, 13 April 2018

The story of the Mont St Quentin Digger - Peronne, France

My painting of the Mont St Quentin Digger - Memorial to the 2nd Division, AIF in France
(acrylic on canvas board)

This is a painting I did of a statue in France. Many may have visited it. It’s the Mont St Quentin Digger – the memorial to the Australian Imperial Force’s 2nd Division.

This statue was unveiled in 1971 but it was not the first to stand there. The original memorial to 2nd Division was paid for by members of the Division and was dedicated in 1925. It depicted an Australian soldier bayoneting an eagle. 

The original statue being unveiled. Note the size of the statue compared to the dignitaries standing around the plinth.

The eagle was the emblem of the German empire and the idea of destroying the German eagle was not unique to the sculptor. 

The images above show a French poster seeking war bonds and a Canadian Army recruiting poster from the First World War.

The sculptor was Charles Web Gilbert, a self-taught artist who was commissioned to create the statue even though Charles Bean – noted historian – thought it was not in the spirit of the Diggers of the AIF. 

The Statue being created. Note Gilbert standing to the left of the statue, an indication of the scale of the work.
Australian War Memorial H15606

But Gilbert's statue was unveiled by Marschal Foch to great acclaim and stood on its plinth for 16 years. Gilbert was in his fifties when he created this statue carting clay and bronze by himself. He worked himself to death and died two days before photos of his creation being unveiled in France arrived at his home.

Unveiling the statue. Marshal Foch pulls the lanyard of the Australian Flag to reveal Gilbert's statue.

During the occupation of the town by German troops in 1940, the memorial was torn down by Wehrmacht soldiers and its fate is unknown. 31 years later and the current statue was unveiled depicting a pensive Digger with rifle slung.

The Digger lies on the steps and the reliefs have been jimmied off their frames and sit at the base of the plinth. The fate of the statue, destroyed by angry German Troops, is unknown.

For more artwork by me, please visit www.ipas.com.au

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Women and war and why the pelican pierces her breast.

My artwork of the stained glass window of Devotion. Enamel paint on canvas on wood. Painted in honour of my wife, Sharon Bown, former RAAF Nursing Officer, it is currently hanging in my living room!

Above the stained-glass window of the Australian nurse in the Hall of Memory at the Australian War Memorial is the symbols of each state of Australia as found on our Coat of Arms.
The Pelican in its Piety above the symbols of the states of Australia sits above the image of Devotion in the Hall of Memory at the Australian War Memorial
Above that is the image of a pelican piercing its breast and feeding its young.
It may sound incongruous, but the symbology is quite striking for it depicts a symbol which shows piety – devotion – in the legend of the pelican.

It was said that the pelican, devoted to its young, would pierce its breast to allow the blood to feed its young. This pious act would nourish the weak chicks but would cost the life of the mother pelican.

Sister Fanny Hines from Victoria was the first woman to die on active service for Australia. During the 2nd Boer War, she was the only source of comfort for 26 wounded soldiers in Bulawayo, Rhodesia.

Left alone to tend to these wounded soldiers in the days before anesthesia or penicillin, she worked tirelessly until she herself contracted pneumonia and with no-one  to care for her, she worked until she died. Just as the pelican suffered to save her young, so did Fanny to save her patients with both dying.

Napier Waller. He lost an arm at the Battle of Bullecourt but learnt to write and draw with his left hand and went on to create the amazing mosaics and stained glass windows in the Hall of Memory at the Australian War Memorial.
Piety is another word for devotion. The artist of the stained-glass windows, Napier Waller, deliberately made each stained glass window a grey/blue theme. Devotion is the only window with a stark red colour – the cape of the nurse. He lost an arm at Bullecourt and for the better part of a year was cared for by nurses. His use of red is an homage to their devotion.

As we come to Anzac Day, there will be many female veterans marching amongst the thousands of men. They will wear their medals on their left breast signifying that they earnt them themselves in the service of their country. While the bulk of our soldiers, sailors and airmen may be male, we have thousands of sisters-in-arms in our ranks and who were formally in our ranks… and they all started with the nurses of the Boer War.

Lest we Forget.

Why not visit the 'By the Left' Facebook page here

Monday, 9 April 2018

Hats off to the Herc - Lockheed C-130 Hercules

Every now and then, an aircraft design is so successful that it spans generations. The Douglas DC-3; the Bell UH-1 Iroquois; the Boeing CH-47 Chinook, the Boeing 737... the list goes on.

One of my favourites is the C-130 Hercules which entered Australian service in 1958 making the Royal Australian Air Force the second nation outside the United States to operate this marvelous aircraft. No 36 Squadron accepted the aircraft as a replacement for its DC-3s which must have been a quantum leap in capability back then.

Today, the RAAF operates the C-130J (J model) after having operated the A model, E model and H model.

Like many of my ADF colleagues, I have had the pleasure of being transported in a Herc and during my time as Official RAAF War Artist after my stint as a drone pilot with the RAAF, I wanted to do a tribute to the Herc crews.

Above is my pastel painting of a Herc crew called "C-130 into Tarin Kot" showing the pilot and co-pilot of a J model Herc passing the mountains as it does its resup run into this base in Afghanistan.

Below is a picture from the Australian War Memorial of an Aeromedical Evacuation out of South Vietnam in an A model back in the '60s with a RAAF AME nurse looking after wounded Australian soldiers as they RTA (Return to Australia).

Long live the Herc!

RAAF Aeromedical Evacuation Nurse on C-130A returning from South Vietnam (AWM MAL/66/004/01)

RAAF Hercules at RAAF Museum. C-130A in the foreground then an E Model, H Model and J Model in the rear. For more info go to https://www.airforce.gov.au/sites/g/files/net3736/f/minisite/static/1469/RAAFmuseum/research/aircraft/series2/A97.htm

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Group Interaction in a High Risk Environment

One of the training programs I deliver is Crew Resource Management / Working Safely Around Aircraft. In the program we discuss how to work together safely in an aviation environment and other skills related to teams in high stress environments. The skills can be taken into different industries such as emergency services, health care, military... anywhere where it is important to work in a group in an environment where risk is a factor.

Now, aviators out there may look at this clip of a Fletcher crop dusting in New Zealand and wince at the risk and the likelihood of a dangerous occurrence and possible disastrous outcomes; others may merely marvel at the skill of the pilot.

For me it's a little of both... but one thing that is undeniable - and with which I am particularly impressed - is the efficiency of the operation.

Efficiency means saving time, saving lives and saving money. In this instance the pilot and the ground crew are good at their individual jobs and good at working together as a team.

For more information on my Crew Resource Management / Working Safely Around Aircraft... and to see another video on how the WSAA course  works, go here:  http://www.ipas.com.au/pages/Page_Aviation_Services.shtml

The Road From Damscus - The Australian Flying Corps supporting the Australian Light Horse - 1918

The Road from Damascus - 1 Squadron and the Light Horsemen. 

October 1918 - The Australian Light Horse Brigade had just liberated Damascus in Syria and took thousands of troops prisoner when they heard that German and Turkish soldiers were trying to escape to the coast along the Damascus-Beirut road. 

The Light Horsemen galloped off to engage and do battle with them. Bristol Fighters of No 1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps race ahead to scout and bomb the enemy. The Airmen had proved invaluable in the capture of Damascus by strafing Turkish machine-gun posts that had hampered the advance and bombing the railway yards to foil the escape of the enemy. 

A few hours later, Colonel T.E. Lawrence - also known as Lawrence of Arabia - entered Damascus with his Arab irregular army and  was feted as the liberator of Damascus in a political contrivance to further British interests in the Middle East. There was no mention that the Australians had already liberated the city.

100 years later and No 1 Squadron, RAAF would be back in Syria flying air support for friendly ground forces again - this time in the battle against ISIS. 

(The image above was created using marker pens and gouache paint on toned paper. 11 x 14 inch / 280 x 355mm prints available for $25.00 ea) For more info go to www.facebook.com/independentproductionsandaviationservices

Here is an image of Damascus taken by No 1 Squadron on an aerial reconnaissance prior to the liberation a few weeks later.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Facts about our flag you may not have known...

Many of us have served under the Australian National Flag (ANF), or proudly waved it overseas supporting other Australians… but did you know that the Australian Army’s flag is the ANF and that the Army is the ‘Guardian of the Flag’… and that is why we don’t have a different design like the Royal Australian Navy or Royal Australian Air Force? Or that the first Australian national flag to be flown at war was recently found and restored in Newcastle? Read on for more...

(Image above courtesy DoD)

The flag raised at Sydney Cove on 26 January, 1788, was not the first time it was raised by the First Fleet. On 24 January, at Botany Bay, two French warships tried to enter the bay. Governor Phillip ordered that the British Flag be hoisted urgently to show the French that the land had been claimed by Britain. (Phew! That was close!)

The flag used in 1788 was the flag of the union of England and Scotland denoting the cross of St George and the cross of St Andrew superimposed.  When Ireland joined the union, the cross of St Patrick was added to form the current Union Flag of Great Britain, also referred to as the Union Jack. (A jack is a flag flown from a jackstaff on the bow of a ship, however both the Union Flag and Union Jack are officially recognized names for this flag).
When Australia federated, a competition by a tobacco company looked for a new ‘Australian’ symbol. The rules made it apparent that the Union Flag should appear in the upper left (upper hoist) quadrant. Of all the entries, five were so similar that the design was chosen and the prize money shared between them. The blue ensign was for government use and the red ensign for civil use. The use of the red ensign was commonplace through both World Wars.  Picture from: https://goo.gl/mGMLNZ

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

1942 - Australia's darkest days

Probably the darkest days in Australia’s history were during the early months of 1942.

With our soldiers, sailors and airmen committed to the fight in Europe and North Africa supporting Britain in its fight against the Axis powers, the Japanese attacks in the Pacific in December 1941 precipitated a rapid advance through South-East Asia, the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) and New Guinea. It would be months before our troops could return home to defend our nation. 
Australia was in danger of being invaded and it was attacked by air on many occasions. Most people know Darwin was bombed… but not many know it was bombed 64 times! Or that other towns in the north of the country were also attacked.
This image shows a soldier of our Regional Force Surveillance Units who use their bush skills to patrol our north. The map shows the limit of Japanese advance and the towns that were bombed and the number of times.
Thank goodness for the Militia - the predecessors of today's Army Reserve - who were able to hold off the Japs in the jungles of New Guinea... and thank goodness for the Royal Australian Air Force and United States Army Air Force and the US Army, Navy and Marines that joined the fight to push back the enemy.

#1942 #War in the Pacific #USAAF #RFSU #Australia Attacked

Monday, 2 April 2018

The Real Fighting Kangaroo (Pt 2)

Continuing on from our previous post about our national roundel, here is part two of the post I wrote for Army last year.

Go to www.facebook.com/independentproductionsandaviationservices for the previous part.

 During the 50s and 60s, the Royal Australian Navy and RAAF continued to display British markings, flags and heraldry on their aircraft and ships. This led to much international confusion in ADF operations where Britain was not involved. 

Finally, in 1956 it was decided that a uniquely Australian insignia was required. Designs incorporating the Southern Cross or a boomerang were considered, but a kangaroo was decided upon. The choice was the No 5 and 6 Sqn AFC (Minchinhampton*) kangaroo standing erect… or the No 456 Sqn leaping kangaroo based on the 1937 penny. RAAF surveyed its members by a ballot and 81% of respondents voted for the leaping kangaroo, however there was a brief period where the erect kangaroo was used on roundels as a trial. 

The RAAF commenced applying the new roundel on the fuselages only. (9 years later the new roundel would be applied to the wings as well). The design was to have the kangaroo always facing forwards and, if on the wings, its feet pointing inwards denoting that it was always advancing towards battle

 The 1st Australian Task Force in Vietnam used a Red Kangaroo on a yellow shield as its symbol. The low level operations of Army Aviation’s 161 Reconnaissance helicopter squadron, 1st Aviation Regiment saw them remove the highly visible roundel and created a small black kangaroo which was less of an aiming mark for the enemy. The scene was set for how we would display our national insignia on our aircraft.
During Vietnam, the Royal Australian Navy started operating US made destroyers and began using US style designations for their squadrons. AUSDESRON (Australian Destroyer Squadron) Nos 1 and 2 adopted Red Kangaroo motifs with large white numerals which were displayed on their superstructures and funnels. Other motifs were used by other vessels and squadrons, however the Red Kangaroo became the standard symbol for HMA Ships. 

So the next time you see a Red Kangaroo, know that it is the symbol of the ADF!

More info on the Navy’s use of the Red Kangaroo can be found here: http://www.navy.gov.au/history/tradition/origin-ran-squadron-and-national-insignia
http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/hmas-sydney-decommissioned-in-service-at-garden-island-20151107-gkt9yu.html  Photog: Christopher Pearce(Special appreciation to Mr John Bennett for his fantastic article on the RAAF Roundel. To read the whole article, go to the ADF-Serials website here: http://www.adf-gallery.com.au/newsletter/ADF%20Telegraph%202016%20Spring.pdf)

Sunday, 1 April 2018

The Real Fighting Kangaroo... (Pt 1)

The Real Fighting Kangaroo... (Pt 1)

Many of us of a certain age may recall the America’s Cup challenge of 1983 that electrified the nation. One of the iconic images that emerged from that was the ‘fighting kangaroo’ flag showing a yellow kangaroo with red boxing gloves on a green background.
The real fighting kangaroo is red and can be found on the wings and fuselages of ADF aircraft (or another colour if the aircraft is in tactical livery) or on the funnels of Her Majesty’s Australian Ships or adorning the sides of Army armoured vehicles.
This page may not be Dr Sheldon Cooper’s ‘Fun With Flags’, but we hope these posts give you some history into this uniquely Australian marking found on the machines of battle of your ADF.
So here is the first part of ‘The Story of the real Fighting Kangaroo’.  To see  more, go to my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/independentproductionsandaviationservices

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The 1983 America’s Cup saw our 12 metre yacht Australia II come back from trailing the New York Yacht Club’s Liberty, 3-1, to win the best of seven race. 

The nation went nuts and PM Bob Hawke declared on national TV that…”any boss that sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum!” (True story!)

One of the enduring symbols of that competition was the Boxing Kangaroo that was created by the team members to match other nations’ flags in a local bar in Rhode Island. It would later become incredibly popular in Australia and was licensed by the Australian Olympic Committee as the symbol of our Olympic athletes.
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But the symbol of the kangaroo had been long in use. During WWI, the Australian Flying Corps painted kangaroos on their aircraft, the most famous being those of No 6 Squadron, AFC. This squadron was based in Minchinbury in England and was a training squadron supplying pilots for the squadrons fighting in France.

(Image courtesy of Australian War Memorial – AWM P8374.012 – Used with permission)
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Fast forward to WWII. During the see-sawing desert campaign in Northern Africa, Australian troops captured Italian tanks and painted large white kangaroos on them to ensure they were not fired upon by friendly troops while Aussies were using them against the enemy.

The Divisions of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force also used various animal symbols as tactical signs to differentiate equipment between the divisions. The 6th Division had a leaping kangaroo above a boomerang.

AWM images 0546 /0543
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Perhaps the most significant use of the kangaroo was by the Royal Australian Air Force. Whilst not an official national symbol, their No 456 Squadron created a design and used it on their Mosquito fighter-bombers and other squadron equipment. They created templates using the kangaroo design based on the 1937 penny.

Interestingly, the person given credit for the design of the penny is George Kruger Grey, well known English artist renowned for the design of coats of arms and coinage. His initials are on all coins he designed (see just above the kangaroo’s tail), however the actual designer of the coin was a Toowoomba-born man by the name of Douglas Shenton Annand. Kruger Grey merely changed the design slightly to allow it to be minted and stuck his initials on it. He did the same on the ha’penny and shilling!

Scroll down for Part Two of 'The Real Fighting Kangaroo.'

AWM UK 1437 – used with permission. Images of coins open source.

Cooperate to Strike - No 4 Squadron, RAAF

No 4 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, was the first unit to try a new tactic of what we now call 'Forward Air Control'.

Flying their Wirraway or Boomerang fighters that were no match for the Japanese Zeroes, they turned their hand to ground attack, supporting the troops with air support.

One technique the pilots used was to identify enemy positions on the ground and then, with fighters from the United States Army Air Force of the Royal New Zealand Air Force in trail, they would dive down on the enemy firing their machine-guns with tracer rounds. The tracers would fall amongst the enemy troops and the fighter pilots, with more powerful machine guns or cannon or with bombs, would drop or fire their ordnance with devastating effect.

Later, No 4 Squadron would continue their Army Cooperation role with the creation of ground based forward air controllers - known as Joint Terminal Attack Controllers or JTACs - who would accompany the troops and identify enemy positions for attack by air support fighters, fighter bombers or helicopters.

This painting was created by myself for entry in the RAAF Heritage Awards, 2018.


No 1 Squadron's F/A-18F.