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The Angry Sky: Australia‚Äôs Air War Over Europe 1939-1945
November 11, 2013 @ 7:30 pm - November 12, 2013 @ 3:00 am
A one day conference at the RAAF Museum, Point Cook, Victoria. Incorporating a special Remembrance Day Service. Monday 11 November 2013
Since the last AWM conference on the subject in 2003, much new material has been revealed about Australia‚Äôs air war in Europe.¬† This one day conference will bring together some of the best historians, authors and veterans to reflect not just on the history of the conduct and outcomes of the RAAF‚Äôs part in the massive air war over Europe, but also the impact on the RAAF itself.¬† Set in the magnificent setting of the RAAF Museum at Point Cook, the conference will incorporate a special Remembrance Day Service.
The conference is being convened by Military History and Heritage Victoria Inc.¬† Recent conferences have included the two day international in Melbourne, Australia 1942: In the Shadow of War in April 2012; and one day conferences By the Seat of their Pants: Australian Airmen and their Machines 1915-1918 at the RAAF Museum Point Cook in November 2012, and in April 2013 Choppers: Helicopters and the Vietnam War, held at the National Vietnam Veterans Museum.
When war broke out in Europe in 1939, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) aircrews were among the first Australians to head overseas to Britain’s aid. Between 1939 and 1945, they flew in both Australian and British squadrons with the Royal Air Force (RAF) in Coastal, Bomber and Fighter Commands.
Australia, with the other British Dominions had adopted the Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS) to provide trained aircrews to fight with the RAF. Australian recruits received elementary training at air bases around Australia and many of them were then sent overseas for advanced training. Before the scheme ended in mid-1944, more than 10,000 Australians had received advanced training in Canada and 674 had been sent to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) before joining the RAF in Britain. Squadrons which were predominantly Australian aircrew were designated as RAAF squadrons and 17 of these were eventually formed: 12 in Britain and 5 in the Middle East. Many Australians also served in RAF squadrons.
Australians served mainly as aircrew – pilots, engineers, navigators, wireless operators, observers and air gunners. Some also went as ground crew and carried out the maintenance and administrative tasks on the ground necessary to keep aircraft flying. Between 1940 and 1943, Australian airmen participated in the air war against the Germans and Italians in North Africa and the Middle East, in the defence of Malta in 1942, in the Allied drive through Sicily and Italy between 1943 and 1945, and in the skies over the UK, Europe and Britain’s sea lanes from 1939 until 1945.
The most costly missions were with RAF Bomber Command and Australian aircrews flew in virtually every major operation. Although their numbers amounted to less than 2 per cent of Australia‚Äôs World War II enlistments, the 3486 men who were killed in Bomber Command accounted for almost 20 per cent of all Australian combat deaths. Approximately 1,500 RAAF aircrew parachuted from their aircraft over enemy territory and spent the remainder of the war in prison camps.
[Drawn from http://www.ww2australia.gov.au/raaf/]