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Remembered Today:

How would an AIF infantryman have applied for the AFC?


hardy

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While training at Lark Hill in 1916, my Australian grandfather applied to join the Australian Flying Corps (AFC).

This was triggered by his sighting of an aeroplane on his first Sunday at camp after disembarking from the troop transport that carried the 39th Battalion AIF from Australia. At that time few Australians had ever seen a plane.

As I'm writing my grandfather's biography, I am just trying to piece together a picture of his daily life at Lark Hill and how he went from being an infantryman to being an airman.

Great War Forum member Moonraker has provided information that there was an RFC (Royal Flying Corps) training centre at Lark Hill, but this was 'where men were 'handed over to the Military to take the rough edge off before the Flying Corps will have anything to with us'. There were training aerodromes at Upavon and Netheravon and an aerodrome at Stonehenge, but I am not sure if there were other airfields close to Lark Hill. I would like to know!

It seems logical (and again I am indebted to Moonraker) that my grandfather would not have visited an RFC centre or aerodrome to put in his application for the AFC, but would have submitted it through his own unit to AIF HQ in London.

Any further light shed on this subject will be very welcome.

Hardy

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The field at Lark Hill was closed in 1914, the nearest airfield then being Stonehenge (with a light railway link)

He would most likely have been trained by the RFC and then transferred to an AFC squadron as the AFC had no real training facilities of its own outside Cooks Point in Australia

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He would most likely have been trained by the RFC and then transferred to an AFC squadron as the AFC had no real training facilities of its own outside Cooks Point in Australia

The AFC did train pilots at Point Cook in Victoria, and some pilots learned their craft at the NSW School of Aviation at Richmond, after which some joined the AFC, others made their way to Europe and joined the RFC/RNAS/RAF. There were four RFC training units for Australians in the UK: Nos 29, 30, 32 and 33 (Australian) Training Squadrons RFC, formed in September and October 1917, which became Nos 5, 6, 7 and 8 Training Squadrons AFC, respectively, in 1918. The would-be pilots went through pre-flight training at an RFC School of Military Aeronautics prior to being posted to a Training Squadron.

Your grandfather's service record at the National Archives should contain information on his flying training, eg the date on which he was marched out of his infantry battalion and marched into a training unit, and subsequent postings.

I hope that this is useful.

Gareth

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The field at Lark Hill was closed in 1914, the nearest airfield then being Stonehenge (with a light railway link)

The Lark Hill field was run by the Bristol Flying School. Some of the original hangars still stand. Stonehenge Airfield was built in 1917 and trained bomber crews. Other training airfields nearby and opened in 1917/18 were at Boscombe Down, Lake Down, Old Sarum and Lopcombe Corner.

Many soldiers camped on Salisbury Plain in the war years (and shortly before)commented on aircraft from nearby airfields.

Moonraker

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Thanks Centurion and Dolphin.

Stonehenge Airfield was built in 1917 and trained bomber crews. Other training airfields nearby and opened in 1917/18 were at Boscombe Down, Lake Down, Old Sarum and Lopcombe Corner.

Many soldiers camped on Salisbury Plain in the war years (and shortly before)commented on aircraft from nearby airfields.

Moonraker

This has saved me from a serious error in the manuscript - I had assumed Stonehenge Aerodrome was already open in July 1916 when my grandfather arrived.

So in July 1916 the nearest airfield would have been Netheravon, is that right? Is that where the planes the soldiers saw would have been coming from?

Hardy

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Hardy

Have replied to you by email. Yes, Netheravon was the nearest airfield and and a not unpleasant walk from Lark Hill, so your man could have got reasonably close to aircraft on the ground. But there would have been plenty of aircraft from other airfields flying around.

Moonraker

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  • 2 weeks later...

lf hes in the RFC he would have to be dismissed from the AIF, and thus lose seniority.

lf hes in the AFC how can he be trained on his own by the RFC?Why would the RFC train one man for another service?

Note Hardy has not said his Grandfather was a flyer.Was he not a tradesman?

l dont think there were any AFC units in Europe in 1916 for him to join.

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lf hes in the AFC how can he be trained on his own by the RFC?Why would the RFC train one man for another service?

The RFC did train at least one AFC airmen in 1916:

Merrett, Lieutenant Charles Darrell, Attached to Dover Air Station

Charles Merrett came from Melbourne, and was commissioned in the AFC in England in January 1916; he doesn’t appear on the AIF Embarkation Rolls. He was 21 when he was killed in an aircraft accident at Dover on 16 May while flying in Avro 504A 4068 with Capt Lord Lucas PC, who was unhurt. Capt Lord Lucas had switched off the engine as the aeroplane was approaching the aerodrome, but realised that he needed more power as the machine was going to land short of the aerodrome. However, the engine would not re-start and the Avro went out of control before crashing from about 80 feet.

Lt C D Merrett is buried in Grave W C 35 at Dover (St James’s) Cemetery, Kent, England.

Gareth

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Note Hardy has not said his Grandfather was a flyer.Was he not a tradesman?

l dont think there were any AFC units in Europe in 1916 for him to join.

If Hardy's Grandfather was William Palstra (who he mentions he's researching in his signature) - then he did become a Pilot - but he didn't actually join the AFC until late 1917.(?)

Hardy - if they are one and the same, I'd be very interested to see your finished Bio - as William Palstra is one of the men in my Accidental Deaths Database, (who I already have a fair bit of info on).

Cheers, Frev

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Yes Frev, William Palstra is the man whose biography I am writing. I'd be happy to show it to you when it's finished. (That could take quite a while - there's so much to include!)

He was never in the RFC. He was on Salisbury Plain because he was an infantryman in the AIF, training for the western front.

Moonraker has helped me iron out the process by which he would have applied for the AFC. The reason he did not become a pilot until late in the war was because the AFC were only taking on men who'd held a commission for at least two years, and he was only a corporal at the time.

The AFC were very choosy about who they took on to fly their expensive planes. That is until they started running short of pilots - then their entrance requirements may have changed a little.

William Palstra managed to get promoted to sergeant and then sent to officer's school. He did fight in the trenches - at Messines, where he won a Military Cross for bravery - before he finally made it into the AFC.

Later he rose to become a Squadron Leader.

Frev I'm indebted to you for your help with his voyage from Australia to England. May I enquire what info do you have on him?

Hardy

If Hardy's Grandfather was William Palstra (who he mentions he's researching in his signature) - then he did become a Pilot - but he didn't actually join the AFC until late 1917.(?)

Hardy - if they are one and the same, I'd be very interested to see your finished Bio - as William Palstra is one of the men in my Accidental Deaths Database, (who I already have a fair bit of info on).

Cheers, Frev

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Hello Frev,

The chap I am researching at the moment was at Lark Hill in August 1916 and found his way into the first group of Australians selected for training by the RFC. From his letters it appears in typical forces fashion that the requirement 'went up on the notice board' and he and one of his mates thought they would give it a go.

Lark Hill Camp, it appears, was not popular with the Aussies. This may have been because it was the first place where they came into contact with the British Army's way of doing things or it may have had something to do with the English summer weather. I think the chance of going flying must have seemed very attractive.

Best of luck with your biog!

Mike

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Lark Hill and many other camps were not popular with most people! Certainly ANZAC troops didn't like the British weather but the average soldier wouldn't have had much contact with the British Army, especially as from mid-1917 Australians were the nationality most represented in the Salisbury Plain camps. But the Australian and British armies did have differing ideas on how things should be done, especially when it came to discipline.

Moonraker

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Yes Frev, William Palstra is the man whose biography I am writing. I'd be happy to show it to you when it's finished. (That could take quite a while - there's so much to include!)

Frev I'm indebted to you for your help with his voyage from Australia to England. May I enquire what info do you have on him?

Hardy - I'm glad I could be of some help re his voyage - even though I don't remember doing so! :blink:

Yes - I can well understand about how much there is to put together on your Grandfather's life - especially if you have his diary & you're working to 'flesh out' his story. What I've put together you'll most likely have - and although I hadn't finished gathering info on him (always getting side-tracked from one to another of the thousands of men & women in my databases) - I'd appreciate it if you can let me know of any glaring errors etc. - even before I get the chance to see your finished Bio :thumbsup:

So I'll copy the file below:

[Michael - if you read this thread & there's a problem with me having posted great swathes of quotes from your brilliant book 'Fire in the Sky' - let me know and I'll delete them]

Cheers, Frev

PALSTRA, William

Born 8th October 1891 in Zwolle, Holland – son of Col. Wiebe / William & Jacoba Hendrika (nee van Bevervoorde) PALSTRA

Jacoba d.16/10/1938, age 79 & Wiebe d.31/12/1944, age 77

[Addresses: 63 Manning Rd, Malvern (1914); Carrigmore, Middlesex Rd, Surrey Hills (1919), 28 Middlesex Rd, Canterbury (1936); Bourke St, Melb]

Siblings:

Henrietta Christina b.12/10/1892 (Teacher) – marr. J.L. Kloosterboer – d.1969 USA,

Charles Englebert / Edward – b.13/1/1895, (or 1892? or 1897), Capetown, Sth Africa – WW1: 17/8/14 – 1/11/19, 984 / Lieut, 5th Bn, 46th Bn – marr. Flora S Sproston 3/6/1939 Ivanhoe – WW2, RAAF – d.17/8/1962 Surrey Hills, bur. Box Hill Cemetery (have photo of grave), [AWM group photos / see article by him in The Argus, 11/11/1933 – “One Man’s Armistice Day”]

Frank Elwin b.5/10/1896 Belgium (Bank Clerk) – marr. E.M Bensley 1926, E.R. Rixon 1933 – d.23/9/1957 Malvern; Blanche Evangeline b.c1899 (Typist) – marr. A.T. Holdaway 1924 – d.1979 Kew, age 80; Victor; John Bernard Phillip b.c1906 (Compositor) – marr. E.J. Henry 1936 – d.12/9/1995, age 89

Religion: Salvation Army

Transvaal Scottish Cadets, 4 years

Band master, Salvation Army, Holland

Occupation: Clerk

WW1: Enlisted 3/1/1916, Cpl 555, 39th Bn, B Coy

Embarked 27/5/1916 on the A11 Ascanius – disembarked Devonport 18/7/1916

Transferred to 10th Brigade HQ, Larkhill as Cpl 25/8/1916 & promoted to Sgt

Marched in to No.6 Officers Cadet Bn at Balliol College, Oxford 1/12/1916

Billeted at Warwick 11/2/17 – 17/2/17

Leave 3/3/17 – 6/3/17

Promoted 2nd Lieut 28/3/1917 & M/O to HQ, London 29/3/17

17/4/1917 Proceeded O/S to France & TOS with 39th Bn 24/4/1917

Recommendation for Military Cross:

On 7th, 8th, and 9th June 1917 at MESSINES for the display of great initiative and ability. This Officer was responsible for the capture of an enemy strong point – GREY FARM, and for the consolidation of the BLACK LINE beyond it. He led his men with fine dash, and set a splendid example throughout. His work assisted greatly in the success of the operation. With the exception of the Commanding Officer and the Adjutant of the Battalion he was the only Officer left when his battalion was relieved on the 9th June 1917.

Promoted Lieut 28/7/1917

30/10/1917: Reported to Aviation Branch Admin HQ

21/11/1917: No. 3 Squadron, AFC – Marched into AFC Training Depot, Wendover

7/12/1917: Joined No. 1 school of Military Aeoronautics, Reading, for training as flying officer

29/1/1918: Attached to 5th Training Squadron, AFC for Elementary Instruction in Aviation

11/3/1918 Posted from A Flight to B Flight

8/4/1918: No. 5 Training Squadron, Minchinhampton

30/4/1918: Passed Lewis Gun Test No.6

2/5/1918: Appointed Flying Officer (Pilot)

Graduation Leave 2/5/18 – 8/5/18

23/5/1918: Passed Lewis Gun Test No.4

17/6/1918: Posted to No.7 Training Squadron, Leighterton (from No.5)

20/6/1918: Passed out in Wireless Tests – Morse A&B

23/6/1918: Passed out in Signalling A&B

25/6/1918: Passed out in Photography, Prop Swinging & Reconnaissance Tests

25/6/1918: Passed out in Carrying Passengers Test

29/6/1918: Passed out in Picture Targets A&B

?/7/1918: Passed out in Gunnery Test (Aerial firing)

?/7/1918: Passed out in Aerial Fighting (Camera Gun Test)

29/7/1918: Proceeded to Infantry & Artillery Co-operation School, Winchester

22/8/1918: Attached 7th Tng Sqdn, Leighterton

11/9/1918: Proceeded O/S to Fance

14/9/1918: TOS with 3rd Squadron

29/9/1918: Attack on the Hindenburg / Beaurevoir Lines:

“As the morning wore on, the situation on the battlefield remained, both literally and figuratively, foggy, At midday, a contact patrol over the southern sector reported American troops east of Bellicourt – that is, across the Main Line and close to their second objective. Bill Palstra’s mid-afternoon patrol to check progress in the northern sector was less promising. He sounded his klaxon over the Americans’ second objective but saw no flares in response. Ominously, he saw ‘many Huns’ still in the Hindenburg Main Line – the first objective – and ‘a good number’ of tanks burning in front of it. ‘No advance appears to be made on this flank,’ Palstra concluded. ‘Whole situation very obscure and dangerous.’

By evening, the Australian Corps was a long way short of its intended objectives in the Beaurevoir Line. In the northern sector, as Palstra’s report indicated, the Americans had been pinned down well before reaching their first objective and the Australians following them couldn’t make headway either. …………..” [“Fire in the Sky” p.310]

2/10/1918:

“At 6.30 am, Palstra and Ernest Hamilton reconnoitred the southern sector, noting that British troops had a foothold in the Beaurevoir Line, east of Joncourt. They had captured the village of Seqehart and Palstra was pleased to see ‘some hundreds of Hun prisoners being marched back west.’ Swooping down to pinpoint the location of the most advanced British troops, he spotted a line of enemy soldiers ‘about a mile long’ suddenly stand up and start advancing. Suspecting a counter-attack, he dropped a parachute flare over them and sent a wireless ‘SOS’ call to the artillery. Within seconds, the German line was being pummeled by artillery and three British fighters attracted by Palstra’s flare:

‘Swooped down on flank of advancing line with engine full out. Ham fired 400 rounds, one burst catching a party of six and killing five…..Streams of Buckingham [incendiary bullets] were soon spurting towards us. ‘Collected’ one…which smashed the wireless reel and klaxon horn.’

The German counter-attack was cut to pieces and stopped before it had advanced a thousand metres. In this way, as the British historian Peter Hart has pointed out, the humble RE8 crew could cause more damage with a wireless radio and flare than a fighter ace could in an entire career.” [“Fire in the Sky” p.311]

11/11/1918:

“Meanwhile, down south at No.3 Sqadron’s forward landing ground at Flaumont, pilots were preparing to take off when news arrived that fighting would stop at 11.00am. Bill Palstra recorded how the airmen ‘reluctantly’ switched off their engines and climbed down. ‘Strafing a retreating army is good sport to the man in the air,’ he explained, ‘though probably far from agreeable to the Hun plodding back to Hunland.’ …..”

“At 11.00am, Palstra and some of the other airmen were sitting around, debating whether the news was true or not, when a great racket sprang up all around the countryside. Cheers and the sound of bagpipes filled the air, along with hundreds of Verey lights. ‘We stood still and listened,’ wrote Palstra in his diary, ‘and the realization dawned on us that this was the end of the war.’…..” [“Fire in the Sky” p.325]

Paris Leave 14/11/18-17/11/18; 2/12/18-20/12/18

On command at Engine Repair Shops 7/1/19-17/1/19

On command at 4th Army Electrical School 5/2/19-14/2/19

Transferred to home establishment 14/2/19 & disembarked Folkestone, England 15/2/19, to report to HQ, London

TOS with 8th Tng Sqdn, Leighterton 24/2/1919

M/O to 1st Tng Bde, Sutton Veny 10/3/19, for early repatriation

RTA on the Kildonian Castle, embarking Devonport 21/3/1919 – disembarking Melbourne 7/5/1919.

Appointment terminated 21/6/1919

[AWM Group photo of officers of 3rd Sqdn, AFC, 24/10/1918 Premont, France – H15336]

[AWM Private Record: Collection relating to the service of Lieutenant William Palstra, 3 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, Western Front, 1918. Collection consists of four handwritten copies of extracts from a diary kept by Lieutenant Palstra, and two handwritten accounts of Palstra's experiences in the last three months of the war. The collection is notable for its eye-witness accounts of aerial combat and night flying operations. Location of original diary unknown.]

William lived with his parents & siblings at ‘Carrigmore’ when he returned home in 1919 - married in 1920 (3 children)

Occupation: Administrative Officer in the Registrar’s Office at Melbourne University

Also completed his course for the B.A. degree

RAAF: Joined 10/8/1925

Flying Instructors Course – Point Cook

Headquarters – Deputy Director of Personnel Services 19/10/1925-11/3/1928

Flight Lieutenant 1/3/1927

Staff Officer to C.A.S. 31/3/1927-14/6/1928

Director of Manning 12/3/1928-3/7/1928

Director of Personnel Services 4/7/1928-27/11/1928

Embarked on RMS Ormonde for UK 27/11/1928 (arrived London 3/1/1929)

Royal Airforce Staff College, Andover, England 1929

Liaison Officer at Australia House, London 24/3/1930-22/9/1930

Squadron Leader 1/7/1930

Secretary of the Air Accidents Investigation Committee 1928

Palstra was making “the trip to India in order to prepare a report for the British Cabinet on the prospects of inaugurating an airship service to Australia.” [sMH, 6/10/30]

Died the night of 5/10/1930, while a passenger in the British R101 Airship that crashed onto Beauvais Ridge at Altonne in northern France and exploded in flames, on its inaugural flight from England to India

Buried in a communal grave in Cardington Cemetery, Bedford, England

http://www.colindaylinks.com/BedfordLocal/Cardington.html

A memorial to the R101 victims was unveiled in Cardington Cemetery 21/9/1931

A memorial to the victims was erected on the crash site in 1933

A memorial tablet to William was unveiled at the Wyclif Church in Surrey Hills on the 28/7/1935

Sunday Times (Perth), Sun 28 Aug 1927:

MELBOURNE-SYDNEY AERIAL ROUTE

Lack of Emergency Landing Grounds

SYDNEY, Saturday

“From a flying point of view, the lack of emergency landing grounds between Goulburn and Sydney makes this country absolutely deadly for flying,” said Flight Lieutenant W. Palstra, who flew from Melbourne to Richmond in an Air Force D.H.9 machine. “It would be practically impossible to make a forced landing over this section of the Melbourne-Sydney route,” he said, “and more landing grounds will have to be provided for airmen.” He added that the Victorian country looked good from a height of 6000 feet, but New South Wales was very dry.

The Sydney Morning Herald, Tue 7 Oct 1930:

A GALLANT OFFICER

Squadron-Leader Palstra

The Royal Australian Flying Corps has lost one of its most brilliant officers by the death of Squadron-Leader William Palstra. In single combat in France in 1917 and 1918 Squadron-Leader Palstra shot down six enemy machines, [?] and as the result of other exploits he earned advancement and was mentioned in dispatches. The Military Cross had already been awarded him. This decoration was won for devotion to duty and bravery during the battle of Messines on June 6, 1917. As a second lieutenant of the 39th Battalion, he was the only officer remaining at the close of the engagement.

His career as a airman began in October 1917, when he transferred from the infantry to the Australian Flying Corps as a flying officer in the third squadron. Enterprising and aggressive in the air, he soon earned the right to fly a Sopwith Camel, the type of machine then exclusively engaged in protecting the heavier Allied aeroplanes from the enemy formations. He then transferred to the independent air force, [?] and was attached to several of the “circuses” of picked pilots who elected daily combat with the most skillful and resourceful of the enemy air force. Towards the close of the war he flew a Bristol Fighter with conspicuous success.

A forced landing in the burning town of Cambrai and a take-off after repairing his engine were amongst the most vivid memories that he brought home from the war. On another occasion his aeroplane was so badly holed during a successful encounter with a German machine that he was forced down, and alighted between the British and German lines. Fortunately, there was a heavy mist, and he was able to restart the engine and fly away.

A brother of the dead officer, Mr C.E. Palstra, who is connected with the Salvation Army Boys’ Home at Bexley, said yesterday that Squadron-Leader Palstra had died as he would have chosen. In his last letter Squadron-Leader Palstra had written of the coming flight to India, and had put forward the view that lighter-than-air machines would never supersede heavier-than-air machines for defense purposes, whatever merits they might develop in the field of commerce. He had emphasized that the safety of the big airship and its complement of 50 or 100 men, still depended on the skill and judgment of an individual.

Squadron-Leader Palstra was born in South Africa 39 years ago. His father, Commissioner Palstra, was field secretary of the Salvation Army in Australia until 1921, and was then appointed to a similar position in China. Later he became Commissioner to Korea, and now holds a similar post in the Dutch East Indies.

Examiner (Launceston, Tas), Mon 6 Oct 1930:

An Airman’s Premonition

Hitherto the Air Ministry has announced that there was only one minor change in the crew, so it seems that there is little doubt that Palstra, was among the victims. Like all airmen he would face anything in a spirit of adventure, but the Australian Press Association understands that he did not approach the present task with the same wholehearted enthusiasm:- “He was one of the most daring chaps I know. Give him any old bus and he would go up and do anything you asked, but was chary of airships. I said I would give my last farthing to swap places with him, and Palstra smiled reflectively and said ‘You know I don’t like the idea of that five millions of cubic feet of gas above me’.”

Flight-Lieutenant Harmon, whose wife is at present on the way to Australia, was originally designated to make the trip on R101, but in view of his impending retirement the arrangement was cancelled, and Palstra substituted.

FLIGHT, Oct 17, 1930:

[Article includes photos of funeral procession]

AUSTRALIA'S LOSS

In Squadron-Leader William Palstra, M.C., B.A., p.s.a., the Royal Australian Air Force has lost a very brilliant officer. He served during the war in the 39th Battalion, Australian Infantry, and afterwards in No. 3 Australian Squadron of the Flying Corps. He won his Military Cross while in the Infantry. During the attack on the Hindenburg line in September 26-29, 1918, he highly distinguished himself as a pilot of No.3 Australian Squadron. After the war, he went to Melbourne University, graduated B.A., and was then employed in an administrative capacity at the University. On August 10, 1925, he was commissioned as Flying Officer in the Royal Australian Air Force. He was promoted to Flight-Lieutenant in 1927 and to Squadron-Leader in 1930. Last year he went through the R.A.F. Staff College at Andover and subsequently was appointed Australian Liaison Officer at the Air Ministry until last month. He then took a course in air navigation at Calshot. He leaves a widow and three children.

Townsville Daily Bulletin, Fri 17 Oct 1930:

MEMORIAL SERVICE

For Squadron Leader Palstra

AMSTERDAM, October 15

The Salvation Army held a memorial service for Squadron Leader Palstra, whose father is at present Commander of the Salvation Army in the Dutch East Indies. It was recalled Squadron Leader Palstra was bandmaster in the Salvation Army in Holland before migrating to Australia.

Notes:

Death reg for Charles gives 2nd name as Theodore

Wiebe & Jacoba returned to Australia 28/11/1931 on the Taiping

From The Argus Monday 1st Jan 1945:

OBITUARY

LIEUT-COLONEL W. PALSTRA

The death occurred in Melbourne yesterday of Lieut-Commissioner W. Palstra, well known Salvation Army officer, at the age of 77, after having served as an officer for 60 years in Holland, Belgium, South Africa, China, Korea, Australia, and Netherlands East Indies. He held the position of chief secretary when in Australia, and was territorial commander in East Indies when he retired in 1932. Mrs Palstra died in 1938. His eldest son, William, was killed in the R31 airship disaster in 1930. Three sons and a daughter live in Australia; one son is a prisoner of war in Malaya, and a daughter is interned in China.

Commissioner W. R. Dalziel will conduct the funeral services from Canterbury Citadel and at Box Hill Cemetery on Tuesday afternoon.

Edited by Frev 11/7/11

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Hi Mike,

I was very interested to read that the chap you are researching got into the first group of Australians selected for training by the RFC. Do you have any letters/diaries he wrote on the topic? They would be fascinating to read and would no doubt shed much light on my grandfather's experiences.

Best regards

Hardy

Hello Frev,

The chap I am researching at the moment was at Lark Hill in August 1916 and found his way into the first group of Australians selected for training by the RFC. From his letters it appears in typical forces fashion that the requirement 'went up on the notice board' and he and one of his mates thought they would give it a go.

Lark Hill Camp, it appears, was not popular with the Aussies. This may have been because it was the first place where they came into contact with the British Army's way of doing things or it may have had something to do with the English summer weather. I think the chance of going flying must have seemed very attractive.

Best of luck with your biog!

Mike

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Fortunately for William Palstra he and the rest of the 39th arrived at Lark Hill in July. From their diaries, as they travelled in the train from Devonport to Salisbury Plain after the long sea voyage, they thought the English countryside was the closest thing to Paradise they had ever seen!

Lark Hill and many other camps were not popular with most people! Certainly ANZAC troops didn't like the British weather but the average soldier wouldn't have had much contact with the British Army, especially as from mid-1917 Australians were the nationality most represented in the Salisbury Plain camps. But the Australian and British armies did have differing ideas on how things should be done, especially when it came to discipline.

Moonraker

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Frev, you have made my day. :D

I thought after years of research that I had found just about everything. But you have provided information I did not have, including some insights into the man that are not revealed in his letters to his parents.

I am pretty chuffed, I can tell you.

Thanks very much for this! :D

Hardy

Hardy - I'm glad I could be of some help re his voyage - even though I don't remember doing so!

Yes - I can well understand about how much there is to put together on your Grandfather's life - especially if you have his diary & you're working to 'flesh out' his story. What I've put together you'll most likely have - and although I hadn't finished gathering info on him (always getting side-tracked from one to another of the thousands of men & women in my databases) - I'd appreciate it if you can let me know of any glaring errors etc. - even before I get the chance to see your finished Bio

So I'll copy the file below (let me know if there's anything in there too personal? & I'll delete it from the post):

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Hardy - glad I could be of help (again! - and this time remember doing it :rolleyes: )

I'll look forward to reading your finished story on your Grandfather (an amazing man) some time in the future.

Cheers, Frev

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The field at Lark Hill was closed in 1914, the nearest airfield then being Stonehenge (with a light railway link)

He would most likely have been trained by the RFC and then transferred to an AFC squadron as the AFC had no real training facilities of its own outside Cooks Point in Australia

It is important to correct this post.

Its Point Cook old bean...if you really want to be pedantic its original spelling was Point Cooke.

As for training facilities you seem to have forgot about the AFC training wing established at the end of 1917. By 1918 it consisted of 4 training squadrons based at Leighterton and Minchinhampton and the 1st Wing Training Squadron HQ was located at Tetbury.

Andrew

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The RFC did train at least one AFC airmen in 1916:

Merrett, Lieutenant Charles Darrell, Attached to Dover Air Station

Charles Merrett came from Melbourne, and was commissioned in the AFC in England in January 1916; he doesn’t appear on the AIF Embarkation Rolls. He was 21 when he was killed in an aircraft accident at Dover on 16 May while flying in Avro 504A 4068 with Capt Lord Lucas PC, who was unhurt. Capt Lord Lucas had switched off the engine as the aeroplane was approaching the aerodrome, but realised that he needed more power as the machine was going to land short of the aerodrome. However, the engine would not re-start and the Avro went out of control before crashing from about 80 feet.

Lt C D Merrett is buried in Grave W C 35 at Dover (St James’s) Cemetery, Kent, England.

Gareth

Merrett also enlisted in the RNAS in 1915 before relinquishing his commission to rejoin the AFC

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Thanks Andrew.

Hardy

Merrett also enlisted in the RNAS in 1915 before relinquishing his commission to rejoin the AFC

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  • 4 months later...

Bill Palstra flew with 3 Squadron AFC.

I don't think that anyone has mentioned the online War Diaries in the Australian War Memorial. The files for September, October and November 1918 have many references to Palstra, not only individual missions but his on-ground assignments and minutae of the Squadron's general activities.

http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/war_diaries/first_world_war/subclass.asp?levelID=1430

This link is one of several shown on the 3 Squadron Research Guide web-page:

http://www.3squadron.org.au/indexpages/Research.htm

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  • 1 year later...

The RFC did train at least one AFC airmen in 1916:

Merrett, Lieutenant Charles Darrell, Attached to Dover Air Station

Charles Merrett came from Melbourne, and was commissioned in the AFC in England in January 1916; he doesn’t appear on the AIF Embarkation Rolls. He was 21 when he was killed in an aircraft accident at Dover on 16 May while flying in Avro 504A 4068 with Capt Lord Lucas PC, who was unhurt. Capt Lord Lucas had switched off the engine as the aeroplane was approaching the aerodrome, but realised that he needed more power as the machine was going to land short of the aerodrome. However, the engine would not re-start and the Avro went out of control before crashing from about 80 feet.

Lt C D Merrett is buried in Grave W C 35 at Dover (St James’s) Cemetery, Kent, England.

Gareth

When I was photographing the CWGC headstones for one of the on-line war-grave sites I was given much of Wiltshire as 'my patch'. I lived then in Hampshire but am originally from Wiltshire. The small cemetery at Upavon has some truly poignant memorials. Reading them one is amazed about how the RFC and the RNAS managed to get anyone actually into airborne service - the cemetery is littered with memorials to those killed in training at the time of the Great War and shortly afterwards.

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