Stories of the Armistice: The Birth of the Australian Flying Corps

Above: Painting by Norman Clifford of the Central Flying School at Point Cook.

Following the decision that the armed forces of the British Empire should exploit the air as a means of warfare, the Australian Flying Corps was established on 20 September 1912.

The Australian Government announced the formation of the Central Flying School (CFS) and Aviation Corps on March 7, 1913 at Point Cook – Australia’s first and, at that time, only military aviation base – with just two instructors and five flimsy aircraft.

Australia’s first military aircraft flight occurred at what is now RAAF Base Point Cook, on 1 March 1914 when Lieutenant Eric Harrison took off in his Bristol BoxKite.

From this modest beginning Australia became the only British dominion to set up a flying corps for service during the First World War.

Known as the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) and organised as a corps of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF), its four-line squadrons usually served separately under the orders of Britain’s Royal Australian Flying Corps.

Aviators at Point Cook 1916 (source AWM)         Members of the Australian Flying Corps examine  a Bristol Box Kite aircraft at Point Cook, 1916  (source: Australian War Memorial)

Above (left): Portrait of officers of the Aviation School, Point Cook, Victoria (1916).

From L to R: Lieutenant (Lt) Victor Alhelstan Norvill; Lt Stronach, possibly Cadet Keith William Stronach; Lt James Brake, Capt Philip Willington Stell; Lt Roy Cumestree Trout, Capt Eric Harrison, Lt Raymond Francis Galloway; Lt Derwent Pearce Flockart; Lt Sydney Wentworth Addison (later awarded OBE); and Capt Henry Haig (Harry) Storrer.

Above (right): The Bristol BoxKite

(source: Australian War Memorial)

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