For more than a century official war artists have helped shape our understanding of Australian military history. Often selected on the basis of their pre-war reputations, the works produced by official war artists such as Sidney Nolan, Russell Drysdale, Arthur Streeton and Albert Tucker have become staple offerings for a nation now locked into a permanent cycle of military commemoration.
Far eclipsing the output of these official war artists however is the great body of work produced by Australia’s unofficial war artists. Despite its greater authenticity (much official war art having been produced by non-participants, after the event), this vast output remains largely undocumented, unstudied, and unappreciated. Continue reading “A camoufleur’s art”
Like other eminent organisations, Qantas too has its own foundation narrative – concerning two recently demobbed Australian airmen (Hudson Fysh and Paul McGinness) who, in an epic 2,180 km overland journey in a Model T Ford, successfully surveyed the continent’s northern aerial route from Longreach (Qld.) to the Katherine River (N.T. ) railhead in preparation for the first England to Australia Air Race arrivals. Continue reading “‘never…except by aeroplane’”
In early June 1944 the RAAF’s No.457 Squadron, one of three Spitfire units recalled from Britain for homeland defence, began exchanging its near-obsolete Mk.V aircraft with more effective Mk.VIIIs. As deliveries of the latter began arriving in the Northen Territory, squadron pilots would ferry equal numbers of the former south for overhaul and re-assignment – typically to Operational Training Units or mainland fighter squadrons.
Originally from Emerald in Central Queensland, twenty-one year old Pilot Officer Alexander Henry Morton (405639) was one of ten 452 and 457 squadron pilots tasked mid-July 1944 with ferrying Mk.Vs south to No.6 Aircraft Deport at Oakie [sic] in south-east Queensland. Continue reading “Unplanned”
Yesterday I visited – for the first time – both the historic Evans Head airfield in northern New South Wales, and the co-located museum run by the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome and Aviation Association. Although filled with heavy – and light – metal of the kind you’ll see replicated in similar museums throughout the continent, I was awestruck nonetheless that a small group of regional volunteers should have achieved so much, in such short time.