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Category: Army History/Flying Corps

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2 Squadron AFC 

Formed: September 1916
Disbanded: 6 May 1919
Aircraft: DH.5, SE.5A
Aces: Francis Ryan Smith,
Roy Cecil Phillipps,
Roby Lewis Manuel,
Henry Garnet Forrest,
Adrian Trevor Cole,
Eric Douglas Cummings,
Richard Watson Howard,
Gregory Hamilton Blaxland,
Frank Alberry,
Ernest Edgar Davies,
Robert William McKenzie,
Eric London Simonson,
James Joseph Wellwood,
Alexander G Clark,
George J Cox,
Les H Holden
Stationed: Kantara: September 1916
Harlaxton: January - September 1917
Baizieux: September 1917 - January 1918
Savy: January - March 1918
La Bellevue: March 1918
Fouquerolles: March - June 1918
Liettres: June - October 1918
Serny: October 1918
Auchel: October 1918
Pont-a-Marq: October - December 1918
Hellemmes: December 1918 - February 1919
Hurdcott: March - May 1919
2 AFC was the first fighter squadron of the AFC to reach the western front. Originally designated 68 sq ( Australian ) RFC in late 1917 they changed their designation to 2AFC. Stationed mainly in the Ypres area they continually came across the elite squadrons of the German Air Service and acquitted themselves well. When they entered the war on the western front in September 1917 , 2AFC was flying the D.H 5 , which had the unique distinction of having the rear wing behind the pilot and the lower wing in the normal position for biplanes. The D.H 5 however was a poor performer at altitude and outclassed by the Albatros. Subsequently 2AFC used their machines predominantly in the ground attack and ground support roles.

In late December 1917 the D.H 5's were replaced with S.E.5.a's and the squadron became a full fledged scout squadron. 2AFC generated 16 aces in their ranks with this machine including such men as Frank Smith (16) , Roy Phillips (15) , Roby Manuel (12) , also Frank Ashbury (7) who was Australia's only one legged ace.

When they arrived in France on 22/9/1917 their D.H 5's were marked with a white narrow band circling the rear of the fuselage. Upon re-equipment with the S.E.5.a on 16/12/1917 the squadron symbol became the white boomerang aft of the roundel. At the end of March for intelligence reasons the British squadrons dropped their squadron insignia and 2AFC's insignia marking became the single white bar over the wing root.

2 Squadron AFC

The second squadron of the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) was formed, as 68 (Australian) Squadron, Royal Flying Corps (RFC), at Kantara in Egypt on 20 September 1916. Its initial personnel were drawn from 67 (Australian) Squadron and were soon supplemented by volunteers from the light horse regiments and extra mechanics from Australia. The squadron proceeded to the United Kingdom for training in January 1917, and in September was deployed for operations over the Western Front.

Equipped initially with DH-5 aircraft, 67 Squadron was a “scout” squadron, the main role of which was to escort larger, slower aircraft, seek out and destroy the enemy’s aircraft, and provide support for ground troops. In France, the squadron joined the 13th Army Wing, RFC, at Baizieux and its aircraft were involved in their first engagement on 2 October 1917. The squadron was soon drawn into the ongoing operations that constituted the third battle of Ypres, and was heavily involved in ground attack operations. This role continued during the battle of Cambrai (20 November – 7 December 1917). On the first day of the battle 67 Squadron lost seven of its eighteen aircraft either destroyed or badly damaged; on each day of the battle, losses among the ground attack squadrons averaged 30 per cent. Six Military Crosses were awarded to 67 Squadron personnel for their actions above the Cambrai battlefield.

In December 1917, 67 Squadron was re-equipped with SE-5 aircraft but its operations throughout the winter of 1917–18 were hampered by bad weather. The squadron was redesignated 2 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, on 4 January 1918. Early 1918 saw the squadron operate from a succession of airfields under the command of several RAF wings – 10th, 22nd and then 51st. Like much of the Allied air forces, the squadron operated at fever pitch during the German spring offensive to regain the initiative in the air and support the troops on the ground. In June, the squadron played a similar role in support of French forces when the Germans launched their Marne offensive.

0n 21 June 1918, 2 Squadron along with 4 Squadron, AFC, and 46 and 103 Squadrons of the RAF, became part of the newly formed 80th Wing. 2 Squadron was active throughout the Allied counter-offensive. It was almost as mobile on the ground as it was in the air, relocating on several occasions to ensure it was best placed to support the Allied advance. By this stage in the war the Allied air forces had almost complete dominance of the air.

The squadron’s last major operation of the war was flown on 9 November 1918. After the Armistice, squadron personnel were involved in evaluating captured German aircraft. The squadron relinquished its own aircraft and returned to the United Kingdom in February 1919. On 6 May it sailed for home aboard the Kaisar-i-Hind. 2 Squadron finally disbanded with disembarkation of last members in Sydney on 18 June. Text from AWM

  • 25 killed, 8 wounded
    • Figure does not include personnel killed in accidents, or who died of illness, in the United Kingdom. In total, 51 AFC personnel died in accidents, and 20 as a result of disease, in the United Kingdom.
  • Decorations
    • 6 MC, 1 bar
    • 7 DFC, 2 bars
    • 4 MM
    • 1 MSM

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