In 1940 there was an urgent need for fitters in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). This newspaper article from the Border Watch of Mt Gambier, S.A. on 6 August 1940 explains the need (and even the pay – see the last snippet).
When he applied to join the air force on 17 April 1940 Clem said he had heard of the need for fitters in the press and knew someone who had applied to join. He also told the recruitment officer the air force was ‘the best service’.
Clem enlisted in the RAAF on 3 June 1940. At that stage he was 22 years old and single. He undertook drill training in the No. R 100 Recruit Drill Course (dated 26 June 1940).
Airforce recruit number 21202 Clem Noonan can be seen on enlistment below.
His Certificate of Service and Discharge identifies these key dates. See it here.
Clem undertook his RAAF trade training in Melbourne.
AIRFRAME FITTER COURSE (FITTER IIA)
Clem was a Fitter IIA (A for Aircraft or Airframe) in the RAAF. This means he was a mechanic who worked on the aircraft and its equipment, but generally not the engines. Engine mechanics were trained as Fitter IIE (E for engine) in the RAAF.
The Fitter IIA course was held at the RAAF No.1 Engineering School (1 ES), Ascot Vale, Melbourne and ran for four months. Clem started with the 59th Course on 30 September 1940.
Although there is no description on the reverse, I believe the following photograph shows Clem and a group of RAAF trade trainees in Melbourne.
Other photos taken the same day can be seen below.
Two months earlier (early August 1940) Clem had purchased a copy of ‘The Ground Engineers Manual’ by A.C. Robinson in Melbourne. When this manual was written in 1939 the technology of aircraft was evolving from timber, fabric and wire towards all metal construction. The manual therefore covers subjects like selection of timber for aircraft at some length. Clems actual copy can be seen below.
The following thumbnail images give an overview of the contents of the Fitter IIA course. They are snapshots from the official RAAF Fitter IIA Course Notes. Clicking on each thumbnail will open a slightly larger version of the image.
Fitter IIA Manual
Sections 1 & 2
Sections 3 & 4
Sections 5 & 6
Sections 7 & 8
Theory of Flight
The photo below appears to have been taken on his graduation from the 59th Fitter IIA course. Clicking on this image will enlarge the photo. Clem is second from right, front row. The photo indicates that he trained at the RAAF’s No.1 Engineering School located at the Melbourne Showgrounds. The photographer appears to have been ‘Leonard Snowden Studios’ and may have been taken on or around 24 January 1941.
WIRRAWAY ‘TRAINER / STOP GAP FIGHTER‘ COURSE
As part of his training for squadron service Clem also trained in Melbourne at the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC). At CAC he completed the one week Wirraway course on 1 February 1941.
The photo caption reads “Wirraway factory at junction of River
Fishermens Bend Melbourne”
Michael Noonan, Clem’s eldest son, says that his father was very fond of the Wirraway. When the family were going somewhere Clem would even say “We’reaway!” It was an excellent Australian adaptation of the North American Harvard/T-6/Texan advanced trainer. The Wirraway was fitted with a larger engine and a three bladed propeller to absorb the extra power.
The Wirraway was built in large numbers in the early stage of the war when Australian air defences were woefully inadequate. It was intended to provide ‘stop-gap’ fighter capability to the RAAF. The Wirraway also formed the basis of another commendable CAC adaptation, the Boomerang.
This site is a place to preserve stories of interest to me, my family, and others. During the First and Second World Wars, members of my family volunteered to defend our unique Australian way of life. This site is a place to remember these sacrifices and to honour them by telling these and related stories. I hope you enjoy the site. Please contact me if you have any information that I can use to either correct or add to the stories presented here.