Alan Rawlinson

Alan Rawlinson
Informal head-and-shoulders portrait of grinning moustachioed man in forage cap
Flight Lieutenant Rawlinson in Palestine, June 1941
Birth nameAlan Charles Rawlinson
Born31 July 1918
Fremantle, Western Australia
Died27 August 2007(2007-08-27) (aged 89)
Naracoorte, South Australia
United Kingdom
Service/branchRoyal Australian Air Force (1938–46)
Royal Air Force (1947–61)
Years of service1938–61
RankGroup Captain
UnitNo. 3 Squadron RAAF (1939–41)
No. 2 OTU RAAF (1942)
RAF Odiham Wing (1949–52)
Commands heldNo. 79 Squadron RAAF (1943)
Paratroop Training Unit RAAF (1944–45)
No. 78 Wing RAAF (1945–46)
No. 54 Squadron RAF (1949)
RAF Guided Weapons Trials Unit (1953–58)
RAF Buchan (1960–61)
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsOfficer of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Flying Cross & Bar
Air Force Cross

Alan Charles Rawlinson, OBE, DFC & Bar, AFC (31 July 1918 – 27 August 2007) was an Australian airman and fighter ace of World War II. He was credited with at least eight aerial victories, as well as two aircraft probably destroyed, and another eight damaged. Born in Fremantle, Western Australia, Rawlinson joined the Royal Australian Air Force in 1938. He was posted to the Middle East in July 1940 and saw action with No. 3 (Army Cooperation) Squadron, flying Gloster Gladiator and Gauntlet biplanes initially, and later Hawker Hurricanes and P-40 Tomahawks. Twice credited with shooting down three enemy aircraft in a single sortie, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) in October 1941 and took command of No. 3 Squadron the next month. He received a bar to his DFC in December 1941, and returned to Australia in March 1942.

In May 1943, Rawlinson was posted to the South West Pacific as the inaugural commanding officer of No. 79 Squadron, flying Supermarine Spitfires in New Guinea. After serving as commanding officer of the RAAF's Paratroop Training Unit at Richmond, New South Wales, between April 1944 and May 1945, he returned to the Pacific to command No. 78 (Fighter) Wing, which operated P-40 Kittyhawks in Borneo. Promoted to acting group captain in July 1945, he remained in command of No. 78 Wing until his discharge from the RAAF in December 1946. Commissioned the following year into the Royal Air Force (RAF), Rawlinson flew de Havilland Vampire jet fighters as commanding officer of No. 54 Squadron in 1949, and then as commander of flying operations at RAF Odiham from 1949 to 1952. He was awarded the Air Force Cross in June 1952. Between 1953 and 1958 he was in charge of the RAF's Guided Weapons Trials Unit in the UK and Australia. Appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in June 1958, he commanded RAF Buchan in 1960–61 before retiring from the RAF to live in South Australia, where he died in 2007.

Early life

Alan Charles Rawlinson was born on 31 July 1918 in Fremantle, Western Australia.[1] He was the son of Arthur Rawlinson, who played for East Fremantle in the West Australian Football League. The Rawlinson family was among the earliest residents of Beaconsfield, and gave its name to a street in O'Connor.[2][3] Moving to Melbourne when he was eight years old, Alan was educated at Geelong Road State School in Footscray and at Williamstown High School, representing both in football, swimming and athletics.[2][4] Before leaving high school with his Intermediate Certificate, he joined the East Melbourne Harriers' Club, becoming its 1935–36 season champion.[4][5]

Rawlinson was living in the Melbourne suburb of Ivanhoe and had been working as a clerk for two-and-a-half years when he joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) on 19 July 1938.[1][5] He underwent flying instruction as an air cadet at No. 1 Flying Training School, Point Cook, and was granted a short-service commission as a pilot officer on probation from 22 June 1939.[6][7] On 7 July he was posted to No. 3 (Army Cooperation) Squadron, which operated Hawker Demon biplane fighters out of RAAF Station Richmond, New South Wales.[8][9] He spent much of the remainder of the year learning instrument flying on the Link Trainer, and undertaking a parachute training course.[6][10]

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