The Wartime Album & Collection

 

of

 

F/Lt HARRY OSWALD 'SHORTY' EDMUNDS MiD

 

Harry Edmunds was born in Annandale, New South Wales, on 8 February 1913. He attained his Intermediate Certificate and completed two years at Parramatta Evening Continuation School before being employed as a fitter at Spalding Motors, Sydney. This position he held for five years before starting his own garage for a further two years. After 12 months in the Citizens Air Force he enlisted in the regular air force at the RAAF Recruiting Station at Laverton, Victoria, on 3 August 1936, where he trained as an Armourer/Fitter. On 14 December he was posted to 5 Squadron at Richmond, NSW. The squadron was a naval fleet co-operation squadron operating Supermarine Seagull III amphibious reconnaissance aircraft aboard RAN cruisers. He joined the Carrier Flight on 11 December 1937 which at this stage supplied and serviced the aircraft aboard the heavy cruisers HMAS Australia and Canberra. 5 Squadron was re-designated as 9 Squadron on 1 January 1939, and Edmunds remained with the squadron through the initial outbreak of hostilities.

 

 

 

HMAS Australia in 1937 with a 5 Squadron 'Carrier Flight' Supermarine Seagull clearly visible. (SLV)

 

On 15 July 1940 Edmunds embarked for overseas service and arrived in Egypt on 23 August. He then traveled by train to Abu Sueir and was temporarily assigned to 102 MU (maintenance unit) RAF, before being posted to 3 Squadron RAAF at Helwan on 30 September as its Armaments Officer. 3 Squadron were readying themselves for action, initially as an army co-operation squadron, operating with a mixed bag of aircraft including Lysanders, Gladiators and Gauntlets. He was commissioned on 1 October and promoted from F/Sgt to Flying Officer. In early December Edmunds was injured when an Italian bullet he was handling exploded and damaged the fingers of both his hands. He was hospitalised and returned to 3 Squadron upon his recovery. From January 1941 the squadron began re-equipping with Hawker Hurricanes and began racking up an impressive total of victories against Italian and German aircraft. In the ebb and flow of the first Libyan campaign the Squadron was forced to advance and retreat on several occasions. On withdrawing from Benina on 3 April Edmunds received a special mention in the squadrons ORB (Operations Records Book) with the following extract;

 

"At about 0900 hours today instructions were received from H.Q. Cyrenaica for the squadron to evacuate Benina and proceed to Got-El-Sultan. These instructions were carried out and the movement completed by 1600 hours. A rear party under F/O Edmunds, Squadron Armament Officer, remained behind at Benina and carried out the demolition arrangements for which had been made on 2nd April. It can be definitely stated that no useful materials were left behind for the enemy and very small quantities of fuel and oil had to be destroyed as practically all of it had been carried away." 

 

 

 

 Edmunds in the cockpit of a 3 Squadron Tomahawk

 

May saw the the squadron based at Lydda and the arrival of new Curtiss P-40 Tomahawks. The following month operations began against the Vichy French in Syria. The campaign concluded in July and the squadron moved to Rayak and rested until the commencement of the second Libyan Campaign. In November the squadron scored its 100th aerial victory, and in December began re-equipping with P-40 Kittyhawks. However Edmunds photo album includes no images from this period onward. On 18 March 1942 Edmunds proceeded to Cairo to await a return to Australia. He traveled via Southern Rhodesia and disembarked at Melbourne on 6 June. On 29 June he was posted to 2 OTU Mildura as Armaments Officer, spending some time attached to the Armaments School as an instructor. The following year on 29 October he was posted to 2 A.D, Richmond, and on 12 May 1944 was posted to 1 A.O.S, Evans Head, again was an instructor. Edmunds was then posted to RAAF Laverton on 3 March 1945 as Station Armaments Officer, and finally to the A.G.S (Air Gunners School), Sale, on 14 July. He was discharged from the RAAF on 12 April 1946, and was Mentioned in Despatches for distinguished service. 

 

Known Promotions:   AC1 3.8.36,   LAC 1.10.37,   Cpl. 1.10.38,    Sgt. 1.9.39,    F/Sgt. 1.4.40,   F/O 1.10.40,   F/Lt. 1.1.42