Mid-Late Jan 2024
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RVC355) Australia 1917 inwards REGISTERED MAIL, CUBA to AUSTRALIAN FLYING CORPS. Sent by Coronel D. De Battenberg (A minor Spanish Royal, believed a nephew of Alfonso III of Spain, related by marriage to Lord Louis Mountbatten) To Lieut. W.P. Heslop, at Wonthaggi, Vic. Re-addressed to Australian Flying Corps. Laverton. Bears 1c (SG325) & 6 x 2c (SG337) definitives, being a pair on the front and block of 4 on reverse. The 1c appears to be from a booklet, coil or edge of sheet, and is imperf at right. All cancelled by undated Havana Registration cds’s and with Violet Rectangular censor h/stamp of May 7, and red censor tape at left. Reverse bears New York oval registration transit h/stamp of May 11 1917, San Francisco Violet Reg’d cds of May 15 1917, Melbourne Reg’d cds of 7JE.17, Wonthaggi cds of 13JE.17 and finally Melbourne Reg’d cds of 15JE.17 Opened roughly at top. Typed address cover. WE HAVE NEVER SEEN OR HANDLED AN AFC COVER BEFORE OR EVEN SEEN ONE. THIS IS AN EXTREMELY RARE ITEM. Price $1250. (ex Rod Perry)
See History below:
‘Bill’ Heslop (1894–1983) attended No. 7 Course of Instruction in Aviation at Point Cook in early 1917. He was commissioned into the Australian Flying Corps on 1 May 1917, embarking for overseas service in June. After further training in England, he joined No. 3 Squadron AFC in France in 1918 where he was on Active Service from April to late October. His Flying Log Book, duly certified by the Squadron’s Recording Officer, shows a total war service flying time in France of over 250 hours—a record exceeded in his Squadron in only two or three instances.
He is commemorated at Lieutenant WSJP (William Snelling John Pryce) HESLOP Courtyard, opened 2021 at the School of Army Aviation Officers’ Mess, Oakey, Queensland.
Here are some extracts from his Flying Log Books:
Entry for 14 June 1918.
“Yesterday evening, McKenna and I went up to do a Shoot. When “taking off”, our left wheel came off. As we were “taking off” directly into the setting sun, and had our full load of bombs on, it was not noticed by either of us. We circled round the aerodrome to test our Wireless as usual, but it so happened that our Wireless was weak, and we received the signal to come back. In the meantime, another machine was despatched forthwith, with a spare wheel to hold up to us and let us know that we had lost one. But before this machine could reach us, we were landing. Well, I reckon we can thank our lucky stars on the landing. It was a lovely landing—the machine ran on one wheel for a considerable distance, but when flying speed was lost, the left side, of course, dipped. Automatically, McKenna tried to level the machine as a bump due to a rut, for example, could cause one side to go down then. A few feet further on, the projecting axle and struts caught on the ground and, of course, immediately onto its nose went the machine—the tail suspended in air. It swayed for a second or so, and finally rested back on its nose and undercarriage. Fortunately for us, the speed was not sufficient to turn the machine over on its back or else there might have been serious consequences. The propeller, of course, was smashed to atoms—we did not even get a piece fit fora souvenir—pieces hit one wing which had to be replaced by a new wing. Had we known about it, we would of course have gone over the Line and got rid of the bombs, but I doubt if a better landing could have been made. Neither of us were scratched. This makes now the third smash that I have been in without injury.”
Entry for 17 June 1918.
“McKenna and I have use of a new bus. Today took air at 1:35pm and carried out two successful shoots. On return home tried the new bus by doing some stalls and Immelmann turns, etc. Very pleased with bus.”
Entry for 27 June 1918.
“Had our first aerial combat today. At 6:50am, took to the air on patrol, and also had a shoot to do if at all possible as it was holding back our other work. Though the visibility was poor and we were under the disadvantage of having the sun towards Hunland and in our faces, we nevertheless decided to do the shoot. We had successfully completed the shoot and were going further into Hunland for the last time to examine our target and ascertain extent of damage when we were suddenly pounced on by 12 Huns— Albatross Scouts—who attacked when we were some 4,000 to 5,000 yards over Hunland and about 6,000 feet high. McKenna and I have frequently discussed method of flying to adapt etc. if attacked and immediately got our machine into the speed and position desired. They attacked—8 behind us and halfway through the scrap 4 more came in from the front of us. The machines behind came at us in 2 waves of 4 machines—each of the 4 machines spitting fire simultaneously at us from two guns each on their long dives. “We both realised that we did not stand a ghost of a chance against such odds and owing to the enemies’ superior speed, the only thing to do was fight.
To have attempted to escape by diving away would have offered them a perfectly “still” target which, with the enemies’ superior speed could not possibly have been anything but fatal to us. My pilot flew the bus very cleverly because all through the fight which lasted for 5 minutes, I had an uninterrupted field of fire at the attacking Huns and emptied 3 drums (300 rounds) from my machine gun at them. One of the Huns reared up, fell over belly upwards, and fell down out of control. When we reached 2,000 feet and were just about over our own lines, the others all withdrew and flew away over Hunland again. “One bullet struck our petrol tank and all our petrol ran out. We were therefore compelled to make a forced landing behind our lines. Fellows from an Artillery battery close by ran out to meet us as we landed (again fortunately) on fairly good ground. Got out and congratulated ourselves on our marvellous escape, and examined machine while a guard was being found for it, and then had breakfast with our artillery friends. Neither McKenna nor self was injured in any way. Rang up our Squadron and got mechanics out to effect repairs, and later in the day flew the bus back home. “We got hit about 30 times altogether. Besides the petrol tank, one of the centre section wooden struts (between the wings) was shot completely in two, and one of our elevator control wires nearly severed. The other bullets were spread over the wings, body and tail of the machine and did not do any material damage. Our luck has been simply wonderful today for in no less than about six distinct instances in the scrap, luck has been with us. “This evening, the Squadron received confirmation of our having brought down one of the Huns, somy pilot and I are, therefore, each with 1 Hun to our credits. “The actual scrap lasted just on 5 minutes though really it seemed like hours. A one second event seemed a terrible long time—Black crosses on Hun very distinct.
APH2022) Australia 1944 Small Registered Airmail cover, RAAF Darwin to Tattersalls. Bears R.A.A.F. Darwin Red Reg’n label No. 3714, plus 3 x 1d Brown Queen Elizabeth & 4d Koala cancelled by cds’s of AIR FORCE P.O. 28, 26OC44. Also R.A.A.F. 625 Oval Violet censor handstamp. Registered Melbourne transit cds on reverse of the 28th, plus Hobart Registered arrival cds of the same day. Rare! We have never seen this registration label before, and does not come up in any search on Google, eBay or Stampboards. Extremely attractive! Price $495
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