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Father of the RAAF Celebrations

Moonta National Trust is working with Moonta RSL, Moonta and District Progress Association  and Vietnam Veterans Association, Moonta Sub Branch to promote and celebrate the RAAF Centenary and especially Sir Richard Williams “Father of the RAAF” who was born in Moonta Mines.

This work will culminate in a celebration day on 7 November 2021 when a statue of Sir Richard will be unveiled and a church service and parade held.

Born into a modest mining family in Moonta Mines in 1890, Richard Williams emerged to become the most instrumental figure in the development of the RAAF. Attending Moonta Public School, he initially worked in the Moonta Post Office and then the Union Bank before joining the militia and then the permanent military forces after which he was posted to Victoria. In November 1914, he graduated as Australia’s first military trained pilot and served as a Flight Commander and then Commanding Officer of No 1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps (AFC) in the Middle East. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in August 1917 for attacking an enemy force while flying through intense anti-aircraft fire and landing behind enemy lines to rescue a downed fellow pilot. Appointed Officer Commanding No 40 Wing (RAF), he completed the war as the AFC’s foremost operational commander.

Returning to Australia, Williams was instrumental in the creation of the Royal Australian Air Force as an independent service in 1921.

Returning to Australia, Williams was instrumental in the creation of the Royal Australian Air Force as an independent service in 1921. Showing immense political acumen, he then fought to not only preserve but to actually expand the fledgling RAAF over the next two decades, serving as the initial Chief of Air Staff and its longest serving leader over thirteen years in three separate terms. Promoted to air vice-marshal in 1935, he became the RAAF’s first air marshal in 1940.

Sir Richard is known as the “Father of the RAAF” as he was instrumental in creating a separate Air Force for Australia, among other great achievements.

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