3 Squadron LIFETIMES

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Our member:
Air Vice Marshal (Ret.) Edward Arundel “Ted” RADFORD AO.
[3SQN Commanding Officer 1968-1970.]
 31 December 1935 to 16 August 2023.  Age 87.

Ted was born in Sydney at the end of 1935.  He joined the RAAF in January 1953 as a Cadet, graduating from RAAF College on 10 December 1956.  The Awards Ceremony held on that day had a rather special Guest of Honour, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Additionally, the prizewinners had not been informed beforehand, which led to an entertaining chain of events reported as front-page news in the Melbourne Argus the following morning…


By Michael Fitzgerald.

In the silvered jet world of Australia's winged sons, a small, homely mother yesterday got a Royal Summons…
"The Duke of Edinburgh wants to meet you." 

It happened at R.A.A.F. Point Cook.  It happened to a little widow, Mrs. Edith RADFORD of Nelson Bay, N.S.W.  
For yesterday - a sparkling, brilliant day of spit and polish, of roaring, sweeping jets, of glittering, swords, sashes, and uniforms - will always be remembered in the Air Force as "Radford's Day."

Twenty-year-old Edward RADFORD was one of the 18 cadets in the ceremonial graduation parade.  But Edward, a tanned, stocky young man, didn't know he was going to make Air Force history

The Duke inspected the lined cadets, watched their beautiful precision marching; and then the first name for the “Wings” ceremony was called - Radford's. 

After each of the remaining 17 cadets was called forward, the first of the coveted three main awards was announced.  Every cadet stood tense.  Every parent, every girlfriend watched hopefully - none knew the name of the winner.  - In the hush it rang out - "Edward Radford, the Flying Trophy ... a set of silver wings mounted on a Vickers Swift ... For the best all-round pilot of his course."

Radford marched up, the Duke shook his hand for the 2nd time and said: "Congratulations!  Are you getting any more of these?" indicating the table of prizes.  Radford said he didn't think so, but also said no one knew, as the names on the prize list were secret.

Radford had only marched off a short distance when his name rang out again - winner of the Sword of Honor, for his personal example and powers of leadership upon his college fellows, also winner of the R.N.Z.A.F. Leadership Trophy.  As the Duke, smiling broadly, shook his hand for the third time, he said: "I thought you said you weren't going to get any more of these?"

Radford: "We don't know, Sir, until our names are called out."  Again Radford had barely deposited the sword when his name was called out again.  This time he'd won the Queen's Medal for being Dux of the College.  - Winner of all main trophies – unknown in R.A.A.F. history!

During lunch the Duke learnt that, in the secret list, Radford had also won four other prizes: for Swimming; Rugby; Air Bombing and Gunnery; and Applied Science; and had shared wins in two other subjects. 

The Duke sent a messenger to tell Mrs. Radford he'd like to see her.  As top-brass guests of Australia's services waited and his Dakota's engines revved on the airfield, ready for take-off to Essendon, the Duke had Mrs. Radford and her son brought in.  The Duke told Mrs. Radford:  "You have a very fine son. You should be very proud of him!"

Then Mrs. Radford sprang a surprise.  She told the Duke that the pilot of his Air Force Reserve plane - Flying-Officer John Radford - was her son too!

- Ted had an exceptionally varied and distinguished flying career, initially being trained on Tiger Moths and Wirraways.  His flying experience was primarily as a fighter and strike pilot and as a flying instructor, flying Vampires, Meteors, Sabres, Mirages, F-111s and Winjeel trainers.  (Although he also flew the Dakota, Canberra, Macchi, F-16, F/A-18, Caribou, Squirrel, Chinook, Iroquois, Blackhawk, Hercules, P3C Orion and several other aircraft types - 28 in total!)

He had two tours of duty with 3SQN; firstly flying Sabres in Malaysia in 1958-59, commencing with the adventurous “Operation Sabre Ferry”.  A decade later, after being promoted to 3SQN Commanding Officer, Ted was responsible for the deployment of the Squadron's new Mirages to Malaysia in 1969 - “Operation Thoroughfare”.

OPERATION THOROUGHFARE.  Ted dons his 3SQN “Giggle Hat” to greet the Malaysian sunshine. 
This is a frame from an interesting online film in the AWM collection – showing 3SQN’s then-new “Lizard” Mirages arriving at Butterworth on 7-Mar-1969. 
Tubby Ted” was welcomed with a large banner! 
[It’s unreported as to whether the banner artists then found themselves unexpectedly on a "Jungle Survival Training March"!]

- Blue FARRELL recommends Ted’s Thoroughfare story below, showing the caring aspect of Ted’s leadership. -

The RAAF Museum mentions that before becoming CO3, Ted had served 15 months as Chief Flying Instructor, being awarded the highest rating achievable - 'A7 Exceptional'.

After 3SQN, he was promoted to A/GPCAPT in 1974 and appointed Director Joint Plans, then in early 1976 Director of Air Force Operations, a new directorate.

Ted was selected for RAAF Staff College and graduated in 1971, being appointed Senior RAAF Representative on the ‘Naval Air Power and Tactical Air Weapons Study’, a major force-structure study.

  He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1977 for his service as the Director of Air Force Operations, in particular as leader of the reconnaissance team to the Middle East in 1976, which preceded Australia's first commitment of RAAF helicopters to the Sinai.

In 1978, after a posting to Amberley as Air Staff Officer, flying primarily F-111s, Ted attended the Canadian National Defence College for 12 months.  Upon his return to Australia he assumed the appointment of Director-General Tactical Fighter Project and led the Contender Evaluation Teams to North America, culminating in the selection of the F/A-18 as Australia's new tactical fighter aircraft in late 1981.

  He was then responsible for the production and implementation of the Hornet Project Management and Acquisition Plan, a $4.3 Billion project - the most expensive in Australian Defence history.  [The RAAF Museum adds: and arguably the only one in history to finish on budget, on time and on specification!]

In the latter years of his career Ted was best known for his appointments as Chief of Air Force Personnel in 1983 and Air Officer Commanding, Operational Command, (Glenbrook NSW) in late 1985.  [Blue mentions that Ted succeeded in knocking over some tricky re-organisations that were dear to the heart of Jake NEWHAM – who had asked Ted about it first, before appointing him.  - Of course Ted had said YES and got the job done!]  Ted was reappointed Air Commander Australia in February 1986.  AVM Radford's last appointment was in February 1990 as Deputy Chief of the Air Staff.

AVM Radford scrutinizing some tickertape at RAAF Communications Unit, Wallgrove NSW.  Circa 1987.

Medals: In 1967 Ted had been awarded the Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air.  He also earned the General Service Medal (Malaya), The National Medal and Clasp and Defence Force Service Medal from his earlier Air Force career.  For his service as Chief of Air Force Personnel, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in the 1985 Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Ted was always a keen and active sportsman, representing the RAAF in six separate sports.  He also represented Combined Australian Services in what was always his first love - Rugby.  He was farewelled from the RAAF by many of his friends and colleagues at a dining-in night at the Officers' Mess, Fairbairn on 24 July 1990.

Ted was then recruited as Qantas Deputy Chief Executive, starting on 13 August 1990 and remaining in that role until 1994, and afterwards pursuing various civil aviation interests.

Ted passed away after stoically enduring the encroaching effects of Parkinson’s Disease for some years.  His funeral, with full Military Honours, was held at Bunurong Memorial Park in Dandenong South (Melbourne) on August 28th.

Ted was the dearly loved and loving husband of Jean; proud father of Megan, Sarah and Robert; and adored “Poppa Ted” of Sally.  Remembered with great affection by his many Air Force friends.

Obit compiled by James Oglethorpe, with thanks to:  
Air Force News, Melbourne Argus, AWM, FSB and 3SQN Assn files.


14 to 17 February 1969.  By Ted RADFORD.

Line-up of 3SQN aircraft at Williamtown [numerical sequence!] 14 Feb 69.

With the posting-out of the former C.O., Jake NEWHAM, I was posted to be the new C.O. with the acting rank of Wing Commander, on 11 Oct 68, which was the beginning of probably the most satisfying and enjoyable two years of my many years in the Air Force, and perhaps my entire varied career.  Indeed, one of the very satisfying events for me was being responsible for the deployment of the Squadron to the base at RAAF Butterworth. 

The route of what was called Operation Thoroughfare was from RAAF Williamtown to RAAF Townsville; RAAF Darwin; Djuanda - which was an Indonesian Navy base; and finally Butterworth.  - This involved not only the flying of the 21 aircraft to Butterworth, together with their support equipment, but the positioning of turn-round crews at Townsville, Darwin and Djuanda.

It also involved operational control of the C-130 support aircraft, plus removal of all the families and their dependants.  Being an independent squadron, this numbered some 230 personnel, taking into account both aircrew and groundcrew plus other support personnel, with families boosting this number to about 800 total - and this is where our high-quality Senior NCOs came to the fore.
For example, our Administrative Officer, Peter HARRISON, together with our Equipment Officer, John GILDERSLEEVE had an enormous amount of work to do but both were very ably assisted by exceptional Senior NCOs, in Peter Harrison’s case, he had “Blue” FARRELL, who was a tower of strength for him, and highly capable.
And I will remember - ‘til the day I die - the wonderful Warrant Officer in charge of the flight line, “Darky” CLARK.  - On whose opinion I would put my life - and did so on many occasions.  We also had another excellent Warrant Officer, “Homer” PARKER, in charge of the ‘D’ inspection hangar.  I insisted, amongst other things, that we prepared all Squadron aircraft and that these should be flown in sequence, without exception, from A3-81 to 100; plus the dual, which was A3-107.  Thanks to our marvellous team of engineers, under Al EMMERSON, including wonderful officers, outstanding senior NCOs and great airmen, this was achieved.

To allow for penetration of cloud, the 21 aircraft were deployed in seven sections of three, with three spares going as far as Darwin.  The first drama was at Darwin where the base Officer Commanding, GPCAPT Mick MATHER, had ordered the 76 Squadron Flight deployed there to fly a complete flying program, with all aircraft committed.  This was in spite of the fact that they were there expressly to help our skeleton crew to turn-round the whole of 3 Squadron and fix any unserviceabilities, and to do so we also needed their ground support equipment.  SQNLDR Stewart BACH was the Flight Commander in charge but, understandably, refused to disobey the OC’s order.  So I and Stew Bach went to see the OC to reason with him, but he refused to back-down.  Therefore, I was given no other choice but to threaten to ring the AOC Operational Command to force him to back down - which he now did.  - But I was conscious of the fact this made him an enemy for the rest of my career.

The deployment team of 24 pilots at RAAF Darwin.
However, there was an even worse drama at Djuanda when a pilot, who shall remain nameless, holed both of his big ferry tanks on landing - but this was not discovered until his aircraft was being refuelled.  The briefing had been that each section of three, approaching Djuanda, would use their ground-mapping radar and the portable TACAN to space themselves well short of the runway, which would be apparent on their radar.  The errant pilot’s excuse was that there were MIG 21s parked in Operational Readiness Platform and this distracted him to the extent that he was slow on landing, thereby scraping his tanks. 

Having operational control of the support C-130, I immediately asked the detachment commander, FLGOFF Keith SULLIVAN, to ‘scramble’ the Herc with two spare tanks, while Dave BOWDEN, the Squadron’s Navigation Officer, worked out whether a clean Mirage had enough fuel to safely reach RAF Tengah on Singapore Island.
- The answer was that it could - but - to give a better safety margin the clean aircraft was towed down to the end of the runway; and of course the scrambled Herc was cancelled.  The nameless pilot was replaced by SQNLDR Bob WALSH, the Squadron’s B-Flight Commander, for the individual flight to Tengah.  I organised with Bob Walsh, that before his Point of No Return, I would call him to confirm that Tengah was clear with no thunderstorms threatening.  However, although Tengah was clear when I overflew it and made the pre-arranged call, telling him it was clear and to continue, Bob had to land in the rain, as if to prove again how quickly weather in the tropics can change! 

Bob, being an excellent pilot of course, landed safely, but was caught at Tengah without a replacement drag-chute.  I received a plaintive phone call from Tengah requesting me to authorise him to fly to Butterworth without a drag-chute - which I did without question, recognising the skilled and experienced pilot that he was.

I also asked the offending pilot to pick up Bob in the crew van when he arrived at Butterworth and later further tasked him to prepare a History of 3 Squadron, with slides, to brief all new arrivals in groups, in order to convince them that they had joined a very illustrious squadron, which they should not let down in any way!

[Extract from The Lizards that Flew, pp76-78.]

3 Squadron LIFETIMES

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