WOMEN'S AIR TRAINING CORPS
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WW2

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visits since 15 June 2002

 


Photo:- Ian Jenkins

WATC General Hat Badge - Worn on the beret
and forage cap by all squadrons other than Victoria.

The Women's Air Training Corps was a voluntary civilian organisation which was established at Archerfield in Brisbane, Queensland  on 17 July 1939 by Mrs Bell, the wife of Group Captain J.R. Bell. The group comprised a number of local girls who were attempting to train themselves at Archerfield airfield to be ready to undertake aircraft work in the event of a war. The Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force was not approved by the Australian War Council until 9 January 1941.

Flying Officer M.T. Bell was the Commanding Officer of the WATC from 1939 to 1941. When Mrs Bell moved to Melbourne when her husband was transferred she was asked by the Women's Voluntary National Register to establish a WATC group in Melbourne. In no time Mrs Bell had established 10 Squadrons each of 100 girls. Two of these squadrons trained on motor transport and one each in wireless telegraphy, stores, cooking, photography and draughting, clerical work, as aircraft hands, on aero engines, and on miscellaneous duties.

More Divisions of the WATC were then formed in Tasmania, then New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia. Mrs. Bell then went on to become the Australian Commandant of the WATC.

The WATC provided voluntary service to the RAAF as drivers, clerks, etc.

Mrs. Bell was then appointed acting Director of the WAAAF in 1941 when it was formed. She resigned from that position in 1941.

The famous Australian Aviatrix, Nancy-Bird Walton, was the New South Wales (NSW) and Australian Commandant, of the Women's Air Training Corps (WATC) from 25 July 1942 to 1 November 1944.

Nancy Bird Walton

 


Photo:- Ian Jenkins

WATC Australian Commandant Epaulette

 


Photo:- Ian Jenkins

WATC Uniform Tunic  - Two chevrons denoting an 'Under Officer ' and
surmounting '3' probably denoting 'No.3 Squadron'.   (AWM Heraldry Collection)

 


Photo:- Ian Jenkins

WATC Victorian Hat Badge - Showing the letter 'V' in
the centre, it was worn by members of Victorian Squadrons.

 


Photo:- Ian Jenkins

WATC Pilot Wings - Worn by members who had qualified as Pilots.

 

WATC Rank Structure

Australian Commandant Navy Blue epaulettes with 4 x 1/2-inch silver bars
Deputy Australian Commandant Navy Blue epaulettes with 3 x 1/2-inch silver bars
State Commandant Drab epaulettes with 3 x 1/2-inch blue bars
Deputy State Commandant 2-1/2 blue rings with loop on the top ring (same style as Navy Lieutenant-Commander) Worn on dustcoat cuffs.
Squadron Commander Same as above
Deputy Squadron Commander Same as above
Flight Commander 2 x 1/2-inch blue rings around cuff
Senior Under Officer 3 chevrons on sleeve
Under Officer 2 chevrons on sleeve
Junior Under Officer 1 chevron on sleeve

 


Photo:- Ian Jenkins

WATC Metal Shoulder Title - Worn on the uniform epaulettes.

 


Photo:- Ian Jenkins

WATC Embroidered Title - Worn on working dress dustcoats.

 


Photo:- Ian Jenkins

WATC Button - Worn on officer's khaki uniform tunic.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Ian Jenkins for his assistance with this web page.

 

BOOK REFERENCES

"Royal Australian Air Force 1939 - 1945"
By Doug Gillison 

 

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Copyright

 Peter Dunn 2006

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This page first produced 15 June 2002

This page last updated 16 January 2009