VOLUNTEER AIR OBSERVER CORPS
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WW2
VAOC Commandant's Badge
VOAC Badge, which has on the rear of the
badge, the Badge
No 13201 and the words "Property of the Department
of Air". It was found in a flee market in PA, USA.
A network of Volunteer Air Observers Corps units were set up around Australia covering an area up to 150 miles inland from Cairns in far north Queensland right around to Port Lincoln in South Australia and from Albany to Geraldton in Western Australia. The units were principally manned by civilian volunteers.WAAAF general clerks were used as recorders in operations rooms in Volunteer Air Observer Corps regional Headquarters around Australia during WW2.
VAOC Control Room, associated with a central air sector near Melbourne.
The Volunteer Air Observer Corps was initially attached to the Directorate of Intelligence. By May 1942 the VAOC was controlled by the Directorate of Pursuit, Fighter Sector Headquarters, Allied Command.
VAOC Headquarters co-ordinated reports of aircraft and ship sightings which were then sent on to Fighter Sector Headquarters' which then co-ordinated this intelligence with that from the various Radar Units in their allotted area, before sending it on to Area Combined Headquarters.
When the observer spotted an aircraft they would note the direction, number of engines, height and attempt to identify the aircraft if possible. They would then ring the Telephone Exchange and ask for "Air Flash". The Operator would then, if necessary, disconnect current calls to put the call through to the VAOC centre. Each spotter had their own Code Name. The local school teacher in Miles in Queensland had the code name "Twenty Orange". He would ring through to the Charleville telephone exchange and start his call with the words "Air Flash".
Commandant, Chief Observer and Observer VAOC Badges
Joseph Henry Carter was a member of the Volunteer Air Observer Corps. He was the lighthouse keeper at Cape Cleveland near Townsville. It is quite possible that many lighthouse keepers around Australia during WW2 were VAOC members.
Photo via Marianne Boot
Eileen Hilda Crandon moving an
aircraft marker on the plotting board.
The marker on the map appears to be plotting a B-17 Flying Fortress off Evans Head.
The aircraft is probably just arriving in Australia after flying across the Pacific Ocean.
Certificate of Appreciation for
Eileen Hilda Crandon from the
Chief of Air Staff for her 2 years service in the VAOC
Eileen Hilda Crandon was in Lismore during the war. Eileen used to plot the aircraft arriving in Australia. Eileen's cousin, Dorothy Borrowdale, was also in the VAOC. The girls would go to Evans Head on weekends as part of the VAOC. They worked on a roster basis and plotted aircraft reportings along the east coast of Australia. Many of the farmers etc who phoned in had code numbers. They were the regulars, but other people phoned in reports as well. There was one Officer In Charge of their group.
The ladies also worked as part of the Girls' Patriotic Society running dances and generally entertaining the troops who came to the area. Marianne Boot remembers her mum telling her that she would either walk to the dances or ride her bike, which was no mean feat as her home was at the top of Dawson Street in Lismore, which is up quite a steep hill.
Kevan Streeter wants to know if the VAOC has an association in Western Australia? His mother has a certificate from the Chief of Air Staff for two years service to the Volunteer Air Observers Corps and would very much like to contact any current group or organisation which might bring her back together with others who served with her during the war. Please let me know if you can help Kevan.
Via:- Michelle NIcholson
Michelle Nicholson was given all the family history memorabilia
in about late 2006 including this VAOC badge (Badge No. 20579).
Michelle, would like to find out who the badge belonged to.
"ELSA" Aircraft Recognition Card
Graham, Chief Observer, Anglesea VAOC reports crash of
a B-25 Mitchell bomber off Anglesea, Victoria on 1 Dec 44
Wonthaggi Volunteer Air Observers Corps
Schoolboy memories of Ken Langdon
"The WAAAF in Wartime Australia"
by Joyce Thomson
"Australia's Frontline - Remembering the 1939 -
by Libby Connors, Lynette Finch, Kay Saunders and Helen Taylor
I'd like to thank Bill Carter, son of Joseph H. Carter, for his assistance with this home page.
I'd also like to thank Ian Jenkins, Vic Power and Kevan Streeter for their assistance with this web page.
I'd also like to thank Marianne Boot, daughter of Eileen Hilda Crandon, for her assistance with this web page.
© Peter Dunn 2006
This page first produced 13 August 2002
This page last updated 29 June 2010