LEN WATERS - HIS MISSIONS
ABORIGINAL PILOT IN THE RAAF
DURING WWII

 

On the last page of Len Waters' logbook on the right hand page there are three columns in his hand writing signifying: Ops Sorties, Strikes and Ops Hours. They represent counts and totals for his operational sorties, strikes and operational hours while with 78 Fighter Squadron RAAF.

At the top of those columns are the totals brought forward from the previous page and are 49, 40 and 97 hours 50 minutes respectively. The first column, Ops Sorties, has five entries that are totalled to 54, being the final total number of operational sorties Len flew with 78 Squadron. He only flew with that squadron.

The second column, Strikes, has just one entry, the last operational sortie he flew for WWII, where he was cover for the photo recon Kittyhawk in his beloved "Black Magic". He records the sortie as being a "photo recce Brantian Estate" however the "photos did not overlap" due to the "cloud base too low". His maths is again spot on and records the grand total of 41 strikes for his time with 78 Squadron.

The third column, Ops Hours, repeats the hours flown from the left hand side of the page from Single-engine Aircraft, Day, Pilot, in hours and minutes (HH.MM). Again he correctly sums the ops hours for those five sorties as 7 hours and 40 minutes. For some unknown reason he doesn't provide a grand total (of 105 hrs 30 mins, or 105.30) at the bottom of the page, as he has on pretty much the previous pages.

The last logbook entry, the photo recce, occurred on the 6th August 1945. It was an operational sortie that was also a strike sortie. There wasn't two separate sorties. The reason I mention this is because people in the past have added the 54 sorties to the 41 strikes to say Len flew 95 sorties, but that isn't the case. He flew 54 sorties of which 41 were strikes and 13 non-strike sorties, like travel flights, aborted missions etc. Len has clearly marked it down in his logbook as 54 sorties and he is more than smart enough to added it up correctly.

Also a moments reflection on working out the average operational hours for him can quickly confirm the total number of 54 sorties. Using the 54 sorties Len's average operational hours is one hour and 57 minutes, close enough to say two hours, which agrees with the rest of his logbook. Some 13 of those 54 sorties were three hours or longer and 10 were between two and three hours, with many of the ten nearly three hours in duration. Using the erroneous 95 sorties gives an average of just one hour and six minutes, robbing Len of those many long duration flights out of Noemfoor Island and the bum numbing base flights.

I'm not sure why this error persists, but there is no adverse reflection on Len in flying 54 sorties. It was that time in the war where the Australians were just being left out of the war by the Americans, in particular MacArthur. Len's logbook shows his last sortie, before going on leave, was 6 March 1945. When he returned, the squadron, and in fact the entire 78 (F) Wing, was on hold while the AIF took Tarakan Island. An operation that was supposed to protect MacArthur's left flank. Len's next sortie was on 21 July. From that date until the end of the war he flew just 11 sorties, about a fifth of his total of 54!

Below are the relevant columns from Len's Log Book:-

Ops. Sorties Strikes Ops. Hours
49 40 97.50
1 - 2.00
1 - 1.00
1 - 1.20
1 - 1.50
1 1 1.30
54 41 7.40

 

Last page of Len Waters' Log Book

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Gordon Clarke for his assistance with this web page.

 

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This page first produced 5 October 2019

This page last updated 13 January 2020