1 W.A.G.S Research

1Wags Research Team

The 1 W.A.G.S. Memorial website is unique as it is where a specific RAAF training school during WW2 is commemorated. The school was purpose built to train Wireless Operators, Air Gunners, and Navigators as part of the Empire Training Scheme. This scheme supplied RAF Bomber Command with aircrew to support their fight against Germany. Other sites/sources list RAAF servicemen who have been killed in active service, however, this site has the common factor that all servicemen listed, as either killed or returned, trained at 1 W.A.G.S. Ballarat.

Research to identify these airmen and place them at 1 W.A.G.S. became the driving force behind creating a Memorial to honour those servicemen who paid the ultimate sacrifice in serving their country during WW2. Mr Tom Roberts, OAM and past President of the AFA Ballarat Branch began the research into those 1 WAGS trainees who were RAAF fatalities during WW2. Mr Peter Schoutens, a member of the AFA Ballarat Branch and RAAF Vietnam Veteran, No. 2 Squadron joined Tom in the research and initiated a project to commemorate those trainees on a Memorial Roll.  Thus, began the difficult and time-consuming compilation of names to be included on a 1W.A.G.S. Memorial data base. Initially, the basis for the research Tom used was Bomber Command Losses Volumes 1-9 by W.R Chorley.

Coinciding with this research was the task to restore the 1W.A.G.S .Officers Mess-Hut 48 at the Ballarat aerodrome. Persistence by members of the AFA Ballarat Branch, Mr Keith Pitman and Mr Peter Schoutens together with Mr Carl Schiller the then AFA President Victoria, resulted in  a grant being provided by Heritage Victoria. With the support of the Ballarat City Council, the building was restored and officially opened in 2019. It is now the headquarters of the AFA Ballarat Branch.

Peter Schoutens Carl Schiller and Keith Pitman - Hut 48 
As research progressed, Peter and Tom were joined by Mrs Janet Bates, a member of the AFA Ballarat Branch and whose father, Reginald Barker was a returned 1 W.A.G.S trainee. While Peter and Tom were gathering names for the Memorial Data Base, Janet expanded the list of names to include personal and service history as well as photos and other information.  

Tom and Peter relied on the assistance of the NAA in Canberra. The records team assisted in allowing Open and Not Yet Examined Service records to be checked by Peter and Tom in the NAA reading room on their visits to Canberra. Other digitised service records were viewed online. The overall word that was scrutinised for on these records was - 1 W.A.G.S.  

This form of data collection and research became difficult to continue with the physical distance between Ballarat and Canberra. To further the research Peter and Janet took on the demanding task of examining the 1 W.A.G.S P.O.R’s [Personnel Occurrence Reports Volumes 1-9 1940 to 1945].

These Volumes list all trainees coming into and leaving 1 W.A.G.S and were grouped into Courses – 58 Wireless Air Gunners and 12 Navigators. Due to the age of the documents, many were difficult to read and some impossible to decipher. Each trainee was checked against the Veteran Affairs Nominal Roll for K.I.A or Discharged.   

The 1 W.A.G.S. Memorial Roll now has to date 1,182 confirmed names out of over 6000 trainees. We are however aware that some names may have been omitted. With public assistance, the web site will enable further names to be added to the Courses and the Memorial Roll.

The website is also an opportunity to include all personnel who trained at 1 W.A.G.S. from the P.O.R Courses as well as to delve into the history of the school. As trainees came from all over Australia the web site enables world wide access to the records, photos and information provided.

An application for funding to create the website was submitted to the Ballarat City Council as part of their Community Impact Grant Program. With the support of the AFA Ballarat Branch and AFA  Victoria the funding application was successful resulting in UBC Digital in Ballarat to be commissioned to create this site.

About Hut 48
1 W.A.G.S. Memorial Wall Hut 48 Created by Peter Schoutens
Hut 48 AFA Ballarat branch HQ
Hut 48 after renovation
Hut 48 before renovation June 2017
Hut 48 before renovation
Hut 48 before renovation
Hut 48 before renovation
Jack Bell addressing the opening of Hut 48
Hut 48 AFA Ballarat branch HQ
Hut 48 under renovation

 Acknowledgments

The 1 W.A.G.S. Memorial Website acknowledges and thanks the following organisations and individuals for their assistance and contribution to this initiative.

AFA Ballarat Branch
The Research Team - Peter Schoutens [Junior Vice-President], Tom Roberts [Past President] and Janet Bates [Website Co-ordinator]
President - Noel Hutchins
Committee Member - Ken Marsh - Photos

AFA Victoria
President - Max McGregor

AFA Australia
President - Carl Schiller OAM CSM

Ballarat City Council Community Impact Grants Program
Co-ordinator - Sandra Kennedy

RSL Ballarat
President - Alan Douglass

Ex-Prisoner of War Memorial Ballarat

Avro Anson Museum Ballarat Aerodrome
Curator - Allan Penhall

National Archives of Australia
Reference Officer National Reference Service - Penelope Robb

Directorate of History - Airforce
Collection Manager - Steve Allan

Roland Weatherall
Photos

Natalie Bates, Olivia Bates 
Technical Support

UBC Digital - Ballarat
With grateful thanks for your expertise and commitment to 1 W.A.G.S.
Tabitha & Robyn for assisting with formatting content
The Development Team led by - David Plunket

 

 

 

Acknowledgements

UBC Web DesignAustralian War MemorialCity of BallaratNational Archives of AustraliaRSL Virtual War MemorialDepartment of Veterans+39 Affairs