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The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP
Federal Member for Murray
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
for the Environment and Heritage
30 March 1999
Local Nathalia residents Mr and Mrs Daryl Oakes were in Canberra last week to take part in an official ceremony commemorating the efforts of the RAAF at the Australian War Memorial.
Mr Oakes was part of a 150 strong contingent of the Radar Air Defence Branch RAAF Association members in Canberra for the official dedication and unveiling of a commemorative plaque at the War Memorial and later, an official dinner at Old Parliament House.
The Association was formed in 1960 and now has 6,000 members Australia wide.
Mr and Mrs Oakes also took time out from the official celebrations to meet with Sharman Stone MP, Federal Member for Murray, and discuss some of the important history of the RAAF Radar units.
"The RAAF pioneered the use of radar technology in the 1940s. They were the front-line of Australia's defence systems, operating from lonely, isolated outposts to protect our shores from invasion," Sharman Stone said.
"Radar technology was an early warning system, vital to the protecting the country from invasion during the Second World War."
Mr Oakes was part of an early team of technical specialist officers in the RAAF who developed the radar technology that was later used in the war effort to defend Australia's coastline.
Portable radar units were particularly important to defence efforts in Northern Australia, and were used in Darwin and Papua New Guinea from 1941 onwards.
Mr Oakes said that radar technology had "won the war". Describing one situation, where radar technology had enabled the airforce to intercept enemy fighters he said, "We only had half a dozen Kitty Hawks. Radar put the Kitty Hawks up in the air at 10,000 feet and the Japs didn't know why."
The technology was first developed at Sydney University through the cooperative efforts of the CSIRO, AWA and NSW Railways, under Professor Bailey. Colloquially the group has become known as 'Bailey's Boys'.
Early radar technology could track and identify aircraft up to 113 miles offshore. Today, modern satellite and computer technology has extended that range to between 3,000 and 6,000 kms.
"We owe Mr Oakes and all our veterans' our heartfelt thanks. They put their lives on-the-line to defend our country and protect the freedoms we all enjoy today," Mrs Stone said.
For further information or to obtain a photograph of Mr and Mrs Oakes and Mrs Stone at Parliament House please contact:
Nicole Johnston, Assistant Adviser, 02 6277 2016 or 0419 219 415