State Library of South Australia archivist Jenny Scott began scanning and uploading a set of images, titled RNZAF 6 Squadron 1943-45, onto her Adelaide Archivist Flickr photostream in March 2008. She currently has 148 black and white images of New Zealand Air Force members in the S.W. Pacific, revealing moments of camaraderie from men giving each other haircuts to posing for photos on their PBY Catalina Flying Boats and swimming off the coast of Ngella Sule in the Solomon Islands.
Before the death of Jenny’s father Alastair ‘Scotty’ Scott in 1993, they shared a project writing to 6 Squadron veterans and building on a collection of photographs Scotty had rescued at wars end. With the advantage of the internet and Flickr, Jenny returned to the unfinished project with the aim of sharing the results of their research with other families of the veterans, in the hope they could gain an appreciation of their father’s and grandfather’s wartime experience. In late August 2009, Jenny emailed the Wellington Dominion Post about the photos and they ran a front page story. Jenny could not have been prepared for the overwhelming response she received from publishing this material. Some would describe it as life-changing. Jenny has given us a little insight into how she is managing the success of the project.
Greasy Pole competition at Halavo Bay, Solomon Islands, 1945. Flickr / Adelaide Archivist
IN HER OWN WORDS …
Since reading Liz Holcombe’s blog post on CAN, I had considered how , a related blog would inform and provide context to the Flickr photos. The rush of emails that followed publication of the newspaper story meant that I had to find a more efficient way of sharing information with those with an interest. Hits on my Flickr site had grown in 48 hours from an average of 200 per day to 15,000+ on the 28th of August, they settled back to 11,000+ on the 29th. Liz Holcombe’s CAN post was the inspiration for one answer, a 6 Squadron blog. http://rnzaf6squadron.blogspot.com/
Beaching crew bring a RNZAF PBY-5 ‘Cat’ onto the hard at Halavo Bay, Solomon Islands, 1944-45. Photo courtesy of N.W. ‘Norm’ Brailey. Flickr/ Adelaide Archivist
Life has not been the same since, rising each morning to new emails that require a response and each evening replying to emails, adding to the blog or adding to content and description to the Flickr site. The collection has become central to the development of 6 Squadron’s history and has been indexed by DigitalNZ, I have been invited to address the NZ Association of Women in Aviation 50th anniversary meeting in June 2010 and to the NZ Air Force Museum (Christchurch) and RNZAF Auckland (the 2009 home of 6 Squadron), wrote an article for NZ Air Force News coming out in October, managed a debate between two families claiming the same Catalina Captain as their own, corresponded daily with families in NZ and Australia with all the records management implications of having 80+ correspondence streams – second job doesn’t describe it adequately – more like second life!
If you are interested or have any information on RNZAF No.6 F/B Squadron, please email Jenny Scott – she needs the records management practice!