Southern Area Headquarters (RAAF)

About This Unit

Southern Area Headquarters (RAAF) - WW2

Until the outbreak of the Pacific War RAAF HQ  in Melbourne controlled all RAAF assets in Australia.

Geographic area commands were established and underwent a series of changes in quick succession.  These changed several times until mid 1942 when the boundaries illustrated below were adopted.

The enemy threat, scope of proposed operations and the introduction of Allied Force Headquarters SWPA in Brisbane under US General McArthur, resulted in a change to the command and control structure of the RAAF.  Initially, a 'Functional' command structure had been proposed but the size of the Australian landmass and its area of responsibility resulted in the RAAF adopting a geographic command structure. 

RAAF Command HQ was co-located in Brisbane and assumed operational control of operational RAAF Squadrons.

Area HQ were revised from three to five, and they then exercised command over the RAAF resources in their geographic area of reponsibility. 

HQ Southern Area was originally formed in March 1940, and initially controlled units located in Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and southern New South Wales.

Fig 2 No. 2 Air Observers School Mt Gambier.  A significant proportion of RAAF Training facilities, particularly technical training for ground personnel,  were located within Southern Command's area of responsibility, focussed on training tens of thousands of aircrew under the Empire Air Training Scheme.  Bases such as these also had operational roles of maritime patrol and reconnaissance and responding to any threats.

Headquartered in Melbourne, Southern Area Command was responsible for air defence, aerial reconnaissance and protection of the sea lanes within its boundaries. From 1942 its operational responsibilities excluded New South Wales.

The area command continued to operate beyond the end of the war, becoming the hub of Air Force training services. In October 1953, the RAAF began reorganising its command-and-control system from one based on geography to one based on function; Southern Area was re-formed as Training Command, which in 2006 became Air Force Training Group, a component of RAAF Air Command.