Waverley RSL Sub Branch
R.A.A.F. Long Service Medal
... , with the introduction of 2 additional positions, at RAAF station
Awarded to Alan Bowers (A236814) who was a R.A.A.F. dental mechanic who serverd during WWII including service in Darwin, and then continued in the R.A.A.F. for some years after the end of WWII
The Royal Australian Air Force (and all Commonwealth Air Forces) Long Service and Good Conduct Medal: Awarded to NCOs and ORs of the RAAF (RAF, RCAF etc) for 15 years service. A cupro-nickel plated medal, the obverse features the sovereign's head, the reverse features the crown and eagle emblem of the RAAF (and RAF). Officers are eligible for the award provided they have served a minimum 12 years in the ranks. The riband is dark blue and maroon with white edges. This medal ceased to be awarded in Australia in 1975 when it was replaced by the National Medal (and sbsequently the DFSM and DLSM) in the Australian system of honours and awards.
History of the RAAF Dental Branch
It took six years following the formation of the RAAF in 1921 for the first
Dental Clinic to be established at Point Cook, Victoria.
On 10th June 1927 Flying Officer James Carl Rosenbrock commenced work
as an RAAF Dental Officer for the FlyingTraining School at Point Cook. As
personnel numbers were still relatively small, Rosenbrock was also
responsible for the dental care of all Victorian RAAF units, which involved
treating members at 1AD Laverton, as well as Air Force Headquarters at Victoria Barracks in Melbourne.
As Army Dental Officers were currently caring for RAAF personnel at Richmond, NSW, the Senior Dental
Officer of the 3rd Military District in Victoria (SDO 3MD) requested through the military board that a similar
arrangement be established, where that the newly appointed RAAF Dentist provide part time dental services
to the Army units stationed at Queenscliff. This was seen as an effective reciprocal arrangement, with both
units having a Dental Officer in attendance for, in total, around 3-4 weeks a year.
Rosenbrock continued to serve as the sole RAAF Dental Officer until the middle of 1933, when the Air Board
asked for his service to be terminated following ‘behaviour unbecoming of a RAAF officer'. He had borrowed
several sums of money, of around 40 Pounds or so, from junior ranks on base (as well as from the
Regimental Sergeant Major) and had failed to pay the money back. He was replaced by a fellow Victorian,
FLGOFF Norman Henry Andrews, on the 18th Sep 1933, who went on to become our first Director of Dental
Services, and was instrumental in establishing the organisations and conditions of the Branch that are still
Through a fair amount of persistence and hard work on the part of Norman Andrews, the RAAF Dental
Branch began to expand from 1937, with the introduction of 2 additional positions, at RAAF station
Richmond, and at the FlyingTraining School at Point Cook. This gave the RAAF 3 uniformed Dental Officers,
which was expanded to 5 in the months leading up to WW2. 4 of these Dental Officers were based in
Victoria and 1 at Richmond, with the other two RAAF units being cared for by the Army (as in the case of
Pearce in WA) or by civilians (as in Darwin).
With the sudden increase in RAAF personnel required at the outbreak of WW2, the number of RAAF Dental
Officers increased dramatically, from 5 in 1939, 28 in 1940, 64 in 1941, 147 in 1942, 193 in 1943, 219 in
1944, and peaking at 227 in 1945.
RAAF Dental Officers were required to work in a variety of locations, both in and out of Australia. Between
1940 and 1942 a massive construction programme occurred, with new dental clinics being established
around Australia. Priority was given to aircrew training units in order to get these personnel dentally fit for
operational deployment, but Dental Officers could equally find themselves posted to recruit depots, fixed
stations, medical clearance stations, mobile dental sections, and RAAF and civilian hospitals.
RAAF Dental Officers were posted to the large dental centres at Ascot Vale (Vic) and Bradfield Park (NSW)
when first appointed, where they received military and clinical training, before being deployed to their needed
Mobile Dental Units
When Japan entered the war in 1941, the rapid deployment of troops to northern operational areas with less
than ideal dental fitness was extremely high. As a result, the RAAF deployed a range of mobile dental units,
either alone or with medical sections, to support the increasing number of isolated deployed personnel within
Australia and overseas.
There were three types of mobile unit used:
a. Mobile Dental Unit – relied on using either a semi-trailer to get around or by building a surgery
directly on to the truck chassis, and installing hydraulic chairs, units, x-rays, and laboratory
equipment. They were able to move around between small units, such as RAAF radar stations,
where they could plug into the local power supply and work immediately.
b. Transportable Dental Units – used for stops of longer duration, where field equipment was carried in
panniers from one unit to another by road or rail and housed in whatever accommodation was
available at the destination. They were often carried within Australia on Tiger Moths and Dakota
c. Itinerant Dental Units – in some areas, the dental equipment was installed at the RAAF unit and the
Dental Officer and their staff would travel from unit to unit, using the equipment available at each
RAAF Dental BadgeAs the war developed in Europe, it soon became obvious that the RAF Dental support was not capable of
supporting the increasing numbers of RAAF aircrew that were being sent for service with the RAF, with only
enough Dental Officers available to provide one to every 2000 men ( instead of the preferred 1 to 600). As a
result, the RAAF provided a mobile dental unit, fitted out in a caravan and pulled by a Ford V8 Coupe, to
travel around England in support of RAAF personnel at various squadrons.
Some degree of tact was needed to ensure that the RAF did not take this as a comment on the treatment
they were providing, but it proved successful in maintaining a satisfactory state of dental fitness in RAAF
personnel, and a second mobile unit was soon dispatched. They were also set up with a laboratory on board
as well as the surgery, which was a major difference between the RAF and RAAF, as the RAF did not
provide dentures for their troops (the RAAF would, providing they had served for 6 years).
In 1943 the RAF was no longer able to provide Dental support to Australian troops in the Middle East, which
resulted in the need for a transportable dental unit to be deployed from Australia. It functioned in a similar
manner to the RAF, by moving from one squadron to another. It served in the Middle East and Africa, from
Cairo across North Africa, to Italy, and eventually back to England to treat returned prisoners of war.
GPCAPT Norman Andrews
The growth and development of the RAAF Dental Branch owes a debt to one man in particular, GPCAPT
Norman Andrews. As the second RAAF Dental Officer to enlist on 18 Sep 1933, Andrews became the
principal architect of the structure and organisation of the RAAF Dental Branch leading up to and during
Until early 1940, the RAAF Dental Branch was administered by the Director of Medical Services (Air), which
placed it under the control of the Army Medical staff. The Army would provide their Inspector of Dental
Services for advice whenever needed. In April 1940, the RAAF Medical service separated from the Army,
resulting in the control of the RAAF Dental Branch shifting back to the RAAF.
Andrews became the first Director of Dental Services, when the position was created in 1943 as recognition
of the higher profile the Dental Branch was now playing in the RAAF Medical service. Until this time,
Andrews's title had been as the Dental Staff Officer to the RAAF Medical Service.
Andrews was responsible for the establishment of the war-time structure of the Dental service, establishing
new dental centres at all major bases, creating mobile and transportable dental units, ensuring the continual
growth of the Branch, maintaining professional development of staff through the establishment of a
professional journal, and by organising renowned lecturers to speak at RAAF bases.
He also believed in visiting as many dental units as possible to see for himself what conditions were like and
to talk first-hand to staff in remote units. His itinerary during the war years, both in and out of Australia,
shows a large number of trips in a variety of modes of transport in order to reach remote areas where units
He was promoted to GPCAPT in July 1944, as the numbers of Dental Officers soon peaked at 227 towards
the end of the war (1 GPCAPT, 9 WGCDRs, 60 SQNLDRs, and 157 FLTLTs). After the war, with the
reduction in RAAF personnel required in uniform, the Dental Branch also reduced its numbers significantly.
By 1947 there were only 18 Dental Officers serving (many part-time), with 1 GPCAPT, 1 WGCDR, 10
SQNLDRs, and 6 FLTLTs, and only 13 by 1950.
With the decrease in Branch personnel numbers, the ‘powers to be' saw fit to reduce the Director of Dental
Service rank to WGCDR, and as a result Norman Andrews found that in order to continue serving in the
RAAF he would have to wear a reduced rank. This appears to have been a contributing factor in his decision
to discharge at the relatively early age of 43 and accept an administrative job as Director of the Victorian
Government's School Dental Service.
Norman Andrews holds the proud honour of being the founder of the RAAF Dental Branch, which during the
war was instrumental in educating servicemen of the importance of dental health and maintaining the dental
fitness of troops in a variety of areas.
Dental Orderlies (Assistants)
The dental orderly mustering was first introduced in 1937. Until that time, medical orderlies were assigned to
assist the Dental officer with their duties. As early as 1931 it had been noted by both RAAF and Army Dental
Officers working in Victoria and Richmond that a lot of the troubles they were having would be solved by
appointing a permanent Dental Orderly. Often they would find that the medical orderly they were assigned
was a different one each day, and as a result the administration and work in general was very inefficient. By
1937, with the increase in Dental Officers to 3, it was realised that a Dental Orderly mustering needed to be
Dental Mechanics/Technicians Before WW2, dental laboratory work was provided by civilian laboratories, as most RAAF units were
stationed around metropolitan areas. At this time, service personnel were still required to pay for their own
dentures, unless they had served for six years or had their dentures damaged during performance of their
In July 1940, mainly in response to the development of more remote RAAF dental units and the increasing
demand for dental prostheses, the Dental Mechanic mustering was established. Unfortunately there was a
very limited pool of civilian dental mechanics to recruit from, and as a result the RAAF set up a training
school at Laverton (which was later moved to Ascot Vale) in June 1941 which conducted an intensive 6
month course in Dental mechanics.
Dental mechanics were quickly in demand. In all fixed and mobile dental units at least 1 Mechanic was
supplied for each Dental Officer, and indeed the RAAF supplied Dental Mechanics throughout all its
deployments, something the RAF were unwilling, or unable, to do.
Two grades of dental mechanic existed: the Senior Mechanic (with the rank of NCO), who was competent in
all phases of laboratory work; and the Junior Mechanic, who could only handle routine work and not more
advanced denture work. The progression to Senior required a further trade test in techniques including
setting up, clasp-forming, casting and backing teeth.
During the course of the War, two special courses were held for Mechanics. The first, directed at senior
mechanics so that they could instruct others, was in 1942 when Acrylic Resin was first introduced as a
denture base material, as an alternative to the current option of vulcanite. Later, towards the end of the War,
a ‘refresher' course was provided for those that had served for the greatest period of time in order to allow
them retraining in techniques that they had not practised during their service and which were common in
civilian life. This included cast base dentures, crowns and bridges, partial dentures, and retainers.
Towards the end of the War, a course was held with WAAAF trainees to train them as Mechanics. However,
as the War was soon to end they never had the opportunity to progress within the mustering to become
The RAAF Dental Branch has survived 75 years of turbulence, with reviews of its viability occurring regularly
every few years from as early as 1937. The Branch continues to provide excellent service to the ADF
community and, despite reduced manpower, will continue to play an important role in Air Force Health
http://www.defence.gov.au/health/about/docs/RAAFDental.pdf40cm cupro-nickel plated medal, the obverse features the sovereign's head, the reverse features the crown and eagle emblem of the RAAF (and RAF). A23814 BOWERS.A. A. F.r.a.a.f long service medal, r.a.a.f good conduct, r.a.a.f. dental service medal