Air Aces of World War One

Major Roderic Stanley Dallas – Australian Ace – 1891 / 1918

Roderic Stanley ( Stan ) Dallas was born on the 30th of July 1891 at Mount Stanley station, Esk, Queensland to labourer Peter McArthur Dallas and his wife Honora. Mount Stanley was an isolated property and journeys to and from Esk were long and infrequent; Stan was the first Caucasian child to be born at the station. His family moved to Tenterfield, New South Wales, soon after the birth of his younger brother in 1893. The family returned to Queensland in 1898, settling in Mount Morgan where his father became a shift boss at the local mines. Stan attended Mount Morgan Boy’s School from February 1899, and eventually joined its cadet corps, rising to the rank of sergeant. At school he was noted for his intelligence, ability to get on with others and his quiet sense of humour. He enjoyed the outdoors and spent many hours in the mountains behind the family’s home, observing birds of prey.

In July 1907, Dallas joined the assay office of the Mount Morgan Gold Mining Company, and also enrolled in the local technical college, where he took night classes in Chemistry and Technical Drawing. He showed an early interest in Aviation, fuelled by the establishment of the Mount Morgan Chapter of the Queensland Aero Club. Dallas and his younger brother Norvel built a glider, which was wrecked by an untimely gust of wind the first time they attempted to launch it. The brothers continued to build model gliders, in spite of this initial disaster, and Stan corresponded with aviation pioneers in France, England and the United States. He later transferred to a higher paying job as a truck driver for Iron Island ironstone quarries. Stan and Norvel once again built their own flying machine while Stan was working on Iron Island. They experimented with this seaplane on nearby Marble Island, notorious for its treacherous waters. Stan lost this aeroplane in the sea.

At 1.88 Metres ( 6ft 2ins ) tall, and weighing 101Kg ( 223 lbs ), Dallas would surprise observers with his ability to fit into the cramped cockpits of fighter planes. Despite his size, he was considered a fine athlete with quick reflexes. Although he could project a loud speaking voice, he was generally soft-spoken and was not known to curse or drink alcohol, nor often to smoke. Dallas stayed fit through regular exercise at the gym, and played rugby union football. He had exceptionally keen eyesight, which he had trained by reading small print in newspapers at the six-foot length of his family’s table. To balance out athletics, he participated in amateur theatrics, where his strong voice served him well.

Dallas joined the Port Curtis Militia in 1913, and was commissioned as a lieutenant prior to the outbreak of war. Believing he had little chance of gaining a place in the recently established Australian Flying Corps, He applied to join the British Royal Flying Corps but was rejected. Undaunted he travelled from Queensland to Melbourne, where he impressed Minister without Portfolio J.A.Jensen, Jensen gave the young aspirant a letter to The Australian High Commissioner in London, Sir George Reid. Dallas paid his own passage to England, and once there applied once again to join the R.F.C. rejected again he turned to the Royal Naval Air Service ( R.N.A.S.) and was accepted, topping the entrance examination over 83 other students. He was commissioned as a flight sub-lieutenant and began his training at Hendon in June 1915, gaining Pilot’s license # 1512 on the 5th of August 1915.

To Be Continued ………………..

(C) Damian Grange 2020

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