RAAF veteran and author Tony Brady received acknowledgement by the prestigious Mander Jones Awards for his 2019 book on the Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS). 

Dr Brady, who described his work publishing the book as a “bucket list task”, was awarded a commendation for the best publication that uses, features or interprets Australian archives. 

Dr Brady was the inaugural winner of the RAAF Heritage Fellowship in 2014. His book, The Empire has an Answer: The Empire Air Training Scheme, became a labour of love for the author who wanted to share an important, yet not widely known story. 

The training scheme was established in 1943 by the Royal Air Force for aircrew, including more than 37,000 Australian service personnel. 

Dr Brady, who joined the Air Force as an engineering apprentice in 1980, said the EATS did more for Australia than was broadly realised.

“The scheme raised the collective education level of a generation, it started our manufacturing industry and massively expanded our aviation industry and infrastructure, which set Australia up for the post war recovery,” Dr Brady said. 

“Then there is the sacrifice made by the members of the Empire Air Training Scheme. 

“All this needs to be read, taught, understood and remembered.”

The book is based on thousands of newspaper articles, many relaying first-hand experiences, as the primary sources.

Although it took some years to complete, Dr Brady said writing the book opened up a range of new opportunities.

The RAAF Heritage Fellowship meant the RAAF History and Heritage Branch and Big Sky Publishing were on hand to provide support and guidance through the duration of the project. 

“Winning the Fellowship was a great feeling. It helped alleviate a sense of unfinished business from my military career and it allowed me to progress from the PhD constraints and begin developing an individual writing style,” Dr Brady said.

“The contacts and associations that developed following the publication of my book have opened up a range of new opportunities, both personally and as part of the RAAF History and Heritage community.”

The RAAF Heritage Awards, which are now open to nominations for the 2021 round, is a literature competition designed to enhance the records of Air Force and foster interest in its history and heritage.

The focus of this year’s awards though, is on Cold War activities and Southeast Asia Treaty Organisation involvement, United Nations commitments and post-war transitions as a period of force regeneration and force rebalance.

“The new format of the awards looks very attractive,” Dr Brady said. 

“I would unreservedly recommend the award to any author, especially new authors, looking for a unique opportunity and experience.”