C S Wiggins, CBE (1898-1969)

Group Captain Carn Scarlett ‘Stiffy’ Wiggins, CBE
First Assistant Director-General (Operations). Photo taken in September 1963.

(Photo: CAHS/Ivan Hodder collection)

Carn Scarlett Wiggins was born at Mudgee, NSW, on 6 October 1898. He attended the Royal Military College - Duntroon between 1916 and 1920 where he acquired the nickname 'Stiffy'. During his army service he became a specialist in signals.

C S Wiggins transferred to the RAAF as a Flying Officer posted to Point Cook, Vic, on 2 July 1925 as the first direct-entry signals officer in the RAAF. He was subsequently posted to Richmond, NSW, where he played an important part in establishing the first RAAF long-distance HF radio link between Point Cook and Richmond. In 1926 Wiggins completed a pilot's course, although he continued to specialise in signals.

In 1935 Wiggins and Roy Badenach of the Civil Aviation Branch conducted a world tour of inspection examining aviation communications and radio navigation overseas. As a result of their report the CAB let a contract to AWA to build and operate a series of Aeradio stations along the main air routes. An indication of how well based the scheme was is that most of the sites and equipment were still in service well into the 1960s.

Wiggins and Badenach also had demonstrated to them in Germany the Lorenz beam system, then developed as an approach aid. They conceived the idea of installing the antenna system on 80ft towers and thus extended the system's range for en route navigation - the first VHF range system in the world. Click here to read more about the 33 Mc Lorenz Radio Range system.

On 7 May 1937 Flight Lieutenant Wiggins was seconded to the Civil Aviation Board of the Department of Defence. His early duties were to assist in the development of the radio communication and navigation requirements of civil aviation. In 1939 C S Wiggins became the Chief Electrical Engineer of the DCA.

With the outbreak of war, Wing Commander Wiggins was recalled to the RAAF on 25 July 1940 and appointed Director of Signals. He was promoted to Group Captain in September 1940 and was responsible for overseeing the rapid expansion of the RAAF's signals organisation. For his outstanding technical ability, initiative, administrative skill and the generation of the high standard of the RAAF signals organisation, Group Captain Wiggins was awarded the CBE in 1942. Something of a 'character', Wiggins was known for his ability to relate to people no matter what their station and for his dislike of unnecessary 'red tape'.

In 1945, at war's end, C S Wiggins returned to the DCA as Director of Air Navigation and Safety. A departmental reorganisation in 1948 saw him appointed as Assistant Director-General (Technical) with responsibility for the supervision and co-ordination of the 'technical' directorates of the Department - Airways, Airports and Air Navigation and Safety. He was later appointed as First Assistant Director-General (Operations), a position from which he retired on 4 October 1963.

Carn Scarlett 'Stiffy' Wiggins died on 5 December 1969.

Another photo of C S Wiggins.

(Photo: CAHS collection)

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