Mosman's 'right royal welcome' to Pacific Fliers: Smithy & 'Alphabet' Ulm

Darragh Christie, 30 June 2021 · #

Scanned collage created by the author from The Daily, Tuesday July 3, 1928 Source: Local Studies collection Barry O’ Keefe Library.

Homecoming for the lauded prodigal sons

On June 9th, 1928, Charles Kingsford Smith, Charles Ulm and their American crewmen landed the Southern Cross at Brisbane. Ecstatic crowds greeted the two Australians after their epic flight across the Pacific to Australia.

Next it was Sydney’s turn to welcome the Pacific fliers.

The ‘Southern Cross’, Fokker monoplane VH-USU, on its arrival at Mascot Aerodrome, Sydney 10 June 1928, signed by the crew. (L-R) James Warner, Charles Ulm, Charles Kingsford-Smith and Harry Lyon. Inscribed ‘To Flight Lieutenant and Mrs Garnet Malley with kind regards and best wishes, June 1928’ M15 Picture credit: Peter Scholer 2013. Captain Garnet Malley MC was a fighter ace with No. 4 Sqn, AFC. Source: Barry O’Keefe Library ‘Trace’ image collection

Charles Ulm – photographs and albums, 1928-1934. PXD 921 , MP 98

Mosman held a parade and reception on Saturday June 30th, one of many like events across the country.

Both Charles Kingsford Smith and Charles Ulm had local connections.

Ulm’s parents lived in Mosman. The Ulm’s lived in Keston Ave until 1914 and then 35 Prince Street. Kingsford Smith’s parents moved from Yeo St Neutral Bay, to Shadforth St Mosman in 1918, thence to Longueville. Two of Smithy’s brothers had married Mosman lasses.1

Reception held at Longueville near Smithy’s parents home. The Event at Mosman would have had a similar podium and crowd attendance Charles Ulm – photographs and albums, 1928-1934. PXD 921 , MP 98

Smithy had come a long way. Once called ‘the terror of Mosman’ as a teenager, he was now a huge hit with the crowd:

When the Mayor got bothered over the initials of Mr. [C.T.P.] Ulm, his comrade created much laughter by calling him “Alphabetical Ulm.”

C.T.P. ‘Alphabet’ Ulm was presented with a beautifully illustrated memorial book. It included signatures of significant local residents, and a series of photographs of Mosman in the early 1920s. It is now held at Barry O’Keefe Library:

Inside pages of memorial book presented to Charles Ulm on 30 June 1928. Source: Local Studies collection Barry O’ Keefe Library

The days events were reported in The Daily, transcribed here below for the first time in over 90 years:

MOSMAN’S WELCOME To Pacific Fliers

‘Mosman gave the Pacific fliers- Squadron leader Kingsford Smith and Flight –Lieutenant Ulm- a right royal welcome on Saturday afternoon.

And when the “tumult and the shouting dies,” they will receive tangible evidence of the good will of the citizens in the shape of hard cash. Just what size the cheque will be cannot be stated until matters in connection with the reception of the aviators are finalised. [One paper reported it was for 250 pounds] The final figures will be published in the “Daily” in due course.

A big crowd assembled at Buena Vista Square when the fliers arrived, and they were greeted with cheers.

The procession, which was headed by the Mosman Municipal Band, included returned soldiers, Girl Guides, Sea scouts and Boy Scouts. Crowds thronged Military Road as the procession came towards Spit Junction. At the ANZAC Memorial Hall, Kingsford Smith alighted from the car in which the two aviators were seated and placed a wreath at the foot of the Memorial Tablet, that grim record of the men from this municipality who made the supreme sacrifice. Heads were bared and the solemnity of the occasion was rendered more potent and from this be-flagged elevated position

Just outside the northern corner of Mosman Park, and facing the Memorial, a platform had been erected, and from this be-flagged elevated position, the Mayor of Mosman (Ald. Harry Carter) on behalf of the citizens, welcomed the fliers, who each briefly expressed their appreciation of the cordial reception accorded them. When the Mayor got bothered over the initials of Mr. Ulm, his comrade created much laughter by calling him “Alphabetical Ulm.” Squadron-Leader Kingsford Smith, in his speech, indicated the aviators hoped soon to fly to New Zealand.

A crowd estimated at 5000 or 6000 gathered, to witness the official reception of the fliers, but the majority of the people were unable to hear what was said by the speakers. The Town Clerk (Mr. A. C. Marshall), who had acted as secretary of the movement, read the following address to Flight-Lieutenant Ulm:-

To Flight-Lieutenant Charles T.P. Ulm, A.F.C.

Dear Sir,-
On behalf of the civic representatives and returned soldiers of the municipality of Mosman, we have pleasure in presenting you with this address of welcome.

Your great achievement in the Southern Cross with Squadron Leader Kingsford Smith and American companions, in flying across the Pacific from America to Australia, has filled us with pride and admiration. We greet you as an Australian who has added great lustre to our nation, and we welcome you back as a returned soldier to Mosman, from where you enlisted to do your bit in the Great War.

The aviators were entertained at dinner at the Hotel Mosman by the Mayor and alderman and executive of The Returned Soldiers’ League, and at night a gala picture entertainment was held in the Australian Picture Theater.[‘Kinema’] The building was crowded, and the distinguished fliers received a tumultuous reception when they appeared on the platform and were introduced by the Mayor.

The function was a great success and passed off without a hitch. The traffic was admirably handled by the police.
The Mosman Municipal Band played patriotic selections during the proceedings, and received well deserved encomium for their very fine efforts.’

- The Daily, Tuesday July 3, 1928

The Daily, Tuesday July 3, 1928: ‘MOSMAN’S WELCOME To Pacific Fliers’ Photo by the author.

1 Morris, Phillipa Mosman salutes those magnificent aviators retrieved online 24/05/17. Source: Blainey, Anne The turbulent life of Charles Kingsford Smith Black Inc. Carlton, VIC 2018 p.57

A sample what other papers reported:


Subsequently the Mayor, aldermen and executive of the Returned Soldiers’ League to entertain the aviators at dinner at 6 p.m., a ball to be afterwards held In the Mosman Town Hall, at 8 p.m. It was also decided that an appeal
should be made for subscriptions, and that Messrs. D. H. Sargent and T. R. Douglas be appointed collectors to make a personal canvass In support of the fund, the two gentlemen to be given necessary authority by the Town Clerk.


Instead of the suggested ball in the evening, it was decided to hold a gala night at the Australian Kinema, where
the airmen will be presented with a cheque from the district. The prices of admission will be raised to 2s, 2s 6d, and 3s, the extra money going to the fund.


A public reception will be held at Mosman Park, and Flight-Lieutenant Ulm an old resident of the district, will be
presented with an address signed by the Mayor and aldermen of the municipality. An official dinner will be held at the
Hotel Mosman, and later a cheque will be presented to the filers at the Australian Picture Show. Miss Nellie Stewart, whose autographed photo is carried as a mascot by Squadron Leader Klngsford Smith, has purchased fifteen seats, and has also made a donation of £6 to the fund.

Follow the story of Smithy and Ulm

Where angels fear to tread: Smithy’s baptism of fire

1919 Air Race: Why Smithy couldn’t fly the Kangaroo

Smithy’s treasured postcard from actress Nellie Stewart

‘That spirit of restlessness’: Charles Ulm (Jackson) enlists


Photographs held by the State Library