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Members of No. 454 Squadron RAAF celebrate Anzac Day in Cesenatico, Italy

No. 454 Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force was formed during World War II. 454 Squadron came into existence at Williamtown in New South Wales on 23 May 1941. The squadron was raised under the Empire Air Training Scheme.

Contents

Middle East

The squadron was destined for service in Europe with the Royal Air Force. It was, however, disbanded on 11 July, and its personnel dispersed between 456, 457 and 458 Squadrons. 454 Squadron was given a second lease of life on 30 September 1942 when it was reformed as a light bomber squadron at RAF Aqir in Palestine. It proceeded to Iraq where, equipped with Bristol Blenheims, it joined a force intended to counter German threat from the Caucasus. Based at Qaiyara, the squadron flew no operational missions and instead served to provide refresher training on the Blenheim for crews being posted to other RAF squadrons.

In February 1943 454 Squadron moved to Amiriya in Egypt, where it joined 201 Group of the RAF's Middle East Command. Having left its Blenheims in Iran, the squadron was equipped with Martin Baltimores. It commenced operations as a maritime patrol squadron and spent the next 17 months working in this capacity over the Mediterranean - its main targets were enemy submarines and merchant shipping. It was also used for long-range reconnaissance and occasionally employed in strikes against land targets in Crete and the Greek islands. During this period 454 Squadron operated from several airfields including Amiriya, Gambut III, and St Jean and Berka III.

Italy

In July 1944 The squadron relocated to Pescara in Italy and joined the Desert Air Force. Its role now changed to providing air support for the ground forces engaged in the Italian campaign, generally in the form of concentrated pattern bombing. Operating from a succession of airfields, 454 Squadron earned a reputation for efficiency, despite Italy's climatic extremes. In addition to its ground support missions, the squadron also attacked targets, experimented with radar-controlled bombing techniques, and, in early 1945, harried the retreating German forces by night. The squadron's war ended with the surrender of German forces in Italy on 2 May 1945 and it was disbanded at Villaorba on 14 August 1945.

During the war the squadron suffered 60 Australian fatalities.[1]

Commanding officers

WGCDR Ian Lindsay Campbell, RAAF

16 October 1942 – 22 March 1943

3 April 1943 – 4 October 1943

WGCDR John Arthur Gordon Coates, CBE, DFC, MID, RAF

4 October 1943 – 28 November 1943

WGCDR Milton 'Mike' Jeffery Moore, DFC, RAAF

1 April 1944 – 25 November 1944

Andrew Dil 'Pete' Henderson, OBE, MID, RAAF

25 November 1944 – 19 May 1945

John Gordon Rees, DFC, DFC(US), RAAF

19 May 1945 – 14 August 1945

References

Australian War Memorial

Lax, Mark (2006) Alamein To The Alps: 454 Squadron RAAF 1941–1945 available free to download at [1]

Footnotes

  1. ^ Australian War Memorial: 454 Squadron RAAF, Accessed 25 October 2007

See also

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