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No. 461 Squadron RAAF
A No. 461 Squadron Sunderland Mark V landing at Pembroke Dock, Wales in 1944
A No. 461 Squadron Sunderland Mark V landing at Pembroke Dock, Wales in 1944
Active 1942–1945
Country Australia
Branch Royal Australian Air Force
Role Maritime patrol
Part of RAF Coastal Command
Motto "They shall not pass unseen"
Battle honours
  • Atlantic 1939–1945
  • English Channel and North Sea 1939–1945
  • Biscay Ports 1940–1945
  • Normandy 1944
  • Biscay 1940–1945
  • Arctic 1940–1945
Aircraft flown
Patrol Short Sunderland

No. 461 Squadron was a Royal Australian Air Force maritime patrol squadron of World War II which operated under Royal Air Force control flying in Europe and over the Atlantic. The Squadron was formed in 1942 and was disbanded in 1945.

Squadron history

No. 461 Squadron was formed at RAF Mount Batten in Britain on 25 April 1942 as an anti-submarine squadron. Equipped with Short Sunderland aircraft the Squadron began flying operational anti-submarine patrols over the Atlantic in July. While some of No. 461 Squadron's aircrew had previously served with No. 10 Squadron RAAF most of the aircrew were inexperienced and required further training and flight experience. No. 461 Squadron encountered its first U-Boat in September but was not successful in sinking any submarines during 1942. The Squadron flew a number of transport flights to Gibraltar in October in support of Operation Torch.

During 1943 No. 461 Squadron mainly conducted daylight anti-submarine patrols over the Bay of Biscay. These patrols exposed the Squadron's aircraft to frequent attacks by German fighters. The Sunderland aircraft were fitted with a heavy defensive armament, however, and were often successful in beating off fighter attacks. During 1943 the Squadron sank a total of three submarines and damaged several other submarines.

In February 1944 No. 461 Squadron was equipped with the more advanced Mark III Sunderland. This aircraft allowed the Squadron to operate at night. Equipped with these improved aircraft the Squadron continued to fly anti-submarine patrols over the Atlantic, including patrols in support of the Allied landing in Normandy. During 1944 the squadron sank three submarines and damaged a further three.

Following the liberation of France the numbers of German U-boats in the Atlantic declined and No. 461 Squadron made few contacts with the enemy between October 1944 and the end of the war. No. 461 Squadron was disbanded on 4 June 1945.

During the war No. 461 destroyed a total of six German submarines. These submarines were:

  • U-332 (1 May 1943)
  • U-461 (30 July 1943)
  • U-106 (2 August 1943)
  • U-571 (28 January 1944)
  • U-385 (10 August 1944)
  • U-270 (13 August 1944)

In exchange, the squadron lost 20 Sunderlands to enemy action and accidents.

References

  • Australian War Memorial 461 Squadron RAAF
  • Steve Eather (1995). Flying Squadrons of the Australian Defence Force. Aerospace Publications.
  • RAAF Historical Section (1995). Units of the Royal Australian Air Force. A Concise History. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.
  • RAAF Museum 461 Squadron
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