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No. 466 Squadron
466 Sqn Halifax crew.jpg
A No. 466 Squadron Halifax B.III with its crew after their return from a raid on Germany in January 1944
Active 15 October 1942 - 20 June 1945
Country Australia Australia
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Ensign of the Royal Australian Air Force.svg Royal Australian Air Force
Type inactive
Role Bomber squadron
Part of RAF Bomber Command
Motto "Brave and true"
Battle honours Fortress Europe 1940-1944; France and Germany 1944-1945; Ruhr 1940-1945; Berlin 1940-1945; German Ports 1940-1945; Normandy 1944; Walcheren
Commanders
Commanding Officers Reginald Edward Bailey; Dudley Thomas Forsyth; Hamilton Wesley Connolly; Alan Wharton; Albert Hollings
Insignia
Squadron codes HD (Oct 1942 - Jun 1945)
Aircraft flown
Bomber Vickers Wellington; Handley Page Halifax

No. 466 Squadron RAAF was a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) bomber squadron during World War II.

Contents

History

The squadron was formed at RAF Driffield in Yorkshire, England on October 10, 1942, under Article XV of the Empire Air Training Scheme. The majority of its original personnel were from British Commonwealth air forces other than the RAAF. Their replacement by Australians was a gradual process and it was only towards the end of the war that the squadron personnel were predominantly RAAF.[1]

The unit, equipped with Vickers Wellington medium bombers, transferred to RAF Leconfield, also in Yorkshire on December 27, 1942, and flew its first mission on 13 January 1943. Its main roles were strategic bombing over Germany and laying naval mines in the North Sea.[1] The squadron had its first direct encounter with the Luftwaffe on 14 February 1943 when, during a raid on Cologne, a Wellington Mk X, serial number HE506, identification "HD-N", opened fire on a Junkers 88 whilst it was over either Turnhout in Belgium, or the Dutch island of Tholen (sources differ). The crew reported seeing a brilliant flash after the rear gunner, Sergeant Angus, opened fire on it and the Junkers was claimed as probably destroyed.[2][3]

Following a mission on April 14, 1943, four members of the crew of a 466 Sqn Wellington Mk X, HZ256, "HD-L", commanded by Sergeant Edward Hicks (Auxiliary Air Force) received medals.[4] [5] A Distinguished Service Order (DSO) was awarded to Pilot Officer Raymond Hopkins (RAFVR), a Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) went to Flying Officer Reginald Clayton (RAFVR), a Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM) to Sergeant Frederick Blair (RAF) and a Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (CGM) to Hicks. According to the RAAF Museum, the award of so many decorations to a single crew was "highly unusual".[6] The awards were gazetted on 14 May 1943, with a joint citation:

London, November 1943. The all-British/RAF crew of 466 Sqn Wellington "HD-L" at Buckingham Palace, about to receive medals resulting from their eventful mission in April: F/O Raymond Hopkins DSO of Newport, Wales (left); P/O Frederick Blair DFM of Belfast, P/O Edward Hicks CGM of Newbury Park, Essex and F/O Reginald Clayton DFC of Carshalton, Surrey.
Pilot Officer Hopkins, Flying Officer Clayton and Sergeants Hicks and Blair were

air bomber [bomb aimer], navigator, captain and wireless operator respectively of an aircraft detailed to attack a target in the Ruhr. Over Germany the aircraft was attacked by an enemy [night] fighter. The first burst of fire from the attacker fatally injured the rear gunner [Sgt R. F. Field (RAF)] and wounded the air bomber, navigator and wireless operator. The fighter made a second attack but Sergeant Hicks avoided its gunfire by turning steeply under the enemy aircraft which was not seen again. Although the hydraulic and brake systems ... were damaged, causing the wheels to drop down and the bomb doors to open, the crew decided to continue their mission. Pilot Officer Hopkins ... although suffering from a compound fracture of the arm and ... retaining consciousness with great difficulty, displayed unsurpassed determination by directing his pilot to the target and bombing it successfully. On the return flight, Pilot Officer Hopkins, Flying Officer Clayton and Sergeant Blair laboured for more than 2 hours to assist the mortally wounded rear gunner, extricating him from his turret and administering morphia; some of their efforts were made whilst flying at 15,000 feet and without oxygen. Sergeant Hicks eventually flew the damaged aircraft to an airfield in this country, where he effected a landing without the aid of flaps.[7]

Hicks went on to receive further decorations and acclaim.[8]

466 Sqn converted to the Handley Page Halifax heavy bomber in late 1943. In June 1944, the squadron returned to Driffield. From May 1944, operations were focussed on German infrastructure in France, such as coastal artillery batteries and railway marshalling yards, in preparation for the invasion of Europe.[6]

Flying Officer Joe Herman (RAAF), the captain of a 466 Sqn Halifax Mk B.III, narrowly escaped death in a remarkable incident on November 4, 1944.[9] [4] [6] [10] During a night mission over Germany, his aircraft (LV936, "HD-D"), was badly damaged by Flak. After ordering the crew to bail out, Herman was blown out of the plane, without a parachute. After falling a long way, possibly more than 3,000 metres, Herman fell onto the Halifax's mid-upper gunner, F/O John Vivash (RAAF), and grabbed one of his legs. Both men descended on one parachute, suffered minor injuries when landing and survived the war as prisoners of war. From a total crew of seven, only one other airman, Sgt H. W. Knott (RAF), survived. According to one source, at least three crew members were murdered after being captured.[10]

In May 1945, following the end of the war in Europe, the squadron dumped surplus bombs into the sea and began re-training at RAF Bassingbourn, in Cambridgeshire, as a transport unit. However, this was reversed and in June the squadron was renumbered to No. 10 Squadron RAAF[11] and re-converting to heavy bombers when Japan surrendered.[1][6]

466 Sqn flew 3,326 sorties against 269 different targets, dropping 8,804 tons of bombs and laying 442 tons of mines.[1] A total of 81 aircraft were lost and 184 RAAF personnel serving with the squadron were killed.

References

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Notes

  1. ^ a b c d AWM, "466 Squadron RAAF"
  2. ^ Air combat reports—Monthly supplementary narrative of operations, nos. 1/43 - 4/43: enemy aircraft destroyed or damaged in combat with aircraft of Bomber Command Documents Online, pdf image of document from AIR 50/294, The National Archives (fee required to view full original document). Retrieved 2008-07-02
  3. ^ Air combat reports—Sergeant Angus, 466 Squadron Documents Online, pdf image of document from AIR 50/268, The National Archives (fee required to view full original document). Retrieved 2008-07-02
  4. ^ a b Troy Cosgrove
  5. ^ Air combat reports—Sergeant E J Field, 466 Squadron Documents Online, pdf image of document from AIR 50/268, The National Archives (fee required to view full original document). Retrieved 2008-07-02
  6. ^ a b c d RAAF Museum
  7. ^ London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36015, p. 2153, 11 May 1943.
  8. ^ Hicks was subsequently commissioned as a probationary pilot officer on 18 May 1943 (London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36100, pp. 3280–3281, 16 July 1943.). He was awarded the DFC on 16 November 1943, while still with 466 Sqn (London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36248, pp. 5024–5025, 12 November 1943.); promoted to probationary flying officer on 18 November(London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36254, pp. 5078–5080, 16 November 1943.). He was Mentioned in Despatches on 1 January 1945 (London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36866, pp. 60–69, 29 December 1944.), and promoted to war substantive flight lieutenant on 22 April 1945(London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37141, p. 3267, 19 June 1945.).
  9. ^ Hank Nelson, p.230
  10. ^ a b Lost Bombers, "Halifax LV936 Information"
  11. ^ Moyes 1976, p. 259.

Bibliography

  • Cosgrove, Troy. A History of 466 Squadron RAAF. (self-published)
  • Eather, Steve. Flying Squadrons of the Australian Defence Force. Weston Creek, ACT, Australia: Aerospace Publications Pty. Ltd., 1995. ISBN 1-875671-15-3.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth, 1918-1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain(Historians) Ltd., 1988, p. 484. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Jefford, C.G. RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1988 (second edition 2001). ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
  • Moyes, Philip J.R. Bomber Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 2nd edition 1976, p. 259-260. ISBN 0-354-01027-1.
  • Nelson, Hank. Chased by the Sun: The Australians in Bomber Command in World War II. Sydney, Australia: Allen & Unwin, 2006. ISBN 1-74114-847-2.
  • RAAF Historical Section. Units of the Royal Australian Air Force, Volume 3: Bomber Units. AGPS Press Publication, 1995.

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