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No. 489 (NZ) Squadron RAF
Active 12 August 1941 - 1 August 1945
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Allegiance  New Zealand
Branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Role Anti-Shipping
Motto Whakatanagata kia kaha
Māori: "Quit ye like men, Be Strong"
Equipment Blenheim, Hampden, Beaufighter
Squadron Badge Standing on a Torpedo, a Kiwi
Squadron Codes XA (Jan 1942 - Nov 1943)
P6 (Nov 1943 - Aug 1945)[1][2]

489 (NZ) Squadron was formed from pilots of the Royal New Zealand Air Force on 12 August 1941 under RAF Coastal Command as an anti-submarine and reconnaissance unit.[3]



On 19 December 1939 Article XV was promulgated, creating the Empire Air Training Scheme. Under this article provision was made for the formation of Commonwealth squadrons within the RAF. On 17 April 1941 a further agreement was negotiated allowing for six New Zealand Squadrons to be formed: 485 Sqn., 486 Sqn., 487 Sqn., 488 Sqn., 489 Sqn. and 490 Sqn. These units were manned and (mostly) commanded by New Zealanders trained under the EATS. provisions, although this didn't preclude other nationalities from being members. Administratively the "Article XV squadrons" were an integral part of the RAF, with all command appointments being made by the RAF. Other Dominion or Commonwealth countries involved were Australia and Canada, along with Rhodesia and South Africa.

No. 489 was formed at RAF Leuchars with Bristol Beaufort, the squadron had some time becoming operational. As Beauforts were in short supply, they were supplemented and eventually replaced by the Bristol Blenheim Mk.IVf aircraft, handed over from No. 143 Squadron RAF. These were used over the North Sea and Norway. The Squadron converted to Hampdens in April and became a dedicated anti-submarine torpedo bomber unit in March 1942, carrying out its first torpedo attacks in July 1942 during sorties in the Trondheim fjord. The squadron converted to Beaufighters in November 1943.[3] Beaufighters were used to attack shipping in the North Sea and along the coast of Occupied Europe, Northern Germany and Scandinavia. From April 1944 it formed part of the Anzac Strike wing. It also flew air sea rescue missions, escorted convoys and continued anti-submarine work. The squadrons last operational mission in Europe was flown off the Norwegian coast on 21 May 1945. It began to re-equip with Mosquitos in June 1945 with a view to moving to the Pacific, but following the collapse of Japan, it was disbanded on 1 August 1945, before completion.[4]

The squadron operated out of several stations: RAF Leuchars, RAF Thorney Island, RAF Wick, RAF St Eval, RAF Skitten, RAF Langham, RAF Dallachy and RAF Banff. It flew 2,380 sorties and 9,773 hours on operations. Awards were two Distinguished Service Orders, three Distinguished Flying Medals a Conspicuous Gallantry Medal and 19 Distinguished Flying Cross.

The Squadron's Māori motto is Whakatanagata kia kaha, which can be translated as "Quit ye like men, Be Strong".

No 489 Squadron aircraft are known to survive, but relics are preserved at the Royal New Zealand Air Force Museum in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Aircraft operated

From To Aircraft Version
August 1941 January 1942 Bristol Beaufort Mk.I
January 1942 March 1942 Bristol Blenheim Mk.IVf
March 1942 November 1943 Handley Page Hampden Mk.I
November 1943 August 1945 Bristol Beaufighter Mk.X
June 1945 August 1945 De Havilland Mosquito Mk.VI


Commanding officers

From To Name
August 1941 October 1942 W/Cdr. J.A.S. Brown
October 1942 August 1943 W/Cdr. V.C. Darling
August 1943 August 1944 W/Cdr. J.S. Dinsdale, DSO, DFC
August 1944 February 1945 W/Cdr. L.A. Robertson
February 1945 August 1945 W/Cdr. D.H. Hammond, DSO, DFC and Bar


Squadron bases

From To Name
12 August 1941 27 February 1942 RAF Leuchars
27 February 1942 5 August 1942 RAF Thorney Island
9 May 1942 19 June 1942 RAF St Eval (D)
13 June 1942 19 July 1942 RAF Abbotsinch (D)[4]
12 July 1942 5 August 1942 RAF Tain (D)[4]
March 1942 5 August 1942 RAF Wick D
5 August 1942 6 October 1943 RAF Skitten
6 October 1943 8 April 1944 RAF Leuchars
8 April 1944 24 October 1944 RAF Langham
24 October 1944 16 June 1945 RAF Dallachy
16 June 1945 1 August 1945 RAF Banff


A note on New Zealand Squadrons in the RAF

It is now largely accepted that the seven World War II squadrons of the Royal Air Force manned by New Zealanders are recorded by a formulation such as 486 (NZ) Squadron RAF. However some authors (e.g. Bill Gunston) have used a formulation like 486 squadron RNZAF. Some claim the latter is misleading. RNZAF units were a separate entity, formed and controlled entirely by the RNZAF; all RNZAF units operated in the Pacific Theatre. An anomaly exists in that the official badges of the six New Zealand units units reads (eg:) "486 Squadron Royal New Zealand Air Force".[10] However, as Gerard S Morris explains:

Interestingly, this carried over into the naming of the six New Zealand squadrons...It was impractical, for operational and administrative reasons to establish and maintain RNZAF squadrons in Britain. So, although the squadron badges carried the name Royal New Zealand Air Force, the squadrons were in fact receiving their pay cheques from the British government and official records such as the Operations Record Book acknowledged this. For example, 485 Squadron was referred to infomally as 485 (New Zealand) or 485 (NZ) and never as 485 Squadron, RNZAF.(italics added)[11]




  1. ^ Flintham and Thomas 2003, pp. 96 + 117.
  2. ^ Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, pp. 84 + 113.
  3. ^ a b Rawlings 1982, p. 224.
  4. ^ a b c d Halley 1988, p. 532.
  5. ^ a b c Rawlings 1982, p. 225.
  6. ^ a b Jefford 2001, p. 95.
  7. ^ Bowyer 1984, p. 113.
  8. ^ New Zealand Electronic Text Centre
  9. ^ No.489 Squadron RNZAF on rafcommands
  10. ^ History of squadrons 485 till 490 on rafweb
  11. ^ Morris 2000, p.20.


  • Bowyer, Chaz. Mosquito Squadrons of the Royal AIr Force. Shepperton, Surrey, UK: Ian Allan Ltd., 1984. ISBN 0-7110-1425-6.
  • Bowyer, Michael J.F. and John D.R. Rawlings. Squadron Codes, 1937-56. Bar Hill, Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-85059-364-6.
  • Burrowes, David M. (ed). 489 - An Unofficial History of No. 489 Torpedo Bomber Squadron RNZAF, 1941 to 1945.Published by David Burrowes, Nelson, NZ - Nov 2006. ISBN 978-0-473-11888-4
  • Flintham, Vic and Andrew Thomas. Combat Codes: A Full Explanation and Listing of British, Commonwealth and Allied Air Force Unit Codes since 1938. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing Ltd., 2003. ISBN 1-84037-281-8.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth, 1918-1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Jefford, Wing Commander C.G., MBE, BA, RAF (Retd). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury: Airlife Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Morris, Gerard S. Spitfire, the New Zealand Story. Auckland, New Zealand: Reed Books, 2000. ISBN 0-7900-0696-0.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Coastal, Support and Special Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Jane's Publishing Company Ltd., 1982. ISBN 0-7106-0187-5.
  • Tunnicliffe, Donald McKenzie. From Bunnies to Beaufighters: the Autobiography of Donald McKenzie Tunnicliffe, DFC, incorporating a history of 489 Squadron RNZAF, November 1943 - May 1945. Christchurch, New Zealand: Alan Tunnicliffe, 1990. ISBN 0-95978-302-4.
  • Thompson, Wing Commander H.L. Official New Zealand History New Zealanders with the Royal Air Force (Vol I): European Theatre September 1939-December 1942. Wellington, New Zealand: War History Branch, Department of Internal Affairs, 1953. ISBN N/A
  • Thompson, Wing Commander H.L. ;Official New Zealand History New Zealanders with the Royal Air Force (Vol II): European Theatre January 1943-December 1945. Wellington, New Zealand: War History Branch, Department of Internal Affairs, 1956. ISBN N/A

External links


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