4 Squadron RAAF

4 Squadron was reformed at Richmond in New South Wales on 17 June 1940, flying Wirraway and later Boomerang aircraft. Stationed at Canberra between 29 September 1940 and 19 May 1942 the unit trained in army cooperation tactics. Training in this period was marred by accidents: a mid-air collision near Government House between two aircraft on 4 April 1944 resulted in the death of a passenger; a fatal accident killed the pilot and a crew member at Williamtown in New South Wales on 6 January 1942; and an accident on 1 May 1942 caused the death of the pilot and observer.

In November 1942 4 Squadron commenced operations in New Guinea, attacking targets around Gona, Buna, Wairopi, Sanananda, and Cape Endaiadere. Aircraft were then detached to Popondetta to support the 7th Australian Division and to Dobodura for the 32nd US Army Division. On 26 December the squadron also gained distinction when Pilot Officer J. Archer shot down a Zero while on a tactical reconnaissance mission over a Japanese shipwreck off Gona. This was a unique victory for a Wirraway and earned Archer the American Silver Star.

The squadron continued to support ground operations and in August support was given to the 17th Brigade when it captured Kamiatum. In September aircraft were detached to Tsili Tsili, to support the Lae-Nazab campaign and later actions in the Markham and Ramu Valley. From January 1944 “A” and “B” Flight operated from Gusap and Nadzab airfields respectively, in support of the 7th and 9th Divisions. Here the unit lead Beauforts, Vengeances, and Kittyhawks to specific targets identified by the army.

When the squadron moved from Port Moresby to Nadzab in March 1944, a detachment was sent to New Britain to support the US Army’s westward advance, spotting Japanese escaping to the Gazelle Peninsula.

The Gusap detachment returned to Nadzab in July, before moving to Madang in October to cover the 6th Division as it advanced into Bogadjim, Erima, and Angoram. “B” Flight carried out reconnaissance around the Sepik River, Marienberg, and Anneberg. In November a flight was also sent to Tadji airfield in Aitape.

The squadron reunited at Nadzab on 19 March 1945 to move to Moratai and then Labuan, arriving on 23 June. Wirraway aircraft commenced tactical reconnaissance around Kuching while the Boomerangs were detached to Balikpapan where they lead-in Spitfire and Kittyhawk squadrons.

After the end of the Second World War, 4 Squadron began searching for and dropping messages to prisoners of war. The unit returned to Canberra on 14 November. 4 Squadron ceased to exist as of 7 March 1948, when it was renamed 5 (Tac/R) Squadron.

Squadron Motto

  • Nil

Squadron Code

  • QE,       D

Glossary

Equipment

Battle Honours

  • nil

Casualties

  • 37 died

For more information please see the Roll of Honour and Second World War Nominal Roll (external website) databases.

Commanding Officers

Decorations

  • 1 OBE
  • 18 DFC
  • 1 DFM
  • 8 MID
  • 1 Foreign award

For more information please see Honours and Awards database

Collection Items

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References

  • Barnes, Norman, The RAAF and the flying squadrons, (St Leonards, N.S.W : Allen & Unwin, 2000)
  • Graham, Cec, Co-operate to conquer : activities of No. 4 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force, World Wars I & II, (Australia : The Compiler, 1994)
  • Royal Australian Air Force Historical Records Section, Units of the Royal Australian Air Force : a concise history: volume 2 Fighter units, (Canberra : AGPS Press, 1995)