460 Squadron RAAF

No. 460 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, was formed at Molesworth in the United Kingdom on 15 November 1941. It was an “Article XV Squadron”, formed in accordance with agreements that implemented the Empire Air Training Scheme. The squadron became part of the Royal Air Force’s Bomber Command and joined the strategic bombing campaign against Germany. Equipped with Vickers Wellington bombers, it mounted its first raid, against the German city of Emden, on 12 March 1942.

In the ensuing three years the squadron was heavily committed to operations over Germany, Italy and German-occupied Europe. It operated, in succession, from airfields at Molesworth (15 November 1941 - 3 January 1942), Breighton (4 January 1942 - 14 May 1943), and Binbrook (14 May 1943 - 27 July 1945). Although it had originally been planned to re-equip the squadron with Handley Page Halifaxes in September 1942, it began operating Avro Lancasters in the following month and joined Bomber Command’s 1 Group. The bulk of the squadron’s operations formed part of the strategic bombing offensive against Germany, although prior to, and during, the D-Day landings in June 1944, it was employed in support of Allied ground operations. The squadron flew its last raid, against Berchtesgarden, on ANZAC Day 1945.

The squadron is regarded as having been the most efficient of the Australian bomber squadrons. It maintained consistently higher serviceability rates among its aircraft, set numerous operational records within Bomber Command, flew the most bombing raids of any Australian squadron, and was credited with the greatest tonnage of bombs dropped - 24,856 tons. The Australian War Memorial’s Lancaster “G for George” was a 460 Squadron aircraft. The squadron, however, suffered heavily. It lost 181 aircraft on operations and suffered 1,018 fatal casualties (589 Australian) - the highest number of any of the Australian squadrons.

Following the end of hostilities in Europe in April 1945, the squadron participated in Operation Manna, which involved the air-dropping of food to Dutch civilians during the first week of May 1945. It was subsequently employed to transport liberated Commonwealth prisoners of war to Britain. With this role complete, 460 Squadron was selected to form part of “Tiger Force”, Bomber Command’s intended contribution to the strategic bombing of Japan, which necessitated a transfer to No. 5 Group and a move to East Kirby. The war in the Pacific ended, however, before “Tiger Force” was deployed. The squadron relinquished its aircraft in early October 1945, and disbanded on the 25th of that month.

Squadron Motto

  • Strike and return

Squadron Code

  • UV       15 November 1941-November 1943
  • AR       November 1943-25 October 1945

Glossary

Equipment

Battle Honours

Casualties

  • 1018 (589 Australian) killed

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

Commanding Officers

Decorations

Australian personnel only:

  • 5 DSO
  • 205 DFC & 12 bars
  • 1 CGM
  • 72 DFM
  • 1 DCM

For more information please see Honours and Awards database

Collection Items

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References

  • AWM 64, RAAF formation and unit records
       1/293 Nov 41 - Dec 43
       1/294 Sep 41 - Apr 45
       1/295 Jan 44 - Oct 45
       1/296 Nov 41 - Jun 42
       1/297 Jun 42 - Sep 43
       1/299 Oct 43 - Oct 45
       1/320 Apr 42 - Dec 43
       1/322 Jan 44 - Jun 45
       1/323 Apr 42 - Nov 43
       1/324 Dec 43 - Jun 45
  • Units of the Royal Australian Air Force: a concise history. Volume 3, bomber units, (Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service, 1995).
  • P. Firkins, Strike and return: the unit history of No. 460 RAAF Heavy Bomber Squadron, RAF Bomber Command in World War Two, (Loftus: Australian Military History Publications, 2000).