No. 1 Squadron


When war broke out on 3 September 1939, 1 Squadron conducted the first patrol of the Second World War, a diverging search off Cape Otway in Victoria. For the early part of 1940, 1 Squadron flew Ansons aircraft as escorts for convoys of troopships and supplies vessels leaving Australia for Europe. On 4 July 1940 the squadron moved to Sembawang in Singapore. Now flying Hudson aircraft, the squadron conducted seaward reconnaissance and patrols until August when the unit moved to Kota Bharu in northeast Malaya.

1 Squadron was the first squadron to see action in the Pacific War. Before the Japanese raids on Pearl Harbor, Japanese convoys were sighted moving south of Indo-Chian. Early on 8 December 1941 seven Hudsons were despatched under the command of Wing Commander Davis, after reports that another convoy of Japanese warships was shelling beach defences in Malaya in preparation to land troops. By dawn one transport had been destroyed, a second was ablaze, and a third later disappeared after receiving many direct hits. 1 Squadron lost two aircraft and their crews.

The rapid advance of Japanese forces along the Malaya peninsula forced 1 Squadron to move to Palembang in Sumatra, after taking over 8 Squadron's Singapore-based aircraft. From the new base 1 Squadron harassed Japanese bases, conducted reconnaissance, and attacked Japanese convoys.

A day before the fall of Singapore, Japanese paratroops landed at Palembang. After two days of fighting the squadron was, once again, forced to relocate. From a new base in Semplak in Java, the squadron began attacking shipping and oilfields. On 6 March, after weeks of heavy fighting, the remaining three Hudsons carrying sick and wounded personnel, were flown to Australia. Only 120 members of 1 Squadron left Java before the island was overrun by the Japanese. Following the capitulation, 180 other members, including Davis, became prisoners of war.

The squadron was subsequently disbanded and did not reform until 1 December 1943 at Menangle, New South Wales. By late-March 1944, operations were being flown against enemy-held islands across the north. Squadron Leader Campbell led the first strike - a night attack on Lautem on 4 April with three Beauforts. 1 Squadron also participated in combined bombing raids on Penfoei, Cape Chater, Koepang, Timor, and Aru Island. Operations in concert with other units continued for the remainder of 1944, in addition to regular reconnaissance and night searching operations using Air-to-Surface Vessel radar.

On 15 January 1945 1 Squadron was re-equipped with the Mosquito aircraft. In May the main party was deployed to Moratai and then Labuan to await the arrival of the aircraft in July. 1 Squadron flew 65 sorties between 8 August and the Japanese surrender on 15 August. The squadron returned to Narromine, New South Wales, in December 1945 before being disbanded on 7 August the following year.

Of the 88 members of 1 Squadron killed during hostilities, many died as prisoners of war.

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