No. 1 Squadron (RAAF)

Place Malaya
Commanding Officers
Decorations 6 DFC; 2 DFC and bar; 1 second bar to a DFC and bar; 1 DFM; 4 BEM; 15 MID
Conflict Malayan Emergency, 1948-1960
  • Malayan Emergency
  • Malayan Emergency
  • Malayan Emergency
Category Unit
Conflict Malayan Emergency, 1948-1960
Unit hierarchy

1 Squadron was formed in January 1916, serving in Egypt and supporting the allied advance into Palestine during the Sinai campaign. The squadron was disbanded after the war but was reformed again in the early 1920s. During the Second World War it served in the Pacific, where it was one of the first Australian units to carry out operations against the Japanese. The squadron was again disbanded, after the war, but on 23 February 1948, 12 Squadron was renumbered 1 Squadron at RAAF Amberley Base, Queensland, and was equipped with Lincoln bombers.

The squadron trained at Amberley until July 1950, when it moved to the Royal Air Force (RAF) base at Tengah, Singapore Island. The squadron remained at Tengah for the next eight years, with its six Lincolns bombing and strafing jungle camps and other targets of the communist terrorists who were conducting an insurgency in Malaya against the government.

The "Emergency" had been declared in Malaya in June 1948, but it was not until 1950 that the Malayan government and the British Commonwealth began to take the insurgency seriously. After coming under pressure from the United Kingdom to contribute forces to the escalating crisis, the Australian government decided to commit eight Dakotas from 38 Squadron and 1 Squadron to the Far Eastern Air Force in April. 38 Squadron was the first to be deployed to Singapore, arriving at RAF Base Changi, in June. 1 Squadron arrived at Tengah the following month. The two Australian squadrons formed 90 (Composite) Wing, which was based at Tengah, and the wing functioned for the next two years until 38 Squadron returned to Australia.

For eight years 1 Squadron provided the backbone of the heavy bombing campaign in Malaya, exclusively for the first three years and then in cooperation with 83 Squadron RAF, which arrived in 1953. Between July 1950 and July 1958, 1 Squadron few nearly 4,000 sorties and dropped 33,000,000 pounds of bombs - 85 per cent of the tonnage dropped by all aircraft in Malaya.

Despite this large tonnage, 1 Squadron did not carry out an independent air campaign. Its missions were instead flown in support of ground forces, bombing and strafing suspected enemy occupied areas and terrorist camps.

In June 1958, 1 Squadron replaced 2 Squadron, flying Canberra bombers. The squadron returned to Australia in July and five of its Lincolns undertook a 10,000 kilometre tour of Australia's major cities, covering Darwin, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Launceston, Hobart, Canberra, Sydney, and Brisbane, returning to Amberly on 17 July. Almost immediately afterwards, the squadron's Lincolns were retired and replaced with Canberra bombers.

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