No. 82 Squadron
|82 Squadron formed at Bankstown, New South Wales, on 18 June 1943, where it was equipped with P40M Kittyhawks and a flight of P39D Airacobras, commanded by Squadron Leader Stanley Wallace Galton. In April 1944 the squadron was deployed to Hughes airfield, in the Northern Territory. However, these orders were countermanded and the unit was concentrated at Ross River, Townsville, in May. The squadron's training schedule included practice strafing attacks, naval cooperation, sea navigation exercises, and high-level dive bombing attacks against Hopkinson's Reef. |
On 30 August the squadron deployed to Wards Field, near Port Moresby, where they remained until 18 September when 15 Kittyhawks were deployed to the Kamiri airfield, on Noemfoor Island, staging through Nadzab and Tadji. A 24-man maintenance team, plus some stores and equipment, were flown into Kamiri by Dakota aircraft. But 85 per cent of the squadron's equipment and ground staff remained at Townsville, and this placed a great burden on the forward echelon at Kamiri.
Maintenance and refuelling at Kamiri was carried out by all members of the squadron. Pilots would fly missions and assist with the refuelling and re-arming of the aircraft. Despite the strain, the squadron commenced operations on 30 September, joining 77 Squadron in a dive-bomb attack on Samate airstrip. Babo and Utarom airstrips were bombed, while patrols were carried out over Noemfoor Island and enemy shipping and installations attacked.
The maintenance problem was not overcome until the rear element arrived on 12 November 1944. Missions in December included watercraft sweeps and bombing-and-strafing flights against enemy installations in the Halmaheras and Ceram Islands, and the south-west coast of New Guinea. In February dusk and dawn patrols were carried out, and enemy near Ransiki strafed. In March aircraft flew patrols over convoys bound for Borneo, and enemy strongholds attacked at Kaoe, Ternate, Mawea, and Doro.
On 3 March 1945 the squadron's personnel moved to Morotai by sea. The aircraft arrived on 5 April at the Wama strip. When the squadron became operational it flew dive bombing missions against enemy occupied areas near Djailolo, in the Halmaheras. Operations from Morotai ceased on 22 May to enable the squadron to prepare for the landing at Labuan, Borneo, codenamed OBOE 6. Squadron personnel arrived by landing craft on 11 June 1945 and Squadron Leader Bert Grace led the first aircraft to Labuan on 25 June with the remainder arriving on 3 July.
For the rest of the war, the squadron flew sorties in support of the army, bombing targets across Borneo. Between 8 and 10 August the squadron attacked Kuching, a 900-mile round trip. The first strike was led by Squadron Leader R.F. Schaff. Two enemy aircraft were destroyed as they attempted to take off from the airstrip, and a transport and two others were damaged. Barges were then attacked near Kuching town and on the Sarawak River.
With the cessation of hostilities, speculation mounted that the squadron would be one of those earmarked to deploy to Japan as an element of the occupation force. On 12 September the squadron commenced being re-equipping with Mustangs. In January 1946 it was notified that 81 (Fighter) Wing, of which 82 Squadron was an element, would be deployed to Japan.
Squadron personnel and equipment departed by ship and arrived in Japan on 22 February 1946 and the squadron aircraft arrived during March 1946. 82 Squadron was disbanded at Iwakuni, Japan, on 29 October 1948.
|References||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)|
|Related conflicts||Second World War, 1939-1945|
|Related events||Bombing of Darwin|
|Decorations||5 DFC; 1 DSO; 4 MID|