No. 452 Squadron
|No. 452 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, was the first Australian squadron to form in Britain during the Second World War in accordance with Article XV of the Empire Air Training Scheme. Its first personnel took up their posts at Kirton in Lindsey on 8 April 1941 and, flying Supermarine Spitfires, the squadron became operational on 22 May. |
Part of 11 Group of Fighter Command, 452 Squadron operated from a series of airfields in south-eastern Britain. The focus of its operations were the skies above occupied France and Belgium, where it escorted bombing raids and conducted sweeps to engage enemy aircraft. The squadron was also employed to conduct defensive patrols over Britain and the English Channel. During its first year of operations 452 Squadron established itself as one of the most successful squadrons in Fighter Command, destroying 62 enemy aircraft and damaging another 17. Its aircraft also severely damaged a German destroyer with a strafing attack mounted during the "dash" through the English Channel made by the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prince Eugen on 11 February 1942.
Under orders to return to Australia, 452 Squadron withdrew from operations in Britain on 23 March 1942. It sailed for home on 21 June, arrived in Melbourne on 13 August, and re-assembled at Richmond on 6 September. The squadron began refresher training at Richmond with a motley collection of aircraft, its Spitfires having being commandeered in transit by the Royal Air Force in the Middle East.
452 Squadron returned to front-line service on 17 January 1943. Re-equipped with Spitfires, it was based at Batchelor in the Northern Territory and joined 1 Fighter Group, defending Darwin. The squadron relocated to Strauss on 1 February and, with the exception of a brief period between 9 and 27 March 1943 when it was deployed to reinforce the air defences of Perth, it remained there, protecting Darwin, until 30 June 1944.
On 1 July 1944, 452 Squadron moved to Sattler in the Northern Territory. The protection of Darwin had been handed over to two Royal Air Force squadrons, allowing 452 Squadron to be employed in a ground attack role for the rest of the war. Initially, the squadron operated against targets in the Dutch East Indies from Sattler but on 11 December 1944 it joined the 1st Tactical Air Force and relocated to Morotai in the Indies to support Australian operations in Borneo. The squadron's ground staff established themselves at the newly captured airfield on Tarakan on 10 May 1945, but the state of the actual landing field meant that it was not fit for the squadron's aircraft to arrive there until 29 June. They began operational sorties the very next day. Following the landing at Balikpapan on 1 July, a detachment of 452 Squadron aircraft moved there on 15 July to support the land campaign. The squadron's last sorties of the war were flown on 10 August 1945. It disbanded on 17 November 1945.
|References||AWM 64, RAAF formation and unit records ^*ORMF 0118, Roll 81 ^*1/214 April 1941 - May 1942 ^*1/215 August 1941 - September 1945; Units of the Royal Australian Air Force: a concise history. Volume 2 fighter units, (Canberra: Australian Governmeny Publishing Service, 1995).|
|Related conflicts||Second World War, 1939-1945|
|Decorations||Australian personnel only: 6 DFC & 1 bar; 1 MC; 1 DFM; 3 MID|