No. 459 Squadron
459 Squadron was formed at Burg-el-Arab on 10 February 1942 as a maritime patrol squadron in accordance with Article XV of the Empire Air Training Scheme It joined 201 Group of the Royal Air Force's Middle East Command and commenced operations off the Egyptian coast on 14 February. Initially, the squadron was equipped with two Lockheed Hudson aircraft and four Bristol Blenheims borrowed from 203 Squadron RAF but by May was fully equipped with Hudsons. The Mediterranean Sea was the focus of the squadron's operations throughout 1942 and it operated from several airfields in Egypt and Libya. Until the Allied victory at El Alamein in October, the squadron's main role was to interdict German watercraft running supplies between Tobruk and Mersa Matruh - the closest landing point to their defensive position. Once the German land forces began to retreat following their defeat at El Alamein, 459 Squadron roamed wider escorting Allied shipping, and seeking out and attacking enemy shipping across the eastern Mediterranean as far north as the Greek islands. During 1942, detachments from 459 Squadron also conducted anti-submarine patrols over the Red Sea from Khormaksar in Aden (current day Yemen), and around Cyprus from St Jean in Palestine.
In December 1942 459 Squadron moved to Gambut III airfield in Libya, between Bardia and Tobruk, which was to be its home for the next sixteen months. Maintaining the efficient reputation it had already established, the squadron continued its convoy escort and anti-submarine work over the Mediterranean throughout 1943. In September of that year it was also employed to conduct attacks against land targets in Greece and Crete.
The new year brought new aircraft - Lockheed Venturas - and the squadron continued to combine its maritime patrol duties with night bombing attacks on Rhodes and other land targets in the Aegean. The Venturas did not prove a success, however, and were replaced by Martin Baltimores in July 1944. In April 1944 the squadron relocated to Palestine and, operating from a succession of airfields (Ramat David, April - May 1944; St Jean, May - August 1944; Berka, August 1944 - February 1945) continued anti-shipping patrols and bombing attacks around the Greek islands.
In February 1945, 459 Squadron proceeded to Egypt and sailed for the United Kingdom, for retraining on Wellingtons prior to joining Coastal Command. The return of time-expired aircrew to Australia, combined with the transfer of other experienced crews to other squadrons, however, prevented a quick conversion to the new aircraft. Thus, 459 Squadron was disbanded at Chivenor in Devon on 10 April 1945.
|Conflict||Second World War, 1939-1945|