77 Squadron RAAF

77 Squadron was initially formed during the Second World War, operating throughout the Pacific. After the war the squadron was sent to Japan as part of the occupation force. In 1950, while the squadron was preparing to return to Australia, North Korean forces invaded South Korea. 77 Squadron was quickly committed to support the United Nations forces in Korea and for the next three years it served with distinction. 77 Squadron remained in Korea until 1954 and upon returning to Australia it was based at Williamtown, New South Wales. In November 1956 the squadron was re-equipped with new, Australian-built Sabre fighters, replacing the outdated British Meteors, which the squadron had flown since 1951.

In 1958 Australia’s air commitment to the Malayan Emergency increased and 2 Squadron, a bomber squadron, was sent to Malaya, followed later by 3 Squadron, and then 77 Squadrons in February 1959. Both 3 and 77 Squadrons were fighter squadrons and flew Sabres.

By 1959 the air war during the Emergency had virtually ceased and 77 Squadron only occasionally participated in air operations, flying ground attack missions against jungle covered targets. Stationed at the RAAF Base Butterworth, in Province Wellesley, north Malaya, 77 Squadron carried out its first operation on 13 August, a joint bombing raid with 3 Squadron against three communist terrorist camps. The strike was perfectly coordinated but of little value, as the only visual results were, as one pilot described it, “several rubber trees severely damaged and thousands of monkeys scared fartless”. 3 and 77 Squadrons took part in two more strikes in June 1960. On 22 July two Sabres collided in a mid-air accident. Both pilots, Flight Lieutenant Worth and Flying Officer Bartrop, were able to eject successfully. Bartrop was rescued almost immediately and Worth was rescued three days later.

Although the Emergency ended in 1960, the tensions in south-east Asia kept the squadron in Malaysia until 1969. In September 1964, during the Indonesian Confrontation, Indonesian aircraft dropped paratroopers into Jahore, which increased tensions; following riots in Singapore, a state of emergency was declared. On 3 September, 77 Squadron placed four aircraft on five-minute alert and its remaining aircraft on one-hour alert. All aircraft were armed with Sidewinder missiles and guns, and were fitted with drop tanks. On 7 September, 3 Squadron moved six aircraft to Royal Air Force Base Changi, on Singapore, and the rest of the squadron came under 77 Squadron’s command, before also going on to Singapore. An extra 15 aircraft and 52 ground crew were ferried in from Australia to help maintain the seven-day-a-week alert. By the end of the month, tensions were easing, with only two aircraft on standby. However, in November fears again escalated, when 90 Indonesians attempted to land at Malacca; both squadrons were placed on high alert. The squadron’s unit history describes 1964 as a year of “heightened unease”. The Confrontation came to an end the following year.

77 Squadron returned to Williamtown, where it is still based, in early 1969.

Glossary

Equipment

Battle Honours

  • nil

Casualties

  • nil killed

For more information please see the Roll of Honour database.

Commanding Officers

Decorations

  • nil

For more information please see Honours and Awards database

Collection Items

Search for related collection items

References

  • Brown, Wayne; Cork, Andrew; Faggo, Colin; Donselaar, Annette, Swift to destroy : an illustrated history of 77 Squadron RAAF 1942-1986, (Newcastle, N.S.W : Norman Morris Pty Ltd, 1986)
  • Dennis, Peter, 1945-, Official History, Vietnam Vol.V: Emergency and confrontation : Australian military operations in Malaya & Borneo 1950-66, (St Leonards, N.S.W. : Allen & Unwin in association with the Australian War Memorial, 1996)
  • 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)