No. 24 Squadron RAAF

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No. 24 Squadron RAAF
24 SQN RAAF Badge.png
Official crest of No. 24 Squadron
Active 1940–46
1951–current
Branch Royal Australian Air Force
Role Military airbase combat support
Part of Combat Support Group RAAF
Garrison/HQ RAAF Base Edinburgh
Motto "Sic Aggredere ut Defendas"[1]
Battle honours[2] Pacific 1941–1945
Darwin 1941–1944
Rabaul 1942
New Guinea 1942–1944
New Britain 1943
Markham Valley 1943–1944
Morotai
Borneo 1945
Commanders
Notable
commanders
John Lerew (1941–42)

No. 24 Squadron is a Royal Australian Air Force squadron. The squadron was formed in 1940 and saw action as a bomber squadron during World War II serving in the Pacific theatre against the Japanese, and undertaking operations during the Battle of Rabaul, and the New Guinea, New Britain and Borneo campaigns. The squadron was disbanded in 1946 following the conclusion of hostilities, but was re-formed in 1951. From then until 2010 the squadron was an RAAF Reserve squadron located near Adelaide, South Australia; for part of this time, until 1960, the squadron continued to perform flying duties, before converting to a ground support role. In 2010, the squadron combined with Combat Support Unit Edinburgh to become a Permanent Air Force unit and it currently forms part of No. 396 Expeditionary Combat Support Wing.

History[edit]

World War II[edit]

No. 24 Squadron was formed as a general purpose squadron at RAAF Base Amberley on 17 June 1940. With an initial strength of four CAC Wirraway aircraft, it was subsequently re-equipped with Lockheed Hudsons in the second half of 1940. Tasked with patrolling Australia's northern approaches in search of German raiders and submarines, while it also undertook a range of training activities over the following months.[3] The squadron moved to Townsville in October where it undertook coastal patrol and training flights operating a mix of Wirraway and Hudsons,[2][4] as well as de Havilland Moth Minor trainers.[5]

In early December 1941, No. 24 Squadron moved to Rabaul under the command of Wing Commander John Lerew. Following the outbreak of war in the Pacific, Rabaul came under Japanese attack on a number of occasions, but flying operations continued until 20 February 1942 when over 100 Japanese aircraft attacked Rabaul, destroying five of No. 24 Squadron's eight obsolete Wirraways (all of which had taken off to intercept the raiding force). With the squadron reduced to just three aircraft orders to attack the approaching Japanese invasion force were cancelled and the squadron was withdrawn to Townsville.[2] The heavily outnumbered Australian Army garrison at Rabaul was later overwhelmed in the Battle of Rabaul.[6]

No. 24 Squadron moved to Bankstown, New South Wales, in July 1942 where it performed training, anti-submarine and air defence patrols using a diverse assortment of aircraft. The squadron continued in this role until May 1943 when it began converting to a dive bomber squadron equipped with Vultee Vengeance aircraft. After completing its training on the Vengeance No. 24 Squadron deployed to New Guinea in August 1943 operating from Nadzab where it provided support to Australian Army and United States Marine Corps units in New Guinea and New Britain, supporting operations on the Huon Peninsula, around Shaggy Ridge and Cape Gloucester.[4][7] The squadron continued in this role until March 1944,[2] when the Vengence was withdrawn from operational service.[8]

A No. 24 Squadron B-24J during a combat mission (AWM 128030)

In March 1944, No. 24 Squadron was withdrawn to Australia to begin preparations to convert to the heavy bomber role equipped with Consolidated B-24 Liberator aircraft. The squadron was assigned to No. 82 Wing RAAF and flew its first combat sorties with these new aircraft in September 1944. Operating from bases in the Northern Territory the squadron continued to fly bombing and anti-shipping strikes against Japanese forces in the Netherlands East Indies. A detachment deployed to Palawan, in the Philippines,[7] and later in the war, the squadron deployed to Morotai Island and then Balikpapan to support Operation Oboe. Following the Japanese surrender No. 24 Squadron was used to ferry liberated Australian prisoners of war home before being disbanded at RAAF Station Tocumwal on 15 May 1946.[2][7]

Post-war[edit]

No. 24 Squadron was re-formed at Mallala, South Australia as a Citizens Air Force (reserve) fighter squadron on 30 April 1951.[9] The squadron was allocated a fighter role, and was equipped with P-51 Mustang fighters and Wirraway training aircraft, being the only CAF squadron to operate Mustangs for the entire post-war period with all others operating jet aircraft. The squadron later received a number of Tiger Moths and Winjeels and undertook a range of training and exercises, often on weekends, as well as training cadet pilots.[9] During this period the squadron lost two pilots killed in separate incidents in 1957.[10] On 1 March 1960 the squadron became an RAAF (Auxiliary) unit, with the squadron moving to a temporary base in North Adelaide. Meanwhile, in May two Vampire jet aircraft became available to the unit.[11]

However, in June 1960 the squadron ceased operations as a flying squadron, following a reorganisation of the CAF.[9][12] Since this date No. 24 Squadron has been a non-flying RAAF Reserve squadron based at RAAF Base Edinburgh near Adelaide. The squadron was affiliated with No. 1 Squadron based at Amberley, Queensland and trained on maintaining the Canberra bomber. Following the transfer of No. 11 Squadron to Edinburgh in 1968, the unit was affiliated with that unit, retraining on servicing the Lockheed P-3 Orion. In 1977 the Squadron change affliation again, this time to No. 92 Wing and its personnel continued to work on the Orions.[12] On 28 May 1979, the squadron received the Freedom of Entry to the City of Adelaide. The Freedom Scroll was presented at a ceremonial parade by the Lord Mayor, The Right Honourable Mr George Joseph.[7] In 1981 No. 24 Squadron affliated with RAAF Base Edinburgh, supporting the flying and base units posted there.[12] In 2010, the squadron combined with Combat Support Unit Edinburgh to once again become a Permanent Air Force unit; it forms part of No. 396 Expeditionary Combat Support Wing.[7]

Aircraft operated[edit]

No. 24 Squadron operated the following aircraft at various times:[2][7][4][13][5][14]

References[edit]

Citations
  1. ^ "No. 24 Squadron". About Us: Structure of the Air Force. Royal Australian Air Force. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "No. 24 Squadron RAAF". Second World War, 1939–1945 units. Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  3. ^ RAAF Historical Section 1995, pp. 75–76.
  4. ^ a b c "No. 24 Squadron". RAAF Museum. Royal Australian Air Force. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Lemmon, Kate (17 June 2010). "Air base still flying high". Queensland Times. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  6. ^ Coulthard-Clark 1998, pp. 199–200.
  7. ^ a b c d e f "No. 24 Squadron: History". About Us: Structure of the Air Force. Royal Australian Air Force. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  8. ^ Dennis et al 1995, p. 611.
  9. ^ a b c Eather 1995, p. 62.
  10. ^ RAAF Historical Section 1995, p. 79.
  11. ^ RAAF Historical Section 1995, pp. 79–80.
  12. ^ a b c Barnes 2000, p. 105.
  13. ^ Cowan, Brendan. "RAAF A22 Fairey Battle". ADF Serials. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  14. ^ Crick, Darren and Mackenzie, Steve. "RAAF A45 Ford Trimotor". ADF Serials. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
Bibliography
  • Barnes, Norman (2000). The RAAF and the Flying Squadrons. St Leonards, New South Wales: Allen and Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-130-2. 
  • Coulthard-Clark, Chris (1998). The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles (1st ed.). Sydney, New South Wales: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86448-611-2. 
  • Dennis, Peter; et al. (1995). The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History (1st ed.). Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press Australia & New Zealand. ISBN 0-19-553227-9. 
  • Eather, Steve (1995). Flying Squadrons of the Australian Defence Force. Weston Creek, Australian Capital Territory: Aerospace Publications. ISBN 1-875671-15-3. 
  • RAAF Historical Section (1995). Units of the Royal Australian Air Force. A Concise History – Volume 3: Bomber Units. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service. ISBN 0-644-42795-7.