No. 453 Squadron RAAF
|No. 453 Squadron RAAF|
|Active||23 May 1941 – 15 March 1942
18 June 1942 – 21 January 1946
16 February 2011–current
|Branch||Royal Australian Air Force|
|Role||Fighter squadron (1941–1946)
Air traffic control (2011–current)
|Part of||No. 44 Wing|
|Motto||Ready to strike|
|Battle honours||Malaya, 1941–1942; English Channel and North Sea, 1939–1945; Fortress Europe, 1940–1944; France and Germany, 1944–1945; Normandy, 1944; Rhine|
|Squadron badge heraldry||Perched on a branch a kookaburra|
|Squadron codes||TD (May 1941 – March 1942)
FN (June 1942 – August 1942)
FU (June 1942 – January 1946)
It was first formed, as an Article XV squadron for service with British Royal Air Force (RAF) formations overseas, at Bankstown, New South Wales on 23 May 1941. 453 Squadron saw combat first in the Malayan and Singapore campaigns of 1941–42. Severe aircraft losses effectively destroyed the squadron and it was disbanded in March 1942.
A successor unit by the same name was raised in Britain from mid-1942, to take part in fighting against Nazi Germany in Europe until 1945. The squadron was disestablished in 1946.
The squadron was reformed in its current role during 2011.
World War II
Malaya and Singapore
The squadron was deployed to Singapore in August 1941, as fears of war with Japan increased. 453 Sqn, along with No. 21 Squadron RAAF, No. 243 Squadron RAF and No. 488 Squadron RNZAF, converted to Brewster Buffalo fighters which proved to be poorly-built, unreliable and unpopular with the pilots. The squadron was deployed to airfields at Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur.
When the Japanese invasion of Malaya occurred on 8 December (7 December in the Western Hemisphere, coinciding with the attack on Pearl Harbor), the commanding officer of 453 Squadron, Squadron Leader W. J. Harper was visiting Australia. A British officer, Flight Lieutenant Tim Vigors of No. 243 Squadron RAF was attached to 453 Sqn as acting CO.
The squadron was ordered to provide air cover for the two British battleships making up Admiral Tom Phillips' Force Z: Repulse and Prince of Wales. However, Phillips' actions, including a resistance to liaise with the Allied air forces, led to the battleships being vulnerable when a Japanese air attack occurred on 10 December. The acting commanding officer of 453 Sqn was not notified of the location of Force Z until an hour after the Japanese attack began. Repulse and Prince of Wales were both sunk. (See quotation box to the left, for an eyewitness account of the action.)
The squadron strove to support Allied ground troops in Malaya by providing air cover and attacking Japanese troops and transport, but the outnumbered Allied squadrons suffered high losses in the air and on the ground.
On 24 December, with only three working aircraft remaining, 453 Sqn withdrew to Singapore and merged with 21 Squadron. The Buffalo pilots fought on until 5 February, when just six Buffaloes remained operational. In spite of many technical and problems the Buffalo squadrons claimed a 2:1 kill ratio against Japanese aircraft in 1941–42.
The squadron was reformed from Australian personnel in the UK at RAF Drem, near Edinburgh, in Scotland on 18 June 1942. The squadron was equipped with Supermarine Spitfire aircraft, and joined the RAF Fighter Command. The squadron provided defensive air patrols over Britain and surrounding waters, escorted bombers over enemy-controlled Europe, and conducted offensive strikes in its own right attacking targets on both land and sea.
From November 1944 to March 1945, 453 Squadron was heavily engaged in striking at assembly and launch sites used by the Germans in their V-2 rocket attacks against Britain.
On 2 May 1945, the squadron escorted the aircraft that returned Queen Wilhelmina to The Netherlands after three years in exile. This was 453 Squadron's last mission of the war.
After the war it was planned that the squadron would form a long-term Australian presence among the occupation forces but sufficient volunteers could not be found to make this a viable proposition. Thus, on 21 January 1946 the squadron disbanded.
During the war the squadron suffered 29 fatalities, all but one of them Australian.
The squadron maintains subordinate flights at RAAF Base Williamtown, RAAF Base Richmond, RAAF Base East Sale, RAAF Base Edinburgh, RAAF Base Pearce and the Royal Australian Navy air base HMAS Albatross, providing air traffic control for these bases.
|August 1941||February 1942||Brewster Buffalo||Mk.I|
|June 1942||April 1943||Supermarine Spitfire||Mk.Vb|
|March 1943||June 1943||Supermarine Spitfire||Mk.IXb|
|June 1943||October 1943||Supermarine Spitfire||Mk.Vc|
|June 1943||January 1944||Supermarine Spitfire||Mk.Vb|
|January 1944||July 1944||Supermarine Spitfire||Mk.IXb|
|July 1944||September 1944||Supermarine Spitfire||Mk.IXe|
|September 1944||November 1944||Supermarine Spitfire||Mk.IXb|
|November 1944||June 1945||Supermarine Spitfire||LF.XVI|
|August 1945||January 1946||Supermarine Spitfire||LF.XIV|
|23 May 1941||17 August 1941||Flight Lieutenant William Keith Wells|
|17 August 1941||6 September 1941||Squadron Leader William Faulkiner Allshorn|
|6 September 1941||2 December 1941||Squadron Leader William John Harper|
|2 December 1941||15 December 1942||Squadron Leader Timothy Ashmead Vigors|
|15 December 1941||15 March 1942||Squadron Leader William John Harper|
|12 June 1942||4 August 1942||Squadron Leader Francis Victor Morello|
|4 August 1942||13 January 1943||Flight Lieutenant John Richard Ratten|
|13 January 1943||14 March 1943||Wing Commander James Hogarth Slater, AFC (KIA)|
|14 March 1943||11 May 1943||Squadron Leader John Richard Ratten|
|11 May 1943||28 September 1943||Squadron Leader Kelvin Milne Barclay|
|28 September 1943||2 May 1944||Squadron Leader Donald George Andrews, DFC|
|2 May 1944||28 September 1944||Squadron Leader Donald Hamilton Smith|
|28 September 1944||27 August 1945||Squadron Leader Ernest Arthur Roy Esau, DFC|
|27 August 1945||6 January 1946||Squadron Leader Douglas Mackenzie Davidson, DFC|
|7 January 1946||21 January 1946||Flight Lieutenant Toderick Edmund Hilton, DFC|
- Rawlings 1978, p. 445.
- Halley 1988, p. 475.
- Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 96.
- Flintham and Thomas 2003, p. 107.
- Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 42.
- Flintham and Thomas 2003, p. 72.
- Flintham and Thomas 2003, p. 73.
- Shores and Cull 1992, pp. 117 & 125.
- Ford, Dan. "RAAF 453 Squadron". http://www.warbirdforum.com. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
- "Senator Feeney Celebrates the Reformation of Number 452 and 453 Squadrons at RAAF Base Williamtown". Media release. Senator The Hon. David Feeney MP Parliamentary Secretary for Defence. 16 February 2011. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
- Rawlings 1978, p. 446.
- Halley 1988, p. 476.
- Jefford 2001, p. 94.
- Bennett, John. Defeat to victory: No. 453 Squadron RAAF. Point Cook, Victoria, Australia: Royal Australian Air Force Museum, 1994. ISBN 0-642-19785-7.
- Bowyer, Michael J.F. and John D.R. Rawlings. Squadron Codes, 1937–56. Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-85059-364-6.
- Flintham, Vic and Andrew Thomas. Combat Codes: A full explanation and listing of British, Commonwealth and Allied air force unit codes since 1938. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing Ltd., 2003. ISBN 1-84037-281-8.
- Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth 1918–1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
- Jefford, Wing Commander C.G., MBE, BA, RAF(Retd.). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1988 (second edition 2001). ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
- Listemann, Phil H. No. 453 (R.A.A.F.) Squadron, 1941–1945: Buffalo, Spitfire. Philedition, 2009. ISBN 978-2-9532544-1-9.
- Rawlings, John D.R. Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald & Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1969 (2nd edition 1976, reprinted 1978). ISBN 0-354-01028-X.
- Shores, Christopher and Brian Cull with Yasuho Izawa. Bloody Shambles, Volume One. London: Grub Street Publishers, 1992. ISBN 0-948817-50-X.
- Vigors, Tim. 2006. Life's Too Short to Cry: The Inspirational Memoir of an Ace Battle of Britain Fighter Pilot. London: Grub Street Publishers. ISBN 1-904943-61-6.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to No. 453 Squadron RAAF.|
- Sqn Ldr R.H.S. Ewins 453 Sqn Spitfire pilot
- Australian War Memorial: 453 Squadron
- RAAF Museum Point Cook: 453 Squadron
- 453 Squadron – A Brief History