No. 458 Squadron RAAF

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No. 458 Squadron RAAF
Active 8 July 1941 – 9 June 1945
Country Australia Australia
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Ensign of the Royal Australian Air Force.svg Royal Australian Air Force
Role Bomber
Maritime patrol
Part of No. 1 Group RAF, Bomber Command[1]
RAF Middle East Command[2]
Motto We find and destroy
Battle honours


  • Fortress Europe, 1940–1944
  • France and Germany, 1944–1945
  • South-East Europe, 1942–1945
  • Mediterranean, 1940–1943
  • Sicily, 1943
  • Italy, 1943–1945
Insignia
Squadron Codes FU (Sep 1941 – Mar 1942)[1][3]
MD (Oct 1942 – Apr 1943)[4][5]
Aircraft flown
Bomber Vickers Wellington

No. 458 Squadron RAAF was a Royal Australian Air Force squadron during World War II. It was formed in Australia, under the Empire Air Training Scheme. The Squadron flew various versions of Vickers Wellington bombers, first in Europe and later in the Middle East.

History[edit]

Over Europe[edit]

No. 458 was formed at Williamtown, New South Wales on 8 July 1941.[1] The squadron departed for England in August to join other personnel assembled at RAF Holme-on-Spalding Moor, where the squadron was officially established as No. 458 (Bomber) Squadron on 25 August 1941.[1] Equipped with Wellington Mk.IV bombers, No 458 Squadron soon participated in its first operational sortie on 20/21 October, when ten of its aircraft joined in night attacks made by 1 (Bomber) Group RAF against the ports of Emden, Antwerp and Rotterdam.[6] In addition to bombing missions over France and Germany the Wellingtons were involved in mine-laying operations along enemy occupied coasts. At the end of January 1942 the squadron was withdrawn from Bomber Command to perform services in the Middle East.

To the Middle East[edit]

The relocation to Middle East Command proved to be a chaotic affair. Air and ground crews were separated as the latter went by boat and the squadron's aircraft were commandeered for operations by other squadrons from Malta, where they had stopped on their way to Egypt. When they finally arrived in the Middle East, the squadron's ground crew found themselves working on the maintenance of bombers operated by the Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Forces, while the air crew were already being attached to 37, 70, 104, 108, and 148 Squadrons RAF.

In the Mediterranean[edit]

Finally, on 1 September 1942, 458 Squadron was re-united at El Shallufa and began a new life of maritime patrols, convoy escorts and mine laying operations. In this role, its aircraft operated from airfields in Egypt, Malta, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Sardinia, and Corsica. The squadron also still undertook conventional bombing tasks, such as in support of the Allied invasion of southern France in August 1944. No 458 Squadron moved altogether to the European continent in September 1944, when it moved its headquarters to Foggia Airfield, Italy, while detachments were deployed to Falconara Airfield, Italy; Rosignano Airfield, Italy and La Vallon Airfield, France.

Gibraltar[edit]

26 January 1945 the squadron was to move one final time, to RAF North Front, Gibraltar. With the allied liberation of France, and the continuing progress of the Allied campaign in Italy, enemy submarines and surface vessels in the Mediterranean presented little threat any more. The squadron new task was now to roam out from Gibraltar across the western Atlantic, escorting Allied convoys and searching for German submarines. The squadron was still carrying out these tasks when the war in Europe ended. 458 Squadron disbanded shortly thereafter on 9 June 1945 at Gibraltar.

Aircraft operated[edit]

Aircraft operated by no. 458 Squadron RAAF, data from[1][7][8][9]
From To Aircraft Version
August 1941 January 1942 Vickers Wellington Mk.IV
February 1942 April 1942 Vickers Wellington Mk.Ic
October 1942 November 1942 Vickers Wellington Mk.Ic
October 1942 September 1943 Vickers Wellington Mk.VIII
June 1943 May 1944 Vickers Wellington Mk.XIII
February 1944 June 1945 Vickers Wellington Mk.XIV

Squadron bases[edit]

Bases and airfields used by no. 458 Squadron RAAF, data from[1][7][8][9]
From To Base Remark
8 July 1941 7 August 1941 Williamtown, New South Wales, Australia
7 August 1941 25 August 1941 en route to the UK
25 August 1941 February 1942 RAF Holme-on-Spalding Moor, Yorkshire
February 1942 March 1942 en route to the Middle East Dispersed upon arrival
1 September 1942 30 March 1943 Shallufa, Egypt re-establishment
30 March 1943 18 June 1943 LG.91, Egypt Dets. at RAF Luqa, Malta and Blida, Algeria
18 June 1943 9 October 1943 Protville I, Tunisia
9 October 1943 25 March 1944 Bone Airfield, Algeria Dets. at Blida, Algeria; RAF Luqa, Malta;
Grottaglie Airfield, Italy; Ghisonaccia Airfield, Corsica;
Borizzo Airfield, Sicily and Réghaïa, Algeria
25 March 1944 3 September 1944 Alghero Airfield, Sardinia
3 September 1944 29 January 1945 Foggia Airfield, Italy Dets. at Falconara Airfield, Italy; Rosignano Airfield, Italy
and La Vallon Airfield, France
29 January 1945 9 June 1945 RAF North Front, Gibraltar

Commanding officers[edit]

Officers commanding no. 458 Squadron RAAF, data from[7][10]
From To Name
1 September 1941 15 February 1942 (MIA) Wing Commander N.G. Mulholland, DFC
15 February 1942 1 June 1943 Squadron Leader L.L. Johnston
1 June 1943 27 September 1943 Lieutenant Colonel B.R. McKenzie (SAAF)
27 September 1943 1 July 1944 Wing Commander J. Dowling
1 July 1944 9 June 1945 Wing Commander R.C. MacKay, DFC

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Alexander, Peter. CMG, OBE, OAM and Peter Pettit. We Find and Destroy: A History of 458 RAAF Squadron. The 458 Sqn Council, 1959. Republished: Loftus, New South Wales, Australia: Australian Military History Publications, 1979 (Third edition 2002. ISBN 1-876439-08-4).
  • Bowyer, Michael J.F. and John D.R. Rawlings. Squadron Codes, 1937–56. Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-85059-364-6.
  • Delve, Ken. The Source Book of the RAF. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1994. ISBN 1-85310-451-5.
  • 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: Airlife Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Moyes, Philip J.R. Bomber Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1964 (new edition 1976). ISBN 0-354-01027-1.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Coastal, Support and Special Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Jane's Publishing Company Ltd., 1982. ISBN 0-7106-0187-5.

External links[edit]