No. 466 Squadron RAAF

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No. 466 Squadron RAAF
466 Sqn Halifax crew.jpg
A No. 466 Squadron Halifax B.III with its crew after their return from a raid on Germany in January 1944
Active 15 October 1942 – 26 October 1945
Country Australia Australia
Branch Ensign of the Royal Australian Air Force.svg Royal Australian Air Force
Type Inactive
Role Bomber squadron
Part of No. 4 Group RAF, Bomber Command (Oct 42 – May 45)[1]
No. 4 Group RAF, Transport Command (May 45 – Oct 45)
Motto "Brave and true"[2]
Battle honours Fortress Europe, 1940–1944
France and Germany, 1944–1945
Ruhr, 1940–1945
Berlin, 1940–1945
German Ports, 1940–1945
Normandy, 1944
Walcheren
Commanders
Commanding Officers Reginald Edward Bailey; Dudley Thomas Forsyth; Hamilton Wesley Connolly; Alan Wharton; Albert Hollings
Insignia
Squadron codes HD (Oct 1942 – Oct 1945)[3][4]
Tail markings Three horizontal yellow stripes
Aircraft flown
Bomber Vickers Wellington
Handley Page Halifax
Transport Handley Page Halifax
Consolidated Liberator

No. 466 Squadron RAAF was a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) bomber squadron during World War II. Formed in the United Kingdom in late 1942, the squadron undertook combat operations in Europe until the end of the war, flying heavy bomber aircraft. Following the conclusion of hostilities with Germany, the squadron began retraining to undertake operations in the Pacific against the Japanese, but the war came to an end before it left the UK. In late 1945, the squadron was disbanded.

History[edit]

The squadron was formed at RAF Driffield in Yorkshire, England on 10 October 1942, under Article XV of the Empire Air Training Scheme. The majority of its original personnel were from British Commonwealth air forces other than the RAAF. Their replacement by Australians was a gradual process and it was only towards the end of the war that the squadron's personnel were predominantly members of the RAAF.[2]

The first all-Australian Bomber Command crew to complete a tour of duty in the war, a 466 Squadron Wellington crew at RAF Leconfield, 1943

After the squadron had been equipped with Vickers Wellington medium bombers, it transferred to RAF Leconfield, also in Yorkshire, on 27 December 1942 and flew its first mission on 13 January 1943. Its main roles were strategic bombing over Germany and laying naval mines in the North Sea.[2] The squadron had its first direct encounter with the Luftwaffe on 14 February 1943 when, during a raid on Cologne, a Wellington Mk.X, serial number HE506, identification "HD-N", opened fire on a Junkers Ju 88 night fighter, while it was over either Turnhout Belgium, or the Dutch island of Tholen (sources differ). The crew reported seeing a brilliant flash after the rear gunner, Sergeant Angus, opened fire on it and the Junkers was claimed as probably destroyed.[5][6]

Following a mission on 14 April 1943, four members of the crew of a 466 Sqn Wellington Mk.X, HZ256, "HD-L", commanded by Sergeant Edward Hicks (Auxiliary Air Force) received medals.[7][8] A Distinguished Service Order (DSO) was awarded to Pilot Officer Raymond Hopkins (RAFVR), a Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) went to Flying Officer Reginald Clayton (RAFVR), a Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM) to Sergeant Frederick Blair (RAF) and a Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (CGM) to Hicks. According to the RAAF Museum, the award of so many decorations to a single crew was "highly unusual".[9] The awards were gazetted on 14 May 1943, with a joint citation (see below). Following subsequent operations, Hicks received further decorations and acclaim.[10]

466 Sqn converted to the Handley Page Halifax heavy bomber in late 1943. In June 1944, the squadron returned to Driffield. From May 1944, operations were focussed on German infrastructure in France, such as coastal artillery batteries and railway marshalling yards, in preparation for the invasion of Europe.[9]

Flying Officer Joe Herman (RAAF), the captain of a 466 Sqn Halifax B.Mk.III, narrowly escaped death in a remarkable incident on 4 November 1944.[7][9][11][12] During a night mission over Germany, his aircraft (LV936, "HD-D"), was badly damaged by Flak. After ordering the crew to bail out, Herman was blown out of the plane, without a parachute. After falling a long way, possibly more than 3,000 metres, Herman fell onto the Halifax's mid-upper gunner, F/O John Vivash (RAAF), and grabbed one of his legs. Both men descended on one parachute, suffered minor injuries when landing and survived the war as prisoners of war. From a total crew of seven, only one other airman, Sgt H. W. Knott (RAF), survived. According to one source, at least three crew members were murdered after being captured.[12]

In May 1945, following the end of the war in Europe, the squadron dumped surplus bombs into the sea and began re-training at RAF Bassingbourn, in Cambridgeshire, as a transport unit. Some sources state that the squadron was renumbered as No. 10 Squadron RAAF on 20 June 1945,[13] while others say the squadron operated as a combined unit with No. 10 Sqn.[14] It was re-converting to Consolidated Liberator heavy bombers when Japan surrendered,[2][9] whereupon the squadron was disbanded at RAF Bassingbourn on 26 October 1945.[14][15]

466 Sqn flew 3,326 sorties against 269 different targets, dropping 8,804 tons of bombs and laying 442 tons of mines. A total of 81 aircraft were lost and 184 RAAF personnel serving with the squadron were killed.[2]

Joint Citation, 14 May 1943
London, November 1943. The all-British/RAF crew of 466 Sqn Wellington "HD-L" at Buckingham Palace, about to receive medals resulting from their mission on 14 April: Flying Officer Raymond Hopkins DSO of Newport, Wales (left); Pilot Officer Frederick Blair DFM of Belfast, Pilot Officer Edward Hicks CGM of Newbury Park, Essex and Flying Officer Reginald Clayton DFC of Carshalton, Surrey.
Pilot Officer Hopkins, Flying Officer Clayton and Sergeants Hicks and Blair were air bomber [bomb aimer], navigator, captain and wireless operator respectively of an aircraft detailed to attack a target in the Ruhr. Over Germany the aircraft was attacked by an enemy [night] fighter. The first burst of fire from the attacker fatally injured the rear gunner [Sgt R. F. Field, RAF] and wounded the air bomber, navigator and wireless operator. The fighter made a second attack but Sergeant Hicks avoided its gunfire by turning steeply under the enemy aircraft which was not seen again. Although the hydraulic and brake systems ... were damaged, causing the wheels to drop down and the bomb doors to open, the crew decided to continue their mission. Pilot Officer Hopkins ... although suffering from a compound fracture of the arm and ... retaining consciousness with great difficulty, displayed unsurpassed determination by directing his pilot to the target and bombing it successfully. On the return flight, Pilot Officer Hopkins, Flying Officer Clayton and Sergeant Blair laboured for more than 2 hours to assist the mortally wounded rear gunner, extricating him from his turret and administering morphia; some of their efforts were made whilst flying at 15,000 feet and without oxygen. Sergeant Hicks eventually flew the damaged aircraft to an airfield in this country, where he effected a landing without the aid of flaps.
London Gazette, 11 May 1943.[16]

Aircraft operated[edit]

Aircraft operated by no. 466 Squadron RAAF, data from[13][14][15]
From To Aircraft Version
October 1942 December 1942 Vickers Wellington Mk.III
November 1942 September 1943 Vickers Wellington Mk.X
September 1943 November 1943 Handley Page Halifax Mk.II
November 1943 May 1945 Handley Page Halifax Mk.III
May 1945 October 1945 Handley Page Halifax Mk.VI
October 1945 October 1945 Consolidated Liberator MK. VIII

Squadron bases[edit]

Bases and airfields used by no. 466 Squadron RAAF, data from[13][14][15]
From To Base
15 October 1942 27 December 1942 RAF Driffield, Yorkshire
27 December 1942 3 June 1944 RAF Leconfield, Yorkshire
3 June 1944 8 September 1945 RAF Driffield, Yorkshire
8 September 1945 26 October 1945 RAF Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire

Commanding officers[edit]

Officers commanding no. 466 Squadron RAAF, data from[2][7]
From To Name
10 October 1942 29 September 1943 Wing Commander R.E. Bailey
29 September 1943 23 May 1944 Wing Commander D.T. Forsyth
23 May 1944 20 October 1944 Wing Commander H.W. Connolly
20 October 1944 3 April 1945 Wing Commander A. Wharton
3 April 1945 26 October 1945 Wing Commander A. Hollings

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Delve 1994, pp. 62, 69.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "466 Squadron RAAF". Second World War, 1939–1945 units. Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  3. ^ Bowyer & Rawlings 1979, p. 49.
  4. ^ Flintham & Thomas 2003, p. 78.
  5. ^ Air combat reports—Monthly supplementary narrative of operations, nos. 1/43 – 4/43: enemy aircraft destroyed or damaged in combat with aircraft of Bomber Command Documents Online, pdf image of document from AIR 50/294, The National Archives (fee required to view full original document). Retrieved 2008-07-02
  6. ^ Air combat reports—Sergeant Angus, 466 Squadron Documents Online, pdf image of document from AIR 50/268, The National Archives (fee required to view full original document). Retrieved 2008-07-02
  7. ^ a b c A History of 466 Squadron RAAF
  8. ^ Air combat reports—Sergeant E J Field, 466 Squadron Documents Online, pdf image of document from AIR 50/268, The National Archives (fee required to view full original document). Retrieved 2008-07-02
  9. ^ a b c d RAAF Museum
  10. ^ Hicks was subsequently commissioned as a probationary pilot officer on 18 May 1943 (The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36100. pp. 3280–3281. 16 July 1943. Retrieved 2008-07-02.). He was awarded the DFC on 16 November 1943, while still with 466 Sqn (The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36248. pp. 5024–5025. 12 November 1943. Retrieved 2008-07-02.); promoted to probationary flying officer on 18 November(The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36254. pp. 5078–5080. 16 November 1943. Retrieved 2008-07-02.). He was Mentioned in Despatches on 1 January 1945 (The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36866. pp. 60–69. 29 December 1944. Retrieved 2008-07-02.), and promoted to war substantive flight lieutenant on 22 April 1945(The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37141. p. 3267. 19 June 1945. Retrieved 2008-07-02.).
  11. ^ Nelson 2006, p. 230.
  12. ^ a b Lost Bombers, "Halifax LV936 Information"
  13. ^ a b c Moyes 1976, p. 259.
  14. ^ a b c d Halley 1988, p. 483.
  15. ^ a b c Jefford 2001, p. 95.
  16. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36015. p. 2153. 11 May 1943. Retrieved 2008-07-02.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Bowyer, Michael J.F.; Rawlings, John D.R. (1979). Squadron Codes, 1937–56. Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens. ISBN 0-85059-364-6. 
  • Cosgrove, Troy. A History of 466 Squadron RAAF. (self-published). 
  • Delve, Ken (1994). The Source Book of the RAF. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing. ISBN 1-85310-451-5. 
  • Eather, Steve (1995). Flying Squadrons of the Australian Defence Force. Weston Creek, ACT, Australia: Aerospace Publications. ISBN 1-875671-15-3. 
  • Flintham, Vic; Thomas, Andrew (2003). Combat Codes: A Full Explanation and Listing of British, Commonwealth and Allied Air Force Unit Codes Since 1938. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing. ISBN 1-84037-281-8. 
  • Halley, James J. (1988). The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth, 1918–1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians). p. 484. ISBN 0-85130-164-9. 
  • Jefford, C.G. (2001) [1988]. RAF Squadrons: A Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents Since 1912 (2nd ed.). Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing. ISBN 1-85310-053-6. 
  • Moyes, Philip J.R. (1976). Bomber Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft (2nd ed.). London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers). pp. 259–260. ISBN 0-354-01027-1. 
  • Nelson, Hank (2006). Chased by the Sun: The Australians in Bomber Command in World War II. Sydney, New South Wales, Australia: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-74114-847-2. 
  • RAAF Historical Section (1995). Units of the Royal Australian Air Force. Volume 3: Bomber Units. AGPS Press Publication. 
  • Silverstone, A.; Parker, S. (1992). Brave and True: A History of 466 RAAF Halifax Squadron Whilst Based in Yorkshire England as Part of Four Group, Royal Air Force. Sydney, New South Wales, Australia: 466-462 Squadron Association. 

External links[edit]