No.100 Squadron, RAAF: Second World War

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No.100 Squadron, RAAF, was the first Australian squadron to be equipped with Australian built Beaufort torpedo bombers, and fought in the defence of Australia and during the Allied campaigns on New Guinea.

The squadron was numbered to honour No.100 Squadron RAF, which had played a part in the defence of Singapore. While the main part of this squadron had struggled with the Vickers Vildebeest, a detachment had been formed at Bankstown, near Sydney, where it was to receive Australian-built Beaufort torpedo bombers. When the Japanese entered the war this detachment was left isolated and it became the nucleus of the new No.100 Squadron, RAAF. This was formed in February 1942 at Richmond, the same month that saw No.100 Squadron RAF forced to merge with No.36 Squadron.

In May 1942 the new squadron moved to Mareeba near Cairns, where it combined further training with anti-submarine patrols around the Queensland coast. Detachments were also sent to Port Moresby to familiarise the crews with the difficulties of working in a tropical environment.

The squadron's first combat operation came on 25 June 1942 when a Japanese ship was discovered heading for Lae, on the north coast of New Guinea. Two aircraft at Port Moresby were sent on a diversionary raid while five more aircraft attacked the Japanese ship with normal bombs. The Japanese ship was hit and damaged, but one of the diversionary aircraft was lost.

The first torpedo attack came on 7 September, by which time the squadron was operating from Milne Bay at the eastern end of New Guinea. The squadron, supported by three Beaufighters of No.30 Squadron, RAAF, attacked a Japanese cruiser and destroyer approaching the bay. The attack failed and the cruiser bombarded Milne Bay, but the threat of torpedo attack kept them away in the future. The next torpedo attack, against targets off the Shortland Islands on 4 October also failed to achieve any hits. A mixed bomb and torpedo attack on 24 November was more successful, with one hit recorded

The first successful sinking came on 6 January 1943 when six aircraft from the squadron made a night attack on a Japanese convoy near Gasmata. Two aircraft were lost in poor weather returning from the attack but two transports were sunk and a light cruiser was damaged. Torpedo bombing was soon phased out - the squadron's last torpedo mission saw eight aircraft take part in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea (March 1943), but with little success.

After this the squadron used its Beauforts as level bombers. The Japanese bases on New Britain, and in particular at Rabaul, became a key role for the squadron. In May 1943 the squadron began to operate a detachment from Goodenough Island, which allowed them to reach Rabaul more easily. The village of Gasmata, on the southern coast of New Britain was also a prime target.

On 22 October all three Australian Beaufort squadrons (Nos.6, 8 and 100) operated together for the first time, in an attack on a Japanese convoy. Some successes were claimed at the time, but can't be connected to any sinkings.

During 1944 the squadron was mainly used to support Australian troops operating on New Britain and New Ireland, and to attack the isolated Japanese garrison of the Wewak area.

In June the squadron moved to Aitape, ready to support Allied landings around 100 miles from Wewak. Nos. 8 and 100 Squadrons used their Beauforts against the Japanese counterattack that followed the landings, and to keep Wewak airfield out of use.

The squadron's efforts were then split, with part going to maintain the pressure at Wewak and part to support a landing on New Britain. On 11 September 1944 the squadron took part in Operation Wewak Welter, dropping 78,000lb of bombs on Wewak airfield.

In October 1944 No.7 squadron joined Nos.8 and 100 Squadrons, RAAF, at Aitape (New Guinea) where they formed a Beaufort Wing.

During 1945 the squadron spent much of its time attacking Japanese targets in the Wewak area.

The most intensive period of Beaufort attacks on Wewak came in the last two weeks of the war, ending with an attack on the Muschu Island area, just to the west of Wewak town, on 15 August.

After the end of the fighting the squadron was used to drop leaflets to Japanese positions informing them of the surrender as well as escorting single-engined aircraft making the trip back to Australia. The squadron was disbanded on 19 August 1946.

Aircraft
February 1942-: Bristol Beaufort (Australian built)
Spring 1943-August 1946: Bristol Beaufort VIII

Location
1942-1943: Torpedo bombing and level bombing, New Guinea
1943-1945: Level bombing, New Guinea and area

Squadron Codes: Beaufort code: QH

Duty
1942-1943: Torpedo bombing and level bombing, New Guinea
1943-1945: Level bombing, New Guinea and area

Books

 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (19 July 2012), No. 100 Squadron (RAAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAAF/100_wwII.html

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