No. 35 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.24 (City of Adelaide) Squadron, RAAF, took part in the defence of Rabaul in 1941-42, where it suffered heavy losses of aircraft. After escaping to Australia the reinforced squadron took part in the fighting on New Guinea. It was then reformed as a heavy bomber squadron in Australia and taking part in the campaigns on New Guinea, in the Dutch East Indies and on Borneo.

No.24 Squadron was formed at Amberley, Queensland, in June 1940, and by the end of 1940 was equipped with a mix of Commonwealth Wirraway fighters and Lockheed Hudsons. It moved to Townville in October 1940 and spent the next year flying maritime patrols off the east coast of Australia.

After the Japanese entered the Second World War in December 1941 the squadron was move to Rabaul. The squadron's first combat action came on 15 December when three of its Hudsons attacks a large merchant ship near Kapingamarangi Island, a tiny atoll around 400 miles to the north of Rabaul.

The Wirraways would soon prove to be a limited fighter. On 4 January twenty two Mitsubishi G3M Nells attacked. Two Wirraways took off, but were unable to catch the Japanese. On 6 January Flt Lt B. Anderson managed to fire at a Kawanishi H6K Mavis flying boat, making him the first Australian pilot to enter air combat in the south-west Pacific. On 7 January twenty Nells attacked. This time two Wirraways were destroyed on the ground. Three managed to get airborne, but couldn't climb fast enough to intercept the Japanese.

On 10 January a Japanese force was detected and No.24 Squadron's Hudsons were ordered to attack. The attacks on 10 January and 11 January were quite successful, but on 12 January the tables were turned when five Hudsons were intercepted by Zeros. Four of the Hudsons were shot down.

On 20 January over 100 Japanese aircraft bombed Rabaul. No.24 Squadron managed to get its Wirraways into the air, but they were overwhelmed. Three were shot down, two crash landed and one more damaged. At the end of the day the squadron only had two Wirraways and one Hudson. The remaining aircraft, with the sick and wounded, flew out, while the remaining personnel retreated into the jungle and were eventually rescued by Empire flying boats.

By the end of the time on Rabaul ten Wirraways and three Hudsons had been destroyed by the Japanese and another Hudson lost on a night flight.

After the squadron returned from Rabaul it was based at Townsville, before moving to Banksville. A number of different types of aircraft were operated in this period, starting with the Wirraway and the P-39 Airacobra. The first Vultee Vengeance dive bombers arrived in May, while in June the squadron operated the Vengeance and the Brewster Buffalo. By the end of July 1943 the squadron had standardised on the Vengeance.

On 30 August 1943 eighteen Vultees flew to New Guinea for detached service. They were used to carry out dive bomber attacks on targets in New Guinea and Japanese positions on Shaggy Ridge. The squadron was based at a number of different airfields around New Guinea, New Ireland and New Britain, but the detachment doesn't appear to have kept very good records.

In March 1944 the detachment on New Guinea was withdrawn back to Australia. At first it was intended to disband No.24 Squadron and form a new No.99 Squadron to operate the Liberator, but instead it was decided to reform No.24 with the new bomber.

Once the Liberators were ready for action the squadron moved to the Northern Territories, from where they were used on maritime patrols, anti-shipping strikes, bomber missions and armed reconnaissance missions. The first operation, a supply drop mission over Western New Guinea, was flown in July 1944.

On 1 September 1944 the squadron moved to Fenton, Northern Territories, where it became part of No.82 (Heavy Bomber) Wing. It was now involved in attacks on the Japanese in the Dutch East Indies.

By May 1945 most of the squadron's men were with a detachment at Morotai and very few missions were still being carried out from Fenton. In June 1945 the rest of the squadron made the move to Morotai, operating from a base at Morotai and a satellite field called 51 Mile.

At the end of July the squadron prepared for a move to Balikpapan. The squadron personnel were split, with some remaining at Morotai while the rest travelled to Borneo on the USS Luis Arhuello. The ship arrived off Balikpapan on 17 July, but the squadron wasn't properly established onshore until 25 July. The squadron's official records suggest that no operations were flown from Balikpapan before the end of hostilities, but that the part of the squadron left behind at Morotai remained active throughout August. After the end of the fighting the squadron was used to fly POWs back from Morotai to Australia. The squadron was disbanded on 15 May 1946.

Aircraft
-December 1941-: Lockheed Hudson and Commonwealth Wirraway
-July 1942-May 1943: Commonwealth Wirraway and P-39 Airacobra
May 1943-June 1943: Vultee Vengeance, Commonwealth Wirraway and P-39 Airacobra
June 1943-July: Vultee Vengeance and Brewster Buffalo
July 1943-Spring 1944: Vultee Vengeance

3 June 1944-: B-24 Liberator

Location
June-October 1940: Amberley, Queensland
October 1940-21 December 1941 Townsville
21 December 1941-January 1942: Rabaul, New Britain
February 1942-26/27 July 1942: Townsville.
26/27 July 1942-10 September 43-: Bankstown, New South Wales
  Summer 1943-: detachment to Nadzab, New Guinea
10 September 1943: Menangle, nr Syndey, New South Wales

March 1944-: Lowood, Queensland
17 June 1944-1 September 1944: Manbulloo, Northern Territory
2 September 1944-: Fenton, Northern Territory
  May 1945-June: Detachment to Morotai
  Detachment to Palawan, Phillipinnes
June-July 1945: Morotai
25 July 1945-December 1945: Balikpapan
December 1945-15 May 1946: Tocumwal, New South Wales

Squadron Codes: Wirraway GR

Duty
1941-42: Defence of Rabaul
1943: Dive Bomber, New Guinea
1944-45: Heavy Bomber, Dutch East Indies, Borneo

Books

 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (23 August 2012), No. 24 Squadron (RAAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAAF/24_wwII.html

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