No. 453 Squadron (RAAF): Second World War

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No.453 Squadron, RAAF, went through two incarnations during the Second World War, first as a short-lived fighter squadron swept up in the Japanese invasions of Malaya, Sumatra and Java, and second as a fighter squadron based in Britain.

The squadron was formed in New South Wales in May 1941, and at the end of July set sail for Malaya. The squadron arrived in August and was based at Sembawang, near Singapore. It was equipped with the Brewster Buffalo and was to form part of the air defence of Singapore if the Japanese attacked.

In December 1941 the Japanese did indeed attack, but in northern Malaya instead of directly at Singapore. No.453 Squadron was moved north to Ipoh, towards the north-west of Malaya. The squadron claimed eight Japanese aircraft in early battles, but suffered heavy losses of its own, and after a brief stay at Ipoh pulled back to Kuala Lumpur, nearly half way to Singapore. The stay at Kuala Lumpur would be short-lived - a large Japanese raid destroyed five aircraft and damaged four, leaving the squadron with only three serviceable aircraft.

On 24 December the squadron withdrew to Singapore, where it merge with No.21 Squadron, RAAF, to form 21/453 Squadron. The squadron was used to try and provide some aerial defence for Singapore and to help the Allied troops holding out further north. On 19 January the squadron provided an escort of eight aircraft for five Wirraways and four Dutch Glenn Martin bombers, attacking Japanese troops on the Maur River. The raid was a disaster with all of the Martins and one of the Wirraways lost.

The merged unit was split on 26 January. The survivors of No.453 Squadron were withdrawn to Sumatra, then to Java and finally in late February back to Australia. The squadron was disbanded on 15 March.

A new No.453 Squadron, RAAF, was formed on 18 June 1942 at Drem, east of Edinburgh. The squadron became operational on 10 July and flew shipping protection patrols off the east coast of Scotland. The squadron moved south to England in September 1942 and began a period flying fighter sweeps over occupied Europe and providing bomber escorts.

In October 1943 the squadron moved north to provide air cover for Scapa Flow, before returning south in January 1944, when it became part of 2nd TAF. The squadron flew a mix of bomber-escort missions, fighter-bomber sweeps and defensive patrols designed to keep German reconnaissance aircraft away from the invasion fleets.

In June 1944 the squadron moved into the Normandy beachhead. It spent the next three months directly supporting the Allied armies.

In September 1944 the squadron returned to the UK and took part in the anti-flying V-1 flying bomb and V-2 campaigns, attacking the launch sites.

In November the squadron moved to East Anglia and returned to its bomber-escort and fighter-bomber role. This continued until the end of the war. In September the squadron joined the occupation forces in Germany, and on 16 September 1945 it moved to Gatow, in west Berlin, making it the first Commonwealth squadron to be based in that city. No.453 Squadron, RAAF, was disbanded in Germany on 21 January 1946.

Aircraft
August 1941-February 1942: Brewster Buffalo I
June 1942-March 1943: Supermarine Spitfire VB
March-June 1943: Supermarine Spitfire IXB
June 1943-January 1944: Supermarine Spitfire VB
January 1944-February 1945: Supermarine Spitfire IXE
November 1944-January 1946: Supermarine Spitfire XVI

Location
August-December 1941: Sembawang
December 1941: Ipoh
December 1941-February 1942: Palembang 2
February 1942: Batavia

June-September 1942: Drem
September-November 1942: Hornchurch
    October 1942: Detachment to Southend
November-December 1942: Martlesham Heath
December 1942-March 1943: Southend
March 1943: Westcott
March 1943: Newmarket
March 1943: Southend
March-June 1943: Hornchurch
June-August 1943: Ibsley
August-October 1943: Perranporth
October 1943-January 1944: Skeabrae
    October 1943-January 1944: Detachment to Sumburgh
January-April 1944: Detling
April-June 1944: Ford
June-August 1944: B.11 Longues
August-September 1944: B.19 Lingevres
September 1944: B.40 Beauvais
September 1944: B.52 Vitry-en-Artois
September 1944: B.70 Deurne
September-October 1944: Coltishalll
October 1944-April 1945: Matlask
April-May 1945: Lympne
May-September 1945: Hawkinge
September 1945: Fassberg
September-October 1945: Gatow
October 1945-January 1946: Wunstorf

Squadron Codes: TD (Buffalo), FU (Spitfire)

Duty
1941-January 1942: Fighter Squadron, Malaya
1942-1944: Fighter Squadron, United Kingdom
June-September 1944: Fighter Squadron, Normandy
September 1944-September 1945: Fighter Squadron, UK
September 1945-January 1946: Occupation Forces, Germany

Books

 

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (27 September 2012), No. 453 Squadron (RAAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAAF/453_wwII.html

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