No. 459 Squadron (RAAF): Second World War

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No.459 Squadron (RAAF) was a maritime patrol and anti-shipping squadron that was based in the Mediterranean from 1942 until the end of the war.

The squadron was formed at Burg-el-Arab on 10 February 1942 as part of No.201 Group. It was mainly equipped with the Lockheed Hudson, although in February-March also used a number of Blenheims provided by No.203 Squadron.

The squadron became operational on 14 February 1942, only four days after being formed. At first it was used to fly patrols along the Egyptian coast, but in May the squadron moved to LG.40 to the west of Alexandria and began to operate along the coast of Libya.

In June the squadron moved inland to Bilbeis in the southern Nile Delta, probably in response to Rommel's advance towards El Alamein, which briefly appeared to threaten Alexandria. From July the squadron was used to attack Axis convoys bringing supplies to Rommel's army in Egypt. This continued until the Eighth Army's victory at El Alamein (October-November 1942) saw Rommel forced to pull back out of Egypt and eventually all the way back to Tunisia. Despite the serious threat to Egypt the squadron also sent detachments to Palestine and Aden in September 1942.

In December 1942 the squadron moved west to RAF Gambut in eastern Libya, where it would remain until April 1944. At first it was used largely on anti-submarine duties, but in September 1943 it resumed offensive missions, starting with attacks on shipping and ports around the Aegean.

In December 1943 the squadron began to convert to the Ventura V, with the first operation flown on 13 January 1944 and the conversion completed in March 1944.

In April 1944 the squadron moved to Palestine, where in July it converted to the Martin Baltimore.

In August 1944 the sqadruon took its new aircraft to Berka (near Benghazi), from where it flew a mix of anti-submarine patrols and anti-shipping sweeps.

In February 1945, with the Mediterranean largely clear of enemy shipping, the squadron moved back to Egypt to prepare to return to the UK. In March 1945 the squadron moved to Chivenor in north Devon (without its aircraft), where it was disbanded on 10 April 1945.

Aircraft
February-March 1942: Bristol Blenheim IV
February 1942-March 1944: Lockheed Hudson III, IIIA and VI
December 1943-July 1944: Lockheed Ventura V
July 1944-February 1945: Martin Baltimore IV and V

Location
February-May 1942: Burg el Arab
May-June 1942: LG.40 (west of Alexandria)
June-November 1942: LG.208 (Bilbeis, southern Nile Delta)
    September-November 1942: Detachment to St. Jean (Palestine)
    September-December 1942: Detachment to Khormaksar (Aden)
November-December 1942: Gianaclis (Alexandria)
December 1942-April 1944: Gambut III (Eastern Libya)
April-May 1944: Ramat David (Palestine)
May-August 1944: St. Jean
August 1944-February 1945: Berka (Benghazi)
February-March 1945: Almaza (Cairo)
March-April 1945: Chivenor (Devon)

Squadron Codes: -

Duty
201 Group, RAF Middle East (main): -27 October 1942-
No.235 Wing, 201 Group, RAF Middle East (detachment): -27 October 1942-
British Forces, Aden, RAF Middle East (detachment): -27 October 1942-

No.235 Wing, 201 Group, RAF Middle East, Mediterranean Air Command: -10 July 1943-

Books

 

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (25 April 2022), No. 459 Squadron (RAAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAAF/459_wwII.html

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