No. 2 Bomber Reconnaissance Squadron (RNZAF): Second World War

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No.2 Bomber Reconnaissance Squadron, RNZAF, flew maritime patrols from Munda during 1944 and took part in the campaign against Rabaul during 1945, flying a mix of reconnaissance missions and bombing raids.

No.2 General Reconnaissance Squadron was formed at Nelson in December 1940 as part of a general expansion of the RNZAF in the face of possible Japanese aggression. It was given the task of defending the Cook Strait and the approaches to Wellington.

1941

In February 1941 a detachment was posted at Omaka near Blenheim to patrol the eastern approaches to the Cook Strait.

The main part of the squadron also ran a School of General Reconnaissance, which was attended by pilots from other squadrons. By the end of 1941 the School had split off from No.2 Squadron and had moved to Omaka.

1942

Before the Japanese entry into the war No.2 Squadron had been operating the Vickers Vincent. A number of Lockheed Hudsons had arrived by December 1941. By 20 February 1942 the squadron eight Hudsons on the front line and three in reserve.

After the Japanese entry into the war a detachment of six Hudsons from No.2 Squadron was moved to Fiji, to support No.4 Squadron against a Japanese invasion that was considered imminent. No such invasion took place. The detachment reached Fiji on 11 February, and returned to New Zealand after the brief invasion scare was over.  

In the summer of 1942 Rear Admiral McCain, US Commander Air, South Pacific, asked New Zealand to provide six Vickers Vincents to provide anti-submarine cover around New Caledonia. The RNZAF decided to send Lockheed Hudsons instead, as they were felt to be more suitable for operations over water. No.4 Squadron, RNZAF, sent two aircraft, which went operational on 19 July 1942. Nos.1 and 2 Squadrons RNZAF also sent aircraft, and the combined detachments formed a new No.9 Squadron.

1943

In April 1943 No.2 Squadron moved from Nelson, which ceased to be an operational station, to Okakea. From there it flew a mix of shipping escort and anti-submarine patrols.

In November the squadron moved to Espiritu Santo, where it continued to train and also flew a number of patrols over the local area.

1944

On 17 February No.2 Squadron relieved No.1 Squadron. No.1 Squadron had been officially based at Guadalcanal, but was operating from Munda, and No.2 Squadron took over at Munda. Its main role was to fly a series of daily patrols over the seas west of Munda, searching for submarines. Two attacks, possibly on the same submarine, were carried out on 20 February in the area between Green Island and New Ireland, but neither ended in success. Another submarine was attacked on 5 March and possibly damaged.

On 28 February the squadron took part in a sweep along the coasts of New Ireland and the Gazelle Peninsula. Although the squadron had been in the forward area for some time, this was actually the first occasion on which it had flown over Japanese held territory. The second occasion came on the very next day, when the squadron made the first in a series of attacks on a Japanese radar base on the Gazelle Peninsula.

In May 1944 the squadron began to fly 'survivor patrols', trailing the strike forces heading to and from Rabaul looking for any ditched aircraft or aircrew in the water. The squadron also flew a daily shipping count mission over Rabaul.

At the end of May 1944 the squadron returned to New Zealand for a rest having flown 3,758 hours on 908 sorties during this tour. It was replaced by No. 9 Squadron.

Between June and October 1944 the squadron was based at Gisborne, on the east coast of New Zealand, for a period of refitting after its first overseas tour.

In October 1944 the squadron moved to Guadalcanal to replace No.1 Squadron, RNZAF. The squadron flew a mix of dusk and dawn patrols, anti-submarine sweeps over the main shipping lanes and searches for possible submarines and missed Allied aircraft.

1945

In January 1945 No.2 Squadron replaced No.1 Squadron on Green Island, between Bougainville and Rabaul. The squadron had several tasks from Green Island, including flying a daily weather and shipping counting mission over Rabaul, night nuisance raids over Rabaul, air-sea rescue, shipping escorts and bombing raids over New Ireland and Rabaul. Medium level attacks and night heckle raids were the main task in January. The squadron took part in thirty-one daylight raids against Rabaul during its tour, most with seven or eight aircraft. New Ireland was attacked seventeen times and Bougainville six.

The squadron's biggest raid came on 28 February when eight aircraft each with 5,000lb of bombs, attacked Monoitu in southern Bougainville. All but two bombs hit the target area. The squadron was replaced by No.3 Squadron in March 1945.

In late June 1945 No.2 Squadron moved to Jacquinot Bay on New Britain. Operations began on 14 July and the squadron spent the rest of the war carrying out medium level bombing raids against the Gazelle Peninsular (the Rabaul area) and on the Japanese held islands to the north of Bougainville.

On 6 September the squadron provided air cover to HMS Glory during the final Japanese surrender ceremony in the South-West Pacific.

No.2 Squadron was reduced to a small cadre after the end of the war but was soon reformed. In October 1946 it was renumbered as No.75 Squadron to honour the RNZAF squadron that had served with the RAF from the start of the Second World War.

Aircraft
1940-1941: Vickers Vildebeeste, Vickers Vincent
1941-1943: Lockheed Hudson
1943-1946: Lockheed Ventura

Location
December 1940-April 1943: Nelson, New Zealand
   February 1941-: Detachment to Omaka, near Blenheim
   July 1942: Detachment to New Caledonia
April-November 1943: Ohakea, New Zealand
November 1943-February 1944: Espiritu Santo
February 1944: Guadalcanal
February-April 1944: Munda, New Georgia
April-May 1944: Bougainville

June-October 1944: Gisborne, New Zealand

November 1944-January 1945: Guadalcanal
January-March 1945: Green Island

June-September 1945: Jacquinot Bay

Books

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (10 May 2013), No. 2 Bomber Reconnaissance Squadron (RNZAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RNZAF/No_2_sqn_RNZAF.html

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