No. 459 Squadron RAAF

From Our Contribution

459 Squadron.jpg
Ground crew at Gambut Cyrenaica c 1943 AWM photo MEC0785
459 Sqadron 1.jpg
26 Nov 1944 459 Baltimore at Crete AWM photo VIC0165

Brief History

459 Squadron was formed on 10 Feb 1942, at Burg-ci-Arab, in Egypt. It was to be a naval co-operation unit for general reconnaissance over the Eastern Mediterranean. The initial complement of aircraft was two Lockheed Hudson aircraft. In April Squadron moved to its own aerodrome at Behig. Seven more aircraft and their crews arnved in April and May after flying from the UK via Gibraltar and Malta. Soon in action against Italian F-boats which were used to fewry suppliues to forward positions, 17 boats were destroyed for the loss of three crews and two other planes damaged.

In September, Squadron aircraft attacked a destroyer and a 6000-ton merchantman both seemingly sunk by single plane attacks from the Squadron. With the Allied offensive successes, ports were recatured and 459 Squadron's commitments increased with the need to escort troopships, tankers and supply vessels, in addition to attacking enemy shipping. They frequently penetrated the ring of enemy-occupied islands off the west and east coasts of Greece. Other duties comprised convoy escort, and anti-submarine patrols. The Squadron continued convoy escort and anti-submarine patrols in the Eastern mediterranean and the Agean Seas for the rest of 1942.

By October 1943 bombing in the Aegean area continued, but with Rhodes now the main target. Weather conditions were very bad. In December, Lockheed Ventura aircraft arrived and conversion commenced, with night operations continuing. In January 1944 the Squadron's anti-submarine patrols continued in bad weather with night bombing of Rhodes and the Agean recmmencing. In April 1944 the Squadron relocated to Palestine and continued its sorties from there.

On 19 Jul 1944, following conversion to Martin Baltimore aircraft, a program of bombing, anti·submarine patrols and armed reconnaisance was established, continuing when the Squadron moved to Berka 3, Cyreniaca. The Eastern Mediterranean was now vtrtuaUy under Allied control with very littie shipping needing to be escorted. However, bombing intensified in the Aegean and on Rhodes.

On 16 Feb 1945, the Squadron moved to Almaza. It had been intended that the Squadron move to the UK where, still ias part of Coastal Command, it would convert to 'Leigh Light' WeLlingtons. However, postrings of its crews to the Italian theatre and elsewhere meant that too few experienced personnel were available for quick conversion hence the Squadron was disbanded on 10 Apr 1945.

Battle Honours

  • Egypt and Libya 1940-1943
  • El Alamein
  • Mediterranean 1940-1943
  • South-East Europe 1942-1945

Individual Honours

  • 1 x Order of the British Empire
  • 7 x Distinguished Flying Cross
  • 1 x Distinguished Fkying Medal

Ground Crew


Content has come from Units of the Royal Australian Air Force - A Concise History - Volume 4 Maritime & Transport Units - Australian Government Publishing Service - 1995 pages 104 - 110

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