2nd Squadron Australian Flying Corps
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On 20 September 1916, No. 2 Squadron was established as a unit of the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) at Kantara, Egypt, drawing personnel mainly from Australian Light Horse units of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). Shortly after forming, under the command of Major Oswald Watt, the unit was transferred to the United Kingdom to complete training, arriving at Harlaxton on 30 January 1917. Between February and September 1917, the squadron undertook training with Royal Flying Corps units before being equipped with Airco DH.5 fighters.
In late September 1917, the squadron flew its aircraft across the English Channel, landing in St Omer without incident or loss.
It undertook its first combat operations on the Western Front a month later near St Quentin and then during the Battle of Cambrai in November and December when it was heavily involved as a low-level ground attack unit, attacking German trenches, but suffering heavy casualties in doing so. On 22 November, the squadron shot down its first German aircraft in air-to-air combat during a chance encounter on a ground attack sortie. After this, several more German aircraft were shot down by the squadron's pilots before the squadron was withdrawn from operations in December to re-equip with Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5a fighters. In January 1918, the squadron moved to Savy, and the following month gained its first victories with the new aircraft type
During early 1918, the Germans launched a major offensive against the British southern flank. The offensive pushed the Allies back significantly, and the squadron was forced to withdraw to airfields further back from the front as German forces advanced steadily. in March it moved to La Bellevue and then to Fouquerolles, remaining there until June when it moved to Liettres to support the French during the Marne offensive.
During this time, the squadron was attached to a number of different RAAF Wings. Despite the moves, the squadron maintained a high operational tempo, becoming involved in heavy air-to-air combat during fighter sweeps, and also being used to attack advancing German ground forces. After the German offensive was finally halted, the Allies launched their own offensive in August around Amiens after which the squadron was employed to attack German airfields, and as the Germans were forced back, attacking withdrawing German troops on the ground. Throughout October, in an effort to keep up with the advance, the squadron moved three times and by the time the armistice was signed in November it was based at Pont-a-Marq.
18 Men were acknowledged as flying aces, with the final Squadron total 94 aircraft shot down, 73 out of control when last seen, and 18 driven down, a total of 185. In addition 33 enemy balloons were either destroyed or forced down. The Squadron suffered 25 personnel killed and eight wounded.
Following the conclusion of hostilities, the squadron was withdrawn to the United Kingdom in March 1919. On 6 May 1919 its personnel embarked on the transport Kaisar-i-Hind for repatriation back to Australia, at which time the squadron was disbanded.
Content for the history section came from a combination of Wikipedia and the Australian War Memorial websites.
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