HQ Eastern Area RAAF

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HQ North West Area.jpg
RAAF area commands in November 1942

Brief History

Prior to World War II, the Royal Australian Air Force was small enough for all its elements to be directly controlled by RAAF Headquarters in Melbourne. After war broke out in September 1939, the Air Force began to decentralise its command structure, commensurate with expected increases in manpower and units.

Eastern Area Command was formed on 15 May 1942, and controlled units located in New South Wales and southern Queensland. Headquartered in Sydney, Eastern Area Command's responsibilities included air defence, aerial reconnaissance and protection of the sea lanes within its boundaries. Staff numbered 114, including forty-five officers. Its flying units operated fighters, reconnaissance bombers, and dive bombers, and concentrated on convoy escort, maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare. The size of the area was such that the RAAF twice considered splitting it, but nothing came of this. The area command continued to function after the war.

In response to an increase in the number of Japanese submarines operating in Australian waters, the RAAF conducted intensive patrols along the east coast during January and February 1943. This included more than 400 patrol, anti-submarine, and convoy escort missions by Eastern Area aircraft in January. The submarine threat against Allied shipping was considered serious enough to warrant basing more RAAF squadrons in southern commands than in the north, diverting resources from forward areas like New Guinea. By April, Eastern Area was operating seven combat units: No. 5 Squadron, flying army cooperation missions with CAC Wirraways out of Kingaroy, Queensland; No. 23 Squadron, flying dive-bombing missions with Wirraways from Lowood, Queensland; No. 24 Squadron, flying dive-bombing missions with Wirraways from Bankstown, New South Wales; No. 32 Squadron, flying reconnaissance and bombing missions with Lockheed Hudsons from Camden, New South Wales; No. 71 Squadron, flying maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine missions with Avro Ansons from Lowood; No. 73 Squadron, flying maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine missions with Ansons from Nowra, New South Wales; and No. 83 Squadron, flying fighter missions with Wirraways from Strathpine, Queensland.

Unit Personnel


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