No. 458 Squadron RAAF

From Our Contribution

458 Squadron.jpg
Crew of "K" for Kitty, 458 Squadron RAAF after a raid - AWM P05660.001

Brief History

No. 458 Squadron RAAF was one that formed at RAAF Williamstown on 8 Jul 1941 as part of the Empire Air Training Scheme. At this point the units personnel were all ground staff as they departed for the UK in August where they joined up with other personnel at RAF Holme-on-Spalding Moor. As an Empire Air Training Scheme (Bomber) Squadron it drew staff from other Commonwealth countries in addition to Australia. Equipped with Vickers Wellington aircraft. their first operational sortie took place on 20/21 October, when 10 aircraft joined in attacks on German and Dutch ports. They then participated in further attacks against German industrial targets. In late 1941, one of its flights was transferred to help establish No. 480 Squadron RAAF.

In late January 1942 the squadron was withdrawn from Bomber Command in order to join the effort in the Middle East. While the ground staff were sent by sea, the aircrew flew out via Malta. However, in Malta many of the aircraft were transferred to other active Squadrons, leaving the crews requiring transport to their new base. The squadron's commanding officer had been shot down and lost enroute, further disrupting the move. Aircrews and ground crew members were then distributed amongst other units. Finally on 1 Sep 1942 the squadron wqas re-formed at El Shallufa in Egypt, this time as a maritime squadron tasked with convoy escort and mine laying duties utilising Wellingtons. The squadron was to damage and sink a number of ships, including an Italian cruiser, and a destroyer.

In June 1943 the squadron moved to Tunisia, followed by another move, this time to Bone in Algeria during October. Another move followed, to Sardinia, and while there a U Boat U-731 was sunk by one of their aircraft. In September 1944 they flew bombing missions to support Operation Dragoon in southern France before the squadron moved to Foggia airfield in Italy, with detachments in other Italian and French airfields. Their final move was to RAF North Front, Gibraltar on 26 Jan 1945. As the war to their north was so far advanced as to provide few targets, they reverted to convoy escort and anti-U Boat patrols of the North Atlantic. With the coming of peace in Europe, the squadron was disbanded on 9 Jun 1945 in Gibraltar.

Losses during the war amounted to 141 personnel, of whom 64 were Australian.

Squadron Personnel

Battle Honours

  • Fortress Europe 1940-1944
  • France and Germany 1944-1945
  • Italy 1943-1945
  • Mediterranean 1940-1943
  • Sicily 1943
  • South-East Europe 1942-1945

Individual Honours (Australian Personnel)

  • 3 x Distinguished Flying Crosses
  • 1 x Military Medal


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