|No. 453 Squadron RAAF|
23 May 1941 – 15 March 1942|
18 June 1942 – 21 January 1946
16 February 2011–current
|Branch||Royal Australian Air Force|
Fighter squadron (1941–1946)|
Air traffic control (2011–current)
|Part of||No. 44 Wing|
|Motto(s)||Ready to strike|
|Squadron badge heraldry||Perched on a branch a kookaburra|
TD (May 1941 – March 1942)|
FN (June 1942 – August 1942)
FU (June 1942 – January 1946)
No. 453 Squadron is a Royal Australian Air Force air traffic control unit. It was first was formed at Bankstown in New South Wales on 23 May 1941 during World War II and was disbanded in March 1942 after suffering heavy losses in combat during the Battle of Malaya. It was re-raised in Britain in June that year and took part in fighting against Nazi Germany in Europe until the end of the war and was disbanded during January 1946. The squadron was reformed in its current role during February 2011.
History[edit | edit source]
Malaya and Singapore[edit | edit source]
The squadron was deployed to Singapore in August 1941, as fears of war with Japan increased. The squadron, along with No. 21 Squadron RAAF, No. 243 Squadron RAF and No. 488 Squadron RNZAF, flew Brewster Buffalo fighters, but the Buffalos supplied to these squadrons proved to be poor in quality. Following the Japanese invasion of Peninsular Malaysia on 8 December 1941, 453 Squadron was deployed to airfields at Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur. The squadron strove to support the ground troops by providing air cover and attacking Japanese troops and transport, but suffered high losses in doing so. The squadron withdrew to Singapore on 24 December with only three working aircraft. In Singapore, 453 Squadron merged with 21 Squadron.
The squadron fought on until 5 February with just six operational Buffaloes, however in spite of many mechanical problems the Buffalo squadrons claimed a 2:1 kill ratio against the Japanese. Later, 453 Squadron was to provide air cover for Admiral Phillip's Force Z (see Sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse), but a radio message giving the location of the Fleet was only sent out by the Repulse an hour after the first Japanese attack. Flight Lieutenant Tim Vigors from 243 Squadron was acting CO of 453 Squadron while Squadron Leader W. J. Harper was in Australia. He wrote about the loss of the two ships:
"I reckon this must have been the last battle in which the Navy reckoned they could get along without the RAF. A pretty damned costly way of learning. I had worked out a plan with the liaison officer on the Prince of Wales, by which I could keep six aircraft over him all daylight hours within 60 miles of the east coast to a point north of Kota Bharu. This plan was turned down by Admiral Phillips. Had I been allowed to put it into effect, I am sure the ships would not have been sunk. Six fighters could have made one hell of a mess of even 50 or 60 slow and unescorted torpedo-bombers. As we could do nothing else, we kept virtually the whole squadron at readiness at Sembawang while the Fleet was out. I was actually sitting in my cockpit when the signal eventually reached us that the Fleet was being attacked. Phillips had known that he was being shadowed the night before, and also at dawn that day. He did not call for air support. He was attacked and still did not call for help. Eventually it was the captain of Repulse who called for air support just before his ship sunk" 
When 453 Squadron arrived in Java it could not again be made operational. It was ordered back to Australia, and was disbanded at Adelaide on 15 March 1942.
Europe[edit | edit source]
The squadron was reformed from Australian personnel in the UK at RAF Drem, near Edinburgh, in Scotland on 18 June 1942. The squadron was equipped with Supermarine Spitfire aircraft, and joined the RAF Fighter Command. The squadron provided defensive air patrols over Britain and surrounding waters, escorted bombers over enemy-controlled Europe, and conducted offensive strikes in its own right attacking targets on both land and sea. After the invasion of Western Europe the squadron began operations over enemy territory. From November 1944 to March 1945, 453 Squadron was heavily engaged in striking at assembly and launch sites used by the Germans in their V-2 rocket attacks against Britain. On 2 May 1945, the squadron escorted the aircraft that returned Queen Wilhelmina to The Netherlands after three years in exile. This was 453 Squadron's last mission of the war. After the war it was planned that the squadron would form a long-term Australian presence among the occupation forces but sufficient volunteers could not be found to make this a viable proposition. Thus, on 21 January 1946 the squadron disbanded.
During the war the squadron suffered 29 (28 Australian) fatalities.
Current role[edit | edit source]
No. 453 Squadron was re-raised as an air traffic control unit on 16 February 2011. It forms part of No. 44 Wing and is headquartered at RAAF Base Williamtown. It maintains subordinate flights at RAAF Base Williamtown, RAAF Base Richmond, RAAF Base East Sale, RAAF Base Edinburgh, RAAF Base Pearce and the Royal Australian Navy base HMAS Albatross which provide air traffic control for these bases.
Aircraft operated[edit | edit source]
|August 1941||February 1942||Brewster Buffalo||Mk.I|
|June 1942||April 1943||Supermarine Spitfire||Mk.Vb|
|March 1943||June 1943||Supermarine Spitfire||Mk.IXb|
|June 1943||October 1943||Supermarine Spitfire||Mk.Vc|
|June 1943||January 1944||Supermarine Spitfire||Mk.Vb|
|January 1944||July 1944||Supermarine Spitfire||Mk.IXb|
|July 1944||September 1944||Supermarine Spitfire||Mk.IXe|
|September 1944||November 1944||Supermarine Spitfire||Mk.IXb|
|November 1944||June 1945||Supermarine Spitfire||LF.XVI|
|August 1945||January 1946||Supermarine Spitfire||LF.XIV|
Commanding officers[edit | edit source]
|23 May 1941||17 August 1941||Flight Lieutenant William Keith Wells|
|17 August 1941||6 September 1941||Squadron Leader William Faulkiner Allshorn|
|6 September 1941||2 December 1941||Squadron Leader William John Harper|
|2 December 1941||15 December 1942||Squadron Leader Timothy Ashmead Vigors|
|15 December 1941||15 March 1942||Squadron Leader William John Harper|
|12 June 1942||4 August 1942||Squadron Leader Francis Victor Morello|
|4 August 1942||13 January 1943||Flight Lieutenant John Richard Ratten|
|13 January 1943||14 March 1943 (KIA)||Wing Commander James Hogarth Slater, AFC|
|14 March 1943||11 May 1943||Squadron Leader John Richard Ratten|
|11 May 1943||28 September 1943||Squadron Leader Kelvin Milne Barclay|
|28 September 1943||2 May 1944||Squadron Leader Donald George Andrews, DFC|
|2 May 1944||28 September 1944||Squadron Leader Donald Hamilton Smith|
|28 September 1944||27 August 1945||Squadron Leader Ernest Arthur Roy Esau, DFC|
|27 August 1945||6 January 1946||Squadron Leader Douglas Mackenzie Davidson, DFC|
|7 January 1946||21 January 1946||Flight Lieutenant Toderick Edmund Hilton, DFC|
Notes[edit | edit source]
- Rawlings 1978, p. 445.
- Halley 1988, p. 475.
- Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 96.
- Flintham and Thomas 2003, p. 107.
- Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 42.
- Flintham and Thomas 2003, p. 72.
- Flintham and Thomas 2003, p. 73.
- Shores and Cull 1992, pp. 117 & 125.
- "Senator Feeney Celebrates the Reformation of Number 452 and 453 Squadrons at RAAF Base Williamtown". Media release. Senator The Hon. David Feeney MP Parliamentary Secretary for Defence. 16 February 2011. http://www.minister.defence.gov.au/2011/02/16/parliamentary-secretary-for-defence-senator-feeney-celebrates-the-reformation-of-number-452-and-453-squadrons-at-raaf-base-williamtown/. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
- Rawlings 1978, p. 446.
- Halley 1988, p. 476.
- Jefford 2001, p. 94.
References[edit | edit source]
- Bennett, John. Defeat to victory: No. 453 Squadron RAAF. Point Cook, Victoria, Australia: Royal Australian Air Force Museum, 1994. ISBN 0-642-19785-7.
- Bowyer, Michael J.F. and John D.R. Rawlings. Squadron Codes, 1937–56. Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-85059-364-6.
- Flintham, Vic and Andrew Thomas. Combat Codes: A full explanation and listing of British, Commonwealth and Allied air force unit codes since 1938. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing Ltd., 2003. ISBN 1-84037-281-8.
- Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth 1918–1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
- Jefford, Wing Commander C.G., MBE, BA, RAF(Retd.). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1988 (second edition 2001). ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
- Listemann, Phil H. No. 453 (R.A.A.F.) Squadron, 1941–1945: Buffalo, Spitfire. Philedition, 2009. ISBN 978-2-9532544-1-9.
- Rawlings, John D.R. Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald & Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1969 (2nd edition 1976, reprinted 1978). ISBN 0-354-01028-X.
- Shores, Christopher and Brian Cull with Yasuho Izawa. Bloody Shambles, Volume One. London: Grub Street Publishers, 1992. ISBN 0-948817-50-X.
- Vigors, Tim. 2006. Life's Too Short to Cry: The Inspirational Memoir of an Ace Battle of Britain Fighter Pilot. London: Grub Street Publishers. ISBN 1-904943-61-6.
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