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Landing Force - Maj. Vandegrift: 1 Guadalcanal Group; Maj.
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Mobilization of these forces was well under way by the last of June, with the major group of ships assembling at Wellington, New Zealand, and the rest at San Diego and Pearl Harbor. The little time available created a most difficult logistical problem for the First Marine Division. The division's First Echelon, the Fifth Marines, was already in New Zealand, had unloaded and was ready to reembark immediately.
But the Second Echelon, the First Marines, had not yet arrived, and it was evident that it would be all but impossible for the two echelons to reload simultaneously at the few docks available at Wellington. Accordingly, it was decided to combat-load the First Echelon at once.
The loading proceeded smoothly for the most part. Departure from Wellington had been set for July 18th, but when it became apparent that because of bad weather the Second Echelon would not arrive until the 11th or later, permission was obtained to delay departure until the 22d.
Even this postponement did not relieve the situation greatly, as little more than a week was left to unload and completely reload. Matters were made worse by the weather, which was cold and extremely rainy, a "southerly" blowing almost constantly from the Antarctic. The rain soaked thousands of cardboard containers, causing them to disintegrate and spill out their contents. Loading operations were centralized at a single large wharf, Aotea Quay, which could accommodate five ships at once. All the stevedoring was done by the Marines themselves, except that skilled civilians operated some special loading machinery.
The Marines, who had just arrived from a long voyage in crowded transports, were not in the best of physical condition, and the cold, rainy weather was not beneficial. They were organized into working teams of men for each vessel and kept an around-the-clock schedule of 8-hour reliefs. The division's own transportation was increased by trucks of the First Base Depot and by a daily detail of 30 flat-topped New Zealand Army lorries.
Ammunition, organizational equipment, and gasoline dumps were established in open areas on the wharf, while rations and perishables were checked and classified in a large warehouse at one end of the wharf. The ships were loaded on the general principle that each transport would carry one combat team and all the equipment and supplies needed to put that team ashore and keep it in action for 30 days. For every 3 combat teams or a combat group there was loaded a cargo ship with supplies sufficient to maintain the 3 teams in action for 30 additional days.
In this way, with a cargo ship for every 3 transports, the division was prepared for 60 days of action if necessary, without further support. To utilize to the utmost the troop-carrying capacity of the ships available, all excess supplies and equipment were eliminated and even normal supplies were radically curtailed. Divided into 13 classifications, equipment and supplies were taken aboard in varying quantities as follows:. Group 1, individual equipment all the weapons, mess gear, clothes, etc. Group 2, baggage. Enlisted men were permitted to take aboard only what they could carry in their knapsacks.
Group 3, office equipment typewriters, pencils, paper, etc. Included in this category were medical supplies, of which enough were taken for 60 days. Group 4, combat equipment weapons of all types. Group 5, supplementary equipment. Group 6, mess equipment. Group 7, camp equipment tents, etc. Group 8, transportation motor vehicles. Group 9, special equipment camouflage, chemical warfare, etc. Group 10, ammunition. Group 11, automatic supplies rations for men, gas and oil for vehicles, etc.
Group 12, replacement supplies spare parts for guns, vehicles, etc. Group 13, post exchange articles. No candy. Despite the haste, inadequate dock facilities, and unfavorable weather, the ships were combat-loaded. That is, things which would be needed first on arrival in the target area were loaded last, so that they would be on top of the piles in the ships' hold or on deck.
First priority was given to combat equipment, including vehicles and gasoline, and ammunition which would be needed immediately. Second came food, medical supplies, and more gasoline. Other articles were loaded in reverse order to their degree of essentiality, so that they might be unloaded with the utmost facility. Three days later on the 22d, when the transports had hurriedly completed their loading, the combined force of transports and combatant ships departed from Wellington under the command of Rear Admiral Richmond K.
Turner, with Admiral Crutchley second in command. Steaming in a cruising position and zigzagging, the force proceeded in an easterly direction toward the rendezvous. Meanwhile the aircraft carriers and the seven remaining transports and cargo ships were moving west for the rendezvous. On arrival at Tongatabu repairs were speedily completed.
The first day after this group reached Tongatabu it was hit by a knot gale, but suffered no serious damage. The entire force would then proceed to Koro Island in the Fijis for rehearsal exercises. They arrived there July 20th and two days later proceeded to Bulari Bay, where they embarked the First Raider Battalion which had been in training there. After some landing exercises, they departed in time to meet the rest of the expeditionary force on the one hundred and eightieth meridian on July. The minesweepers. The next day, following the study and completion of plans, the combined fleets, numbering nearly 80 ships, moved north toward Koro Island for rehearsal exercises.
Where possible, jungles had been flattened and the ground hardened for the landing of heavy planes. In addition to the assembly or relocation of the hundreds of planes involved, there was the equally important work of organizing a system of communications by which the intelligence they collected and news of the progress of our attack could be quickly and safely disseminated. The understanding reached by Admiral Ghormley and General MacArthur for the cooperation of the two air forces of their respective areas developed with the situation.
The basic agreement was that during the Tulagi-Guadalcanal action the Supreme Commander, Southwest Pacific Area, would provide for the interdiction of enemy air activities westward of the operating area, the dividing line between the South Pacific Area and the Southwest Pacific Area to be the one hundred fifty-ninth meridian from the equator southward.
The Commander Southwest Pacific also agreed to provide the following surveillance: from 5 days before the attack to 4 days afterwards, four daily reconnaissance flights over the area Port Moresby-Madang-Kavieng-Ontong Java-Port Praslin northwest end of Santa Isabel Island --easternmost point of New Georgia-Tagula Island. Further planes would be prepared to strike hostile naval targets discovered in this area within a mile range of Port Moresby. On the day of attack and for 4 days thereafter planes under the General's command would interdict hostile air operations in the Rabaul-Kavieng area and deny hostile refueling operations from Buka Island if used; in the same period shorter range planes would attack Lae and Salamaua periodically to prevent reinforcement of Rabaul from that area.
As scout planes moved to successive advanced bases, he said, the coverage would increase in extent. His scouted area, he said, overlapped an average of miles west of that meridian for the sake of increased effectiveness. Admiral McCain, in concurring in this plan, reported to Admiral Ghormley that his Bs would cover the southeast side of Tagula. Island-New Georgia. This joint search proved completely successful, at least through the approach to and landing on Tulagi and Guadalcanal, since at no time during this period were our ships subjected to attack by enemy ships or planes.
As the result of the arrangements, the air attack on Tulagi and Guadalcanal actually began a week before our ships sighted the two islands. This force had the responsibility of, first, conducting normal scouting operations and, second, covering the ships' approach to the Tulagi-Guadalcanal area. For these purposes Admiral McCain organized it in the following manner:.
This group was directed to search sectors northwest from Plane Des Gaiacs, in central New Caledonia, to a depth of miles, to conduct antisubmarine patrols and provide antisubmarine protection to incoming and outgoing vessels as might be required. This group was directed to maintain daily search of the southern Solomons and their western waters, track important enemy contacts, and execute air attacks on enemy objectives as directed.
This group was to base initially one squadron at Plaine Des Gaiacs, two squadrons in the Efate-Espiritu Santo area, and one squadron in reserve at Nandi in the Fijis. It was to establish group headquarters in the Curtiss. Maurice E. Browder, USN, U. In the several days preceding Dog-Day, planes from this group were to operate from Espiritu Santo, Noumea, and Havannah Harbor Efate , searching sectors south and east of the Solomons.
Joseph L. Norman R. This group was directed to proceed 3 days before the attack to Maramasike Estuary on the east coast of Malaita and search a sector to the northeast. Harold W. This group was directed to provide three observation planes for inshore antisubmarine patrol in the vicinity of Segond Channel, Espiritu Santo.
John N. Patrol planes were ordered to carry a full allowance of machine-gun ammunition and four depth bombs, while bombardment aircraft on reconnaissance flights were to carry full allowances of machine-gun ammunition and such delay fused bombs as were practicable. All planes were. Aviation gasoline and ammunition were made available in all tenders and at all land plane bases, and by arrangement with the Commander Naval Unit at Efate, about 25, gallons of aviation gasoline would be delivered in drums at Graciosa Bay, Ndeni, for Task Group MIKE-FOUR prior to 2 days before the attack, and additional gasoline and provision would be provided later.
From this most general directive Admiral Noyes developed an operation plan which, in its minute attention to the time of departure of the squadrons from the carriers and their return, read like a railroad timetable. Synchronizing the flights with the attacks of our sea and land forces was only one side of the problem. The other, almost equally important, was the maintenance of smooth operations aboard the carriers, so that decks would not become congested with planes taking off or landing, and so that at least one squadron of fighters would always be alert and in readiness in the event the carriers were themselves attacked.
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Admiral Noyes' orders provided, in addition to the detailed flight schedules, for the following general procedure:. Air support flights were to be tactically commanded by two Air Group Commanders in the air, one over Tulagi, the other over Guadalcanal. Torpedo squadrons, some equipped with belly tanks and bombs, were to be held in reserve for search and attack missions. This, in part, had been necessitated by the acquisition at San Diego of newer types of aircraft and by the change-over from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
They had also benefited by the work of the Air Intelligence organization, which had recently been strengthened by the arrival on board of specially trained officers. These officers gathered all available information on the Solomons and condensed it for study by the flight personnel.
After arrival in the South Pacific, excellent photographs were obtained of objectives in the Tulagi-Guadalcanal area. From these, large-scale mosaic maps were prepared. The Marines, according to General Vandegrift, were not so fortunate. This helped, but as the photo mission was made in cloudy weather there were spots in the mosaic which were most confusing. Against enemy forces and installations in the whole target area General Vandegrift planned to use approximately 15, men, with 5, more the Second Marines as a reserve.
The landing force elements embarked comprised the following:. LeRoy P. Hunt, USMC, commanding. Clifton B. Cates, USMC, commanding. Merrill B. Twinning and Maj. Merritt A. Edson, USMC, commanding. Command post afloat in APDs. These troops were ordered to land on Beach BLUE on the southwest coast of Tulagi at H-hour and seize the northwest section of the island.
Robert H. Williams, USMC, commanding. Command post afloat in Heywood. This group was ordered to land on the east coast of Gavutu Island at H plus 4 hours and seize that island, later pressing on to Tanambogo. Pedro A. This group was ordered to land on Beach RED Guadalcanal , assume control of Second and Third Battalions, Eleventh Marines, provide artillery support for the attack, and coordinate antiaircraft and close-in ground defense of beachhead area. Arthur, USMC, commanding. This group was ordered to be prepared to land Combat Team B, less all reinforcing units, on Gavutu Island, at H plus 4 hours, and also to be prepared to attach Combat Team C, less all reinforcing units, to the Tulagi Group.
Robert E. Hill, USMC, commanding. This group was ordered to land on Florida Island hear Halavo at H-hour plus 30 minutes and seize that village. Pepper, USMC, commanding. This group was directed to be prepared to land detachments principally antiaircraft units on Beach RED and on Tulagi and Gavutu on the receipt of orders.
Commanding officers of troops were made responsible for the complete unloading of their ships, and they were ordered to leave sufficient men on board to ensure that all holds were worked on a hour basis. Basic priorities for landing supplies and material were established in this order: 1, ammunition; 2, water; 3, combat transportation; 4, rations; 5, medical supplies; 6, gasoline; 7, transportation other than combat; 8, miscellaneous.
Traffic in beach areas was to be controlled by Shore Party Commanders; inland traffic by units of military police. Shore Party Commanders were directed to call upon troop commanders in their immediate vicinity for assistance in handling supplies from landing beaches to dumps. The rehearsal for the attack, noted on page 13, was as accurate and complete a simulation of the prospective landings on the Solomons as could be provided.
Orders for the approach to Koro, for the preliminary bombing and bombardment and for the landing of troops were prepared with as much thoroughness as for the real operation. The rehearsal extended from July 28th to 31st, and included provision for two complete landing exercises - a training which the commanders agreed was critically needed by both Naval personnel and Marines. On July 30th the air carrier groups participated in the exercises, with a full schedule of attacks beginning at when 16 VF simulated the destruction of enemy planes.
Necessarily there were limitations which prevented the attainment of genuine battle conditions. On July 28th, for instance, the weather was such as to endanger the ships' boats and tank lighters, and the exercise had to be canceled for the day. The most serious disadvantage, however, was that, for reasons of security, radio silence had to be observed throughout the rehearsal.
This necessity prevented practice in land-to-air communications, which would have helped greatly in the coordination of plane attack with land operations. Their inability to obtain adequate practice in radio communications because of the strict silence. This island fortunately had many of the physical characteristics of Tulagi. Well, our dress rehearsal stunk. Everything went wrong.
But like most bad dress rehearsals it seemed to augur for a good performance. Fortunately there was time for several useful conferences aboard ship between Navy and Marine Officers. In spite of these limitations, however, much valuable experience was gained. Similarly, General Vandegrift explained his plan for the capture of land positions.
Since the rehearsal had demonstrated that a large percentage of the boats would probably re rendered useless by mechanical failure, a boat pool system was worked out for the Tulagi-Guadalcanal operation.
Only a few miles to the north was Task Force NEGAT, which, until the evening of August 6th, maintained a generally parallel course and provided reconnaissance and patrols. Task Force TARE, on leaving the Fijis, assumed a circular formation, with the 19 transports and cargo ships proceeding in 5 columns in the center. The speed of the fleet was then only about 7 knots. The average speed was now up to At least once American Bs, part of Task Force MIKE and operating from shore bases, swept low over the ships so that the personnel aboard might learn to recognize them.
On August 3d the fleet passed through the southern New Hebrides. Several of the ships left and later rejoined the fleet after refueling at Efate and other nearby points. The course changed slightly to the northwest until on August 5th the one hundred fifty-ninth meridian was reached. As it did so, the weather changed to a complete overcast, with a fresh wind and moderate sea. During the approach of the expeditionary force our land and tender based planes had been effectively carrying out their assignments.
On August 1st, 10 Bs of the Eleventh Bombardment Group bombed Japanese bases near Tulagi, destroying one patrol plane and damaging another,. Two of the Zero fighters which attempted to intercept were shot down. On the following day Bs again bombed installations at Lunga Point and, although they encountered heavy antiaircraft fire, they suffered no damage. Similar attacks on the target area were made almost daily through August 6th. The nation, he said, looked to the officers and men of the Allied expeditionary forces to electrify the world with a major offensive.
He urged them to carry on in the spirit of Midway and to "sock 'em in the Solomons! The weather of August 6th was ideal for our approach to the Solomons. An overcast sky and a mist which limited even surface visibility rendered enemy reconnaissance hopeless. Our men were solemn as they approached their objective. Justice Chambers, who commanded one of the companies scheduled to make the original landing on Tulagi, relates, "I don't think that any of us will forget that last night before we landed. Officers and men realized that all their training for the last few months was finally going to be put to the test.
I personally was worried to death and kept going over my notes for fear that I had forgotten some detail in the orders. As we headed up for Tulagi in the darkness of the night the men wrote their last letters home and I collected them knowing that for some of them it would probably be the last letters they would write.
At the thin crescent of the waning moon rose and the dark shadow of the shore line could be clearly seen. A little later Savo Island was visible by its pale light. About , when they were off the northwest tip of Guadalcanal, our two squadrons separated. It had been anticipated that the Japanese might have patrols in the passages on either side of Savo Island, and our naval escorts were fully alert in the first degree of readiness.
However, the surprise was complete. Although the Japanese had radar equipment ashore, our arrival was seemingly undetected. There was no challenge and our ships slid through the darkness with no sound except the wash of their own propellers and the breaking of the waves from their wakes upon the shore. At midnight they were.
At , an hour before sunrise, the carriers launched their first flights. The weather had cleared save for a few scattered cumulus clouds. The planes showed only a dim white light on their tails until they were at least 5 miles clear of the carriers, when they were allowed to turn on their running lights in order to expedite the rendezvous.
But due to the closeness of the carrier groups and the inexperience of some of the pilots, considerable confusion ensued, planes from one carrier joining up with those from another. To make matters worse, a brilliant explosion suddenly occurred in the vicinity of the rendezvous. It was later learned that a scout bomber had inadvertently dropped bomb, which exploded on hitting the water.
As our two squadrons drew near to their respective objectives, our transports made ready. Some ships in both groups went to general quarters as early as , while others did not follow this example until an hour later. Its 15 transports were in 2 columns of 7 and 8 ships, respectively, arranged in the same order in which they would lie for the initial debarkation.
The men on board were at first oppressed by the dark silence. Tense with the strain of impending battle, they did not know whether the enemy's apparent somnolence was real or feigned. No planes appeared to bomb or strafe. The surprise was so complete as even to surprise the surprisers. That cruiser was responsible for the bombardment of the area from Lunga Point west, and had started firing upon the coast in the vicinity of Kukum, where a large oil fire was seen very shortly. About the. Louis H. In a moment our fighting planes were strafing it too.
The intense flames which resulted indicated that the ship had been carrying gasoline. Immediately after the ships began their bombardment our planes put in their appearance, precisely on schedule. Evidently our fighters saw it at the same time, for a moment later it was going down in flames. The 24 dive bombers were meanwhile attacking enemy shore batteries, vehicle concentration, and supply dumps. Before the naval air bombardment had closed, our transports were approaching the debarkation area, 9, yards off Beach RED.
The signal "Stop" was executed, and, as our ships lost headway, the signal came to back. Our ships came to a halt in their assigned positions at At the signal was given to "land the landing force," the transports remaining underway but stopped. Boats were hoisted out and lowered, and debarkation commenced. A favorable sea permitted the use of cargo net gangways on both sides of the vessels simultaneously, and the operation was rapid, smooth, and efficient.
While our transports were lying hove to, our cruisers and destroyers not designated to provide fire support for the landings formed a double protective arc about them, cruisers on the inner arc and destroyers on the outer. This gave excellent protection against both planes and submarines, as our cruisers could maneuver within the destroyer screen and yet remain close to the transport group.
Meanwhile, across the bay near Tulagi there was similar activity. According to her report, "No shots were fired, no patrol boats encountered, no signs of life were evident until Group XRAY opened fire on Guadalcanal objectives across the channel about 20 miles away, then a cluster of red rockets went off from the direction of Tulagi. If the rockets were intended as a warning, the enemy had no opportunity to act upon it, for the bombardment of the Tulagi area began almost simultaneously with that of Guadalcanal.
Our plans had provided that planes from our carriers were to strafe and bomb enemy installations 15 minutes before sunrise, which was at Promptly at , while our ships were drawing close to the debarkation area, the drone of planes could be heard overhead and our fighters began strafing. Four minutes later our dive bombers started their work. The enemy replied with antiaircraft fire, but it was ineffective. The planes themselves could not be seen through the overcast, but the explosions of their bombs could be both seen and heard. Fires sprang up on and near the islands.
The morning twilight was not yet clear enough to permit the distinguishing of the burning objects, but it was thought that they were aircraft. It was subsequently learned that we had destroyed 18 enemy planes on the water. After this preliminary bombing, half a squadron of dive bombers was maintained over the transport group during daylight to attack targets as directed by the Air Support Director Group.
The sun's first rays were coming over the horizon when our ships arrived in the transport area. This was about half an hour behind schedule, due to the failure of the transports to keep closed up. Ashe, Commander of Transport Division EIGHT, immediately gave the signal to land the landing force, and at the same time set "H-hour" at , which was strictly on schedule. This was done in order to avoid keeping the transports standing unnecessarily idle before landing their troops. Our air attack was carried out by 85 carrier planes, 44 assaulting enemy positions on Guadalcanal, 41 those on Tulagi.
General Vandegrift, in an oral record, said 18 float planes and 2 four-engine bombers, while Admiral Crutchley's report gives the figure as In addition to bombing flights which continued throughout the day, the carriers maintained combat patrols over both the carrier and the transport areas and vectored out many search flights. Courtney Shands and 15 scout bombers led by Lt. John Eldridge, Jr. They arrived over their targets just as day was breaking.
The bombers concentrated their attention on antiaircraft and shore batteries, putting many of them immediately out of action. These centers were silenced. Thereafter planes were launched as scheduled throughout the day, while a continuous attack group of four fighters and nine scout bombers was maintained over the transports in the Tulagi sector.
These planes received orders as to targets from the Air Group Commander, Lt. Wallace M. On August 2d, Lt. Townsend, Lt. Douglas, Ens. Rose and three radio men had been transferred with equipment to the staff of Admiral Turner in the McCawley. The Air Support Director Group of. Felt, was assigned tactical command of the air units operating over the Guadalcanal area in the first few hours of the attack. His force consisted of 12 VF, led by Lt. Leroy C. Simpler, and 23 VSB, led by Lt. Louis J. According to Comdr. Felt's report, the dawn attacks appeared to proceed in accord with previous instructions.
Apparently all opposition was quickly silenced. A schooner type vessel, possibly a small seaplane tender, was set afire by VF strafing. Large fires were lighted at Kukum. Soon after his arrival over Guadalcanal, Comdr. Felt made a continuous reconnaissance of the area, determining that opposition did not exist in some places where it had been expected and that existing installations often varied considerably from descriptions in intelligence reports. For example, a radio station at Lunga Field which had been consistently reported as an antiaircraft battery appeared on close inspection to be a radar.
The only enemy personnel he sighted were traveling in 2 armored cars and were apparently trying to reach the cover of thick woods on the edge of Lunga Field. He made one short strafing dive on the leading car before they reached cover. They encountered little opposition and observed no aircraft or patrol boats. By the same token, her activities in attempting to repel Japanese raids on our transport groups, which will be described later, were more formidable. The only enemy contact. Stabelin, pilot, observed at He released a pound bomb, scoring a near hit, and reserved 3 bombs for the remainder of the search.
On radio instruction Ens. Mears, pilot, made an unsuccessful torpedo run and 2 strafing runs on the same ship. On the return flight the ship could not be located. Many distinguished themselves while serving in every type of vessel, and carrying out every type of duty. In June, , R. This list does not take into account the considerable number of Australians commanding individual "little ships" such as motor torpedo boats and various types of landing craft.
The W. The first W. A total of decorations and awards to R. This number included 18 awards bestowed by United States authorities, 4 Royal Netherlands and 4 Greek decorations. Air Defence 1. General A statement respecting the preliminary steps taken in connexion with the development of air defence will be found in Official Year Book No. The Secretary, Department of Air was an ex-officio member. On 12th December, , an additional member - the Business Member - was appointed. The expansion of the R.
This re-organization, which was effective from 4th June, until the cessation of hostilities on 15th August, , provided for the following Board members:- the Chief of the Air Staff, the Air Member for Personnel, the Air Member for Engineering and Maintenance, the Air Member for Supply and Equipment, the Finance Member civilian , and the Business Member civilian. The strength of the R. There were 12 squadrons in existence of which two were formed in nucleus only, while a number of the flying personnel of No. In addition to R.
Head-quarters, there were four R. The squadrons were located at Laverton, Richmond, Rathmines and Pearce, but during the precautionary stage prior to the outbreak of war, two squadrons Nos. As a gesture to the British Government, No. Coastal Command on the outbreak of war. This was the first R. The approved pre-wa r development programme was 19 squadrons with a first-line strength of aircraft with a reserve of 50 per cent. This programme was to be completed by June, At a meeting held on 22nd September, , the defence Committee endorsed a recommendation by the Air Board that the R.
War Cabinet on 2nd March, approved of a further expansion of the R. Expansion in accordance with that plan was, however, retarded because of difficulties experienced in obtaining the requisite aircraft. As the result, following on decision of War Cabinet on 5th October, , the planned rate of expansion of R. The additional 16 squadrons were to be formed and maintained from local production.
That planned expansion was, however, retarded because aircraft deliveries fell below requirements and programmed deliveries. On 2nd March, , War Cabinet, taking into account revised figures of anticipated deliveries from overseas and local production, approved of the following recommendations relative to the expansion of the R. In October, , a review of the nature, extent and balance of the war effort in the light of manpower position was made by War Cabinet, and the monthly allotment of manpower to the R.
War Cabinet decided that the Commonwealth's part in the Empire Air Training Scheme should be directly related to the contemplated strength of the R. Following a review of the strength of the R. In addition to 53 R. By 1st September, there were 53 R.
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Command in S. In addition there were 2 R. As at the cessation of hostilities in Europe, Australia had provided 15 squadrons in that theatre under the E. On 30th April, , operational units of the R. Air Force were combined operationally under Lieutenant-General Geo. Command, known as "R. Command, Allied Air Forces". The function of R. On 26th February, operational control of R. Command, instead of 5th Air Force as hitherto. Command did not exercise any administrative function in respect of any R. Head-quarters through the various Group and Area Head-quarters. Advanced echelons of R.
Head-quarters were established as necessary to maintain administrative contact with General Head-quarters, S. When the Empire Air Training Scheme was first visualized, it was anticipated that all advanced training would take place in Canada after elementary training in the respective dominions with a calculated peak output of 50, aircrew annually. This was the basis adopted. Rhodesia was used to relieve Australia's aircrew waiting list before the Australian training was fully under way.
The United Kingdom agreed to contribute to both the Australian and Canadian schemes certain aircraft, spares and similar supplies. The remaining costs in Australia were borne by Australia, which also contributed to the remaining costs of the Canadian scheme, first on a basis of The following figures include all Australians trained to 31st March, the date of cessation of the scheme :- Intake Output Australians trained in Australia Australians trained in Canada Australians trained in Rhodesia a 40, 10, 27, 9, a Includes 8, wastage in Australia and 4, aircrew still in training at 31st March, The total Australian intake to training amounted to 51, The overseas drafts were partially trained in Australia.
During the training of Australian aircrew under the E. Of these, occurred in Australia, 65 in Canada and 23 in Rhodesia. The highest figures of personnel serving in the R. Royal Australian Air Force personnel served in every theatre of war in the world with the exception of China.
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Catalinas, however, carried out mine-laying operations off the China Coast. On 1st September, , there were individual units in the R. Zones and operations i European War. These were the first Australians to take part in the air war against Germany. Some fought with squadrons of the Advanced Air Striking Force through the Battle of France, some with Fighter Command squadrons, and others with Bomber Command in its bombing offensive against targets in Germany and Norway.
In addition to the Australians in Royal Air Force squadrons there were in England at the outbreak of war a few flying boat crews of No. Other crews arrived at the end of the year. This offer was accepted and No. Following the fall of France and the entry of Italy into the war in the land battle was transferred to the Egyptian and Libyan Zone. At the request of the Air Ministry, No. This squadron later became a fighter squadron. In April, , the first R. It was equipped with Spitfires and fought with Fighter Command. By the end of seven more Article XV. A second Spitfire squadron, No.
In the United Kingdom five new R. The first of these, No. A detachment of this squadron went in August, to Russia where it carried out convoy escort duty and mapped part of the Arctic Ice Barrier. To increase Bomber Command's growing power all R. These included Nos. In No. It took part in bombing operations in North Africa and Italy. Number was equipped in the United Kingdom with Lancasters. In the Middle East, two other R. Both of these squadrons were engaged in naval co-operation work, convoy escort and sea reconnaissance.
In and the following years R. In the Middle East Nos. From Italy these squadrons flew across the Adriatic to assist the Yugoslav partisans by bombing and destroying enemy shipping and concentrations. Later, in Italy, as a bomber squadron, it attacked marshalling yards and enemy strong-points. In the United Kingdom, Nos. From to the end of the war R.
Squadrons serving with Bomber Command continued their attacks on strategic targets in Germany and the occupied countries, destroying oil plants, communication centres and power supplies. In the air defence of Great Britain, Nos. In this Squadron, joined later by No. Squadrons which were operating in the United Kingdom at the close of the war in Europe had flown a total of 30,, operational miles in 65, sorties against the enemy.
As yet no mention has been made of the service in every theatre of the War of the many thousands of Australian aircrew who were absorbed directly into R. During the period May, to May, approximately 60 per cent. Operational Commands served in R. Squadrons, and since for many reasons the policy for Dominion personnel to serve only in units of their respective Dominions was impossible, there were eventually very few R. Squadrons which had not had at some time or other Australian aircrew on strength.
In addition, a large number went to the Allied Expeditionary Air Force and the Second Tactical Air Force, and their duties covered the entire range of the manifold tasks of these forces. Because they were so widely scattered, it is impossible to separate the weight of the effort of the Australian personnel from the vast number of men from all the Dominions who were serving under the same terms.
Apart from those operating with the Middle East Command, several thousand aircrew were absorbed in this manner into R. Operational Squadrons based in England, whilst an additional 1, served as instructors under Flying Training Command. In Australia's offer of an air contribution to the Malayan Garrison was accepted by the British Government and three squadrons were duly sent to Singapore that year, a further one being added in In June, , a Station Head-quarters and an additional squadron were formed and a chain of operational bases was established, providing landing strips, petrol, oil, bombs and ammunition.
In February, , at a conference held at Singapore, the respective spheres of responsibility between the Far East, Netherlands East Indies and Australia were defined. On the outbreak of war with Japan, this agreement was implemented by locating the General Reconnaissance Squadron at Ambon in Ceram, and another at Koepang in Timor. Later, as the weight of the Japanese offensive moved south, a detachment of the Timor Squadron was sent to Namlea in Boeroe to help strengthen the Ceram-Boeroe area.
In mid-January, , operating from bases to the north the Japanese commenced raiding the Ceram-Boeroe group, until finally, towards the end of the month, the approach of a large enemy convoy forced the squadrons to evacuate those bases. The squadron at Koepang continued operations against the enemy, until a landing in that area became imminent. Towards the end of February this squadron was also withdrawn to Darwin. The first raid on Darwin occurred on the 19th February, During , R. By medium bombers and long range fighters were attacking bases and installations in Timor and the Tanimbar Islands, the Kai Islands, the Aroe Islands and on the south coast of Dutch New Guinea.
Heavy bombers attacked enemy ports and installations, shipping, and aerodrome installations in Ambon, Ceram, Babo-Kaimana-Monokwari, Sourabaya, Macassar and Batavia, and oil refineries at Balikpapan, Tjpoe and Wonokromo. Allied bomber operations in this zone were at their maximum between June, and April, Thereafter bomber operations continued, but on a gradually descending scale of intensity as air forces were transferred to the New Guinea theatre to take part in operations to the north-west directed at the Halmaheras and later at Borneo.
In the course of North-Western Area operations allied aircraft destroyed enemy ships and damaged Allied aircraft also destroyed enemy aircraft and probably destroyed some 90 others; enemy aircraft were damaged. Allied total aircraft losses due to enemy action were The main R. At the outbreak of war with Japan there were two R. These were flying boat squadrons and their primary role was reconnaissance to provide an outer line of air observation. A composite squadron was soon afterwards sent to Rabaul to provide some measure of local air defence, but the squadron was overwhelmed by intense air attacks which preceded the enemy capture of Rabaul in January, The first R.
So intense was the scale of operations at this time that by 3rd May the squadron was reduced to a total of three aircraft. It had, however, succeeded in destroying 18 enemy aircraft in air combat and a further 17 in ground strafing attacks on Lae aerodrome. Its own losses were 12 pilots and 22 aircraft. The two flying boat squadrons were withdrawn in May, to the mainland where they continued their reconnaissance to the north-east from their new base at Bowen, Queensland.
The development of an Allied Air Force base at Milne Bay was begun in June and July, , and two fighter squadrons were established there as an air garrison. These, together with other R. The two fighter squadrons, backed by support from air elements at Port Moresby and in co-operation with Australian land forces, contributed largely to the enemy's defeat at, and withdrawal from, Milne Bay. Supply dropping from the air on a large scale was begun in November, With this assistance the land forces were able to advance down the northern slopes of the Owen Stanleys.
This period marked the first use of R. Attack Squadrons, whose Bostons and Beaufighters began constant harassing attacks on the Japanese lines of communication over the mountains and at their beach-heads in the Buna-Gona area. During the Allied air strength steadily increased, enabling direct support to be given to land operations, and the opening of an air offensive against New Britain. In April, , R. Catalinas began the mining from the air of enemy ports throughout the South-West Pacific Area, a specialized operation which caused the loss of thousands of tons of enemy shipping and supplies, and restricted the use of many harbours.
The mining was sustained throughout the remainder of the war, and the Catalinas moved eventually through the Netherlands East Indies and the Philippines to the China Coast. During the later part of it became apparent that a mobile task force was needed and in January, No. The early operations of the group were confined to direct support of the Australian land forces in their drive along the Ramu Valley. During No. Soon after the landing of American land forces at Morotai in September, No.
It then began moving to Morotai where its role became that of destruction of enemy watercraft in the Kai Islands, around Ceram, in the Banda Islands and Maccleur Gulf. During this period the activities of Northern Command, R. Apart from airfield construction the R. Task Force was, like Northern Command, carrying out routine patrols. It did not again come into prominence until the launching of the Borneo campaign in the middle of Preparation for the operations in Borneo began as early as January, From that date until the assaults were launched, a large concentration of R.
Head-quarters, R. Command, which hitherto had controlled R. The operations involved pre-assault air bombardment and general air support for the successive landings at Tarakan on 1st May, at Brunei on 10th June, and at Balikpapan on 1st July. The air forces available consisted of 1st Tactical Air Force, R. Command, and heavy bombers of North-Western Area. This comprised a total of 26 squadrons. After the Brunei assault two R.
Balikpapan, when captured, was made the base for a heavy bomber wing and a General Reconnaissance Bomber Wing. Very little enemy air opposition was encountered throughout the Borneo operations and allied aircraft were therefore able to give the greatest possible measure of close air support to the Australian land forces. From the circle of operational bases established on the Australian mainland squadrons kept ceaseless watch over the important shipping lanes, co-operating with the Royal Australian Navy in protecting merchant ships and military convoys.
Although there were no Australian squadrons in name in the Burma-India theatre there were many R. One R. A number of R. Personnel, War The figures in the table hereunder represent gross enlistments of war service personnel, plus permanent personnel at the beginning of the war, plus gross enlistments in the permanent forces.