title

RAAF in Malaya

Invasion of Malaya
The RAAF in Malaya
A Lockheed Hudson of 1 Squadron RAAF at
Kota Bahru airfield. The Hudsons were used
for reconnaisance and attack during
the Japanese landings in Malaya.
[AWM P02266.005]
On 7 December 1941, Royal Air Force Command in Malaya had an operational strength of 164 first-line aircraft with 88 others in reserve. Included in RAF Command were four RAAF squadrons, two with Hudson bombers and two with Buffalo fighters, a group of three Dutch Catalinas, and a Royal New Zealand Air Force Buffalo squadron. In Malaya, No 1 Squadron with Hudsons was at Kota Bahru on the north-eastern coast, No 8 Squadron with Hudsons was at Kuantan further south, and No 21 Squadron with Buffaloes was at Sungei Patani, in north-west Malaya. No 453 Squadron with Buffaloes was back at Singapore. No 1 Squadron RAAF was the first squadron ordered into the air to mount sorties against the Japanese invasion fleet and other squadrons, including
Photo
Flying Officer C H 'Spud' Spurgeon, 8 Squadron RAAF, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for his actions in Malaya. He was shot down and captured towards the end of the campaign.
[AWM P00301.001]
8 Squadron RAAF, were ordered to launch an attack at first light on enemy shipping in the Kota Bahru area. After air raids on Sungei Patani, 21 Squadron withdrew to Ipoh, and pilots of 453 Squadron flew their Buffaloes north to reinforce them. By 11 December, the Japanese had captured all airfields in northern Malaya. The air war continued, with heavy losses at times, until the fall of Singapore.

The Diary and 'Line' book written by the pilots of 453 Squadron recorded the outbreak of the Pacific war:

Rudely awakened in the small hours of the morning by the screams of air raid sirens and the roar of ack ack guns and in the clear moonlit sky around a formation of Japanese bombers. Bombs were dropped but none fell in our area. So the war in the Far East started - all day we heard news bulletins telling of the wide spread treachery of the Japs - Well! They've asked for it - !!

photo
A few weeks before the Japanese
attacked, pilots of 453 Squadron were
photographed running to their Buffaloes in response to a 'scramble' order.
[AWM SUK14775]

On 10 December members of the squadron were ordered to scramble:

About 1100 hours both flights were ordered into the air ... (first flight) proceeded northwards past Mersing and shortly came upon the scene of a major naval disaster. Large patches of oil covered the water and two large warships were observed to be sinking - other naval vessels were standing off picking up survivors. ... Discovered on landing that the two ships were the Prince of Wales and the Repulse -!

 

 

Australia at war 3 September 1939
Libya and the Siege of Tobruk 1941
Greece and Crete April-May 1941
Syria and Lebanon June 1941
Malaya December 1941 to Moresby May 1942
Australia under attack 1940-1945
Coral Sea, Kokoda, Milne Bay May-September 1942
El Alamein October-November 1942
The Home Front 1939-1945
The Coastwatchers 1941-1945
Australian prisoners of war 1940-1945
Little-known operations 1939-1945
Papua 1942-1943
The Japanese retreat March 1943-January 1944
War at sea 1939-1945
Air war Europe 1939-1945
Bougainville, Borneo, New Britain, New Guinea 1944-1945
8 May 1945/15 August 1945
Australia at war 3 September 1939
Libya and the Siege of Tobruk 1941
Greece and Crete April-May 1941
Syria and Lebanon June 1941
Malaya December 1941 to Moresby May 1942
Australia under attack 1940-1945
Coral Sea, Kokoda, Milne Bay May-September 1942
El Alamein October-November 1942
The Home Front 1939-1945
The Coastwatchers 1941-1945
Australian prisoners of war 1940-1945
Little-known operations 1939-1945
Papua 1942-1943
The Japanese retreat March 1943-January 1944
War at sea 1939-1945
Air war Europe 1939-1945
Bougainville, Borneo, New Britain, New Guinea 1944-1945
8 May 1945/15 August 1945