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RAAF Form A.50

No. 87 Squadron, RAAF - December 1944

1 December 1944 to 31 December 1944 - COOMALIE
STRENGTH:
As at 31st December, 1944.
Officers - 26 and 1 attached
Airmen - 149 and 22 attached
Total - 175 and 23 attached = 198

POSTINGS:
P/O A. DAVIES (402733) Pilot from 2 RPP arrived 2nd December, 1944.
S/Ldr. A.S. HERMES (260803) Pilot departed 20th December, 1944 to 2 PD.
F/Lt. J.D. BOWDEN (1460) Nav. BW to 2 RPP wef 20th December, 1944.

PROMOTIONS:
F/O J.D. BOWDEN (1460) promoted to F/Lt. wef 1st October, 1944.
F/O G. LUNDBERG (404607) promoted to F/Lt. wef 1st October, 1944.

CHANGE OF COMMAND:
As from 20th December, 1944, S/Ldr. H.A. GAMBLE (499) took over command of this Squadron from S/Ldr. A.S. HERMES (260803).

FLYING TIMES:
Mosquito : 110.35
Wirraway : 25.10
Total : 135.45

OPERATIONS:
Unfavourable weather had a marked influence this month on our operational activities. In contrast with our record number of operational sorties last month we were able to undertake only eight during December. And of these eight only four were completely successful. Two other sorties were partially successful but owing to cloud were unable to obtain photos of all the targets. Two sorties were completely unsuccessful as both found all their targets were completely obscured by cloud. A further five sorties were profected but of these two were cancelled because of the weather, two because of engine trouble and the fifth because its companion aircraft on the operation was unserviceable and instructions had been given for the job to be carried out by two aircraft simultaneously.
In spite of our limited activity our targets as usual were widely spaced. Two visits were made to the CELEBES, two to the FLORES, two to EAST JAVA, one to SALAROE ISLES and one to the KAI and AROE ISLES. And of the three cancelled sorties two were to have gone to EAST JAVA and one to the CELEBES. Our sorties to EAST JAVA were disappointingly unsuccessful owing to the cloud conditions prevailing and it was only on our closer targets in the FLORES and the KAI ISLES that one hundred percent results were obtained.
As in previous months the only enemy opposition encountered was limited to ineffectual A/A. Three of our aircraft being fired upon. Once at POMELAA, once at SALAROE ISLD. and once at AROE ISLD. In all cases the A/A was slight, heavy, and inaccurate. Nil interception was experienced.
Our only other flying activity was limited to local and travel flights and also on one day we had one Mosquito and two Wirraways engaged on a search for a missing B25 (unsuccessful).
For staging out purposes two of our aircraft used TRUSCOTT and four used BROOME.

AIRCRAFT:
Our aircraft serviceability (43%) can hardly be described this month as satisfactory. Although we received another Mosquito (A52-26) on the 6th we seldom had more than two aircraft serviceable at the one time. This has mostly been due however to our inability to obtain AOG spares. A52-9 was AOG on 5th December and was not made serviceable until the 30th. Similarly A52-6 AOG on 6th December at the end of this month is still awaiting the arrival of spares. A52-26 was unserviceable for a considerable portion of the month through the development of more or less minor faults, after the acceptance check, most of which has been corrected though for the last two days of this month it too has been AOG for spares. Fortunately our operational committments were few this month and A52-2 and A52-7 were available for doing the bulk of the work.
Wirraway A20-178 and A20-605 had normal serviceability (50%) and were used for local flying and for a search for a missing B25. This low average serviceability is due to the perishing of the hydraulic rubbers as mentioned the previous month.
The two Hudsons attached from Survey Flight were detached from this Squadron as at the end of November and left on the first of this month.

TRANSPORT:
Transport section this month very satisfactorily met all demands made on its services. The unit's fire tender and ambulance are still at 4 RSU undergoing complete overhauls. These two vehicles are now a vital part of the unit's transport as we are now solely responsible for COOMALIE Strip. One vehicle is off the road for lack of tyres. 9 SD are unable to supply and have forwarded our demand to [NFO?]. This is however partly offset by our acquisition of a keep as staff car for the C.O.

EQUIPMENT:
Serviceability was not satisfactory during the month owing to the inability of the Equipment Section to obtain the requisite spares. All necessary hastening action has been taken by the section to the various sources of supply without much success. With an extra eight aircraft expected on this Unit in the near future it would seem that serviceability is going to suffer badly unless a more prompt reply to demands is not made.

PHOTOGRAPHY:
This month is probably the quietest the photographic section has so far experienced. Only eight operational flights returned photographs and from these 675 exposures and 2050 prints were made. Three local photographic flights were also carried out from which 280 prints were produced. In addition 2915 prints were completed of target maps and other ground subjects. Advantage was taken of this lull to repair approaches to the section and to undertake general maintenance work in the section.

TRAINING:
Nil training was carried out this month

WELFARE:
Our most outstanding function this month of course has been the Xmas festivities. Extra supplementary allowance and the Welfare Account provided the money to purchase 33lbs. turkey, 50 lbs. chicken, 46 lbs ham plus Xmas puddings and other accessories and so provided the basis for a very successful Xmas Dinner. Each airman was provided free with one bottle of beer for the dinner - the beer being largely the gift of our ex Commanding Officer S/Ldr. A. STUART HERMES and the Officers and Senior NCOs acted as stewards as stewards for the occasion. A true Xmas spirit prevailed not only at this function but throughout the entire Xmas period and the relations between all ranks, always very cordial in this Unit, may be said to have been further enhanced during this period.
Our normal recreational activities have continued to expand. This Unit has now combined with MRS to form a football team to play in the COOMALIE-BATCHELOR Association. Two matches so far have been played with gratifying results - our combination defeating NWA by 7.11 to 5.6 and No. 12 ARD by 10.5 to 7.4. In cricket we also had a win our guards providing a team to play NWA guards and winning by 7 runs.
Owing to a lack of variety in prizes the Quiz this month was run on slightly different lines. All present were given a pencil and paper and asked to write the answers. After each question the answer was given and discussed. One hundred and twenty questions were posed and the four winners each received three bottles of beer. A new departure this month was the staging of two concerts at MRS by members of Toc H in this Unit.
As in previous months transport was made available to convoy airmen to the pictures at NWA and for Sunday picnics and sporting activities.
During the month P/O TROTTER of 2 RPP visited the Unit to inspect the educational facilities. He intends visiting the Unit at regular intervals to advise those desirous of undertaking service courses.
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