RAAF Form A.50
No. 87 Squadron, RAAF - August 1945
| 1 August 1945 to 31 August 1945 - COOMALLIE|
As at 31st. AUGUST, 1945.
Officers - 30 and 2 attached.
Airmen - 213 and 1 attached.
Total - 243 and 3 attached. GRAND TOTAL: 246.
S/Ldr. H.A. GAMBLE (499) - G.D. Pilot and his Navigator F/O L.C. LOBB (408965) departed for 1 P.D. on 3rd. AUGUST, 1945. S/Ldr. GAMBLE having handed over command of the Squadron to S/Ldr. L.W. LAW (144) - G.D. Pilot.
F/Lt. G. LUNDBERG (404607) - G.D. Pilot departed for 3 PD on 27/8/45.
F/O J.E. KERCHER (60832) - G.D. Navigator "W" departed for 2 PD on 27/8/42.
F/L. R.S. TIMBURY (403835) - G.D. Pilot departed for 2 PD on 22/8/45.
F/O D.H. KING (431361) - G.D. Navigator "W" Departed for 1 PD on 27/8/45.
425705, W/O MACLEOD, J.A. - Navigator "W" (Commanding Officer's Navigator) arrived ex. 2 RPP on 6/8/45.
F/Lt. W. MAITLAND (407797) - G.D. Pilot arrived ex. 2 RPP on 6/9/45.
No. 435574, F/Sgt. LONEY, C. - Navigator "W" arrived ex. 2 RPP on 6/8/45.
P/O G.D. POWELL (5834) - G.D. Nav. B. W. arrived ex. 12 ARD on 10/8/45 for Signals Duties.
F/Lt. W.D. EPHGRAVE (2878) - G.D. Pilot arrived ex 2 RPP on 9/8/45.
F/O W. REEDY (427549) - G.D. Navigator "W" arrived ex. 2 RPP on 9/8/45.
F/O F. McKEEVER (404738) - G.D. Navigator B. arrived ex. North Western Area Headquarters for Intelligence Officers Duties.
F/Lt. A.F. DOBSON (406615) - G.D. Intel. Arrived ex. HQ North Western Area for Intelligence Officers Duties.
F/Lt. G.C. KAY (407533) - G.D. Pilot arrived ex 2 RPP on 23/8/45.
W/O W.M. RAMSAY No. 31098, Navigator B.W. arrived ex 2 RPP on 23/8/45.
P/O J.G. GIBBONS (49128) - G.D. Navigator "W" was promoted to Flying Officer wef 9/6/45.
Mosquito 194 hours, 50 minutes.
Wirraway 41 hours, 25 minutes.
TOTAL 236, 15 minutes.
VISITS AND INSPECTIONS. The Air Officer Commanding, North Western Area, Air Commodore A.M. CHARLESWORTH, AFC, the S.O.A., Group Captain F. HEADLAM and the Staff Officer Operations, S/Ldr R.M. RECHNER, DFC, visited the Squadron on "V.P." Day - 15th. AUGUST, 1945.
For almost six years we have all been awaiting the month in which we can record the victorious end of the war, and so for No. 87 (P.R.) Squadron, the 15th. AUGUST, 1945 - the day the complete surrender was announced, was a day of general thanksgiving and no less celebrated than on any other active Squadron on the RAAF.
Operations for the half month prior to surrender had shown a tendency to slacken off and it is interesting to record that one of our crews actually started out on an operation after the surrender had been announced over the wireless. This crew was recalled to base before completing the sortie.
From the 1st. to the 15th. AUGUST, 1945, 11 sorties in all were ordered but two were cancelled. The one mentioned above and another which was cancelled before take-off when one of our aircraft became unserviceable at TRUSCOTT Airstrip.
Of the nine sorties undertaken, 4 were 100% successful, 3 were partially abortive due to cloud obscuring some of the targets and 2 were totally abortive through mechanical defects. F/Lt. EPHGRAVE returned from TIMOR in A52-613 when his instruments became unserviceable and F/Lt. HENRY in A52-609 returned from SOEMBAWA with fuel trouble. Both aircraft reached home safely.
Among the targets for the month were S.E. CELEBES, FLORES, SOEMBAWA, SOEMBA and TIMOR. No Ack Ack was encountered and the only sightings were native craft and one S.D. anchored in BIMA BAY.
It is saddening to know that this month, bringing as it does the final victory, should also include our first Squadron Casualty for some time. Our Flight Commander, Squadron Leader Jim GILLESPIE died on 5th. AUGUST, 1945 at No. 1 Medical Receiving Station from the burns sustained when his aircraft A52-605 crashed on take-off on the morning of 3rd. AUGUST, 1945. His Navigator F/O Frank HAYMES was admitted to No. 1 MRS suffering from burns but is now out of danger and shortly due for release. S/Ldr. GILLESPIE was buried at the ADELAIDE RIVER WAR CEMETERY on 6th. AUGUST, 1945.
At the time of the crash, S/Ldr. GILLESPIE was taking off on a detachment to LABUAN ISLAND, North West BORNEO. F/Lt. LUNDBERG and F/O KERCHER, F/O DAVIES and F/O REYNOLDS took off from COOMALLIE the following morning, 4th. AUGUST for LABUAN via MORATAI in Mosquito Aircraft A52-600 and A52-604. Both arrived without incident and operated with the First Tactical Air Force, RAAF until returning to base on 25th. AUGUST, 1945.
Detachment at LABUAN.
O/C. Detachment - F/Lt. G. LUNDBERG.
Aircraft and Crews:-
A52-604 - F/Lt. LUNDBERG (Pilot), F/O KERCHER (Nav. "W").
A52-600 - F/O DAVIES (Pilot), F/O REYNOLDS (Nav. "W").
Both details took off from COOMALLIE on 4/8/45 after a false start on 3/8/45 when A52-605 crashed and burnt on the strip. The trip to LABUAN was via MORATAI and was uneventful and LABUAN was reached at 1800 hours. The strip was found to be much shorter than expected - 3500 feet - 100 feet wide, but no difficulty was experienced in taking off and landing. The servicing of the aircraft was taken over by No. 1 Squadron, but no serious unserviceability was experienced over the period of 3 weeks.
First TAF RAAF Intelligence had prepared a long list of targets which the two Navigators divided up into trips. Amongst the most important targets were KUCHING, the capital of SARAWAK, PONTIANAK, SIBU and NATOENA and AUAMBAS ISLANDS. No recent coverage of KUCHING was available and a great deal of detailed was obtained from coverages with the F.52 35" Camera. A 2,000 ton vessel was sighted in a river North East of KUCHING and was sunk the next day by No. 93 Squadron Beaufighters. The Army was especially interested in the condition of roads and bridges around KUCHING and were able to gain that information from Photo. Interpretation.
From coverage of SIBU and Intelligence Reports it was found that the JAPANESE were using a large Residency Building as an Officers' Club. No. 93 Squadron Beaufighters completely gutted the building with rocket fire at a time when it was thought that the Japs would be having their midday meal.
No ack ack was experienced on any mission and both crews found that the worst enemy was weather. On the first mission both duties were forced to return to base on the deck after completing photography, through heavy rain storms which reduced visibility to 100 yards. The loop bearings obtained on this trip were very accurate. All missions were flown through heavy cloud formations and considerable icing was experienced at altitude.
All major targets were covered before hostilities ceased and three minor jobs were completed before return, making a total of 11 sorties with a total of 87 hours. Nos. 1 and 93 Squadrons briefed their crews on our target coverage and invariably had an operation out the next day after we had taken photographs.
Three new Mark 16 Mosquitos arrived during AUGUST bringing our total strength to 13 operational aircraft.
A52-614 arrived on 1st. AUGUST, 1945.
A52-618 arrived on 25th. AUGUST, 1945.
A52-619 arrived on 27th. AUGUST, 1945.
Mosquito A52-605 crashed on take-off on the morning of 3rd. AUGUST, 1945 and was a complete write off but as yet we have not been advised to write same off our strength and so the serviceability for the month suffered considerably. A52-600 and A52-604 departed from this Unit on 4th. AUGUST, 1945 on a special mission to LABUAN and arrived back on 25th. AUGUST, 1945. While away the crews reported no major unserviceability, which speaks well for the maintenance of the Squadron and the ground personnel who prepared the aircraft for the trip. A52-604 was given a 120 hourly inspection by ground personnel of No. 1 Squadron, RAAF while at LABUAN.
The serviceability was lower than last month and was as under:-
Mosquitos Mark 16 and 40 - 54%
Mosquitos Mark 3 - 42%
Wirraway - 69%
During this month successful photographic reconnaissance was carried out on seven sorties, together with eleven sorties that were flown by two aircraft on detachment at LABUAN. In addition six local jobs were also flown.
The number of operational prints despatched to Air Intel and RAAF Command was 4,546 and the total number of prints from both ground and serial was 8,919. This was a decrease of 3,881 on the previous month.
Three new crews carried out conversions on to Mark 16 Mosquitos during AUGUST and general flying practice was completed by a further six crews in Mosquito A52-1010 and Wirraways A20-572 and A20-165.
No night flying practice was done for AUGUST.
During AUGUST, a 4 x 2 General Service Vehicle was allotted away for which there has been no replacement.
The G/S. Truck mentioned in previous reports as being unserviceable is now in commission and save for two vehicles undergoing "F" inspections on this unit all transport is now in service. Three "F" inspections will be falling due in SEPTEMBER and when these are carried out, transport in general should be in a fairly strong position.
There are still some spares outstanding but generally speaking spares have been arriving satisfactorily.
All possible follow up action has been taken by this unit.
It is interesting to note that this Unit has operated against the enemy for three years and two weeks without any casualties in operations against the enemy. No ground casualties have occurred through either bombing or strafing. This is a record which the Squadron is proud of although four Pilots have been killed in flying accidents.
Competition football, having been banned in this area, basketball remains the only competitive sport played by this Unit. With onw round of matches to be played, 87 (P.R.) Squadron is ussured of third place in the final four. Our team is expected to distinguish itself in the finals as during the month it defeated the hitherto undefeated leaders - 3 Wireless Unit.
Table tennis is remaining popular. In a match on the Unit, Airmen defeated Sergeants and further matches are being arranged.
Trucks were on daily run to MANTON RIVER for the convenience of swimmers training for the carnival to be held on 1st. SEPTEMBER, 1945.
Transport is still available each Sunday for Airmen's picnics which generally take place at MINDIL BEACH in DARWIN.
Unit personnel assisted by artists from Headquarters, North Western Area put on their second concert on the Unit. This time it happily coincided with V.P. Day and was held on the airstrip immediately preceding a Victory Bonfire on the sports ground. As a result of their efforts in this direction two of our personnel have been posted to Welfare Section, North Western Area to participate in travelling shows and with the backbone of our talent gone, it seems unlikely that this unit will be able to arrange further concerts themselves.
The following photographs of interest to the Squadron are attached:-
(a) "Bosco's Bus" (F/Lt. N.G. JOHNSTON) - Mosquito A52-609 showing her paces on one engine.
(b) Aircrew members of No. 87 (P.R.) Squadron. (Mosquito in background).
(c) The LABUAN Deatchment. (F/Lt. LUNDBERG, F/O KERCHER, F/O DAVIES and F/O REYNOLDS).
(d) Officers and Aircrew Members of No. 87 (P.R.) Squadron.
(e) Photograph of all Members of No. 87 (P.R.) Squadron - 17th. AUGUST, 1945.