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RAAF Form A.50

No. 457 Squadron, RAAF - March 1943

1 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Weather non-operational: torrential rain.
2 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Fine and warm. Indications shortly before 1400 hours showed that enemy aircraft were approaching the DARWIN area. The Squadron scrambled in three sections of four aircraft, with one aircraft to fly as base cover. At 1410 hours the three sections were disappearing into cloud to the north of base when the squadron members on the ground saw seven enemy aircraft flying south at seven thousand feet. Soon afterwards a number of Zeroes attacked BATCHELOR and COOMALIE airfields, causing small damage and casualties. 457 Squadron, which was to the north of this area, made no interception. Three enemy "Kate" machines accompanied the Zeroes during the attack and appeared to carry out observation duties.
3 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Intermittent showers. Warm. F/O A.D. Izatt joined Squadron from No. 1 Fighter Wing as O.C. Equipment. The squadron was scrambled to five thousand feet at 1520 hours, but no interception was made. Profits from canteen takings allowed each member of the Squadron to select goods to the value of 3/1 from the canteen: this was much appreciated by the men.
4 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Overcast, warm. Intermittent showers. Group Captain Walters and Wing Commander Caldwell literally 'sat' on readiness with the Squadron. Aircraft and engine tests comprised the day's flying.
5 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Fine, some cloud. Formation flying. Aircraft and Engine tests. Sgt. Pilot C. Gumbley made successful belly landing when a mechanical failure developed in his undercarriage. He was unhurt and the machine slightly damaged.
6 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Overcast, hot. Some rain. One section patrolled convoy. Practice attacks by eight aircraft after stand down.
7 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Warm, overcast, with few breaks in cloud. Red Section of four aircraft, (led by F/Lt. D.H. Maclean and comprising F/Sgt. J. McDowell, F/O J. Gifford and F/O W. Turner) were scrambled at 1100 hours to intercept enemy aircraft reported over Bathurst Island. The section was ordered to fifteen thousand feet and split into two sections. The "Tally Ho" was given by F/Lt. Maclean, who gave chase with F/Sgt. McDowell. Both pilots delivered two attacks each at close range upon the enemy reconnaissance aircraft -- "Dinah" -- when it was heading for home over the sea about 15 miles from DARWIN. There was no return fire and little evasive action from the aircraft, which plunged, burning fiercely, into the sea. The 'destroyed' claim was shared between both pilots. In the evening the 'first Australian blooding' of the Squadron was celebrated in the traditional manner, despite the shortage of liquor. P/O Turner damaged his aircraft in a taxi-ing accident when he struck a tree after attempting to avoid collision with a motor transport.
8 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Overcast and warm. Aerobatics and attack. F/Sgt. Briggs promoted to W/O Pilot. Sgts. Batchelor, Watson, Hart, Gumbley, Jenkins, Hardwick promoted to rank of F/Sgt. Sgt. Pilot F. White arrived on posting from No. 55 Operational Base.
9 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Fine and hot. Squadron Balbo. Search for destroyed "Dinah" yielded three oxygen bottles and a notebook recovered from the sea. F/O J.H. Smithson arrived on posting for flying duties from No. 55 Operational Base.
10 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Overcast, warm. Naval co-operation with out aircraft in search for crashed "Dinah". Local flying, aircraft tests.
11 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Overcast, warm. Violent storm in afternoon accompanied by buffeting wind. Formation flying and cannon tests.
12 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Overcast, warm. Torrential rain in afternoon. Flight and Squadron formations. In the evening an excellent concert was produced for the Squadron by the North Western Area Welfare Party. It was almost professional standard and was thoroughly enjoyed by all three hundred present.
13 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Fine, hot. Squadron Balbo and aerobatics. F/O H. Blake swung off the runway into trees due to a mechanical failure when landing. The aircraft finished its run by standing upon its nose in a most spectacular manner. The pilot was fortunately unhurt.
14 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Fine and hot. This morning there was a crispness in the air which indicated a change of season. The day was without humidity. Grand weather to get the dampness out of aircraft radio sets and parachutes. Squadron of fourteen aircraft scrambled but approaching aircraft was identified as friendly.
15 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Fine and hot. Cannon testing. At 1034 there were indications that a number of enemy aircraft were approaching DARWIN, and between 1045 - 1125 Blue, Yellow and Red sections were airborne for interception over DARWIN and patrol over MACDONALD. Blue and Yellow sections were ordered to rendezvous over HUGHES at 10000 feet, where they met three sections of 452 Squadron. 54 Squadron was late and climbed after the RAAF squadrons to 20000 feet. Yelow 1, F/Lt. Watson, DFC, reported to operations that enemy bombers were 15 miles NW of Point CHARLES and headed for DARWIN at 23000 feet. The enemy formation consisted of three large sections of Vics in line abreast surrounded by Zeroes in groups of three, roughly roughly 2000 feet above the bombers and 1 mile in front of them. There appeared to be 20/23 bombers and slightly more fighters. S/Ldr. T. Smith, DFC, who led the wing sections, gave "Tally Ho" and turned in front of the bombers, placing the Zeroes between the Wing aircraft and the bombers. The Wing aircraft became separated and were jumped out of the sun by Zeroes. 54 Squadron aircraft were already by this time engaged with the bombers and fighters. A general dog-fight ensued with the Zeroes over Darwin harbour, while the bombers went on to do slight damage in DARWIN. As the bombers turned and made away from the coast our aircraft kept up a running attack until the enemy was 90 miles out to sea.
All 457 Squadron returned to base safely, although dangerously short of fuel. F/Sgt. Batchelor landed at base with glycol and oil leaks, due to Jap bullets. The undercarriage of the machine flown by F/O Hamilton collapsed on the runway as he taxied in. The damage was very slight. Our score for the day was: F/Lt. P. Watson, DFC, 1 Zero destroyed; F/O Hamilton, 1 probable Zero; P/O N. Robinson, 1 probable Zero; F/Sgt. McDowell, 1 "Betty" damaged.
Red and White sections, led by S/Ldr. K.E. James were, during the combat, ordered to patrol over MACDONALD.
Red Section comprised: S/Ldr. K.E. James; F/O L. Munro; P/O K. Barker; F/O W. Turner.
White Section: F/O D. Edwards, F/Sgt. W. Hardwick, P/O T. Clark, F/Lt. D. Maclean.
Blue Section: F/O B. Hamilton, F/Sgt. R. Watson, P/O N. Robinson, F/Sgt. J. McDowell.
Yellow Section: F/Lt. P.H. Watson, DFC, F/Sgt. W. Batchelor.
The loss of S/Ldr. T. Smith, DFC, of 452 Squadron, was a blow to all the members of this Squadron.
Despite the fact that 457 pilots were jumped by a superior force of Zeroes, our pilots fought their way out of their difficulties, taking a toll of the Jap. at the same time. Sgt. Pilot A. Macpherson promoted to rank of F/Sgt.
16 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Fine and hot. Cannon, aircraft and engine tests. F/O J. Newton searched the sea over Cape Fourcroy area for the wreckage of S/Ldr. T. Smith's aircraft.
17 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Fine and hot. Army searchlight co-operation by one aircraft in the Footcliff, Middle Point, Picnic Point triangle. Cannon and aircraft testing. Searchlight co-operation from Darwin was also carried out at night.
18 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Fine and hot. W/O R. Briggs swerved off the runway on return from night standby at DARWIN, and struck the water pipe beside the road, causing severe damage to the aircraft. The pilot was unhurt. Sgt. Pilot F. White collided with another aircraft as he taxied into the dispersal bays after a practice flight., causing minor damage to both aircraft.
19 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Fine and hot. Aircraft testing. At dusk S/Ldr. James led F/O Clark, P/O J. Gifford, W/O Briggs to DARWIN for night standby.
20 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Fine and hot. Section returned from DARWIN. Aircraft and engine testing.
21 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Fine and hot. Aircraft and engine testing. S/Ldr. K.E. James led F/Lt. P. Watson, DFC, F/O Hamilton, F/O A.H. Blake and F/O I. McKenzie to RAAF DARWIN for night standby and interception practice.
22 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Fine and hot. Five aircraft returned from standby at RAAF DARWIN. Four aircraft scrambled between 1440 and 1600, but no interception was made.
23 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Fine and hot. Cannon, aircraft and engine tests. Flight formations: attacks and aerobatics. P/O N. Robinson left by air for TOCUMWAL for ferrying duties.
24 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Fine and hot. Aircraft, engine and cannon tests. Formation flying. S/Ldr. K.E. James, F/Lt. D.H. Maclean, F/O I Mackenzie, F/O J. Gifford, F/O J. Turbill, F/Sgt. Basey flew to RAAF DARWIN for night standby.
25 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Fine and hot. Six aircraft, led by S/Ldr. K.E. James, returned to base from night standby at RAAF DARWIN. Cannon, aircraft and engine tests.
26 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Fine and hot. Red and White sections of eight aircraft scrambled, but there was no interception. F/Lt. Tully admitted to No. 1 MRS for treatment. Sgt. Pilot R. Cunningham arrived on posting from No. 54 Squadron.
27 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Fine and hot. Squadron formation practice.
28 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Fine and hot. No flying.
29 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Fine and hot. Cannon and aircraft tests. Air Commodore Bladin, with GOC Area, visited the Squadron, and met the pilots at dispersal, also inspecting aircraft, Intelligence marquee, and other installations. Air Commodore Bladin offered to supply reading matter for pilots on stand by. P/O N. Robinson flew new Spitfire arriving at LIVINGSTONE from TOCUMWAL at 1300 hours. F/Lt. Tully discharged from hospital. Sgt. Pilots Hart and Gumbley were posted to Operational Bases.
30 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Fine and hot. Squadron formation and aerobatics. Attacks on Hudson aircraft.
31 March 1943 - LIVINGSTONE.
Fine and hot, Local flying and shadow shooting. The month ends with the Squadron's destruction of three enemy aircraft, three probably destroyed and one damaged without loss to itself. Since the fifteenth the enemy has made no move to repeat his raids and our pilots are becoming impatient at the lack of action. They discuss little else but tactics against Jap. aircraft. Serviceability has been extremely high for the month. On the whole the squadron has enjoyed a fulsome month considering the lack of amenities in the area.
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