Phil Listemann moves ahead with a new booklet of his series on the RAF fighter squadrons. Some are well-known, others are not, but they have in common specific features that make them all remarkable to some extent.
His latest release deals with the N° 457 (RAAF) Squadron, a unit born in England in the wake of Britain’s declation of war to Germany supported by the Dominions. Even though the squadrons would be manned by nationals, operational control would still remain in RAF’s hands.
Such is the case of 457 formed in June 1941 but under the command of an English Squadron Leader. Equipped with Spitfires, 457 was declared operationnal in August, at a time when the Luftwaffe was fully committed on the new Eastern front against SSSR. With a regular turn over of its pilots and few opportunities to challenge the Luftwaffe, the morale began to sink and efficiency was practically nil.
With the war raging on in the Pacific and threatening Australia, 457 was earmarked to reinforce the weak Allied forces in this theatre. However, before being transferred it needed some combat experience and 457 was attached to the Kenley Wing in March 1942. The aggressive Australian pilots saw some action but not as much as they would have wished. 457 contribution to Fighter Command was negligible owing to the lack of opposition.
And in June 1942, 457 sailed to Australia to take part in the defence of Darwin as part of the so-called “Churchill Wing”. Nicknamed “Grey Nurse” (a ferocious breed of shark), 457 under the brilliant overall command of the leading Australian ace and born-leader, Clive Caldwell, will wreak havoc among the Japanese air forces.
This booklet (A5) like the previous ones is split up into an overview of the air operations and appendices that give all data (serials of aircraft flown, bases, number of sorties day by day, victories and losses and the roster with all details on each pilot).
Many photographs and nice colour profiles by Malcolm Laird will be appreciated by the reader.
RAF Fighter Squadrons