Air War SE Asia 1941-45 (World War 2, 7 December 1941 to 15 August 1945)

About This Campaign

This section relates to air operations over the mainland of SE Asia and the Indian Ocean, which continued until 15 August 1945.  Operations eastward are addressed in a separate section 'Air War SW Pacific'.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour, the Philippines and the north coast of Malaysia on 7 Dec 1941, the Allied air forces in the region were hit by a succession of hammer blows as the Japanese quickly gained air superiority, lead by the ubiquitous Mitsubishi A6 'Zero' fighter that was faster, more manoeuverable and at least as heavily armed as anything the Allies had at that time.

On the mainland of SE Asia there began an aerial contest that encompassed an area from Singapore to India and into China.  After the disastrous Malayan campaign, RAAF personnel served primarily attached to RAF squadrons based in India and Burma (now Myanamar), as the RAAF effort became focussed on northern Australia and New Guinea.

Australian pilots and aircraft did maintain a critical air link from Australia to the UK, via Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) from 1943 after the route was originally cut by the Japanese in 1942.  This was done by flying mainly Consolidated PBY Catalina aircraft from Nedlands in WA to Colombo in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) via the Cocos Islands,  almost entirely over water.  Passengers were awarded "The Order of the Double Sunrise" because they would see two sunrises during the journey. 



Showing 8 people of interest from campaign

DUMAS, Keith Russell

Service number 407055
Flying Officer
No. 45 Squadron (RAF)
Royal Air Force
Born 14 Sep 1920

EDWARDS, Edgar Bruce

Service number 441313
Flight Sergeant
No. 42 Squadron RAAF
Royal Australian Air Force
Born 29 May 1925

MORCOMBE, Frank Keith

Service number 406572
Pilot Officer
No. 14 Squadron (RAAF)
Royal Australian Air Force
Born 18 Aug 1913

NEELANDS, Neil William

Service number 419070
Flying Officer
No. 194 Squadron (RAF)
Royal Australian Air Force
Born 15 Jun 1924

WHITE, Gordon Horace

Service number 406121
Flight Lieutenant
No. 78 Squadron (RAAF)
Royal Australian Air Force
Born 4 Jan 1922

GILBERT, Maxwell Albert John

Service number 442454
Pilot Officer
No. 75 Squadron (RAAF)
Royal Australian Air Force
Born 26 Jun 1925

MARTIN, Lynnton Ainsley

Service number 408816
Flying Officer
No. 2 Squadron (RAAF)
Royal Australian Air Force
Born 21 Sep 1913

HUME, John James Oliver

Service number 427095
Flying Officer
No. 21 Squadron (RAAF)
Royal Australian Air Force
Born 18 Oct 1916