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

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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

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ELMES, Charles Robert Henry

Service number 413842
Flight Lieutenant
No. 203 Squadron (RAF)
Royal Air Force (WW2)
Born 11 Oct 1911

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O'DONOHUE, Thomas John

Service number 404487
Flight Lieutenant
No. 159 Squadron (RAF)
Royal Air Force (WW2)
Born 24 Aug 1919

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TOTHILL, Clifford Cavanagh

Service number 429003
Flight Sergeant
No. 80 Squadron
Royal Australian Air Force
Born 6 Aug 1918

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MEYER, Francis Norman

Service number 290745
Flying Officer
No. 13 Squadron (RAAF)
Royal Australian Air Force
Born 2 Oct 1921

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HARPS-BURT, Ernest Albert

Service number 441279
Flying Officer
Born 30 May 1925

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BATH, Richard William Raven

Service number 420116
Flying Officer
No. 75 Squadron (RAAF)
Royal Australian Air Force
Born 14 Apr 1922

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RIDING, Douglas Carson

Service number 177
Wing Commander
No. 31 Squadron (RAAF)
Royal Australian Air Force
Born 11 Apr 1916

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HESLIN, Brendan Michael

Service number 440787
Flight Sergeant
No. 21 Squadron (RAAF)
Royal Australian Air Force
Born 23 May 1924