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 6 people of interest from campaign

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EDWARDS, Edgar Bruce

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

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Service number 410186
Warrant Officer
No. 80 Squadron
Royal Australian Air Force
Born 20 Sep 1922

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KING, Leon Newman

Service number NX136680
Flight Sergeant
No. 80 Squadron
Royal Australian Air Force
Born 29 Sep 1922

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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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NOTT, Colin Archibald

Service number 9358
No. 9 Squadron (RAAF)
Royal Australian Air Force
Born 25 Jul 1914

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EVATT, George Ashmore Leeton

Service number 412808
Flight Lieutenant
Born 10 Sep 1922