No. 22 Squadron (RAAF) 77 Strike Wing, 1st Tactical Air Force - SW Pacific

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About This Unit

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22 Squadron "City of Sydney".

No 22 Squadron formed at Richmond, New South Wales in April 1936 and as a Citizen Air Force unit, its complement consisted of two thirds reserve personnel and one-third permanent members. 

22 together with 30 and 31 Squadrons operated as long range strike squadrons in the SW Pacific during WW II.  They each operated the Bristol Beaufighter aircraft by war's end, by which time they were grouped as 77 Wing.  They are commemorated on the Adelaide RAAF Memorials complex on Plaque 2 and 29.  

22 Squadron was initially equipped with Douglas Boston  A20 aircraft originally intended for the Netherlands East Indies, and operated them with distinction until late in the war.  After most of 22 Squadrons's A-20 Bostons were destroyed or damaged on Moratai Island in a Japanese raid early in late 1944, it converted to Bristol Beaufighter aircraft in the later part of  WW 2 in the SW Pacific.  

Bristol Beaufighters were an important and very highly regarded RAAF aircraft in both the Pacific and in NW Europe, where they were operated by 455 (Strike) and 456 (Night Fighter) Squadrons.  More than 350 Mk21 Beaufighters were built in Australia by the Department of Aircraft Production and featured 4 x .50 calibre wing mounted guns in place of the 6 x .303 in the earlier A-19 variant as well as a payload of rockets or bombs.  Although there was a torpedo carrying variant, the RAAF did not operate that version.

Following the outbreak of World War II, No 22 Squadron was mobilised and began anti submarine and convoy escort patrols off the East Coast. By December 1941, the Unit was equipped with Australian-built Wirraways, however four months later the squadron converted to American-built Boston twin engine medium attack bombers originally intended for the Dutch East Indies.

In October 1942, No 22 Squadron moved to New Guinea and begun flying air support for Australian troops defending Port Moresby.

In March 1943, the Squadron played an important part in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea by attacking and neutralising the Japanese base at Lae. The Bostons also participated in a low level skip bombing attack on the Japanese convoy in which four destroyers and eight transport ships were sunk.

Two weeks later, six Bostons attacked the newly constructed oil storage facility at Salamaua. Flying through heavy anti-aircraft fire, Flight Lieutenant Bill Newton's crew destroyed two oil tanks before explosions rocked their aircraft. Hit by no less than four anti aircraft shells, the Boston suffered extensive damage, yet despite its battered condition, Newton bought his crippled aircraft back to base and managed to land without injury to his crew. For this heroic action Flight Lieutenant Newton was later awarded the Victoria Cross - the highest gallantry award available to a member of the British Commonwealth, and the only such award made to a member of the RAAF in the Pacific theatre.

Sadly two weeks later, Newton's aircraft was shot down, and although surviving the crash, Flight Lieutenant Newton and another crew member were captured by the Japanese and executed.

Over the next two years the Bostons attacked targets throughout the South West Pacific, however, the Unit was dealt a severe blow in November 1944, when a Japanese air raid destroyed eleven Bostons at the base on Morotai Island. Operations were severely curtailed until the Unit was re-equipped with Australian built Beaufighters in January 1945.

Combat operations continued up until the end of the war.  No 22 Squadron returned to Australia at the end of 1945, disbanding some eight months later

 

 

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