About This Unit
Extract from Wikipedia article - see link in sidebar
466 Squadron was an Article XV squadron formed under the Empire Air Training Scheme in late 1942 at RAF Driffield in Yorkshire England. It was designated as a night bomber squadron attached to RAF Bomber Command from the outset. Initially the Squadron was manned with personnel from across the Commonwealth; it was only towards the end of the war as replacement crews were predominantly Australian that a majority of its personnel were members of the RAAF.
The Squadron was initially equipped with Vickers Wellington medium bombers, and it transferred to RAF Leconfield, also in Yorkshire, on 27 December 1942 and flew its first mission on 13 January 1943.
Its main roles were strategic bombing over Germany and laying anti-shipping sea mines (known as gardening missions - a term which belies the inherent danger of flying low over the sea in all sorts of weather to lay mines) in the North Sea. The squadron's primary operational focus, however, was the strategic bombing of Germany.
At the end of August 1943 the squadron withdrew from operations to re-equip with Handley Page Halifax heavy bombers, and did not return until 1 December 1943. A mixture of mine-laying and nocturnal raids over Europe continued in early 1944 until the squadron, like much of bomber command, was directed against "Transportation Plan" rail and road infrastrucuctre in the lead up to D Day, and military targets in Normandy supporting the Allied ground forces post-D Day.
On 3 June 1944, the squadron returned to Driffield. Operations in support of the ground forces, and against V1 flying bomb and V2 rocket launch sites, continued through July and into August. The emphasis of the squadron's operations progressively returned to the strategic bombing offensive against Germany, and occasional missions in support of ground operations, such as those mounted against the island of Walcheren in late October 1944.
The squadron's operations over Germany continued into 1945. With the strength of the German air force in rapid decline, an increasing number of missions were flown in daylight. 466 Squadron mounted its last bombing raid on ANZAC Day 1945 against the coastal defences on the German North Sea island of Wangerooge.
On 7 May the squadron was transferred to Transport Command but never fully converted to the transport role. It relocated to Bassingbourn on 8 September and began re-equipping with Consolidated Liberator heavy bombers. This process was not completed when the squadron disbanded on 26 October 1945.
In May 1945, following the end of the war in Europe,466 Squadron began re-training at RAF Bassingbourn, in Cambridgeshire, as a transport unit. Some sources state that the squadron was renumbered as No. 10 Squadron RAAF on 20 June 1945, while others say the squadron operated as a combined unit with No. 10 Sqn. It was re-converting to Consolidated Liberator heavy bombers when Japan surrendered, whereupon the squadron was disbanded at RAF Bassingbourn on 26 October 1945.
466 Sqn flew 3,326 sorties against 269 different targets, dropping 8,804 tons of bombs and laid 442 tons of mines. A total of 81 aircraft were lost and 184 RAAF personnel serving with the squadron were killed.
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Against all Odds - Narrow Escape for Some
Flying Officer Joe Herman (RAAF), the captain of a 466 Sqn Halifax B.Mk.III, narrowly escaped death in a remarkable incident on 4 November 1944. During a night mission over Germany, his aircraft (LV936, "HD-D"), was badly damaged by Flak. After ordering the crew to bail out, Herman was blown out of the plane, without a parachute. After falling a long way, possibly more than 3,000 metres, Herman fell onto the Halifax's mid-upper gunner, F/O John Vivash (RAAF), and grabbed one of his legs. Both men descended on one parachute, suffered minor injuries when landing and survived the war as prisoners of war. From a total crew of seven, only one other airman, Sgt H. W. Knott (RAF), survived. According to one source, at least three crew members were murdered after being captured by civilians on the ground.
Submitted 17 July 2020 by Steve Larkins