No. 461 Squadron RAAF


No. 461 Squadron RAAF
A No. 461 Squadron Sunderland Mark V landing at Pembroke Dock, Wales in 1944
A No. 461 Squadron Sunderland Mark V landing at Pembroke Dock, Wales in 1944
Active25 April 1942 – 4 June 1945
Disbanded4 June 1945
CountryAustralia Australia
AllegianceUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
BranchAir Force Ensign of Australia.svg Royal Australian Air Force
RoleMaritime patrol
Part ofNo. 19 Group RAF, Coastal Command[1]
Motto(s)"They shall not pass unseen"[2][3]
Battle honours
  • Atlantic, 1939–1945
  • English Channel and North Sea, 1939–1945
  • Biscay Ports, 1940–1945
  • Normandy, 1944
  • Biscay, 1940–1945
  • Arctic, 1940–1945
Squadron Badge heraldryA demi-shark couped, pierced by a harpoon[2][3]
Squadron CodesUT (April 1942 – August 1943, July 1944 – June 1945)[4][5]
Aircraft flown
PatrolShort Sunderland

No. 461 Squadron was a Royal Australian Air Force maritime patrol squadron during World War II which operated under Royal Air Force control flying in Europe and over the Atlantic. The squadron was formed in 1942 and was disbanded in mid-1945, just after the end of the war in Europe. Personnel were drawn from many countries of the British Empire, although the majority were Australians. Throughout the war, the squadron was credited with destroying a total of six German U-boats, and operated mainly in the Bay of Biscay and Atlantic.

Squadron history

No. 461 Squadron was formed at RAF Mount Batten in Britain on 25 April 1942 as an anti-submarine squadron raised under an Article XV of the Empire Air Training Scheme. It was originally intended that the squadron would be equipped with Catalina flying boats, but it was equipped with Short Sunderland aircraft instead. After a period of training, the squadron began flying operational anti-submarine patrols over the Atlantic in July. While some of No. 461 Squadron's aircrew had previously served with No. 10 Squadron RAAF most of the aircrew were inexperienced and required further training and flight experience. No. 461 Squadron moved to Hamworthy in August 1942 and the next month it encountered its first U-boat. The engagement was not successful and although several U-boats were damaged the squadron was not successful in sinking any submarines during 1942.[6] The squadron flew a number of transport flights to Gibraltar in October in support of Operation Torch.[7]

During 1943, No. 461 Squadron mainly conducted daylight anti-submarine patrols over the Bay of Biscay, having moved to a new base at Pembroke Dock in April 1943. These patrols exposed the squadron's aircraft to frequent attacks by German fighters. The Sunderland aircraft were fitted with a heavy defensive armament, however, and were often successful in beating off fighter attacks. During 1943, the squadron sank a total of three U-boats. By May 1943, No. 461 Squadron was fully equipped with the more advanced Mark III Sunderland. This aircraft allowed the Squadron to operate at night. Equipped with these improved aircraft the squadron continued to fly anti-submarine patrols over the Atlantic, including patrols in support of the Allied landing in Normandy. The squadron sank three U-boats during 1944.[7]

Following the liberation of France the numbers of German U-boats in the Atlantic declined and No. 461 Squadron made few contacts with the enemy between October 1944 and the end of the war; between September and October 1944 a detachment from the squadron operated over Norwegian waters from a base in the Shetland Islands. No. 461 Squadron was disbanded at Pembroke Dock on 4 June 1945. The squadron lost 20 Sunderlands to enemy action and accidents. A total of 86 squadron members of all nationalities were killed on operations, including 64 Australians. The squadron was awarded six battle honours for its wartime service.[7]

U-boats destroyed

During the war No. 461 destroyed a total of six German U-boats. These were:[7][8]

Aircraft operated

Aircraft operated by no. 461 Squadron RAAF, data from[3][9][10]
From To Aircraft Version
April 1942 May 1943 Short Sunderland Mk.II
August 1942 June 1945 Short Sunderland Mk.III
February 1945 June 1945 Short Sunderland Mk.V

Squadron bases

Bases and ports used by no. 461 Squadron RAAF, data from[3][9][10]
From To Base Remark
25 April 1942 31 August 1942 RAF Mount Batten, Devon
31 August 1942 21 April 1943 RAF Hamworthy Junction, (Poole Harbour) Dorset
21 April 1943 20 June 1945 RAF Pembroke Dock, Pembrokeshire, Wales Det. at RAF Sullom Voe, Shetland Islands, Scotland, 28 September 1944 – 29 October 1944

Commanding officers

Officers commanding no. 461 Squadron RAAF, data from[9][7]
From To Name
May 1942 August 1942 Wing Commander N.A.R. Halliday
August 1942 January 1943 Wing Commander R.C.O. Lovelock
January 1943 February 1944 Wing Commander D.L.G. Douglas, DFC
February 1944 February 1945 Wing Commander J.M. Hampshire, DFC
February 1945 June 1945 Wing Commander R.R. Oldham



  1. ^ Delve 1994, p. 73.
  2. ^ a b Rawlings 1982, p. 223.
  3. ^ a b c d Halley 1988, p. 481.
  4. ^ Bowyer & Rawlings 1979, p. 102.
  5. ^ Flintham & Thomas 2003, p. 114.
  6. ^ Eather 1995, p. 119.
  7. ^ a b c d e "No. 461 Squadron". Second World War, 1939–45 units. Australian War Memorial. Archived from the original on 24 February 2018. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  8. ^ Eather 1995, pp. 119–120.
  9. ^ a b c Rawlings 1982, p. 224.
  10. ^ a b Jefford 2001, p. 95.


  • Bowyer, Michael J.F.; Rawlings, John D.R. (1979). Squadron Codes, 1937–56. Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens. ISBN 0-85059-364-6.
  • Delve, Ken (1994). The Source Book of the RAF. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing. ISBN 1-85310-451-5.
  • Eather, Steve (1995). Flying Squadrons of the Australian Defence Force. Weston Creek, Australian Capital Territory: Aerospace Publications. ISBN 1-875671-15-3.
  • Flintham, Vic; Thomas, Andrew (2003). Combat Codes: A Full Explanation and Listing of British, Commonwealth and Allied Air Force Unit Codes Since 1938. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing. ISBN 1-84037-281-8.
  • Halley, James J. (1988). The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth, 1918–1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians). ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Jefford, C.G. (2001) [1988]. RAF Squadrons: A Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of All RAF Squadrons and Their Antecedents Since 1912 (2nd ed.). Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing. ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. (1982). Coastal, Support and Special Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Jane's Publishing Company. ISBN 0-7106-0187-5.

Further reading

  • Ashworth, Norman (1994). The Anzac Squadron: A History of No 461 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force, 1942–1945. Carlisle, Western Australia: Hesperian Press. ISBN 0-85905-198-6.
  • RAAF Historical Section (1995). Units of the Royal Australian Air Force: A Concise History. Volume 4 – Maritime and Transport Units. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service. ISBN 9780644427968.
  • Southall, Ivan (1956). They Shall Not Pass Unseen. Sydney, New South Wales: Angus & Robertson. OCLC 9069916.

External links

  • RAAF Museum: 461 Squadron