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No 458 Squadron

After forming in New South Wales in July 1941, No 458 Squadron personnel departed for England in August to join other personnel assembled at Holme-On-Spalding Moor. Equipped with Wellington bombers, No 458 Squadron participated in its first operation in October, when ten aircraft joined in night attacks against Emden, Antwerp and Rotterdam.

In addition to bombing missions over France and Germany the Wellingtons were involved in mine-laying operations along enemy occupied coasts.

In early 1942, No 458 Squadron was withdrawn from Bomber Command and re-assigned to the Middle East. On their arrival in Egypt, Squadron personnel were allocated to other units, providing ground support for American Liberators and RAF Wellingtons. When the Squadron's Wellingtons eventually arrived in the Middle East, they were attached to RAF Squadrons. Consequently, many No 458 Squadron aircrews almost completed an entire tour of duty without flying with the Australian Squadron.

Finally, in September 1942, the Squadron was re-united at El Shallufa and began maritime patrols, convoy escorts and mine laying operations. A number of ships and at least one German submarine were destroyed during these operations.

In one mission Pilot Officer Hare force landed his damaged Wellington four hundred miles behind enemy lines. Four of the crew members decided to evade capture and head for friendly territory. Over a period of twenty-two days - travelling in the cool of the evenings - they were eventually found by Allied troops in what was one of the most remarkable escapes of World War II.

No 458 Squadron moved to Italy in September 1944, where a detachment was immediately deployed to Falconara. By late January 1945, the Unit had again relocated, this time to Gibraltar, where it remained until the cessation of hostilities. No 458 Squadron was still at Gibraltar when it was disbanded on 9 June 1945.

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