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462SQN is born again

Volume 49, No. 1, February 8, 2007
PARTY TIME: Air Force Association members Professor Leon Kane-Maguire, Paul Wilson and Keith Campbell with CO 462SQN WGCDR Brett Newell at the squadron’s reformation event in Canberra.
Photo by LACW Kim Eager
MEMBERS of the ADF and Australian Federal Police contingent in Sudan have made a special pilgrimage to the Khartoum War Cemetery.

Late last year, the contingent conducted a remembrance ceremony to commemorate the 65th Anniversary of the death of three RAAF airmen.

SGT Clive Colin Dunstone, SGT John Skinner and SGT James Murray Thomson all died while serving with 72 Operational Training Unit, RAF. The unit was formed at Wadi Gazouza on November 18, 1941, from 211SQN RAF and was established to provide final pre-operational training for RAAF airmen. It flew Blenheim bombers.

On the afternoon of November 25, Blenheim IV Z9612, piloted by SGT Skinner, and crewed by his observer SGT Dunstone and wireless operator/aerial gunner SGT Thompson, failed to return from a low-level bombing exercise. The aircraft’s burnt-out wreckage was found on New Year’s Eve. There were no survivors.

Australian War Memorial records state that Dunstone and Thomson were killed in a “flying battle”; the Blenheim therefore may have been shot down.

The current Australian contingent commander in Sudan, LTCOL David Elliott thought it was important to recognise such an event and reflect on the significance of the sacrifice of the men and women who lost their lives in the East Africa Campaign in WWII. There are eight Australian War Graves in Khartoum.

The contingent’s three Air Force officers, SQNLDRs Lee De Winton and Andrew Gilbert, along with FLTLT Maria Almeida, laid a floral tribute on each of the airmen’s graves and then saluted the three men in respect of their courage and sacrifice.

There are currently 15 ADF personnel and 10 AFP serving as peacekeepers in Sudan as a part of UNMIS – the United Nations Mission in Sudan.

The current contingent consists of military observers and personnel who specialise in air movements and logistic support and has representatives from each Service. Each person is playing a vital and unique role in this mission in an effort to restore and retain peace in the war-torn country of Sudan.

Squadron history

- 462SQN formed in Egypt in 1942 as a combined RAF/RAAF squadron.

- The squadron operated extensively in the Middle East, Italy, Sicily, Greece and Crete.

- In 1944, the squadron relocated to Italy as 614SQN – 462SQN disbanded and reformed in the same year in the UK as part of 4GP RAF, flying Halifaxes against targets in France and Germany.

- In late 1944 462SQN relocated, joining 100GP RAF tasked with disrupting German air defence systems using diversionary raids and radio countermeasures.

- At war’s end the squadron was employed in a transportation role including the repatriation of Allied POWs.

- In September 1945, the squadron disbanded for the second time.

- 462SQN was selected to replace information operations squadron; its current mission is protecting Air Force capability through the conduct of information operations.