Australian contribution to the Battle of Normandy
The Australian contribution to the Battle of Normandy involved more than 3,000 military personnel serving under British command. The majority of these personnel were members of the Royal Australian Air Force. Small numbers of Australians serving with the Royal Navy and British Army also participated in the fighting.
About Australian contribution to the Battle of Normandy in brief
The Australian contribution to the Battle of Normandy involved more than 3,000 military personnel serving under British command. The majority of these personnel were members of the Royal Australian Air Force. Small numbers of Australians serving with the Royal Navy and British Army also participated in the fighting prior to and after the Allied landings on 6 June 1944. RAAF airmen provided direct support to the Allied ground forces by attacking German military units and their supply lines, as well as forming part of the force that defended the beachhead from air attack and manning transport aircraft. The 13 Australian Army officers who took part in the campaign filled a variety of roles in British units in order to gain experience that they could take back to Australia. The Australian air units were under the command of the RAF, which had 306 squadrons located in the UK at the time of the landings in Normandy. As of 6 June 2014, 1,816 Australian airmen were posted to RAF squadrons. In addition to the RAAF, hundreds of Australian personnel were serving with Royal Navy at the same time as the Allied invasion force in Normandy and Southern France in August 1944. Many of the thousands of Australian ground crew in UK at this time were also serving with RAF units. Australian personnel continued to operate against German forces until the end of the war in May 1945. The relatively low casualties suffered by the Allied air forces during the fighting in Normandy resulted in an over-supply of trained Australian aircrew in theUK, many of whom were never assigned to a combat role.
In 1944 Australia’s war effort was focused on the Pacific War, and most elements of the country’s military were in Australia and the islands to its north. Nevertheless, substantial numbers of RAAF personnel, most of whom had been trained through the Empire Air Training Scheme, were stationed in the United Kingdom and took part. As of 1 June 1944 they were manned by 796 Australian air crew and 572 airmen from other Commonwealth countries. Three other RAAF squadrons were assigned to the Second Tactical Air Force, which was to provide direct support for the Allied armies during the campaign; No.453 Squadron operated Spitfire fighters as part of No. 125 Wing and No.464 Squadron flew Mosquito light bombers. No.466 Squadron was a specialist night fighter unit, equipped with Halifaxes, and was assigned to protect Britain and France from German submarines and ships. No 10 and No 461 Squadrons were equipped with Sunderland flying boats and flew patrols of the waters around the UK and France, while No 455 Squadron operated Beaufighter strike aircraft against German surface shipping using BeaufighterStrike aircraft. No 463 Squadron was equipped with Mosquitos, which flew against German shipping using Sunderland strike aircraft, and No 455 Squadron flew Beaufighter strikes against German ships using Beaufighters and Halifaxes. The RAAF had one regular RAAF unit, No. 10 Squadron, and nine temporary Article XV squadrons which had been formed under the agreement that underpinned EATS.