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458 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force
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Discovering my Headmaster’s Service

with 458 Squadron RAAF


Ian L Berick © 2022




CONTENTS                                                                                                  Page

Preface                                                                                                          1

Introduction                                                                                                    2

The new crew                                                                                                 3

Operations begin                                                                                            5

The aftermath                                                                                                 7

Getting back to business                                                                                8

Epilogue                                                                                                         10

Conversions, Abbreviations, Bibliography, Sources & Internet                      11

Endnotes                                                                                                        15





I didn’t have much to do with my High School Headmaster Mr Jack Guthrie during my years at high school, mostly because I kept out of trouble and out of his way. Many years later I have wondered, who was this distinctive man in the billowing academic gown?

What made my search more interesting is the fact that in my Air Training Corps days I had won the 458 Squadron Association (Victorian Flight) award.

What I have uncovered has been a real eye opener.





This is the story of one new 458 Squadron RAAF crew which was based in the Mediterranean theatre during the latter part of 1943. More particularly it is about my former High School Headmaster Mr Jack Guthrie.  


Although designated as an Australian unit, 458 Squadron operated as part of the Royal Air Force (RAF) structure under Article XV of the 1939 ‘Ottawa Agreement‘. [1] [2]

The squadron included personnel from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and South Africa, and during the course of the war also included personnel from Newfoundland [3], Southern Rhodesia [4] and America [5].


On 13 May 1943 the war in North Africa came to an end with the defeat of the German, Italian and Vichy French forces by the Allied forces. On 9 September the Allied invasion of mainland Italy commenced with landings at Salerno and Taranto in southern Italy. [6]


Of interest later in this story, is that Foggia on the Italian east coast, with its important airfields, was occupied by the Allies in October 1943. [7]


On 10 October 1943, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Bruce R McKenzie of the South African Air Force (SAAF) [8], 458 Squadron RAAF, left its base of three and a half months at Protville, Tunisia, and took up residence at Bône a coastal city with civilian aerodrome in the northeast corner of Algeria, North Africa [9].

458 Squadron operated Vickers-Armstrong Wellington twin engine long-range medium bombers on anti-submarine, anti-shipping, convoy escort, reconnaissance, and air sea rescue (ASR) operations over the Mediterranean. [10]It also conducted reconnaissance and bombing raids on German occupied Italian and Vichy French territory, including the seaways around the Mediterranean islands of Malta, Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily. Much of the flying was conducted at night at low level. [11]

Depending on the target or type of operation, the Wellington could carry torpedos, mines, bombs, incendiaries, flares or survival equipment. 458 Squadron Mk.XIII Wellingtons or ‘Stickleback’ were fitted with ‘Special Equipment’ (SE) which was a term used for the secret Mk.II Air-to-Surface Vessel (ASV) radar fitted in the aircraft and used to detect surface vessels including submarines at night or while flying in cloud. [12] Later Mk.XIV Wellingtons were also fitted with a Leigh Light which was a high powered retractable searchlight designed to illuminate targets at night for attack. They also had a more sophisticated Mk.III ASV radar in the nose.

458 Squadron Wellingtons usually had a crew of six being the Captain/Pilot, 2nd Pilot, Navigator/Bomb Aimer, and three Wireless Operator/Air Gunners (WOAG or WAG) who, depending on their qualifications, could share the rolls of SE operator, wireless operator or rear gunner. The WOAG’s would also operate any nose and waist guns if required.

New flight crews were usually ‘made up’ while undergoing operational training at one of the many Operational Training Units (OTU) or Ferry Training Units (FTU) in the United Kingdom (UK). They tended to stay together to develop team cohesion. [13] The FTUs were established to bring together aircraft and crews for long distance delivery flights. Crews were attached to FTUs for the duration of the delivery from the UK to their destination, in this case Shallufa, Egypt. Each aircraft was equipped with long range fuel tanks and the crews trained accordingly. [14]




Personnel service records and the 458 Squadron Operations Record Books (ORB) show that Jack Guthrie was part of a ‘new’ crew which came together at 303 FTU Talbenny, Pembrokeshire, Wales on 18 April 1943 [15]:

1.     Captain/Pilot – 405312 RAAF, Flying Officer (Pilot) Douglas Gordon HOWIE, age 25, born in Kingaroy, Queensland (Qld), single, a clerk in the Court of Petty Sessions Office. [16]

2.     2ndPilot – 1315187 RAFVR, Sergeant (Pilot) Hugh Ferguson BRYSON, age 21, born Pewsey, Wiltshire, England, single, unemployed. [17]

3.     Navigator – 409474 RAAF, Flying Officer (Observer [18]) Jack GUTHRIE, BA (Melb 1941), age 33, born in Clifton Hill, Victoria (Vic), married, a teacher of draughting, arts and crafts at Traralgon High School, Vic. [19]

4.     SE Operator – 401395 RAAF, Flight Sergeant (WOAG) John Robert RAMSAY, age 23, born in Richmond, Vic, single, a postal clerk. [20]

5.     Wireless Operator – R117650 RCAF, Warrant Officer (WOAG) W J M BRADY. [21]

6.     Rear Gunner – 400758 RAAF, Flight Sergeant (WOAG) Frederick John Nelson MORRIS, age 28, born in Mosman, New South Wales (NSW), married, a window dresser. [22]

The RAAF personnel records of the four Australians show that they probably met earlier in their training. Ramsay and Morris had been posted to 3 Wireless School (WS) Winnipeg Canada in April 1941 and pretty much shadowed each other (with some deviations) all the way to 6 (Coastal [C]) OTU Thornaby, North Yorkshire [23], where they joined Howie. The three were then posted to 303 FTU Talbenny, where Guthrie joined them. Together, the four were posted to the Middle East Pool [24] in Egypt, then to 5 Middle East Training School (METS) Shallufa, Egypt [25] and finally to 458 Squadron. Records are not available for Bryson and Brady, but it can be reasonably assumed that they also joined the Australians at or before 303 FTU.

Howie D G: RAAF personnel records show that Douglas was born 1918 and enlisted in the RAAF Reserve at 3 Mobile Recruiting Centre, Bundaberg Qld on 19 July 1940. Prior to enlistment he served as a private for three and a half years in the 47thBattalion Citizens Military Forces (CMF). He commenced full time RAAF service on 2 March 1941 on number 13 Pilots Course at 3 Initial Training School (ITS) Sandgate (at Brighton) Qld [26] after which he was sent to 2 Elementary Flying Training School (EFTS) Archerfield Qld. Having been found suitable for further flying training he was shipped to Canada in August 1941 and entered 7 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) Macleod, Alberta [27]. He was awarded his Pilot Badge (Wings) on 21 Nov 1941 [28] and commissioned as a Pilot Officer (P/O). He then undertook navigation and operational training at 31 General Reconnaissance School (GRS) Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and 32 OTU Patricia Bay, British Columbia. At the completion of these courses Douglas was promoted to Flying Officer (F/O). He shipped to the England in September 1942 and entered 6 (C) OTU Thornaby, which operated Wellingtons. He then went to 7 (C) OTU Limavady, Northern Island [29] also flying Wellingtons and lastly to 303 FTU Talbenny. In May 1943 he was posted to the Middle East Pool, Egypt and HQ Mediterranean Allied Air Forces (MAAF) and underwent further operational and torpedo training at 5 METS Shallufa. On 13 October 1943 Douglas Howie was posted to 458 Squadron at Bône for operational duties, having served about 30 ½ months in the RAAF from first joining number 13 Pilot Course. [30]


Bryson H F: British archives don’t allow the general public access to RAF personnel records, so very little is known about Hugh except for what appears in the 458 Squadron ORBs and casualty report, and other ‘on-line’ public records. Hugh was born in 1921 to Robert and Jeanie Bryson. His birth was registered in the district of Pewsey, Wiltshire, England. The 1939 England and Wales war census shows he was single, living with his parents at Sunnyside, Chard, Somerset, and he was seeking work having not previously been employed. He would appear to have joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR) and qualified as a Sergeant (Sgt)/Pilot. [31]At age 21 Hugh was the youngest crew member. No record can be found of when Hugh arrived at 458 Squadron, but as previously discussed it can be assumed that he joined ‘Howie’s crew’ at 303 FTU in April 1943.


Guthrie J: Jack (aka Gussy [32]) Guthrie’s RAAF file shows that he was born in 1910 and enlisted in the RAAF on 12 Sep 1941 at 1 Recruiting Centre (RC) Melbourne, Vic. Prior to enlistment he had served as a private for one and a half years in the 60thBattalion CMF and in May 1941 had been awarded a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Melbourne.

Jack entered the RAAF at 1 ITS Somers, Vic on 12 Sep 1941 after which he was posted to number 20 (O) Course at 2 Air Observers School (AOS) Mt Gambier, SA. He then went to 2 Bombing and Air Gunnery School (BAGS) Port Pirie, South Australia, at the end of which he was awarded the Air Observer Badge (‘O’ Wing). Jack was then posted to 2 Air Navigation School (ANS) Nhill, Vic where on 25 June 1942 he qualified in Astro Navigation and was commissioned as a P/O (Air Observer/Astro Nav). [33] He was shipped to England in August 1942 and entered 3 BAGS Aldergrove, Northern Ireland (now Belfast International Airport) qualifying further in bombing and gunnery on 31 October before entering 3 GRS Squires Gate (Blackpool Airport), Lancashire. On 25 Dec 1942 he was promoted to F/O Navigation, bombing and gunnery (Nav.B). [34] In January 1943 Jack was posted to 7 (C) OTU Limavady, then on 18 April 1943 to 303 FTU Talbenny. On 25 August 1943 he was posted to HQ MAAF and undertook torpedo training at 5 METS Shallufa, and on 10 October he was posted to 458 Squadron at Bône for operational flying, having served about 24 months in the RAAF from first joining 1 ITS. [35]At 33 Jack was the oldest member of the crew.


InWe Find and Destroy, Peter Alexander refers to Navigators thus:


The Air Force required rather higher educational qualifications from its candidates for navigator than from other air crew members and this of course tended to make the navigator the scholarly and often the quiet member of the crew. There were memorable exceptions (at least to the second adjective).[36]


Ramsay J R: John (aka Jack, Billy, Hake and Titch [37]) Ramsay’s personnel file shows he was born in 1920 and enlisted as RAAF aircrew on 11 June 1940 at 1 RC Melbourne. John entered the RAAF on 2 February 1941 and posted to 2 ITS Bradfield Park (Lindfield), NSW. Having passed initial training, he was shipped to Canada in March 1941 and on 19 April entered number 15 Course at 3 WS Winnipeg, Manitoba. He then transferred to 5 BAGS Dafoe, Saskatchewan where on 28 September 1941 he graduated as a Wireless Operator Air Gunner (WOAG), received his Air Gunner Badge (‘AG’ Wing) and was promoted to Sgt. [38] John shipped to England on 12 October 1941 and was posted to 1 Signal School (SS) at Cranwell, Lincolnshire, then to 3 Radio School (RS) at Prestwick, Ayrshire, Scotland, at the end of which he was promoted to Flight Sergeant (F/Sgt). On 14 April 1942 John was posted to 5 (C) OTU Turnberry, Ayrshire, Scotland [39]. During this time he was attached to 1 Overseas Aircraft Dispatch Unit (OADU) Portreath, Cornwall. On 1 December 1942 he was posted to 6 (C) OTU Thornaby and finally on 18 April 1943 to 303 FTU Talbenny. In August 1942 he was posted to the Middle East and entered 5 METS Shallufa, Egypt. On 29 March 1943 he was promoted to Warrant Officer (W/O), and on 13 October he was posted to 458 Squadron at Bône, having served about 32 ½ months in the RAAF from first joining 2 ITS. [40]


Brady W J M: The 458 Squadron ORBs show that R117650 Brady was a W/O (WOAG) and member of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). Unfortunately, the Canadian archives don’t allow the general public access to RCAF personnel records (except for war dead) so nothing more is known about him. Searches of the ‘on-line’ world and particularly Canadian and American records have been inconclusive. No record can be found of when Brady arrived at 458 Squadron, but as previously discussed, it can be assumed he joined ‘Howie’s crew’ at 303 FTU in April 1943, or earlier.


Examination of RCAF war dead files with personnel numbers R117605 to R117691 show that they all enlisted in Montreal between 18 and 28 July 1941. Number R117642 was issued on 22 July and numbers R117657 [41] and R117661 [42] on 23 July. Those who became WOAGs attended these Wireless Schools: No.1 (Trenton), 3 (Winnipeg), or 4 (Guelph); and these BAGS: 1 (Jarvis), 4 (Fingal), 5 (Dafoe), 6 (Mountain View) or 7 (Paulson); encompassing course numbers 28 to 32. Regrettably, these WS and BAGS ORBs/Diaries do not include lists of students. It can be assumed that Brady enlisted in Montreal on 22 or 23 July 1941.


Morris F J N: Fred Morris’s personnel file shows he was born in 1915 and was enrolled in the RAAF on 22 May 1940 at 1 RC Melbourne. On 13 October 1940 he entered the RAAF and was posted to 2 ITS Bradfield Park. Having passed initial training, he was shipped to Canada in March 1941 and entered 3 WS Winnipeg on 19 April 1941. He then transferred to 3 BAGS Macdonald, Manitoba where on 28 September 1941 he graduated as a WOAG, received his ‘AG’ Wing and was promoted to Sgt. John shipped to England on 12 October 1941 and was posted to 1 SS Cranwell, then to 3 RS Prestwick, at the end of which he was promoted to F/Sgt. On 14 April 1942 John was posted to 5 (C) OTU Turnberry. During this time he was attached to 1 OADU Portreath for a trip to Malta. On 1 December 1942 he was posted to 6 (C) OTU Thornaby then to 7 (C) OTU Limavady on 23 February 1943, and finally on 8 April to 303 FTU Talbenny. On 1 May 1943 he was promoted to W/O and in August 1943 he was posted to the Middle East and entered 5 METS Shallufa, Egypt. On 13 October he was posted to 458 Squadron at Bône, having served about 32 ½ months in the RAAF from first joining 2 ITS. [43]




Nine days after arriving at 458 Squadron F/O Howie took his crew on their first operational mission. The ORB shows that the first sortie took place on 16 October 1943 in Wellington ‘G’ taking off from Bône at 1320 hours on a U-boat (German submarine) hunt north of Cap de Fer (west of Bône), landing at 0030 hours. This sortie involved seven aircraft and was initiated by the sighting of a U-boat by the crew of a Lockheed Hudson aircraft. On this flight Ramsay was the rear gunner, Brady the SE operator and Morris the wireless operator. Howie and Bryson were the pilots and Guthrie the navigator.

Their second sortie was on 18 October also in Wellington ‘G’ with Ramsay as SE operator, Brady on the wireless and Morris on the rear guns. The pilots and navigator were as before. They departed Bône at 1440 hours for a U-boat hunt in an area 130 miles north of Djidjelli [44], landing at 2350 hours. This aircraft was one of five Wellingtons and three Royal Navy destroyers responding to U-boat sightings the previous day off Cap de Fer. One aircraft failed to return. It was later found that all the crew had been killed. [45]

During October the commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel McKenzie SAAF [46] was posted out and replaced by Wing Commander (W/Cdr) Jack Dowling RAAF.[47]

The third sortie of Howie and crew was on the 25 October in Wellington ‘B’ taking off at 0325 hours on an anti-submarine patrol to protect convoy ‘Trafford’, landing at 1135 hours. Theirs was one of three aircraft protecting a 60 ship convoy heading west and later a 12 ship convoy sailing east. The pilots and navigator were as usual. Ramsay was on the SE, Brady wireless and Morris rear guns.

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Meanwhile closer to home, in the war in the Pacific, during October 1943 the infamous Thailand-Burma railway was completed causing the deaths of approximately 106,000 POWs and civilian labourers; on 1 and 2 November 1943 the 3rd Division US Marine Corps landed at Cape Torokina, Bougainville; the Japanese reinforced their air fleet at Rabaul New Britain; aircraft from the carriers USS Saratoga and Princetonstrike Japanese airfields adjacent to the Buka Passage between Buka Island and Bougainville; and aircraft from the 5th USAAF attack Rabaul. Ten days later on the 12th the Japanese bomb Darwin and the surrounds for the last time. While all this was going on, the Australian and American forces were in a fierce battle with the Japanese to secure the Huon Peninsula on the north-east coast of New Guinea. [48]

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Back in north Africa, the fourth sortie of Howie and his crew occurred on 2 November 1943 in Wellington HZ874, taking off from the satellite airfield of Sidi Armor. [49] The aircraft was initially mistakenly recorded as AZ784. [50] The squadron ORB indicates that Howie’s crew was the only one conducting an operational sortie on 2 November. The ORB records:

“458 Squadron RAAF

Bone, Algeria. 2nd November 1943.

On 2nd November 1943 one of our Wellingtons was airborne at Sidi Armor at 0236 hours with instructions to give anti submarine protection to a west bound convoy and to land at Bone. At 0716 hours the second pilot, who was at the controls, with the Captain standing beside him giving instructions, ditched the aircraft 110 degrees Cape Bon 30 miles (48 km)[51]. The ditching was disastrous as the aircraft immediately broke up and sank. The Captain, Flying Officer D G Howie RAAF, was knocked unconscious and died from drowning. His body was recovered and supported by the SE Operator, Flight Sergeant Ramsay, until the arrival of a boat from one of the destroyers escorting the convoy, HMS Blakeney [sic] [52], two minutes after ditching. The 2nd Pilot, Sergeant H F Bryson RAFVR, who was at the controls, is missing. The four other members of the crew escaped with minor injuries and shock and were rescued by a whaler from the destroyer at 0740 hours. They were landed at Bizerte.”

The crash occurred in late Autumn at 16 minutes past seven in the morning and was four hours and 40 minutes into the sortie. The rescue took another 24 minutes. Sunrise at Cape Bon was at approximately 0640 hours (6.40 am).

As mentioned above, the surviving crew were landed from the rescuing destroyer at Bizerte. The ‘signal’ to RAAF HQ Melbourne reporting the crash makes mention of ’33 General Hospital’. Although the squadron had its own medical staff, it appears that some of the crew were treated at the 33rdUS General Hospital which was the only hospital with that number based at Bizerte. [53] A field report by Squadron Leader (S/Ldr) J M Kenyon the Medical Liaison Officer of the RCAF District HQ North Africa and Italy, records that during his tour of units from 3 to 18 December 1943, an RCAF airman from number 388 Air Ministry Experimental Station (AMES), a radar station, at Cape Blanc [54] was being treated at the 33rdAmerican Station Hospital because there are no RAF hospitals open at Bizerte. [55]




Howie: On 3 November the F/O Douglas Howie was buried in the British Annex of the French Civil Cemetery at Bizerte, Tunisia. [56]His body was later reinterned at the Commonwealth War Cemetery Massicault, Tunisia. [57] Howie’s death was reported in a number of Queensland newspapers, including a photo in the Courier-Mail. [58]Up to the time of his death his records show he had flown at least 451 hours in Wellingtons.


Bryson: The 2ndpilot, Sgt Hugh Bryson’s body was lost at sea and he was later declared ‘presumed killed in action’. [59]He was posthumously promoted to F/Sgt. His death is recorded on the Malta War Memorial. [60]


Morris: Rear Gunner, F/Sgt Fred Morris received a lacerated leg and he no longer appears in the squadron ORBs. [61]His personnel file reveals that he was posted to 2 Base Personnel Depot (BPD) at Tunis which is close to Bizerte on 1 November 1943 (? date), then to 2 RAF General Hospital (GH) at Maison Carée, Algiers (west of Bône) until 8 April 1944 when he is posted back to 458 Squadron. After a short time Fred is posted to Naples where he received additional treatment and is later posted back to Middle East Command bases near Shallufa. On 14 October 1944 Fred leaves Egypt for home. Disembarking in Melbourne on 17 November 1944 he is posted to 1 PD Ransford (Melbourne Cricket Ground) Vic, from where on 27 March 1945 he is discharged as a W/O (WOAG) being ‘medically unfit for further aircrew duties’.[62]

The tail gunner’s job in his Perspex bubble was isolated, nerve racking and made even more dangerous when the aircraft ditched in the sea and broke up.

After the war Fred Morris resumed the art of window dressing and in April 1951 is reported to be working for Henry Bucks department store in Melbourne. [63]The Australian electoral roll also shows that he continued window dressing into the late 1970s. [64] Morris was an early member of the 458 Squadron Association (Vic Flight) and his name appears from time to time in the association newsletter. The TPI Pensioner Fred Morris of Syndal, Vic, died in 1995. [65]

Brady: The Canadian Wireless Operator Brady’s precise injuries are unknown and he no longer appears in the squadron ORB. However, in RCAF S/Ldr Kenyon’s December 1943 field report he refers to ‘R117650 WO2 W J Brady WAG’ as being one of 24 named RCAF personnel interviewed while serving with 458 Squadron at Bône. Kenyon reported that their general health and morale were good although they were living in tents. [66]On 4 May 1944 the squadron sent the RCAF HQ a list of personnel who were eligible to receive the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal (CVSM) with Maple Leaf Bar. Brady wasn’t among them even though he would have qualified having served the requisite 60 days outside Canada, although he may not have completed the 18 months required on ‘active service’, which indicates that he had left the squadron. [67] Brady’s name does not appear in the lists of Commonwealth or American war dead so it can be assumed that he survived the war. [68]No further freely available records can be found of W/O W J M Brady.

Guthrie and Ramsay: Navigator Jack Guthrie and SE Operator John Ramsay suffered shock and after a short time recovering returned to duty. [69]

The Investigation: An initial investigation was held into the crash and resultant deaths. It was discovered that the right engine had caught fire (not through enemy action), but because the aircraft was at the bottom of the Mediterranean it was decided that no good purpose would be achieved by holding a full enquiry. However, the investigating committee recommended that ‘a set of dual controls be provided to the squadron for training’ [70].

Except for dedicated training aircraft, squadron Wellingtons did not have dual controls. [71]

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An interesting aside is that on November 17th four squadron aircraft escorted convoy ‘Wildcat’ consisting of ‘one battleship, one cruiser [72]and three destroyers going east at 25 knots … from Cape Bourgouron [73]to Malta …’. The battleship (actually a battlecruiser) was HMS Renownconveying UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill to the Cairo and later Tehran conferences. [74]

On 11 December 1943 Churchill fell dangerously ill while returning home by air from Cairo. He was bedridden at La Marsa via Carthage (15km NE of Tunis), Tunisia for six days with pneumonia and atrial fibrillation. [75]

Q  Q  Q  Q


During December 1943, 458 Squadron began to receive the new Leigh Light MK.XIV Wellingtons with the Mk.III radar in the aircraft’s nose. The earlier ‘Stickleback’ MK.XIII Wellingtons would however remain in service with the squadron for some time. January 1944 brought torrential rain. The Bône airfield often became a quagmire making take-off and landing hazardous, and aircraft maintenance and general moving about difficult. [76]

John Ramsay, now a W/O, recommenced operational flying on 11 January 1944 with F/Sgt Brian Woodhead’s [77] crew as the rear gunner on a U-boat search from Blida, Algeria (Blida is SW of Algiers). Ramsay is assigned to the crew of F/O A H Love RAF [78] on 14 January as rear gunner and remained with Love until 24 July 1944 when he is posted to 36 Squadron RAF for flying duties. [79]

36 Squadron also operated Wellingtons and was located at Reghaia on the Mediterranean coast of Algeria. The squadron moved back to the UK on 13 October 1944 and commenced anti-submarine patrols from RAF Chivenor, Devon, covering the south west approaches to the English Channel.[80] Ramsay transferred to 6 OTU Thornaby in January 1945 where he was attached to 14 RS St Anthan, Glamorgan, Wales [81]for a radio course. He was then posted 11 PDRC until he embarked for Australia on 18 February 1946. John Ramsay survived the war and was discharged on 13 May 1946 as a W/O [Wireless and ASV Operator and Air Gunner (Grade II)] having served 60 months outside Australian and flying approximately 280 hours. [82] John returned to the PMG after the war and remained with the Department and then Telstra [83] into the 1980s. [84] John Ramsay was an early member of the 458 Squadron Association (Vic Flight) and his name appears from time to time in the association newsletter. He died in 2013 in Melbourne [85].

F/O Jack Guthrie recommenced operational flying on 10 January 1944 with S/Ldr Gordon Orchard RAAF [86] on anti-submarine protection to convoy ‘Scream’ departing at 1530 from Blida and landing at 1950 hours. Later the same day in Wellington Mk.XIV ‘J’ they conducted a U-boat search 30 miles off Cape Bon, Tunisia commencing at 2200 from Bône and landing at 0830. On a daylight sortie on 14 March from 1030 to 1720 hours in Wellington MF735, with four other Wellington’s, they escorted the large ‘Sandstone’ convoy of 84 merchant vessels, a submarine, an anti-aircraft cruiser and six escort vessels sailing west between Bône and Cape Corbelin, Algeria, flying at an average height of 1500 feet in haze. At the same time another aircraft was searching for a ship which had become separated from a convoy off Corsica, and another was seeking an Italian submarine with a German crew which had been reported off the west coast of Sardinia, which was about halfway between Corsica and convoy Sandstone. [87]

Jack Guthrie flew as Orchard’s navigator until 26 May when Orchard was posted to a junior commander course in Cairo. [88] On May 30 Jack was assigned to Lieutenant (Pilot) Alf V Rubidge SAAF [89] and flew with him until late August when Rubidge became ‘tour expired’. Jack and the crew (with some changes) were then assigned to S/Ldr Robin Knight RAAF [90] who conducted their first sortie together on 28 August.

During May 1944 the squadron moved from North Africa to Alghero, Sardinia where the usual anti-submarine sweeps and convoy protection was conducted as well as armed reconnaissance of the Gulf of Genoa, Gulf of Venice, Italian coast to Monaco and around the Mediterranean islands. Life at Alghero was ok except for malaria and tuberculous. [91]

On 4 June 1944 the Allies occupied Rome, and on 6 June 1944, D-Day, the Allies landed in Normandy, France.

In July 1944 W/Cdr Robert (aka Rodney) C Mackay DFC [92] took over command of the squadron from Jack Dowling [93], and in August 1944 Jack Guthrie was promoted to Flight Lieutenant (F/Lt). [94]

In September 1944 the squadron moved from Sardinia to Foggia on the south-east coast of mainland Italy [95]. The main party of ground staff was under the control of Jack Guthrie. The party was augmented by ground crews from 250 (Kittyhawk) Squadron RAF, 272 (Beaufighter) Squadron RAF, and a Repair and Salvage Unit totalling 593 men. The ship in which they sailed, with 200 Italian prisoners under guard, sprang a leak in a fuel line flooding the men on deck with oil and destroying much of their gear. More damage was done by the ship’s crew who used high pressure hoses to clean the decks. The road trip from Naples to Foggia was dogged by poor or non-existent accommodation and a lack of transport. [96]

In October 1944 an order was received to send a five aircraft to a former German Luftwaffe grass landing ground at La Vallon near Marseilles in southern France. Commanded by S/Ldr Knight (Jack Guthrie was his navigator) they were to support the US Navy bombardment of coastal targets by spotting and dropping flares. On one aborted sortie two US Navy officers were carried as spotters. [97]Unfortunately, adverse weather and aircraft unserviceability caused problems and after three ‘unspectacular’ weeks the group returned to Foggia. [98]

On 2 November 1944 Jack Guthrie completed his operational tour and was posted to 3 BPD near Naples. [99] On 5 December 1944 he returned to England being posted to various short term depots, including attending a Court Marshall for training purposes. It should be noted that by this stage of the war the EATS had produced more crews than could be used. Many personnel ‘sat on their hands’ at personnel deports waiting for postings, and many who were qualified in their civilian lives, e.g., teachers, were needed at home.

On 2 May 1945 the remaining Axis forces in Italy surrendered. On 8 May 1945 the war in Europe ended with the surrender of Germany. The Japanese would not announce their surrender until 15 August 1945 ending the war in the Pacific and Asia. [100]

On 18 May 1945 Jack Guthrie embarked for Australia arriving in Sydney on 26 June. He was again posted to various personnel depots until his discharge as a Temporary F/Lt (Nav.B) on 19 October 1945 to resume civilian employment. [101]

While in the RAAF he had flown a total of 570 hours which included 221 operational hours and 30 operational sorties in Wellington’s Mk.XIII and XIV, and serving approximately 29 months outside Australia. His RAAF papers record that he could speak and write French and had some Italian and Spanish. He was considered an excellent officer who could shoulder responsibility and carry out orders without further supervision.

On 7 May 1948 Jack joined the RAAF Citizen Air Force Reserve and served with the Victorian Squadron Air Training Corps (ATC) as Commanding Officer of 8 (City of Ringwood) Flight ATC based at Box Hill High School until 1 February 1961 when he was placed on the ‘Retired List’ due to his age. In 1961 he was awarded the Cadet Forces Medal for his 12 years’ service in the RAAF Reserve. [102] Jack was a non-active member of the 458 Squadron Association (Vic Flight) but his name does appear from time to time in the association newsletter.

After his war service Jack Guthrie returned to teaching with the Education Department of Victoria. He briefly taught at Essendon High School then went to Box Hill High School where he stayed for some years gaining experience and involving himself in school administration. In 1949 he was awarded a Diploma of Education from the University of Melbourne. In 1958 he was appointed the inaugural Headmaster (Principal) of the new Greythorn High School in Balwyn North, Vic. In 1962 he became the third Headmaster of the newish Merrilands High School, Keon Park (Reservoir), Vic., and from 1969 until his retirement at the end of 1975 he was the Principal of Oakleigh High School. In a 1981 letter to the Editor of the 458 Squadron News Jack described himself as a ‘five year retired Headmaster, enjoying gardening, home and family’. [103] Jack Guthrie BA, DipEd, TMATC, died in Melbourne in 1993. [104]




458 Squadron’s operational losses for approximately sixteen months from 17 October 1943 to 12 February 1945 (from when Howie’s crew joined the squadron until Jack Guthrie’s posting out) amounted to eleven Wellingtons which were destroyed or did not return from sorties averaging nearly one per month. In those losses, 45 airmen were killed and six became prisoners (POWs), a combined average of three per month. This does not take into account those airmen who were injured. [105]





Distance:                     1 mile = 1.6 kilometre, and 1 km =0.62 mile.

Height/altitude:           1 foot = 0.30 meter, 1500 ft = 457 m, and 1 m = 3.28 ft.

All times are in 24 hours, e.g. 0236 = 2.36 am at night, and 0716 = 7.16 am in the morning.



a/a                   Anti-Aircraft gun/fire

a/c                   Aircraft

A/Cdre            Air Commodore

ACPD              Aircrew Personnel Depot

ASV                Air to Surface Vessel radar (also known as Anti-Surface-Vessel Radar[106]) or SE equipment

AVM               Air Vice Marshall

BA                   Batchelor of Arts

BCATP           British Commonwealth Air Training Plan - (Same as EATS)

BPD                Base Personnel Depot

BPO                Base Personnel Officer

BPSO              Base Personnel Staff Officer

Cwlth              Commonwealth

DipEd              Diploma of Education

DS                   Discharge Squadron

EATS              Empire Air Training Scheme - (Same as BCATP)

ED                   Embarkation Depot

EFTS               Elementary Flying Training School

F/Lt                 Flight Lieutenant

F/O                  Flying Officer

F/Sgt               Flight Sergeant

FTU                 Ferry Training Unit

GD                  General Duties

GRS                General Reconnaissance School

ITS                  Initial Training School

MAAF             Mediterranean Allied Air Forces - from 10 Dec 1943 replacing MAC.[107]

MAC               Mediterranean Air Command - from 18 Feb 1943 to 10 Dec 1943 when it was disbanded and replaced by MAAF.

MACAF          Mediterranean Allied Coastal Air Forces - from 10 Dec 1943, under command of MAAF.

METS             Middle East Training School - (sometimes known as Middle East Torpedo School)

MiD                Mentioned in Despatches

NAAF             Northwest African Air Forces - from 18 Feb 1943 under command of MAC. Replaced by MAAF on 10 Dec 1943.

NACAF           Northwest African Coastal Air Forces – from 18 Feb 1943 under command of NAAF. From 10 Dec 1943 renamed MACAF under command of MAAF.

NAV(B)          Navigator with additional qualification of Air Bomber.

ORB                Operations Record Books

OTU (C)         Operational Training Unit (Coastal)

PD                   Personnel Depot

PDRC              Personnel Despatch & Reception Centre

POR                Personnel Occurrence Report

POW               Prisoner of War

PRC                 Personnel Reception Centre

PTC                 Personnel Transit Centre

PMG               Postmaster General Department

QCVS              Queens (Kings) Commendation for Valuable (Meritorious) Service in the Air

RAAF              Royal Australian Air Force

RAF                Royal Air Force

RAFVR           Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

RCAF              Royal Canadian Air Force

RS                   Radio School

SAAF              South African Air Force

SE                   Special Equipment or ASV equipment - radar

SFTS               Service Flying Training School

Sgt                   Sergeant

S/Ldr               Squadron Leader

Sqn                  Squadron

TMATC          Trained Manual Arts Teacher’s Certificate

TPI                  Totally & Permanently Incapacitated

US                   United States of America

USAAF           United States Army Air Force

WAG               Wireless Operator/Air Gunner – (Same as WOAG)

W/Cdr             Wing Commander

W/O                Warrant Officer

WOAG            Wireless Operator/Air Gunner – (Same as WAG)



Alexander P & Pettit P, We Find and Destroy: A History of 458 RAAF Squadron, Australian Military History Publications, Loftus NSW, 1979.

Bond S, Wimpy: A detailed illustrated history of the Vickers Wellington in service, 1938-1953, Grubb Street, London UK, 2014.

458 Squadron News, Journal of the 458 Squadron Council.

Jefford C G, Observers and Navigators and other non-pilot aircrew in the RFC, RNAS and RAF, Grub Street, London UK, Rev 2nd Ed 2014.

Jones R V, Most Secret War, Wordsworth Editions, Ware Herts UK, 1998.

Jungle Warfare with the Australian Army in the south-west Pacific, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1944.

MacDougall A K, Australians at War – A pictorial History, The Five Mile Press, Rowville Vic, 2005.

Merrilander, Merrilands High School student magazine.

Murray I R, Vickers Wellington: 1936 to 1953 (all marks and models). Owners Workshop Manual, Haynes Publishing, Somerset UK, 2012.

Mussell J, Medal Yearbook 2011, Token Pubs, Honiton UK.

The Golden Age, RAAF 1921-1971, Dept of Air, AGPS, Canberra, 1971.

Veritas, Oakleigh High School student magazine.

War Service Record 1939-1945, Education Department, Victoria, Melbourne 1959.



Australian War memorial

Commonwealth of Australia & State Electoral Rolls (via Ancestry)

Commonwealth of Australia Gazette (via Trove)

Commonwealth War Graves

Library and Archives Canada (LAC)

National Archives of Australia (NAA)

Newspapers:   Daily Mercury (Mackay), Herald Sun (Melbourne), Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser, Morning Bulletin(Rockhampton), Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Courier-Mail (Brisbane), The Central Queensland Herald(Rockhampton), The Telegraph (Brisbane), The Times (London)

Public Records Office Victoria (PROV)

The London Gazette

The National Archives United Kingdom (TNA)

Sands and McDougall’s Directory of Victoria (via National Library of Australia)





[2]On 10 July 1943 458 Sqn was part of 328 (General Reconnaissance) Wing which was a unit of 242 (Advanced Operational) Group a sub-command of the NACAF. The NACAF was part of a tripartite formation of Strategic, Coastal & Tactical forces under the NAAF which in turn came under the overall command of the MAC. See

[3]1365036 Sgt (WOAG) Eleazer Stanfield RAFVR, the son of Samuel & Carrie Stanfield of Blandford, District of Bonavista, Newfoundland. Stanfield was killed on 15 Jul 1943 while a member of Markowsky’s crew during an attack on a ship. See, &, &, &

[4] National Archives of Australia (NAA): A9186, 144, Unit history of number 458 Squadron - July 1941 to June 1945, Operations Record Books (ORBs), p.59. 778785 Sgt (Air Gunner) A M Coakley (Southern Rhodesian) posted to 37 Sqn on 9 Oct 1942; & TNA: AIR 78/33/6 Index to Airmen & Airwomen, Clive J P to Coales A F, p. 360. Coakley Andrew Michael 778785; & TNA: AIR 27/390, 37 Sqn ORB, Oct & Nov 1942. Coakley makes 1st op with Sgt R S Wilkins crew on 22 Oct; & see Cwlth War Graves; & TNA: AIR 27/821/47 & 48, 104 Sqn ORBs. Sgt Andrew Michael Coak(l)ey RAFVR was killed on 28 Dec 1942 in a 104 Sqn Wellington piloted by Sgt R T Cottrell RNZAF. Cottrell & his crew of Coakley, 2nd pilot Stansbury & Jeffries were killed. Cottrell, Coakley & Stansbury had come from 37 Sqn. Another Southern Rhodesian was 80384 P/O (Gnr. S.) Harry W J Filmer RAFVR. He was also a member of Markowsky’s crew which was shot down on 15 July 1943 but survived and became a POW.

[5]NAA: A9186, 144, Unit history of 458 Sqn - ORBs, p. 291; & Alexander P & Pettit P, We Find & Destroy, pp. 95 & 99. R98212 F/Sgt J Bishop was an American pilot (a/c Captain) serving in the RCAF. He was posted out to No. 1 ACPD Algiers on 3 Oct 1943.

[6]Between Aug & Oct 1943 the Mediterranean islands of Sicily, Sardinia & Corsica were occupied by the Allies. Elba was occupied in Jun 1944.


[8]; The London Gazette Supplement, DSO 30 Nov 1943 & DFC 30 Nov 1944; & The National Archives (UK) (TNA): AIR 27/240, 17 Sqn SAAF ORBs, Jan-Aug 1944. SA.103566 Lt Col Bruce Roy McKenzie DSO DFC SAAF. McKenzie came to 458 from 38 Sqn RAF.

[9]We Find & Destroy, p. 112. Tunisia & Algeria were both French overseas territories. Bône, now Annaba, is a Mediterranean port city. The airport is now called Rabah Bitat Airport.

[10]Affectionally known as the Wimpy, the Wellington was of unconventional geodetic (lattice/basket weave) construction designed by Barnes Wallace of ‘Bouncing Bomb’ fame. 11,462 Wellingtons were built during WW2, more than any other British multi engine a/c. In numbers built, it was 3rd behind the Spitfire 19,898 and Hurricane 12,416 single engine fighters. See The average cost to manufacture a Wellington was £14,368. See Britain 1939-1945: The Economic Cost of Strategic Bombing, John Fahey, Thesis, University of Sydney. Abstract found

[11]Also see this site for 458 Sqn history. 458_Squadron_RAAF

[12]The General Reconnaissance (GR) Mk.XIII Wellington was a torpedo bomber version with standard nose turret & Mark II ASV radar. It’s identified by the extensive external aerial array on the fuselage & under wings. It’s nickname was ‘Stickleback’. The a/c also came with the more powerful of the Bristol Hercules radial engines fitted to production Wellingtons. See Rickard, J (1 June 2007), Vickers Wellington Variants.

[13]Some OTUs provided a/c & crews, including trainees, on bombing raids/operations when there were insufficient a/c available from operational squadrons, e.g., for the 1,000 bomber raids. See Bond S, Wimpy, p. 71.

[14]Bond, Wimpy, p. 96.

[15]NAA: A9186, 144, Unit history of 458 Sqn – ORBs; ; & In the case of 303 FTU crews were trained to deliver new a/c from the UK to the Mediterranean theatre flying long distances, overwater & potentially facing enemy action.

[16]NAA: A9300, HOWIE Douglas Gordon, No.405312, RAAF Officers Personnel files, 1921-1948; & NAA: A705, 166/18/217, Howie D G, Casualty – Repatriation, Aircraft - Wellington AZ 784, Place - Cape Bon, Tunisia.

[17] NAA: A9186, 144, 458 Sqn ORBs; NAA: A705, 166/18/217, Howie D G, Casualty report; Malta War Memorial; & , born 1921 district of Pewsey, Wilts; England & Wales National Probate Calendar (Index to Wills etc.) 1944; & The 1939 England & Wales War Register (Census), shows Hugh Bryson being unmarried & looking for work.

[18]Observer was a term left over from WW1 & for a part of WW2 it referred to the a/c navigator or navigator/air bomber (bomb aimer). The Observer’s badge was a ½ wing with the letter O. Later in the war with the increasing complexity & size of a/c the ‘general trade’ of Observer was phased out & replaced with more specific trades of Navigator (½ wing & N), Air Bomber (½ wing & AB), & Flight Engineer (½ wing & E), etc. See Jefford C, Observers & Navigators, 2014.

[19]NAA: A12372, R/310523/H, GUTHRIE Jack, 0310523, RAAF Officers Personnel files, 1921-1948; NAA: A705, 166/16/215, Guthrie J, Casualty – Repatriation, Aircraft - Wellington AZ 784, Place - Cape Bon, Tunisia; & Public Records Office Victoria (PROV): Eildon Teacher Record Books 1925, pp. 1980 & 1981, Teacher no. 25316, Jack Guthrie. Jack held a BA (Melb 1941), Dip Ed (Melb 1949), TMATC, & was educated at the University of Melbourne & Melbourne Teachers College.

[20]NAA: A9186, 144, 458 Sqn ORBs; NAA: A9301, 401395, RAMSAY John Robert, RAAF Personnel File, 1921-1948; & NAA: A705, 166/18/217, Howie D G, Casualty report; & Cwlth Gazette & Electoral Rolls. Ramsay was a clerk/public servant in the Postmaster-General’s (PMG) Dept in Melbourne.

[21]NAA: A705, 166/18/217, Howie D G, Casualty report. BRADY’S initials are shown as W J M & H J M. No record has been found of Brady’s origins, or enlistment & demobilisation from the RCAF. He doesn’t appear in the available Canadian censuses for 1921 & 1926.

[22]NAA: A9301, 400758, MORRIS Frederick John Nelson, RAAF Personnel File; NAA: A705, 166/28/179, Morris F J N, Casualty - Repatriation; Aircraft - Wellington AZ 784, Place - Cape Bon, Tunisia; & Australian Electoral Rolls. Morris worked as a window dresser for Henry Buck P/L department store in Swanston St Melbourne.

[23]Thornaby is located on the River Tees on the northeast coast of Nth Yorkshire. See this site for RAF training & other units.

[24]Located at Geneifa (Gineifa) in the Canal Zone on the main M65 Suez to Ismailia desert road. It was a large British Middle East tented transit camp with railway station about 34 km north of Suez. See also We Find & Destroy, p. 44.

[25]5 METS was sometimes known as Middle East Torpedo School. RAF Station Shallufa (LG-215), also known as El Shallufa & El Shaloufa. It was approx. 23 km north of Suez on the main railway & adjacent to the Suez Canal. It was approx. 145 km due east of Cairo, Egypt.

[26]See this site for all Australian EATS / BCATP training units.

[27]See this site for all Canadian EATS/BCATP training units.

[28] Library & Archives Canada (LAC):RG24-E-7. vol/box no.22745, microfilm reel C-12347, p. 89. No.7 SFTS, Macleod, Alberta, Daily Diary, Jun 1940-Dec 1943. Howie was one of 54 Australian graduates of No.37 Course presented with their pilot wings.

[29]Near Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Limavady was also the base for Coastal Command patrols into the North Atlantic.

[30]Some of this time would have been spent on travel, & sick & recreation leave.

[31]NAA: A9186, 144, 458 Sqn ORBs; NAA: A705, 166/18/217, Howie D G, Casualty report; Malta Memorial;, b. 1921 district of Pewsey, Wilts; England & Wales National Probate Calendar (Index to Wills & Admins.) 1944, shows Hugh’s will in favour of his father; & The 1939 England & Wales War Register (Census), shows Hugh was unmarried & that his father Robert Bryson was a Land Agent. See also TNA: AIR78/24/3 Index to Airmen & Airwomen, Bryant-Buchanan., p. 145. Card only showing name & number.

[32] 458 Sqn News, no. 128, Sept 1981, pp. 4 & 5.

[33]Cwlth Gazette, no. 207, 30 Jul 1942, p. 1822. Commissioned as P/O effective 25 Jun 1942.

[34]Cwlth Gazette, no. 222, 14 Oct 1943, p. 2289. Confirmation of promotion to F/O effective 25 Dec 1942.

[35] NAA: A12372, R/310523/H, Guthrie Jack, 0310523, RAAF Officers Personnel files, 1921-1948.

[36] We Find & Destroy, p. 8.

[37] Herald Sun, 8 May 2013. Death notice.

[38]LAC:RG24-E-7. vol/box no.22734, microfilm reel C-12334, pp. 553 & 554.No.5 BAGS, Dafoe, Saskatchewan, Daily Diary, Mar 1941-Feb 1945. Ramsay graduated from No.15 WOAG Course. It was so cold the wings presentation parade was held in the drill hall. All the Australians were given 72 hours leave prior to embarking for the UK.


[40]NAA: A9301, 401395, RAMSAY John Robert, RAAF Personnel files, 1921-1948. His promotion to W/O doesn’t appear in the sqn ORBs until Jan 1944.

[41] R117657 W/O2 (AG) J W M E Lanctin RCAF. KiA 3 Mar 1943 age 24 in 425 RCAF Sqn Wellington which did not return from a mission to Hamburg Germany. All six crew were killed.

[42] R117661 Sgt (AG) G M Georges RCAF was a US citizen from Massachusetts. KiA 17 Dec 1942 age 20 in a 101 Sqn Lancaster (based at Holme-on-Spalding Moor) which was shot down by ‘friendly’ a/a fire while returning to England from a mine laying mission off the German coast. All seven crew were killed.

[43]NAA: A9301, 401395, RAMSAY John Robert, RAAF Personnel files, 1921-1948. His promotion to W/O doesn’t appear in the sqn ORBs until Jan 1944.

[44] Now Jijel on the coast east of Algiers, Algeria.

[45]Wellington FU-C. F/O (Capt.) W J Doude RAAF & six crew.

[46] After McKenzie left 458 he took command of 17 Sqn SAAF on 18 May 1944 operating Lockheed Ventura a/c from Bône. 458 Sqn played cricket & softball against 17 Sqn during May & June 1944. After the war McKenzie became the Kenyan Minister for Agriculture in the Jomo Kenyatta government. He was killed/murdered in 1978 when his light aircraft exploded during a flight from Uganda to his home in Kenya.

[47] NAA: A12372, R/370/P, RAAF Personnel files – All Ranks, 1949-1973, p. 233. 0370 W/Cdr (later A/Cdre) Jack Dowling (later CBE, AFC, QCVS) RAAF. Prior to joining 458 Sqn he passed through 7 (C) OTU Limavady, 303 FTU Talbenny & 5 METS Shallufa. See Mussell, Medal Yearbook 2011, p. 105. The military symbol of the QCVS is a spray of oak leaves in silver similar to the MiD oak leaf. There is no post-nominal for this award.

[48] Jungle Warfare with the Australian Army in the south-west Pacific, p. 100; MacDougall A K, Australians at War, p. 277;;&

[49] Sidi Armor is east of Tunis & south of Cape Bon, Tunisia.

[50] NAA: A705, 166/18/217, Howie D G, Casualty report. A cypher message sent on 15 Nov 1943 from RAAF HQ London to RAAF HQ Melbourne advises that the correct a/c number was HZ874. HZ874 was one of 844 Vickers Type 466 Maritime General Reconnaissance (GR) Mark XIII Wellingtons built. See Rickard, J (1 Jun 2007),Vickers Wellington Variants, See also The Golden Years: The RAAF 1921-1951, Dept of Air, AGPS, 1971, p. 123; &; & We Find & Destroy, p. 24. The official 458 Sqn radio signal codes were FU (Sep 1941-May 42), MD (Oct 42-Apr 43), & SX followed by the individual a/c letter. 458 Sqn was the only RAAF squadron to fly Wellingtons throughout WW2.

[51] Cape Bon is the closest point of Tunisia to Sicily. The Strait of Sicily is approx. 145 km wide & the island of Pantelleria lies in the middle of the channel. The strait was a choke point between the eastern & western Mediterranean.

[52] Commanded by Lt. Cdr. Douglas Henry Reid Bromley MiD RN (later Capt., 2nd MiD 21 Dec 1943, DSC 18 Sep 1945, US Legion of Merit 20 Feb 1945), HMS Blankney L30 was a Type II Hunt Class destroyer laid down in May 1940 at Clydebank dockyards Scotland. Commissioned Apr 1941 & scrapped in 1958. Also see,;; & TNA: ADM 53. ‘Whilst all ships logs are continued for 1939 and the early months of 1940, thereafter, the majority of logs for ships smaller than cruisers appear not to have survived for the remaining war years.’

[53] The ‘33 General Hospital’ is referred to in Howie’s causality report. The US 33rd General Hospital was established at Bizerte from Sept 1943 to May 1944. See Also, there was a 33rd British General Hospital based in Syracuse Sicily from Aug 1943 to Jan 1945, but it is unlikely the crew would be sent to Sicily for relatively minor injuries.

[54] A coastal radar station a short distance from Bizerte.

[55]LAC: RCAF District HQ North Africa & Italy, ORBs, Jun 1943-Feb 1945: RG24-E-7, vol/box no. 22812, microfilm reel C-12412, p. 102.

[56] The port town of Bizerte (also spelt Bizerta) is 65 km north of Tunis, Tunisia. The airfield was a base for USAAF heavy bombers & other allied forces.

[57],-douglas-gordon/. Massicault War Cemetery is approximately 30 km south-west of Tunis, Tunisia.

[58]Daily Mercury (Mackay), 2 Dec 1943, p. 2; Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser, 2 Dec 1943, p. 4; Morning Bulletin(Rockhampton), 2 Dec 1943, p. 4; The Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 2 Dec 1943, p. 4; & 16 Dec 1943, p. 4, with photo of Douglas Howie; The Central Queensland Herald (Rockhampton), 9 Dec 1943, p. 20; & The Telegraph (Brisbane), 1 Dec 1943, p. 6.

[59] The Times (London), 9 Nov 1944, p. 7, ‘Previously reported missing believed killed in action, now presumed killed in action’.

[60],-hugh-ferguson/. The memorial is situated in Valetta, Malta. It records his parents being of Bixley, Norfolk.

[61]The Age (Melbourne), 2 Dec 1943, p. 4. Morris’s wound is reported in the list of RAAF casualties.

[62] He was awarded the 1939-45 Star, Italy Star, Defence Medal, 1939-45 British War Medal & 1939-45 Australian Service Medal.

[63]458 Squadron News, vol. 2, no. 7, Apr 1951, p. 4. Established in 1890, Henry Bucks was a manufacturer & retailer of clothing in Melbourne.

[64]Cwlth Electoral Roll for the Division of Bruce 1977.

[65] 458 Sqn News, no. 182, May 1995; Waverley (Vic) RSL news; & PROV: VPRS 28/P25, unit 184, item 1101027, Probate & Administration files. Frederick John Nelson Morris, of Syndal.

[66]LAC: RCAF District HQ North Africa & Italy, ORBs, Jun 1943-Feb 1945: RG24-E-7, vol/box no. 22812, microfilm reel C-12412, pp. 103, 107 & 322. Also, during a visit to 458 Sqn at Foggia on 10 Oct 1944 there were only seven Canadians on strength & six were present.

[67] NAA: A11365, 402/P1, 458 Sqn Honours & Awards, Pt 1. Also, see the following for conditions applying to CVSM & Maple Leaf bar.

[68] Approx 9000 Americans joined the RCAF & RAF. After the USA joined the Allied war effort many of these personnel transferred to the USAAF. See Commonwealth, Canadian, & the American Battle War Dead Commission

[69] Guthrie was later awarded a Wound Stripe. A gold braid stripe worn vertically on the left forearm of the tunic. See NAA: A11365, 402/P1, 458 Sqn Honours & Awards Pt 1, p. 151; & Sydney Morning Herald, 27 May 1944, p. 1, for info on RAAF Wound Stripes & Service Chevrons.

[70]NAA: A705, 166/18/217, Howie D G, Casualty report, p. 40. Report of Flying Accident or Forced Landing Not Attributed to Enemy Action. Report dated 6 Nov 1943.

[71]The Wellington was essentially a single pilot operation. The engine throttle levers & other essential flight controls were located on the left side of the pilot seat putting them out of reach from the 2nd pilot’s ‘folding seat’ which was on the right side of the cabin. The a/c flaps & undercarriage controls were located between the pilot & 2ndpilot seats, & fire extinguisher switches were on the right of the 2ndpilot position. The Wellington did have a rudimentary autopilot. Only training a/c had the addition of the 2nd pilot control column & yolk, & rudder bar. See Iain Murray, Vickers Wellington: 1936 to 1953 (all marks & models), Haynes, UK, 2012.

[72] Probably the anti-aircraft cruiser/monitor which is often recorded in 458s ORBs.

[73] Actually Cape Bourgaroûn, Algeria. On 6 Nov 1943 the Germans attacked a convoy of the Cape sinking 6 ships for the loss of 6 a/c.

[74] We Find & Destroy, pp. 212-213; & NAA: A9186, 144, 458 Sqn ORB, 17 Nov 1943, pp. 314 & 325. Cairo (SEXTANT) conference 23-26 Nov 1943, Tehran (EUREKA) Conference 28 Nov to 1 Dec 1943, & 2nd Cairo conference 4-6 Dec 1943.,; &

[75] A full account is in: Also, No.1 RAF GH was at Carthage prior to its move to Naples in Dec 1943.

[76] Aircraft Illustrated, Oct 1974, pp. 421. The Destroyers: Story of 458 Squadron by Hermes II. Accessed via

[77] NAA: A9300, Woodhead B J. RAAF 416642, F/Sgt (later F/L) pilot Brian James Woodhead.

[78] NAA: A9186, 144, 458 Sqn ORB 14 Jan 1944. Love was an RAF officer no. 121316.

[79] NAA: A10605, 1040/3, vol. 2. 458 Sqn RAAF, Personnel Occurrence Reports, 3/1943-16/1945.

[80] TNA: AIR 27/384/17 & 22, 36 Sqn RAF ORBs, Sep-Nov 1944 & Jan 1945, p. 2; & RAF Chivenor is on the northern shore of the River Taw estuary, on the north coast of Devon.


[82] Ramsay was awarded the 1939-45 Star, Atlantic & Italy Stars, Defence Medal, 1939-45 British War Medal & 1939-45 Australian Service Medal.

[83] The PMG Dept was progressively privatised with parts becoming Telecom in 1975 then Telstra in 1997.

[84] 458 Sqn News, vol. 2, no. 7, Apr 1951, p. 4. Working in Accounts Sect of PMG Dept.

[85] Herald Sun, 8 May 2013; & PROV: VPRS 17379/ P7, unit 197, item S PRB 2014 05888, Probate & Administration files. John Robert Ramsay, Telstra employee.

[86] NAA: A9300, Orchard G S. RAAF no. 40732 Acting S/Ldr Gordon Stanley Orchard.

[87] NAA: A9186, 144, 458 Sqn ORB, pp. 424 & 453.

[88] NAA: A9186, 144, 458 Sqn ORB, pp. 558 & 574. Orchard was posted from the unit in July 1944.

[89] NAA: A9186, 144, 458 Sqn ORB. SAAF no. 20599V Lieutenant (pilot) A V Rubidge; & We Find & Destroy, p. 141 (photo of crew including Jack Guthrie).

[90]NAA: A9300, Knight R G. RAAF 403111 (RAF no. A403111), Acting S/Ldr Robert Gurney Knight DFC (London Gazette, 20 Apr 1945) (aka Robin Knight).

[91] We Find & Destroy, p. 157.

[92] NAA: A9300, Mackay R C, RAAF Officers Personnel files, 1921-1948; The London Gazette Supplement, 5 Feb 1943, DFC; & Cwlth Gazette, 24 Jan 1946, MiD. RAAF 402572 W/Cdr Robert Charles Mackay (aka Rodney Mackay) DFC MiD. 458 Sqn was Mackay’s 3rdtour having previously flown with 69 Sqn RAF in Malta. He was killed in the crash of a 22 Sqn RAAF Tiger Moth at Schofields NSW in 1948.

[93] NAA: A12372, R/370/P. Dowling returned to Australia to attend the War School at Mt Martha, Vic.

[94] Cwlth Gazette, no. 206, 19 Oct 1944, p. 2357, promoted to Acting F/Lt from 24 Jun 1944.

[95] Foggia is opposite Salerno on the west coast, and south of Naples. The Axis established major defensive lines across Italy between Naples and Rome to slow the Allies advance north.

[96] We Find & Destroy, p. 159.

[97] NAA: A9186, 144, 458 Sqn ORBs, p.682. On 12 Oct the sortie was aborted due bad weather. There were eight aboard including USN officers Capt. Austin & Lt. Eckhardt.

[98] We Find & Destroy, p. 169; & NAA: A9186, 144, 458 Sqn ORBs, p. 678.

[99] NAA: A9186, 144, 458 Sqn ORBs, p. 698.

[100]Victory in Europe (VE Day) 8 May 1945. Victory over Japan also known Victory in the Pacific (VJ Day or VP Day) 15 August 1945. Japan signed the surrender on 2 Sep 1945.

[101]Cwlth Gazette, no. 69, 11 Apr 1946, p. 1006. Appointment as RAAF Citizen Air Force (CAF) Officer terminated.

[102]Cwlth Gazette, no. 87, 3 Jun 1948, p. 2338. Appointment as Temp F/Lt in CAF Reserve ATC effective 7 Apr 1948; & Conversation on 21 Nov 2021 with Mr Ian McLean former student at Box Hill HS & ATC cadet; & Cwlth Gazette,no. 27, 23 Mar 1961, p. 1213. Appointment in RAAF Reserve terminated effective 1 Feb 1961; & Cwlth Gazette, no. 57, 31 Jul 1961, p. 2658. 0310523 (Note change of number) Temp F/Lt J Guthrie RAAF Reserve. Awarded the Cadet Forces Medal to add to the 1939-45 Star, Italy Star, Defence Medal, 1939-45 British War Medal & 1939-45 Australian Service Medal previously awarded.

[103]PROV: VRPS 13579/P1, Teacher Records (1863-1959). Accessed via Ancestry, Eildon Teacher Record Books 1925, pp. 1980 & 1981, Teacher no.25316, Jack Guthrie; Merrilander, 1962; Veritas1969; & 458 Sqn News, no. 128, Sep 1981, pp. 4-5.

[104] Age, 21 Jul 1993, death notice; & PROV: VPRS 28/P23 unit 381, item 1075/426. Probate granted, Jack Guthrie, retired teacher of Greensborough.

[105] AWM: RAAF, RC09125.010. 458 Sqn RAAF Fatalities WW2, compiled by Alan Storr. Six a/c ditched mostly due to engine fire or failure, two flew into hills, one crashed on landing with full bomb load, one blew up on landing with ‘hung up’ bomb aboard, & one flew into water while conducting low level training.

[106]R V Jones, Most Secret War, p. 540.

[107] The MAC included the air forces of Australia, Brazil, Canada, Free French, Greece (Hellenic), New Zealand, Poland, South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, UK, USA, & the Italian Co-Belligerent Air Force (Royalist ‘Badoglio’ government formed in southern Italy after the Sep 1943 Armistice). Source