Chronology: 456 Squadron RAAF Middle Wallop – 4 April 1943 to 30 September 1943

Robert takes this blog about 23 Squadron very seriously, so seriously he is adding more information about his father when he was with RAAF 456 Squadron.

R.C. Harris was posted with a Royal Australian Air Force squadron based in England.

Details of R. C. Harris’ time with 456 Squadron RAAF
4th April 1943 to 30th September 1943

Total hours flown during this period:- 

Flying Hours Day Night
  259.35 150.05

Total hours: 409.40

Total of Operational Hours: 48.35 

Pilots flown with during this period:

F/O Bridges,

F/O Biggin,

P/O Newell,

P/O Lewis,

F/Sgt Palmer,

F/O Griffin,

F/Sgt Hough,

F/O Bridges,

F/Sgt Richardson,

S/Ldr Halford,

S/Ldr Hatton,

F/Sgt Smith,

P/O Heath.  

He flew 136 times (107 times with F/Sgt Hough) during his time with 456.

Many flights were under one hour – 51; only two of these short flights being undertaken at night. 

The three flights with the Squadron Leaders were:-

  1. 1.   GEE Homing and Fixing (GEE is a British radio navigation system)
  2. 2.   To Gatwick. GEE Exercise
  3. 3.   To base. GEE exercise. 

The above is the only mention of GEE during this period and these activities were undertaken in Avro Ansons thus suggesting training sessions for my father.  These flights took place on 08/07.1943 with the flight lasting for 2 hours., 11/07/1943 @ 10.35 lasting for 30 minutes and again on the same day @ 11.45and lasting for 1 hour and 15 minutes 

In the remarks column of the log book are the following activities, some of which are self explanatory but others are unclear:- 

  • ·        A.S.R patrol, (air and sea rescue)
  • ·        Beat Up,
  • ·        Air/Air Firing,
  • ·        Canopy,
  • ·        Investigating “bandits”,
  • ·        Sopley Patrol,
  • ·        Aircraft display for Royal Armoured Corps,
  • ·        A.S.R patrol at 0 feet French coast,
  • ·        Investigated 2 bogeys, Bullseye, Search for Charcoal.53,
  • ·        Calibration. 50 feet, 240 degrees from Swanage,
  • ·        Searchlight Co op. Colerne 18,000 feet,
  • ·        S/L interception,
  • ·        Mahmoud,
  • ·        Toucan,
  • ·        Harpoon,
  • ·        Bullseye,
  • ·        Ranger cross country,
  • ·        A/C test,
  • ·        Bomber affiliation G.C.I, (ground-controlled interception)
  • ·        G.C.I/ Wrafton G.C.I/Cricklade,
  • ·        Aircraft test,
  • ·        Air/Sea firing,
  • ·        Air/Ground firing,
  • ·        Air/Sea firing and camera gun exercise,
  • ·        Deputy exercise. 

In addition to the Anson mentioned above, the bulk of the flying hours were carried out in Mosquito II Fs with varied numbers. 

The two flights in an Airspeed Oxford were “To High Ercall” and “To Middle Wallop” with no other explanation. 

The one flight with P/O Heath was in a Boeing B-17 F Fortress II and the purpose of the flight was apparently A/C Test.  The flight lasted for one hour and ten minutes. 

My father’s duties throughout this period were as NAV/R.  Interestingly, his duties had previously been described as Observer but the designation changed. 

His time at 456 was signed off by the Officer Commanding 456 Squadron (a Wing Commander) whose signature looks like “Howely” with an indistinguishable initial.  

From 456 Squadron he then moved to 62 O.T.U  at Ouston (but more of that for another time).


About “Howely”… Officer Commanding 456 Squadron

From 1 June 1943 to 14 December 1943 Wing Commander G. Howden was Commanding Officer

National Collection

A group of officers at No. 456 (Mosquito) Squadron, RAAF Fighter Command based at RAF Station Middle Wallop. Left to right: 402863 Squadron Leader (Sqn Ldr) Richard William Hyem, Gunnedah, NSW; 12631 Pilot Officer (later Flying Officer)  Francis Alfred Saw, Camberwell, Vic;  Wing Commander  G Howden DFC RAF, Guildford, WA; 400309 Flight Lieutenant (Flt Lt, later Sqn Ldr) Danbigh Leon Norris-Smith, Heidelburg, Vic; and Flt Lt (later Wing Commander [Wing Cdr]) Gordon Panitz, Southport, Qld. Wing Cdr Panitz was killed on operations over France on 22 August 1944 while serving with RAAF 464 Squadron.

Second footnote

456 Squadron RAAF

No. 456 Squadron was the Royal Australian Air Force’s only dedicated night fighter squadron during the Second World War. An Article XV squadron, it was formed at Valley, on the Welsh island of Anglesea, on 30 June 1941 and joined 9 Group of Fighter Command. The squadron was initially equipped with Boulton Paul Defiant aircraft but had barely begun operations before it was re-equipped with Bristol Beaufighters at the end of September. Obsolete, the Defiant was ill-suited to the night fighter role, but operating the potent radar-equipped Beaufighter, the squadron was well-equipped for stalking German bombers in Britain’s night skies.

The squadron operated Beaufighters from Valley for a little over a year before it was re-equipped with De Havilland Mosquitoes in December 1942. The Mosquito was even more versatile and its introduction, combined with a lessening of the German air threat over Britian, led to a diversification of 456 Squadron’s activities. From the start of 1943 it was also employed on offensive patrols over occupied Europe, striking at both German bombers near their home airfields and at targets on the ground. On 30 March 1943 the squadron relocated to Middle Whallop, in Hampshire to the east of Salisbury.

Although the night skies remained the squadron’s principal domain, it also mounted operations in daylight, attacking trains and other enemy transport in France, and flying patrols in defence of Coastal Command aircraft operating over the Bay of Biscay.

On 17 August 1943 the squadron moved to Colerne, to the east of Bristol. The move marked the beginning of a lull in operations in which the squadron’s energies were devoted to training. On 17 November it again moved, to Fairwood Common, in south Wales and mounted patrols in support of Bomber Command’s operations over Germany.

22 thoughts on “Chronology: 456 Squadron RAAF Middle Wallop – 4 April 1943 to 30 September 1943

  1. My grandfather was George Hough (Flight Sargent).
    Can you put me in touch with RC Harris’s son?
    My Nanna is still alive and I am sure would let to get in contact with him.

    Many thanks

  2. My Dad was Danbigh Leon Norris-Smith and was a navigator in Squadron 456. I would be grateful for any information about him and his history before he left Australia. Thanking you very much. Jude Hanley nee Norris-Smith.

  3. Very little on the Internet

    ID: I610944
    Name: Danbigh Leon NORRIS-SMITH
    Given Name: Danbigh Leon
    Surname: NORRIS-SMITH
    Sex: M
    Birth: 9 Oct 1916 in Hyde Park, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
    Death: Y
    Change Date: 29 Apr 2014 at 12:20
    Note: Born: Danbigh Leon NORRIS-SMITH. Father : Arthur Leopold NORRIS-SMITH. Mother : Annie Louise JACOB. Source : South Australian Births 1907 -1928, Book : 987 Page : 595 District : Ade.


    He is on this list

    Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)

    Royal Air Force

    Wing Commander George Craig (133755).
    Wing Commander Robert Edward Craven, DFC (39859).
    Wing Commander Peter Stanley Dundas, (21235).
    Wing Commander John Ellis, DFC (37850).
    Wing Commander Edward Hearl (44098).
    Wing Commander George Augustus Hine (31302).
    Wing Commander James Edward Manton (35371).
    Wing Commander Danbigh Leon Norris-Smith (58789).

  5. W/O (Aus410361) John Leonard MULHALL (pilot) RAAF My Uncle died on 24/11/1944 flying a
    de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito NF Mk XVII 456 Sqn RAAF HK317 over the channel. He recently got mentioned a couple of times in Britain At War magazine but I have failed to find any further information about him. Any suggestions please?

    1. Usually relatives of this pilot would have his log book in their possession. Log book has so much information.

  6. Do you have the book Fighter nights : 456 Squadron RAAF by John Bennett. If so do you know if he is mentioned in it

    1. I know that book, but I don’t have it. I would be surprised if his name is in there. I can post your request for information on the blog and see what happens Chris.

      1. I know that he was on anti V1 patrol over the North Sea. I found that information in a book.

      2. W/O J . Mulhall and F/O J . Jones failed to return from an antidiver patrol on 23/24 November but the following night, F/Os F Stevens and F/G W Kellett in Mosquito HK290/J destroyed a He 111 after a twentyfive-minute chase. It blew up on the sea close to the Dutch coast. On 30 December, 456 Squadron was re-located to Church Fenton and reequipped with Mk XXX Mosquitoes.


        The squadron was held in reserve for much of the first quarter of 1945. With its new aircraft, training now centred on another fresh role that of night fighters for bomber support. Unfortunately, by the time it was ready for operations there were few opportunities left as the Luftwaffe.

  7. I know on his last mission he left from Ford RAF base in Surrey which I thought was odd as it would appear his mission was over the North Sea. A lot of fuel wasted flying overland I would have thought.

    1. I will include that in the update. Feel free to add more information as I can update my blog whenever something new happens.

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