Battle of the BANDA SEA

The actions that resulted in the Royal Australian Air Force’s 2 Squadron receiving a US battle honour are described by Andrew Thomas.

A swarm of aircraft fitters from 2 Squadron RAAF performing a 60-hourly inspection on one of the unit’s Lockheed Hudsons. (AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL [AWM])

Long-standing tradition has it that a Commonwealth air force squadron’s Standard (flag) is emblazoned with scrolls bearing the battle honours the unit has earned for taking part in major combat operations. For the US forces, the equivalent of such awards take the form of a streamer carried on their flag, often representing a Presidential Unit Citation. On January 4, 1943 US President Franklin D Roosevelt uniquely gave such an accolade for ‘Banda Sea 1942’ to 2 and 13 Squadrons, Royal Australian Air Force, and in March 1943 the acceptance of the honour was given Royal approval.

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