GENERAL HEADQUARTERS, SWPA
AN INTELLIGENCE ORGANISATION
"Section 22", General Headquarters, SWPA was a multinational organization set up under the Chief Signal Officer at GHQ SWPA, Major General Spencer B. Akin in late 1943 to collect electronic intelligence about the increasing number of Japanese radar sets deployed in the South West Pacific Area (SWPA). "Section 22" was responsible for the coordination of Allied electronic reconnaissance. The organisation got its name from the fact that it was started in Room No. 22. Section 22 used the codename "Snark" when sending messages to and from its Field Units.
Unlike Central Bureau, Brisbane, which was a purely cryptologic organization, "Section 22" included personnel from the Navy, Marine Corps, Signal Corps, Army Air Forces, and foreign personnel. Personnel included members of the U.S. military along with British, Australian, New Zealand and Dutch allies.
"Section 22" was responsible for collecting information on Japanese radar and radio systems, analysis, dissemination of the resulting intelligence and requisitioning and assigning electronic countermeasures/reconnaissance personnel and equipment. By mid-1943 USAAF B-24D Ferret aircraft had been assigned to the Southwest Pacific Area, and "Section 22" started to assemble a detailed picture of the Japanese radar network in the area. "Section 22" soon realised the effectiveness of operations using dedicated AAF Ferrets and soon forced the US Navy into a similar mode of operation.
The B-24D Ferret (a modified Liberator) was equipped with the SCR-587 receiver and a developmental version of a radar pulse analyzer which became a vital tool to assist the airborne operators in identifying the type of enemy radar being intercepted.
In March 1944, Patrol Bombing Squadron VPB-116, which was based on the recently captured Eniwetok Atoll, began flying electronic reconnaissance missions around the Japanese naval base at Truk in the Caroline Islands. Their PB4Y-ls, with their electronic reconnaissance equipment, were used to locate and collect information on the Japanese radar installations on Truk. This data was then used to great effect during the aircraft carrier air strikes on the Eniwetok Atoll.
Patrol Bombing Squadron VPB-116 had its beginnings as Bombing Squadron VB-116 which was established on 1 December 1943. It was redesignated to VPB-116 on 1 October 1944.
It was clear in 1944, that the AAF's permanently modified Ferret aircraft used exclusively for electronic reconnaissance, were considerably more effective than the US Navy's makeshift installations operated by their "gypsy" air crewmen. "Section 22" directed the formation of a dedicated US Navy unit, where all its personnel, equipment and aircraft would be responsible solely for the electronic reconnaissance role.
Lt Lawrence Heron was selected to form and command this new dedicated airborne electronic reconnaissance unit which was temporarily based at the Palm Island Naval Air Station near Townsville in north Queensland. The unit was equipped with two PBY-5A Black Cat (Catalinas) to be modified for electronic reconnaissance.
ARC-l receivers were installed in the Catalinas and a locally manufactured direction-finding antenna system was used. The new DF antenna pointed downward from the rear fuselage gun hatch, which meant that the antennae could not remain in place prior to take off. It was manually reattached after takeoff which initially proved quite a challenge for the members of this special unit.
After these modifications and some training the Black Cats eventually left NAS Palm Island for New Guinea to begin flying electronic reconnaissance missions from the seaplane bases at Port Moresby and Samari Islands. By late 1944 Lt Heron's Black Cats were flying electronic missions out of the Philippines.
The Australian Group Radiation Laboratory led by Doctor S. Seely, was part of the Radiophysics Laboratory, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research organisation CSIR based in Sydney, New South Wales. It carried out research work on radar countermeasures.
A Report dated 6 September 1944, titled "Radio Countermeasures in Southwest Pacific Area" stated the following:-
"RCM work, both radio and radar, in the SWPA are under the direction and control of Section 22. ....... Section 22 is organized as part of the Chief Signal Officer's Office of GHQ and is an Allied setup. It is divided into two main departments, radio and radar. The radio section is headed by Major T.L. Meede and consists of seven officers and about eight enlisted men. A portion of its personnel are engaged in traffic analysis, the purpose of which is to analyze radio traffic and artificially build up the circuit loads to prevent enemy intelligence from forecasting coming operations by observing increased volume of traffic on certain circuits. The remainder of teh group has extended their efforts toward the investigation of enemy attempts at jamming and the training of communication personnel in anti-jamming technique."
"Up to the present time no attempt has been made to actuate offensive measures against enemy radio circuits. Considerably more information than is now available a to the enemy use of various radio channels is necessary, before such offensive measures can be put into use. With this in mind the work of teh radio section has been directed toward the accuring of information as to the enemy use of radio channels particularly those in the VHF range. A discussion of the need and means of such investigations was presented to the Chief Signal Officer and a copy of this presentation is attached to these notes."
"As a result of the efforts of Section 22, permission to install monitoring receivers in a few operational aircraft of the 380th Bomber Group was obtained and six Hallicrafter S-27 receivers were installed in six aircraft. The S-27 receivers were used since they were the only type available in the theater. Operators were selected and trained in the operation of the search receivers and now accompany these aircraft on strike missions."
"Results on the first few missions have been largely negative due to the nature of the strike missions and teh fact that no interception has been made on any of these missions. The operational area of the 380th Bomber Group is being changed at present and when it is again operating, the search operators will again accompany each mission."
"To supplement aircraft search, Section 22 is at present completing plans to utilize the RCM personnel secured from the South Pacific to make up a number of ground intercept groups for the purpose of making detailed studies of enemy use of communication channels. These ground teams will be located in areas where aircraft search indicates that enemy stations can be reasonably expected to be picked up by monitoring receivers. It is hoped that sufficient information as to enemy use of radio channels will be obtained to make such plans and arrangements for offensive countermeasures as may appear feasible."
"Efforts on the part of the Japanese to interfere with Allied communications have been somewhat scattered and appear to be conducted on a relatively small scale. However, a number of attempts to interfere with Allied radio channels have been highly successful and it appears that a number of those attempts have been in the nature of experiments which may be the forerunner of operations on a considerably larger scale. Reports of these attempts have been somewhat incomplete and inconclusive due to lack of monitoring and DFing equipment with which to investigate the jamming signal. Section 22 is making every effort to improve the quality of jamming reports by providing information and other necessary assistance to the communications people so that jamming attempts of the enemy can be more adequately analyzed."
"An anti-jamming training group has been formed of Section 22 personnel. Equipped with jamming training recordings, jamming modulators, demonstration jamming equipment and anti-jamming training information, this unit is available to Signal Officers of the various operating groups for assistance in the training of communication personnel. At the present time, this unit is assisting the Signal Officer of the 13th Air Force at Bougainville in the training of radio operators in ant-jamming techniques. Most of the operating groups in the theater are alert to the possibility of enemy action against communication circuits and are very much interested in defensive measures. Considerable ingenuity is being demonstrated by the radio officers and operators in coping with enemy jamming attempts and it appears that the above-mentioned training program will broaden the ability of all communication personnel to meet the attempts at jamming communication circuits by the enemy."
As mentioned above no attempt at jamming enemy tactical radio circuits has been made in the SWPA. Plans of proposed action for future operations have been prepared by Section 22 and these plans bring out the future need in this area of two types of jamming equipments which, up to the present, have not been made available in this theater. The first is an easily tuned jammer of moderate to high power in the HF (2 to 25 mc) range. Due to the extensive use by the Japanese of HF circuits, an effective offensive countermeasure operation must include the use of some ground based spot jammer operating in this range. Since the type of operation frequently precludes the use of motor trucks, this jammer must be portable, capable of being transported by not more than three or four men and must be a complete jamming system with received and tracking arrangements. Because we also make exclusive use of the HF range, tuning arrangements of the jammer should be simple and accurate to avoid any interference with friendly communications. In view of the time factor it appears most desirable that this jammer, if possible, be a modification of some existing equipment. In this connection Section 22 is making a study of several Australian made transceivers with a view toward modifying as jammers. It is our opinion that a similar investigation of United States equipment should be made here. The second is a semi-barrage expandable jammer for the HF range. This jammer should be similar to Chick type jammers with the exception that instead of being placed from and aircraft by means of parachutes these jammers would be placed by patrols or other personnel. A more complete description of this type of jammer is included in Report No. 2."
"The attitude of teh various operating groups is the theater toward offensive countermeasures is decidedly cool. It is the general opinion that the type of warfare now being conducted in the theater can offer little opportunity for the use of radio countermeasures...............
The following entries are from the Military Telephone Books for Brisbane during WWII:-
TELEPHONE DIRECTORY OCTOBER 1943 - RESTRICTED
|Lt. Commander Mace, J.H.||Room 101 AMP Building|
|F/Lt. Bell, W.||Room 101 AMP Building|
|Lt. Commander Jolley, J.B.||Room 101 AMP Building|
|Lt. Mitchell, R.R.||Room 104 AMP Building|
|Lt. Bullock, H.W.||Room 101 AMP Building|
|Mr. Chanter, N.||334 Queen St.|
|Capt. Fausett, F.||334 Queen St.|
|Lt. Hayes, R.G.||334 Queen St.|
|S/Lt. Taylor, C.R.||334 Queen St.|
TELEPHONE DIRECTORY MAY 1944 - RESTRICTED
|Lt. Col. Albert, P.W.||1st Floor, Perry House|
|Lt. Comdr. Mace, J.H. (RANVR)||1st Floor, Perry House|
|Lt. Comdr. Jolley, J.B. (USNR)||1st Floor, Perry House|
|S/Ldr Bell, W. (RAAF)||1st Floor, Perry House|
|S/Ldr. Swan, D.E. (RAAF)||1st Floor, Perry House|
|Lt. Bullock, H.W. (RANVR)||1st Floor, Perry House|
|Capt. Fausett, F.||1st Floor, Perry House|
|Lt. McCaa, N.M. (USNR)||1st Floor, Perry House|
|Capt. Meade, T.L.||1st Floor, Perry House|
|F/Lt. McCann, L.V.C. (RAAF)||1st Floor, Perry House|
|Lt. Hogan, L.K.||1st Floor, Perry House|
|Lt. Feyerherm, V.O.||1st Floor, Perry House|
|Lt. Lindsay, R.H.||1st Floor, Perry House|
|Lt. Pooley, N.W.||1st Floor, Perry House|
|Mr. Chanter, N.J.||1st Floor, Perry House|
TELEPHONE DIRECTORY FEBRUARY 1945 - RESTRICTED
|Major Ayre, D.R. (AIF)||Room112a AMP Building|
|F/Lt. McCann, L.V. (RAAF)||Room112a AMP Building|
|Lt. Birk, H.W. (USNR)||Room 110 AMP Building|
|Lt. Feyerherm, V.O.||Room112a AMP Building|
|Lt. Tanner, E.C.||Room 112 AMP Building|
|Mr. Chanter, N.J.||Room 110 AMP Building|
Note: - By February 1945, the Chief Signal Officer was Lt. Col. Ernst, J.M.
Section 22 also used the top floor of the Walter Reid building in Charlotte Street, Brisbane to store records etc. A fire started in the Section 22 area on the top floor on the evening of 5 November 1944. A newspaper article in the Truth (Brisbane) on 21 January 1945 suggested an espionage angle theorising that there was a link between the murder of Lieutenant Middleton and a major fire in the Walter Reid building. The article indicated that Lt. Middleton was a member of the US Army Signal Corps and that his work was of a highly secretive and confidential nature. Perhaps he was a member of Section 22.
Organisation of Section 22, General Headquarters, Southwest Pacific Area, Office of the Chief Signal Officer, October 7, 1944
Does anyone have a better copy of this diagram?
At 7 October 1944, Section 22 had a number of Field Units (see above diagram) as follows:-
|Field Unit Number||Field Unit Description||Notes|
|Field Unit 1||Unknown Aircraft Ferret*|
|Field Unit 2||Unknown Aircraft Ferret*|
|Field Unit 3||Unknown Aircraft Ferret*|
|Field Unit 4||Submarine Ferret* associated Perth||Possibly USS Batfish which was based at Fremantle Australia for its war patrol #5 (8 October - 1 December 1944) and the Batfish lost its primary APR-1 Elint operator on War Patrol #4 (31 July - 12 September 1944), on 25 August 1944 due to nerves, and both WP #5 and #6 had much better RCM reports."|
|Field Unit 5||Submarine Ferret* associated Brisbane|
|Field Unit 6||B-24 Darwin 380th Bombardment Group (H)|
|Field Unit 7||PV-1 (?) associated Sansapor*|
|Field Unit 8||Surface Naval Unit* associated Brisbane|
|Field Unit 9||Surface Naval Unit* associated Brisbane|
|Field Unit 10||Surface Naval Unit* associated Brisbane|
|Field Unit 11||Unknown Aircraft Ferret*|
|Field Unit 12||AMF long range, RCM listening recon patrol/direct action Commandos||(Kevin Davies, "Field Unit 12 Takes New Technology to War in the Southwest Pacific," Studies in Intelligence Vol 58, No. 3 (September 2014) pages 10 - 20) -- Hollandia|
|Field Unit 13||New Zealand Scientists with 868th Bombardment (H) SB-24 snoopers||They built their own B-24J Ferret hunter-killer and helped build a B-25J Ferret hunter-killer|
|Field Unit 14||AMF long range, RCM listening recon patrol/direct action Commandos||(Kevin Davies, "Field Unit 12 Takes New Technology to War in the Southwest Pacific," Studies in Intelligence Vol 58, No. 3 (September 2014) pages 10 - 20) -- Finschhafen|
|Field Unit 15||B-24 Squadron RAAF - Fenton||24 Squadron took over the work that the 380th had been doing prior to their move to the Philippines (apparently in training 7 October 1944 at Brisbane|
NOTE:- The above diagram appears to show that there was a Section 22 Test Lab in Sydney, New South Wales. This would have been the Australian Group Radiation Laboratory led by Doctor S. Seely, which was part of the Radiophysics Laboratory, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research organisation CSIR based in Sydney, NSW.
Also shows Liaison Offices (L.O.) in Washington D.C. and London.
The 3144th Signal Service Platoon was one of two provisional RCM platoons used in the 1943 Louisiana and Tennessee Maneuvers. It was made a numbered unit and sent to the SWPA. An Archie W. Searls served with the 3144th Signal Service Detachment.
The 3153rd Signal Service Company was a radio deception unit which sent in 1944 to the SWPA.
The War Diary of USS PCE(R) 849 has the following entries:-
14 July 1945 - Today we received orders to proceed to Okinawa Shima on 16 July 1945. Due to the critical lack of shipping space available we are to transport Section 22 of GHQ Signal Corps to Nakagusuku Wan.
15 July 1945 - We got underway this morning to go alongside Pier 15, South Manila Harbor to take aboard 20 tons of Labatory (sic) equipment. a jeep and trailer for Section 22. At 1150 we got underway to go alongside the USS APA 235 for fresh water and at 1506 we got underway again to the USS Panda (IX 125) for fuel and lube oil in the Outer South Harbor. At 1855 we returned to our anchorage in South Manila Harbor. At 2000 the Section 22 personnel reported aboard for transportation. There are two officers, two Army civilian technicians, and nine enlisted men. Section 22 is composed of a radar counter measures team. They will set up a labatory (sic) on Okinawa and assist the Air Forces stations there in solving Radar Field problems, and develope (sic) effective measures of preventing enemy jaming (sic) of radar screens.
17 July 1945 - When we arrived at Nakagusuku Wan on 20 July (?), we learned that the convoy had been rerouted because floating mines were sighted along the assigned convoy route.
20 July 1945 - .... As we approached Okinawa Jima to leeward the swells decreased and we were able to proceed into the harbor without difficulties. At 1325 we anchored in Buckner Bay (Nakagusuku Wan) to report to Colonel Pochyla, Executive Officer, Signal Corps AFPAC.
23 July 1945 - ..... At 1514 we got underway for Namarida Saki on the western side of Okinawa Shima. Here we are to unload the Signal Corps equipment and disembard (sic) the Army and civilian personnel.
The "Action Reports, PT 128 and PT 129, Night of 13/14 January 1945" for Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Seven shows the following entry:-
One serviceable but unoccupied enemy type "A" navy barge was sunk. Also radar materiel valuable for intelligence purposes was taken from an enemy APD in San Isidro Bay. This material, removed under supervision of Lt. R.H. Michell, RANVR and Lt. Acreman, AIF, was tuned over for further study to Section 22 of GHQ, U.S. Army at Tacloban, Leyte, I.
The Muster Roll of the Crew of the "USS Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Thirty Three" shows the following entry for 31 March 1945:-
|NAMES||SERVICE NUMBER||PRESENT RATING||NOTES|
|See, Earl N.||627 52 82||RdM1c||General Headquarters, S.W.P.A., Section 22|
War Diary of Commander Aircraft, Seventh Fleet has the following entry:-
30 November 1943 - One PBY-5 aircraft of Fleet Air Wing Seventeen ordered assigned to Chief Signal Officer, Section 22 for use on radar countermeasure missions, at the request of General Headquarters, Southwest Pacific Area.
FIELD UNIT 15 - 24 SQUADRON RAAF
FROM THE LIFE STORY OF BERNARD HOSIE
Radar Countermeasures Operator
In July I was posted to Section 22 which came directly under RAAF Command in Brisbane. Two other Nav (W) made up the group; Sgt Bill Ford and Sgt Don Herbert.
Secrecy was at the highest level; we could tell no one what our job was. We lived in the RAAF camp in Brisbane but trained in an old warehouse on the Brisbane river. We were receiving special training as Radar Countermeasures operators; this meant that our job was the identification and location of Japanese radar, determining the frequency they operated on, their range, and methods to trick or blind them.
Not a little of our course consisted of listening to recordings of Japanese radar - mostly a series of squeaks and buzzes; this quickly became very boring. We had one recording with the song "Stormy Weather" on one side and "The Rose in her Hair" on the other side. As soon as the instructors left the room we put on the recording. To this day, fifty years later, those two songs still remind me of the days in the old warehouse on the Brisbane river.
I had my 21st birthday, 20 August 1944, in the old warehouse.
In September 1944 the three of us flew to Darwin on a D.C.3 (Douglas Dakota) RAAF transport plane - landing at Charleville to refuel on the way. In Darwin we joined the U.S. 380th Heavy Bomb Group. The 380th was made up of four squadrons, each with about fifteen B-24 four engine bombers - Liberators as the RAAF called them. I was attached to the 530th squadron.
There were about ten RCM operators with the 380th; all of us Nav (W)s from the RAAF. The Americans had plenty of Navigators and of Radio Operators but did not have men trained in both navigation and radio; for this reason they had borrowed some Australians. There were also about twelve Australian Liberator crews flying with the 380th (three per squadron) prior to setting up an operational Australian Liberator squadron after the 380th moved north from Darwin.
My first bombing mission (or strike as the RAAF called them) was on 28 September, a few days after arriving in Darwin. It was against an airstrip on Ceram, some four hours north of Darwin. Four days later came a night strike against Makassar in the Celebes (Sulawesi as it is to-day). Makassar was one of the main ports in the Celebes and the target for many of our raids; it was a round trip of 11 or 12 hours. We hit Makassar again on another night raid on 5 October.
On 9 October we bombed Koepang Harbour in Timor; as usual on a major strike we had four squadrons each of six planes. The squadron ahead of us ran into very heavy flak (anti-aircraft fire); we saw one plane take a direct hit and go down in flames. Three parachutes opened, but as the Japanese usually beheaded any prisoners we knew their chances were not great. Our squadron leader changed the approach path as it was clear the Japanese guns were trained on the path of the first squadron and we escaped with almost no flak.
On my return I found that Don Herbert was in the plane that was shot down. Don lived near my Uncle George Hosie in Sydney and his parents thought the three of us were flying in the same plane; when they heard their son was missing they told George; he wrote to my parents to console them on the fact that I was missing and expressing his hopes that I would survive. There were no survivors from the crew.
Only two or three planes in the squadron had the RCM gear so I flew with different crews depending on which crew was allocated to that plane. Sometimes these would be Australian crews, sometimes U.S.
Normally we operated out of Darwin but on occasion we flew to Truscott strip because it was a couple of hours west of Darwin and so closer to many of our targets. On 20 October I flew to Truscott with the U.S. crew of Lieutenant Loudon; we overnighted at Truscott and next day struck at Pare Pare, a big open cut nickel mine in the Celebes. Our target was the machinery and the installations in the mine. Nickel was a vitally important metal for the Japanese war machine. Then back to Truscott where we again overnighted and to Darwin on 22 October.
On 28 October I was scheduled for a strike against Makassar with the Australian crew of Flying Officer Harrison - again a night strike as Makassar was heavily defended. When I arrived at the briefing room at about 3 pm I was told that an Australian anti-aircraft Officer from Adelaide (an army officer) had requested and been allowed to fly on the trip and would be with Harrison; I was transferred to a U.S. crew - Lieutenant Mansfield of 529 squadron. I grumbled a bit - "It's just a tourist trip for him."
Flying Officer Harrison was captain of one of the Australian crews flying with the 530th and my first bombing trip over Makassar on 2 October 1944 was with Harrison. It was not a happy trip and not a happy crew. We fire bombed the wharves of Makassar that night; we carried 500 pound bombs which broke up in the air into some two hundred small bombs of a couple of pounds each and spread everywhere; the town, especially the wharf area, was in flames.
The co-pilot wanted to go down lower and look; Harrison did not. At one stage they were all but wrestling for the controls. On the way home Harrison attacked his gunners over the intercom. because they were sleeping instead of watching.
The crew did not like Harrison and refused to fly with him; they went down to RAAF HQ at Fenton to meet with Group Captain Somerville (who hailed from my home town Lismore NSW). I was instructed to go with them as I had been on the Makassar flight. Eventually Somerville persuaded the crew to stay together.
Harrison lived in a tent adjacent to mine (there were up to six in the large, commodious American tents) and I remember him arguing with some of the American pilots who maintained it was impossible to ditch a B-24 because of the high wing; Harrison disagreed. I have often wondered if he tried to ditch on the fatal night.
Mansfield's plane was within an hour of Makassar on the 28 October strike when we lost an engine; we ditched our bombs and turned back. On the way we heard Harrison; this was unusual as we always flew on radio silence so this meant an emergency. He had lost an engine but being almost to Makassar decided to go in and drop his bombs. An hour later we heard him again; a second engine was giving trouble; a B-24 will not fly on two engines. It was our last message from Harrison; our searches found no trace of him or his crew - or of the Australian ack ack officer who had saved my life.
Next day I was flying again, this time with Lt. Black; we searched in vain for signs of Harrison and his plane. Each of us had a parachute and our own small inflatable life raft; with eleven men (counting the Australian Army Officer) it would be expected that we would find some one - unless Harrison tried to ditch and all were killed on impact.
We were also searching for Japanese shipping but found none so we dropped our bombs on a strip on Lobobo Island.
One of our most important tasks was to inhibit Japanese shipping in the area that was then called the Dutch East Indies and is now called Indonesia. There are hundred of islands in Indonesia and shipping was the life blood of the widely spread Japanese forces.
I flew on a typical strike on 25 October 1944 with Lieutenant Addison Udall who was a Mormon from Salt Lake City. Udall lived in a tent near mine and I became close friends of Udall and his crew; he was an excellent pilot and had a fine crew.
We flew from Darwin to Timor, then along the north coast of the Flores Islands - past Tjadi Island, Cape Ajatara, Haekoewleen Island, Alor Island. We found no Japanese shipping - not surprising since we had destroyed most of their bigger ships and they restricted their shipping to small ships moving at night. We dropped our bombs and strafed Atapopoe Village which was, our intelligence reported, the site of a Japanese force.
I was on a similar recce. trip with Captain Deaton of 531 squadron on June 12 and again we dropped our bombs and strafed Atapopoe when we found no Japanese shipping.
More successful was a recce trip on 27 December 1944 with the US crew of Lieutenant Black. We found a large fuel barge drawn up on the coast and partly covered with branches at Mao Mere in the Flores Islands and made a bombing run from 10,000 feet.
The mooring site, we soon found, had been chosen because the Japanese had a heavy ack ack battery nearby and we could see the flak getting closer as we approached our target - we had to fly straight and level on the bombing run so this was the time of greatest risk. I can remember imagining the Japanese gunner 10,000 feet below and thinking - if he moves his sights by an extra hundredth of an inch we are dead.
We dropped our bombs and pushed the nose down and turned; we all breathed a sigh of relief until we heard our captain say: "We'll make another run if we miss." I remember thinking - if we make another run we'll be hit . The bombs landed right on the barge.
On the same recce trip we bombed and strafed a small wooden Japanese ship of a type that Intelligence called a Sugar Dog. Then dropped the last of our bombs on a Japanese held village of Salazar in Timor. On returning to base we found our plane had been holed by the Japanese flak when we bombed the fuel barge. It was a very close call.
One of our targets was the Japanese strip at Kendari on the south-east of the Celebes; this was the site of a bombing squadron that was hitting the Americans at Morotai in the Halmaheras. Morotai was a staging point for the invasion of the Philippines and there were thousands of US soldiers and hundreds of planes in an area of a few square miles; any bomb was certain to hit something.
We bombed the strip in a daylight raid on December 2, 1944 but we knew the Japanese would soon fill in the craters. On 25 December I flew with Captain Planck on a night raid of more than thirteen hours. We took off from Darwin at 3.30 pm and were over Kendari by 8.30; we spent nearly four hours around the target area. It was Christmas Day.
We carried only ten one hundred pound bombs (we usually carried ten five hundred pounders) because we needed an extra fuel tank for such a long trip - our usual range was eleven or twelve hours without extra fuel. Hence we had 3,100 gallons instead of the usual 2,700 gallons of fuel. Our total weight on take off was 67,000 pounds. We also carried 25,000 propaganda leaflets and 150 empty beer bottles.
The beer bottle theory was that a falling bottle sounded like a bomb; when it did not explode the Japanese, hopefully, would believe it was a delayed action bomb sitting somewhere on the airstrip and would stay at home. The ten one hundred pounders were evidence that there was a hostile plane in the area and that we did indeed have bombs. The target was socked in by clouds so our bombing runs were made on an estimated time of arrival basis; we made four such runs.
On 30 December I was on a similar raid, this time with U.S. Lieutenant Jenkins. The mission was over fourteen hours - the longest of all my trips with the 380th. Again we dropped bombs and beer bottles; we made eighteen runs over the target. We counted five searchlights over the airstrip.
On 11 February 1945 the 380th moved to Mindoro in the Philippines; the group was being positioned to bomb Formosa (as Taiwan was then called). On 19 February I was recalled to Darwin by RAAF Command. We landed at Morotai in the Halmaheras on the way home; as we flew in we could hear the radio operator on a plane returning from a bombing trip over Balikpapan in Borneo. The plane was badly damaged, the tail gunner dead and several crew wounded.
24 Squadron RAAF - Fenton
My new posting was to 24 Squadron RAAF; a B-24 squadron based at Fenton, about sixty miles south of Darwin; it took over the work that the 380th had been doing prior to their move to the Philippines.
In some ways the posting was a promotion for me (I had in fact been promoted from Pilot-Officer to Flying Officer while I was with the 380th) since I was the Officer in Command of Field Unit 15 of Section 22. However the Field Unit consisted of only six men; one other officer (Ted Gray), two Sergeants and two technicians.
We were made only fairly welcome at Fenton. When I reported to the Commanding Officer he told me he had never heard of me or of Section 22; when I told him I would be outfitting some of his planes with RCM equipment he told me he would shoot me if I put anything in his planes; they were overloaded already.
However RAAF Command in Brisbane moved quickly when I told them of the impasse and a reluctant Commanding Officer grudgingly told me to go ahead. My first trip was a shipping recce with Flight Lieutenant Montgomery over Timor and along the Flores Islands - thirteen and three quarter hours. Then with Squadron Leader Redman on May 8.
My main work was to set up the new Unit and supervise our three RCM Operators and two technicians.
From fifty years away it is not easy to remember how we felt and what we thought about on our bombing missions. Mostly they were boring; hour after hour in a cold plane, 20,000 feet above the ground and over the ocean. We had our oxygen mask on above 10,000 feet - and so for most of the trip. We had our electrically heated flying suit so could keep reasonably warm. Each of us had a job to do; we were part of a team and very conscious of that.
There was, of course, tension over the target - especially on the bombing run. At that point we had to fly straight and level for perhaps a minute or more and the predictors on the heavy ack ack batteries knew exactly where we would be. Not seldom we could see the bursting shells coming steadily closer - if they met us before we broke away (after dropping our bombs) we would be damaged or destroyed. Since we dropped from a high level (18,000 to 22,000 feet) we were safe from the smaller guns.
I completed my air crew tour (they were usually nine months) in July 1945. I flew back from Darwin in an RAAF Martin Mariner Flying Boat; we landed at a small base in the Gulf of Carpentaria to refuel, and again at Cairns in Northern Queensland where we overnighted. Cairns was a small frontier town then; it was nearly fifty years before I returned to Cairns to find it a fine city.
I had six weeks leave and was was at home in Lismore when the atomic bomb was dropped on Japan in August 1945.
Photos of SCR-717-B radar unit in B-24-D Ferret at Archerfield airfield in Brisbane
Front view of SCR-717-B radar unit
installed in a B-24-D
Ferret at Archerfield airfield, Brisbane on 24 April 1944
Front view of SCR-717-B radar unit
installed in a B-24-D
Ferret at Archerfield airfield, Brisbane on 4 May 1944
Rear view of SCR-717-B Radar Unit
installed in a B-24-D
Ferret at Archerfield Airfield on 24 April 1944
Radar Compartment installed in the
B-24-D Ferret from
the rear at Archerfield Airfield on 24 April 1944
Radar compartment installed in a B-24-D Ferret at Archerfield Airfield on 4 May 1944
Photo:- NARA SWPA-SC-44-1217
Position of SCR-717-B radar
equipment in bombardier compartment of a
B-24-D Ferret at Archerfield airfield, Brisbane, Australia on 5 May 1944
New position of Navigator's
Compartment for operation of new Radar Equipment
on the inside (forward) of a B-24-D Ferret at Archerfield airfield on 24 April 1944
The RAAF's Role in Radio Countermeasures and Section 22 is covered in the following extract from a document titled "Development and Use of Radar in the RAAF:-
Early in 1942 there occurred an event which shook the allied Radar organisations to its foundations. The German battle ships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau which had been sheltering at Brest for some considerable time broke out under cover of bad weather and sailed through the English Channel under the noses of the British defences. Just when the RAF radar system was about to be used for attacks on these vessels it was suddenly put almost out of action by a barrage of enemy jammers on the French coast. The possibilities of jamming had been foreseen by the designers of radar but this was the first occasion on which it had been used and it was significant that only an experimental 10 centimeter radar which was in use at Dover was not affected. The fact that this radar could not pass its information owing to poor communications was incidental.
This event marked the inauguration of an entirely new activity in radar which came to be know as Radio Countermeasures or RCM. In Australia the Navy was the first to be interested in RCM, their main interest at the time being the provision of a receiver to be carried in ships to pick up enemy radar transmissions, thus giving warning that the ship was under radar observation by the enemy. The matter did not receive very great attention however until 1943 when GHQ took an interest in it, forming "Section 22" which was charged with all matters concerning RCM. This section which had available to it all the facilities of the American forces in the area, collected reports from agents, from receivers carried in submarines and from landing forces as at Guadalcanal and was able to build up a fair picture of the Japanese radar organisation.
RAAF interest in RCM commenced when Section 22 borrowed RAAF Personnel to fit special receivers to American aircraft and fly with them on missions over enemy territory. Later similar receivers were fitted to RAAF aircraft in the North Australian areas but it was soon discovered that the use of operational aircraft for this purpose had considerable disadvantages. These aircraft were concerned solely with dropping bombs or fulfilling their reconnaissance mission and returning to base, and only exceptional crews would devote time to searching in enemy areas for possible radar transmissions.
Usually problems of serviceability and operational losses also arose and toward the end of 1944 it was decided to follow British and American practice and establish RAAF aircraft specially for RCM duties.
These aircraft were to be know as Ferret aircraft and would be fitted with an array of receivers, recorders and analysers. In the meantime RAAF Headquarters decided to become better informed on RCM matters and early in 1944 two radar officers, Flt. Lt's Nash and Thomas were sent to England to make a thorough examination of the RCM organisation. On their return they took up the cause of RCM and concentrated their interests on the Ferret project. Early in 1945 No. 201 Flight was established comprising two Liberator aircraft under the command of Wing Commander C.S. Davis, and these aircraft were allotted to APU for special fitment as Ferrets.
An extensive programme of RCM was commenced. All RAAF Radar and Signals equipment was examinded for possible anti-jamming modifications, special operators were trained in Kana for Ferret purposes, a number of training teams were formed to introduce RCM techniques in operational areas, and an RCM training manual was produced. As time went on it became increasingly obvious that the RCM programme would be too late. The war was moving rapidly towards Japan, the Philippines had been captured, the remaining Japanese forces in the islands were more or less disorganised and certainly represented no menace from the RCM point of view. It was unlikely that the Liberators would have a job to do. In actual fact the war ended before they were put to operational use. The experience gained was valuable but it has probably been lost by the departure of the officers concerned from the Service.
Identification Friend or Foe IFF
Field Unit 2 of Section 22 found that Identification Friend or Foe units were being left on until about 10 minutes from the Japanese target. During one flight to Davao on 18 September 1944, the IFFs were constantly being triggered by enemy signals, thus providing the enemy better warning of the arrival of Allied aircraft than their radar.
Field Unit 9 of Section 22, also encountered a number of incidents where Japanese radars triggered their Aircraft's ABK IFF transponder.
"A History of US Navy Fleet Air Reconnaissance,
Part 1, The Pacific and VQ-1"
by Captain Don C. East, USN
Sensational New Theory in City
ESPIONAGE ANGLE CONSIDERED
Link with Fire?
Truth (Brisbane) 21 January 1945
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"Australia @ War" WWII Research Products
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This page first produced 17 March 2002
This page last updated 03 March 2020