" Average age middle twenties, there is poise and earnestness about Beaufighter boys that goes strangely with their young eyes and boyish grins. But their part of the war means split-second thinking, a dashing response to danger without foolhardiness, and cool control of a machine of tremendous power – all summed up in their own words, “flying by the seat of your pants.”
In ground strafing, sweeps on shipping, low level attacks on enemy gun batteries and airfields, Beaufighters fly at “damm-all-feet” – which means anything up to forty feet, over mast tops and trees – generally in follow-the-leader formation, which the aircrews call in their lighter moments “playing ringa-rosie”.
Adele Shelton Smith
The Australian Women’s Weekly, April 1, 1944
No 31 Squadron was formed at RAAF Base Wagga Wagga, Forest Hill, New South Wales on the 14th August 1942, and were equipped with Bristol Beaufighter aircraft. On 3rd November 1942, and after a period of training, the squadron moved to Coomalie Creek in the Northern Territory.
On the 17th November 1942, the squadron conducted its first operational sortie from its new base, when six aircraft raided Japanese positions in the Timor. The Squadron operated predominantly from Coomalie Creek Airfield for the next two years, from where it flew operations attacking Japanese shipping, shore installations, and Japanese airfields.
On the 26th November 1944, the squadron briefly relocated to Noemfoor Island before moving to Moratai in December, to join 22 and 30 Squadrons as part of 77 Wing, 1st Tactical Air Force. From Morotai, the squadron conducted strikes on Japanese troop concentrations, shipping, stores and airfields in the Halmaheras, Celebes and Borneo area of operations.
The Squadron moved to Tarakan in May 1945 from where it flew its final operation on the 1st of August 1945.
When hostilities ceased on the 15th of August 1945, the Squadron had flown 2,660 offensive sorties, and claimed 20 enemy aircraft destroyed, two probably destroyed, and 14 damaged in the air as well there were 54 aircraft destroyed and 32 damaged on the ground; with nine ships destroyed and four damaged.
On the 6th of July 1946, No 31 Squadron was disbanded at RAAF Williamtown, NSW.
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