The strategic bombing offensive carried out by Bomber Command in Europe played a significant role in the Allied victory. Australian airmen flew in every major operation.
Most of the aircrews who trained in Australia under the Empire Air Training Scheme were posted to Bomber Command. There were five main RAAF squadrons – No 460 flying Wellingtons then Lancasters, Nos 463 and 467 flying Lancasters, and Nos 462 and 466 flying Halifaxes. For a time Nos 455 and 458 Squadrons were also part of Bomber Command. An example of the workload of these squadrons can be gleaned from the record of No. 460 squadron. Formed in England on 15 November 1941 it flew operations until 25 April 1945, its last when it bombed Hitler’s “Eagle’s Nest” at Berchtesgaden. A typical ‘main force’ bomber unit, the squadron flew 6,234 operational sorties, dropped 24,856 tons of bombs and lost 169 aircraft and 1,018 aircrew.
Flying tens of thousands of operations and sorties, the squadrons of Bomber Command inflicted devastating damage and performed outstanding acts of courage. Two Australian airmen, Pilot Officer Rawdon Middleton (posted to the RAF’s No. 149 Squadron during an attack on the Fiat factory in Turin on 28/29 November 1942) and Wing Commander Hughie Edwards were awarded the Victoria Cross.