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Sembawang Association

A wreath laying to honour the service and sacrifice of the RAAF squadrons that defended Malaya.

Event Details

Sunday, 8 December 2024 1:00 pm to 1:30 pm
Sanctuary, Shrine of Remembrance, Birdwood Avenue, Melbourne, VIC 3001
  • Admission is free.
  • This venue is wheelchair accessible.

This service remembers those stationed at RAF Sembawang and RAAF Far East. It takes place on the anniversary of the first defence of Malaya by a RAAF squadron, on 8 December 1941.

Sembawang is located on the north east of Singapore island. Already home to a British Royal Air Force base, the Royal Australian Air Force arrived at Sembawang in August 1940. Four squadrons were based at RAAF Far East – Numbers 1, 8, 21 and 453. They each operated 12 aircraft, with 6 in reserve.

No. 1 Squadron was the first Allied squadron to go into action during the Pacific War, just one hour before Pearl Harbor was attacked. The base did not last long against the Japanese push through South East Asia and was evacuated to Java February 6.

Throughout the first year of the Pacific War, the squadrons based at Sembawang suffered heavy losses:

  • No. 8 lost 79 men
  • No. 21 lost 42 men
  • No. 453 lost 29 men
  • No. 1 Squadron had 160 men taken as prisoners of war, of which less than half survived. 

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