Sembawang Association

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

12 December 2021 01:00 pm - 12 December 2021 01:30 pm
Sanctuary, Shrine of Remembrance, Birdwood Avenue, Melbourne, VIC 3001
Child friendly
Accessible venue
Free admission

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 it was abandoned less than a month later. 

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. 

Shrine Representative:

  • Shrine Governor Squadron Leader Steve Campbell-Wright

Watch the live stream

Reviewed 29 November 2021

Was this page helpful?