454 and 459 RAAF Squadrons
Squadron Leader Francis James (Jim) McHALE
459 RAAF Squadron
Service Number 402779
Date of Birth: 21 May 1915
Place of Birth: WOOLLAHRA, NSW
Date of Enlistment: 14 Oct 1940
Date of Discharge: 05 Dec1945
Rank: Squadron Leader
WW2 Honours and Gallantry: DFC
Date of Death: 15 May 1988
For many years Jim McHale was the mainstay President of the 454 & 459 Combined RAAF Squadrons Association.
The following information about Jim's wartime experience has been taken from a 454-459 Association Bulletin:
Early EATS. Rhodesia, Coastal OTU U.K. Short periods with 500, 279 RAF Squadrons on shipping searches/strikes North Sea and Dutch coast. Posted M.E.
First Op Tour 459 Squadron RAAF - Hudsons. Participated mast-head attacks, night sorties. First tour expired on 459 Sqn.
Instructional Tour - 75 OTU (RAF) Gianaclis
Second Op Tour - 459 Sqn Venturas, Baltimores. Temporary C.O. 25.9.1944 - 7.10.1944. Led bombing sorties on Crete, Rhodes, Dodecanese, until Squadron disbanded.
Awarded DFC 6.2.1945.
Post-war, Chain Store Manager. Committed to 454/459 NSW re-unions for many years.
The following information has been provided by JIm's daughter Julie Parsons:
Francis James (Jim) McHale enlisted in the RAAF as an aircrew trainee in 1940.
After completing his initial training in Australia, then flying training in Rhodesia, he was posted to the United Kingdom in April,1941. He spent a short time with 590 and 279 Squadrons RAF operating over the North Sea against U. Boats and against enemy shipping along the Dutch coast.
Jim and his crew were posted to 459 Squadron Middle East in June 1942. (Jim was then a Flying Officer), having being commissioned in August, 1941.
He completed his first tour of operations flying Hudson aircraft from Gianaclis, not far from Alexandria…
After a stint of instructing at an O.T.U. in the delta, not far from the bright lights of Alexandria and Cairo. Jim re-joined 459 Squadron for his second tour. It was during this tour that he was promoted to Squadron Leader.
During his two tours with 459 he took part in many patrol and attaches against enemy shipping along The North African Coast. Some of these attacks were carried out at Mast Head Heights. Also, he led bombing sorties against well defended targets in Greece, Crete and The Dodecanese Islands of Kos and Leros.
On numerous occasions he made more than one run over the target to ensure that the bombs landed on Target Area.
Jim was awarded The Distinguished Flying Cross towards the end of second tour of operations early in 1945.
After the war Jim gave much of his time and was tireless in his efforts to maintain the comradeship and Esprit de Corps that has been built up in the two sister squadrons of 454 and 459 during the war.
This is taken from a Valedictory Address by A/CDR. A.D. Pete Henderson O.B.E.
The following story by F/O Stephen S Brown then a Sergeant Pilot of 'A' (Benghasi), Libya late 1944, provided for the 1999 issue of the Association's Bulletin.
While rummaging through some old negatives I found one of some interest and had the enclosed print made.
It is of course, Jim McHale, my "boss" when I was on the Squadron in 'A' Flight 4599 RAAF Hudson Sqdn. SLdr McHale last signed my log-book on 31st December 1944. (Flt (later SLdr) Blake was OC 'A' Flight from January to April 1945).
I must have taken this shot some time between mid-August and the end of December 1944. It was taken in the flight tent and Jim is sticking the cartoon of himself onto the canvas. It perhaps refers to him "operating on another front" because he had just been posted. I make no comment on the alternate suggestion. I have no idea who the artist was obviously someone on the Squadron. I remember the incident well.