James, or Jim as he was known to his friends, was born on the 13th August 1919 in New Lambton, New South Wales, and he enlisted on the 11th November 1940.
His first tour was in England with 247 Squadron RAF, which he joined on the 21st October 1941. Shortly afterwards, in December, the Squadron was supplied with Hurricanes and Jim flew them until he was transferred to 175 Squadron RAF on the 18th March 1942. 175 Squadron had just been formed prior to his arrival, and again he flew Hurricanes. The Squadron carried out its first operation on the 16th April 1942, when six Hurricanes attacked Maupertus airfield and then, for a period of time, it carried out mixed attacks on enemy shipping with local and convoy protection patrols. In July, the Squadron prepared to go overseas, but this was cancelled and it resumed its cross-Channel sweeps.
After spending a short time at 53 OTU, Jim joined453 Squadron on the 15th February 1943, where he flew Spitfires. 453 Squadron had been outnumbered and suffered extremely heavy losses in the Singapore campaign, but by the time Jim had arrived, it had been given a second lease of life at Drem, near Edinburgh in Scotland, on the 18th June 1942. It had been reformed with new personnel and equipped with Supermarine Spitfire aircraft, and had rapidly become a capable multi-role fighter squadron. The Squadron provided defensive air patrols over Britain and the surrounding waters, escorted bombers over enemy-controlled Europe, and conducted offensive strikes in its own right attacking targets on both land and sea.
The photo is of Jim’s Half Yearly Return of Flying Hours. As can be seen, he had more experience on the Hurricane than the Spitfire due to his time with 247 and 175 Squadrons. The group photo is of 457 Squadron in the Northern Territory in 1944. Jim is in the middle row. From left to right:
Top row: Ian C. “Geoff” Chandler, Gilbert G. “Harpo” Marks, Christopher V. “Vince” Madigan, Ronald H. Bolton, Wilfred G. “Wally” Dial, Allen C. Beckwith, J. Lysle Roberts and Frederick M “Fred” Fuernhardt.
Middle Row: Frederick J. Inger, Kenneth D. McLeod, James H. “Jim” Greaves, Percy Colin Lambert, Bob Bawden, James E. “Jimmy” Summerton, Richard L. “Dick” Due, Trevor R. Russell, Angus A “Gus” Haynes, Alexander H. “Tex” Morton, Thomas F. “Frank” Payne, Albert L. “Smoky” Lumley.
Seated: James E. “Jim” Milne, Bob Addision, Arthur J. “Nat” Gould, Lloyd L. “Danny” Boardman, Thomas H. “Tommy” Trimble, Alfred “Alf” Glendinning, Southwood C. “South” wwCreagh, Unknown, Adjutant, Alfred V. “Noel” Ede and L. Allen Leeming.
Jim was then posted back to Australia and joined 457 Squadron where he flew Spitfires against the Japanese Air Force. While he was there in May 1944, he had a minor escape in his aircraft A58-54 at Sattler Field. A report stated that his aircraft rolled into a gutter while he was taxying causing the undercarriage to collapse. The aircraft flipped onto its back, but luckily Jim was not injured.
Jim ended his tours of operations in March 1945 and was discharged from No.2 PD on the 8th January 1946.
Phil Listemann (Author of the History of 457 Squadron) and David Hamilton
Updated by Vince Conant
The Spitfire Association