Latham, Graham William

Graham was born on the 9th July 1910 in Black River, Tasmania. He enlisted in the RAAF in Hobart on the 1st April 1940 and served with 457 Squadron in the Northern Territory. 

Apart from the photo, we don’t know much about Graham. He must have been with 457 Squadron at least sometime between June 1942 and February 1944 because one of the men in the photo is Squadron Leader “Ken “Skeeta” James. 457 Squadron had been recalled from England to Australia in June 1942. It had sailed for home on the 21st June, arrived in Melbourne on the 13th August 1942, and had re-assembled at Richmond on the 6th September 1942. The Squadron then began refresher training at Richmond with a motley collection of aircraft, its Spitfires having being commandeered in transit by the Royal Air Force in the Middle East.

457 Squadron returned to front-line service on the 20th January 1943. It was based at Batchelor in the Northern Territory and joined 1 Fighter Wing, defending Darwin. The Squadron relocated to Livingstone on the 31st January 1943, where it remained until it transferred to the newly formed 80 Wing and then it moved to Sattler on the 13th May 1944. During the Squadron’s time as part of Darwin’s air garrison, it detached aircraft on several occasions to Milingimbi, Drysdale, Perth and Exmouth. While at Livingstone, the Squadron was re-equipped with an updated version of the Spitfire, imported from Britain, which arrived in a grey and green camouflage scheme. This led to the squadron nicknaming itself the “Grey Nurse Squadron” and adorning its aircraft with a distinctive shark’s mouth on the nose.

By early July 1944, the air defence of Darwin had been handed over to several Royal Air Force squadrons, allowing 457 Squadron to be employed in ground attack, and occasionally maritime attack roles for the rest of the war. Initially, the Squadron operated against targets in the Dutch East Indies from Sattler but, as part of the 1st Tactical Air Force, it was deployed to Morotai in the Indies in early 1945. Beginning on the 10th February 1945, operations continued at a high intensity for the next three months. The Squadron relocated again, commencing operations from the island of Labuan, of the Borneo coast, on the 19th June, primarily in support of the Australian land campaign in British North Borneo. It mounted its last operational sorties on the 13th August, two days before the Japanese surrender on the 2nd September 1945.

Latham Graham William pic webWe do not know if Graham served with the Squadron when it was based in the UK.

The photo is of the 457 Squadron footy team, then again, it could have been the hockey team. It was taken in Livingstone in 1943. From left to right in the back row: “Jungle Juice”, Len Conway and Len Smith. In the front row: Peter Walker, Graham Latham, Ken “Skeeta” James and Hank Johnstone.

Graham was discharged from the Central Gunnery School on the 16th November 1945.

The Spitfire Association