James, who was known as Jim, was born on the 10th February 1919 in Hurstville, New South Wales. He enlisted in the RAAF in Sydney on the 28th March 1942.
Unfortuntely, we don’t know much about Jim. To add to the problem, there were two James McAuliffes in the RAAF during World War II, however we think we have the one who wrote the following article for the Spitfire News magazine, the official journal for the Spitfire Association. Jim wrote to us because he was concerned that, “RAAF records certainly show the Squadron was disbanded at Hawkinge on 31 May 1945 – that is not the end of the story.”
Most records state that 453 Squadron was disbanded on the 21st January 1946, however, Jim’s comments, starting in June 1945, are as follows:
“June 1 until June 13, the Squadron flew continuously on Co-op with 8th (Airforce US) Mustangs as well as further training Air to Air, Air to Ground and low level Skip Bombing exercises.
June 14 saw the Squadron move to Lasham (from Fighter Command to 84 Group Support Unit) for conversion to Spitfire X1Vs.
September 3 the Squadron moved from Lasham to Germany for occupational duty. Overnight at B77 and then on to Fassburg next day and join 145 Wing.
September 19 moved from Fassburg to 125 Wing at Gatow (Berlin). 453 Squadron was the first fighter Squadron to be stationed in Berlin after the Potsdam agreement, where it stayed until October 22. Its place was taken by 451 Squadron for a month.
The move from Berlin saw many repat. (repatriation) postings. Flight Lieutenants Clemisha, Stansfield, Flying Officers Mace, Taylor, Peters and Baxter left. Flight Lieutenants Funston and West arrived to take over A and B flights. The CO was Squadron Leader Davidson, who was later killed flying back to the UK. Flying Officer Wilson and myself were posted for repat. on October 30th.
The Squadron remained at Wunsdorf until approximately 20th February when it returned to the UK. Maybe RAF records would show the actual date of disbandment. I believe the last unofficial sortie was an illegal fly-past over London by two FU aircraft doing formation slow rolls.”
(Web master: By way of explanation, 453 Squadron was given a second lease of life at Drem, near Edinburgh, in Scotland on the 18th June 1942. It was reformed with new personnel, and equipped with Supermarine Spitfire aircraft. Operating from a series of airfields in the United Kingdom, 453 Squadron rapidly became a capable multi-role fighter squadron. It provided defensive air patrols over Britain and surrounding waters, escorted bombers over enemy-controlled Europe, and conducted offensive strikes in its own right attacking targets on both land and sea.
Further moves occurred throughout the early part of 1944 as the squadron undertook mainly ground attack duties in the lead up to the Allied invasion of Europe. Soon after D-Day,the Squadron moved to France, where it operated from the hastily constructed landing ground B11 at Longues-sur-Mer, close to the front line. As the Allies advanced, the squadron moved forward so that it could continue to provide close support to the ground troops. This continued until September 1944 when the squadron was withdrawn back to the United Kingdom. From November 1944 to March 1945, 453 Squadron was heavily engaged in striking at assembly and launch sites used by the Germans in their V-1 and V-2 rocket attacks against Britain.
On the 2nd May 1945, the Squadron escorted the aircraft that returned Queen Wilhelmina to The Netherlands after three years in exile in Britain. This was 453 Squadron’s last mission of the war; Germany surrendered six days later. The Squadron remained in Britain for several months before deploying to join the British occupation forces in Germany on the 29th August. It was planned that 453 Squadron would form part of a long-term Australian presence with the occupation forces, but a lack of volunteers for an extra year’s service made this impractical and the Squadron disbanded at Wunsdorf, Germany, on the 21st January 1946.)
Jim was obviously with 453 Squadron, but as we alluded to above, that is about all we know. He may or may not be in the photo. Jim received his discharge from the RAAF on the 14th January 1946.
Bruce Read and Julie Halliday
The Spitfire Association