James, or Jim, as he was known to his mates, was born on the 3rd June 1924 in Townsville, Queensland, and he enlisted in the RAAF in Melbourne on the 1st January 1943.
After training to be a fighter pilot, he was initially posted to Ferry Flights and then to 457 Squadron in January 1944 for his first operational posting. He became a Flying Officer in August 1944 and remained with the Squadron until December 1944.
At that stage of the War, 457 Squadron had been recalled from England and had returned to front-line service on the 20th January 1943. It then became part of No.1 Fighter Wing defending Darwin, and when Jim joined the Squadron, it was based in Livingstone. While there, it had been 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. On the 13th May 1944, it moved to Sattler, as well as detaching aircraft on several occasions to Milingimbi, Drysdale, Perth and Exmouth.
By early July 1944, the air defence of Darwin was handed over to several Royal Air Force squadrons, and 452 and 457 Squadrons were transferred to the newly formed No.80 Wing RAAF. This Wing had been established to support a planned offensive from Darwin into the Netherlands East Indies. The offensive was cancelled in June, but this was not communicated to the Wing, which continued to train for the operation until August. After the operation was cancelled, the Wing and its Squadrons had no purpose, but continued to conduct training exercises as a means of maintaining morale. Jim left the squadron before it was moved to Morotai in early February.
The 457 Squadron photo was taken in 1944. 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.
While Jim was with the Squadron, he was involved in a minor incident. An ADF Serials report is as follows: Accident 0830 hrs 17th May 1944 at Potshot Strip, Western Australia. After an operational flight, A58-250, piloted by Flight Sergeant Bolton #420121, landed and was taxying off strip, when he noticed A58-18, piloted by Pilot Officer J.E.H. Milne Serv bearing down on his aircraft. A58-250 veered and struck the stationary A58-59 damaging the port mainplane and aileron. At the time, A58-59 was being tested with the engine running.
After leaving 457 Squadron, Jim was then posted to various units before being discharged on the 20th February 1946.
Updated by Vince Conant
The Spitfire Association