Arthur, or Archie, as his mates knew him, was born in St Kilda, Victoria, on the 21st December 1918, and he enlisted in the RAAF in Melbourne on the 28th March 1941
We know very little about Archie except that he served in 79 Squadron. We also know that he was involved in an accident at Mildura on the 22nd July 1943. An ADF Serials for Spitfire A58-130 reads as follows: Accident 22nd July 1943 when aircraft swung to port on landing and ran off strip at Mildura. The aircraft’s starboard undercarriage collapsed, with the aircraft finishing on its port leg. The pilot, Flying Officer A.W. Moore was not injured. At that time, Archie must have been with No.2 OTU Mildura. Of interest, almost every fighter pilot who served in the South West Pacific theatre was either trained at Mildura or did a refresher course there.
In all probability, Archie was then posted directly to 79 Squadron as it had only been formed on the 26th April of that year. By the end of July, the Squadron was based on Goodenough Island off the northeast coast of Papua New Guinea. The Spitfires then redeployed to Kiriwina Island on the 18th August and the Squadron operated under adverse conditions alongside 76 Squadron from the northern end of the airstrip. After a period of training and defensive scrambles, the Squadron flew its first sweep over enemy territory on the 27th November 1943, when Squadron Leader Max Bott led eight Spitfires over Gasmata, New Britain.
ADF Serials also has the following report on that particular day:
“The Squadron found this period particularly frustrating, as a radar warning was often too late to enable an interception to be completed. Finally, in late November, 79 Squadron was able to take the battle to the enemy. The new CO, Squadron Leader Max Bott, led the first escort on the 27th November when 32 Beauforts were escorted by a fighter force of eight Spitfires and 33 Kittyhawks. 79 Squadron’s primary mission was still the defence of Kiriwina, so it was only able to participate in these raids with small numbers of machines. The next day Archie Moore was airborne in UP-E on an air test at 28,000 feet when he was warned by control that an enemy aircraft was in his area. He spotted a ‘Dinah’ reconnaissance aircraft flying slightly higher and about 15 kilometres away, closed with it, and fired two bursts. The ‘Dinah’ crashed into the sea.” Well done, Archie.
In January and February 1944, the Squadron flew offensive sweeps over New Britain, strafing enemy installations and escorting bombers. Operations were hampered by heavy rain, which played havoc with radio telecommunications.
On the 16th March 1944, the Squadron deployed to Momote, Los Negros. Here it strafed enemy positions on Manus and the adjoining islands. By the end of March 1944, the Squadron was attacking enemy installations, ships, barges, transport, and fuel dumps in the northwest Halmahera Island area. Armed reconnaissance missions were also carried out over Galela, Mita, Kaoe, Oba, Hiri, and Djailolo.
The Squadron’s objectives changed to a mainly shipping escort role by the end of April, with the occupation of the Admiralty Islands by American forces. However, operations were hampered by a lack of spare parts and only the untiring efforts of ground crews enabled flights to be undertaken. By May, the aircraft were becoming difficult to maintain, with only two available for operations, and flying hours were restricted. This situation lasted until late November 1944, when the Squadron was released from operations and it started planning to move to Darwin to be re-equipped with more modern Mark VIII Spitfires.
79 Squadron arrived at Sattler Airfield on the 12th January 1945 and received its new aircraft shortly afterwards. It then began to move to Morotai in the Dutch East Indies on the 6th February and became operational there as part of No.80 Wing at the end of March. The Squadron conducted ground attack sorties against Japanese positions on nearby islands until the end of the war and also became responsible for Morotai’s air defence from the 28th May. Although no Japanese aircraft were encountered in this area, several Spitfires were shot down by anti-aircraft fire during ground attack sorties. Operations were hindered at times by personnel shortages, and many of the airmen who were posted to the unit were judged by the Squadron’s commander to have been inadequately trained.
On the 30th July 1945, No. 80 Wing was disbanded and the Squadron became the first flying unit assigned to the newly formed No.11 Group, which was responsible for garrison duties in much of Borneo and the eastern Dutch East Indies. 79 Squadron then dropped leaflets on the scattered and isolated Japanese troops after Japan agreed to surrender on the 15th August.
Archie was discharged on the 28th September (possibly December) 1945 from No.8 OTU. 79 Squadron returned to Australia in October 1945 and was formally disbanded at Oakey Airfield on the 12th November that year.
The photo is of some of the men of 79 Squadron at Momote Airfield on Los Negros, Admiralty Islands. It was taken on the 28th May 1944. From left to right:
Back Row: Ross Cameron, Archie Moore, Ross Day, Jock Haines, Len Reid, Alec Chomley, Paul Seber, Warren Napier, Bill Coffey, Doug Scott.
Middle Row: John Vader, Joe Marshall, Dick Long, John Atkinson, Max Brimsley (Acting CO), Bill Wright, Alan Yates, Arthur Clayton.
Front Row: Viv Pollard, Hugh Kennare, Ian McKellar, Jim Barrie, Tom Williams.
The photo of the Spitfire was taken at Kiriwina. It shows the mandatory riders on each wingtip while it was being taxied.
Courtesy AWM and Wikipedia
The Spitfire Association