© 2009 454 & 459 RAAF Squadrons

454 RAAF Squadron [B] at Villa Orba base

15th May 1945 till disbandment 17 August 1945

B.J. (Bob) Mitchell - Pilot

Bob at the 2007 Anzac Day March

Service Number : 417971


Our good old "T" Tare has done a bit of work.

454 Sqdn. RAAF "Desert Air Force" at Cesanatico, Italy, early 1945, NOTE P.S.P. Plating.

Three of my crew and a group of ground staff, some about to come for a fly.

Bob Mitchell - Pilot.  Max Knight - Nav., Max Coghlan - WAG


The Crew:

BJ (Bob) Mitchell - Pilot (SA)

Max Knight -  Navigator (NSW)

Mac Coghlan (Tassy) - Wirelss Operator/Air Gunner (WAG)  (TAS)

Joe Evans (Taffy) - WAG (RAF)


I was a pilot on 454 and my crew, Navigator Max Knight, NSW died about  10 years ago, W/O A.G. Mac Coghlan (Tassy), still alive and I see him at least once a year  and we communicate regularly, my Gunner Joe Evans(Taffy) RAF died about 5 years ago and I still write to his widow in South Devon.

We joined 454 Squadron at Falconia  and flew alongside George Gray many times.  We finished the war on Night Intruding over the Po Valley and the Squadron break-up north of Venice at Udine.

Baltimore" 454 Sqdn.RAAF Desert Air Force

My last flight :solo: from Villa Orba to Camoformido near Udine in Nth Italy, 10th August,1945


454 Campsite - Villa Orba  - above shows the campsite entrance near Udine -

north of Italy - our camp from 16/5/45 to 17/8/45


Tom Carrol - Pilot 454 Squadron on train from Villa Orba to Taranto - Aug.1945 

Squadron signboard made in Sydney but then lost.


The following memories are taken from the 2002 Bulletin Combined 454/459 Squadrons Association as written by Bob Mitchell.

Some Memories at Villa Orba and 454's disbandment 14.8.1945

We were the sort of young breed, when we arrived on 454 Squadron at Falconara, formation trained at Shandur, doing daylight formation strikes, then the conversion to night intruding (till the end of the war), mainly in the Po Valley.  We were in time to spend winter in tents at Cesenatico all helping the 8th Army on its way from Cairo to Klagenfurt.

We then did many Desert Air Force Communication (DAF Comm) Flights all over Italy - Rome, Milan, Bari and Florence, etc., a Pilot's log book was like his "Bible"; you never lied in it; and the summary was brief but sufficient e.g.

15th July 1945 Baltimore "X" FW792 - "Rome Courier" - Villa Orba to Rome.  Crew Mitchell, Coghlan, Knight and Millett.  Passengers Major Smith, W/Cmdr Stevenson, Col Orchard, Mr Bulgar and SLdr Marshall - 9 all up. Flight time 1 hour 50 minutes.

Another day at random:

15th May 1945 The day we flew from Cesenatico 7am to Villa Orba; 8.30am to Revise 11am to Rivolto; 12am to Florence; 2pm to Rivolto; 4pm to Treyso; 5pm to Villa Orba. All DAF Comm flights. I could go on and on and no doubt bore you rigid. What would you like?

A few random memories:

Burtees,W/Cmd. M Moore, F/Lt. J Howard, F/O G.Hissey crew Baltimore

Information on the above photo was send to Bob from

Max Coghlan as follows:

From inside "rear hotel" Baltimore

2 .3s Brownings,100 Octane Heater on right,

floor rest, bottom of turret

Baltimore - "Rear Hotel" Bob Mitchell 454

Max Coghlin "in his office" 454

Jan 1945 Cesenatica Italy Max Knight, Taffy AG, Max Coghlin WAG. Mitch P

In front of 'Eventful Eve'

L-R : "Coggy" & "Mitch" -- Bob Mitchell - Rome 1945


I have been twice to Canberra for Squadron Business, the giving of the paintings for 454 (Baltimores) and 459 (Hudsons) and then for the plaques outside The Australian War Museum.

A party of South Australians came to Sydney and marched on an Anzac Day, and I remember The Glenmore Hotel, it was the year that Camel Coates was with  us.

One of my hobbies is that I still have an Ultralite licence and go for a fly every few weeks just to enjoy getting off this mad world for awhile.

L - R: Son Peter, Daughter Penny, Son James, Son Rodney,

Daughter Libby, Self, sister Joan, sister Theo


in 1990 Ken Rimmer made contact with Bob Mitchell and Jack Stacey in Adelaide and

he joined them in the Anzac Day march with ex 454 members.

After the parade we all met at Jack's for a barbeque - see below

Back Left to Right:

Cliff Spiers, Ken Rimmer, Bill Kenwick, Bob Mithcell, ?Not Known, Alan White and Bill Noyce


Bob Mitchell heading up the M.E. Contingent of the 2007 Anzac Day March

South Australian Anzac Day March 2007

R-L: Middle East - Max Coghlan - 454 (Tas), Brian Ball - 454,

Tach Wells in scooter who has been a regular for years,

Bill Noyce - 454, Lindsay Broom (ME - Baltimore Pilot 223 Sqdn of Shandur),

last one unknown.

Bob says that this is what he flies now - about twice a month

from a country strip a Sorrel

This year (2007) Bob had a fly in the Holden Airship and learnt how to fly it! over Adelaide

and on the V8 racing Weekend!  I use to fly the Squadron 1945 Auster years ago

and landed many times on the north end of the Lido in Venice

which had an Aerial Blimp operation from the soccer field.