© 2009 454 & 459 RAAF Squadrons


454 Baltimore RAAF Light Bomber Squadron

Dessert Air Force - Italy 1944-45


Warrant Officer Nicholas (Mick) Tomich

Navigator/Bomb Aimer


Service Number 436769

 

454 RAAF Baltimore Light bomber Crew

Left - Ron Early RAF, WAG, Charlie Phillip Pilot,

Mich Tomich Nav B, Max Daniel WAG,

Outside the Sergeant's Mess Nissen hut in sunny weather gear, obviously not during the wintry cold of Northern Italy.


Mick joined No. 454 Squadron at Cesenatico, Italy (north-east Adriatic coast) on the 4 January 1945, after training at No. 70 RAF Operational Training Unit Shandur, on the Bitter Lake between Port Said and Suez, Egypt.  Here he had practised formation flying at 10,000 - 12,000 feet in Baltimores, in readiness for day close support formation bombing sorties in "boxes" of six to help the British 8th Army's drive to force the Germans from the heavily fortified Gothic Line.  The breakthrough occurred shortly after his crew's arrival at Cesenatico where the 454 crews were converted to night intruder raids.  These independent operations, carried out at approximately 4-5,000 feet and in the most appalling weather conditions, were designed to harass a retreating German Army.




Mick was said to have thrived on the challenge of these operations and flew 27 sorties, mainly over the Po Valley and Lombardy Plains, before the 1st/2nd May of Surrender, 1945.




454 Squadron then moved north to Villa Orba, Udine close to the Italian/Austrian Alps border.  Here flying was confined to training for refresher purposes and to ferry D.A.F. service personnel around Italy, and for peace keeping actions on the border.




At age 30, Mick was a mature and responsible airman who ably supported his crew and fellow comrades and valued the recreation offered in such oppressive and trying conditions.  He was a frequent visitor to the Kookaburra Club and a keen poker player.  He also earned the title of 'official' squadron 'bookmaker', providing a much appreciated diversion for the men, on sporting occasions.  454 Squadron disbanded on 14 August 1945 and Mick returned to his home in Kalgoorlie, WA and married Isla.  Together they shared a happy life and raised 3 children.  Airman Mick now became a devoted family man.  In 1955 the family moved to Perth and with the passing of time Mick became the loving granddad of seven grandchildren.




Despite failing health in Mick's latter years, he was able to maintain his good hearted sense of humour and love of people, which had endeared him to so many air force mates.




Mick's family would like to thank all those mates who made his latter life so special - Paul Rake, Rev. Fred McKay, Ray Bowl, John Carroll, Max Daniels, Pete Matthews, Jim Lysaght, Max Coglan, Bill Noyce, George Gray and spouses.  Apologies to those missed.




(Tribute supplied by daughter Mrs Noeline Punch -- 2001 issue of the Association's Bulletin)

Nicholas TOMICH