Desert Harassers®

No. 450 Squadron RAAF

Extracts herein, were provided by courtesy of Warrant Officer Colin "Col" Morton with kind permission from the late ​Flying Officer Stanley Watt, ​No. 450 Squadron RAAF who both flew in this raid. 


‘Operation Bowler’ was the code-name for one of the most accurate and successful air raids of WWII. A respected and battle hardened unit, this Wing specialised in army co-operation and included six notable squadrons from the Commonwealth – 5 Sqn SAAF, 112, 250 and 260 Sqns RAF and 3 and 450 Sqns RAAF.


Extract from 450 Squadron Operational Record Book–

Summary of Events 21st March 1945

"Fine and sunny to-day for the long-awaited "Bowler" operation which was carried out most successfully by 120 aircraft as an anti-shipping strike on Venice Harbour.

The Wing was led by Wing Commander G. Westlake, DFC and our 12 aircraft were led by F/Lt. E.H. Strom, DFC.

Using 1000lb bombs and firing in dive our bombing was excellent resulting in on possible direct hit and one direct hit on stern of 700 ton ship; direct hits on 3 warehouses; one direct hit on marshalling yard and very near miss on a 3500 ton ship. 

Wide publicity was given subsequently to this well organised and most successfully carried out attack, nearly all co-operating aircraft recording excellent results."


Extract from 450 Squadron Operational Record Book–Detail of Worked Carried Out 

21/Mar/45 No. 1 Operation

"Kittyhawk IV Anti Shipping Strike Circuit Time 1435-1645

FX 683 F/L Strom E.H. (Aus)

FX 568 Lt Wingfield R.S.M. (Aus)

FX 749 P/O Weatherstone A.G.F. (Aus)

FT 930 Sgt Nash K.R.

FX 846 P/O Brown B.W. (Aus)

FX 678 F/L Forsstrom C.F.C. (Aus)

FX 768 P/O Watt S.M. (Aus)

FX 734 F/S Vickery W.W. (Aus)

FX 809 F/O Barrey C.J.

FT 881 F/S Walters M 

FT 859 P/O Boyd J. (Aus)

FX 786 W/O Youngberg H.T. (Aus)

Operation BOWLER

12 Fighter Bomber a/c led by F/Lt Strom briefed on anti-shipping strike at Venice. Flew out climbing to 10000' as top cover to 250 Squadron to target area, observing targets partially covered with dust and smoke from their bombing. Formation bombed North to South from 9000' down to 1500' at 1540hrs firing in dive, resulting in a possible direct hit and direct hit on Stern to 700 ton ship at G.677513, direct hits on 3 warehouses at G.678512, G.675508 and G.678513, direct hit to marshalling yard at G.682513, very near miss to 3500 ton ship at G.678511, which was already smoking, and observing small ship at G.676508 flaming with mushroom of black smoke. Rest of bombing reported good and well concentrated into dust and smke which covered taget. No. R/A. A/A moderate accurate 20m/m, slight inaccurate 40 and 88m/m from all around target. Weather Fine. Visibility very hazy. Bombs dropped were 6 x 1000lbs 1/40 delay British and 6 x 1000 Instantaneous British."