RAAF Catalinas mine Manila Bay
On 11 December 1944, 12 Catalina flying boats of Nos 11 and 43 Squadrons took off from Darwin heading for Leyte in the Philippines, which had recently been captured by American forces. They were followed next day by 13 ‘Cats’ from Nos 20 and 42 Squadrons. On this day, the RAAF aircraft took part in a major operation to lay mines in Manila Bay and thereby bottle up Japanese shipping using this vital waterway. With the loss of only one aircraft (believed to have flown into a hill), the mission was achieved. While the units of No 76 Wing went back to Darwin, the six Catalinas of No 11 Squadron returned to their base at Rathmines, New South Wales, each having flown some 14 500 kilometres. For these crews, this had been the longest, as well as the largest, single minelaying operation carried out by the RAAF in the war.