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Avenger from 849 HMS Victorious
Air strike on the Soengei Gerong oil refinery

On this day 29 January 1945

Published: 29 Jan 2013

Operation Meridian 2 - Attack on oil refineries at Soengi Gerong near Palembang, Sumatra 29 January 1945

Meridian 2 was even more successful than Meridian 1. Approximately the same number of aircraft was involved but the fighters concentrated on two Japanese held airfields destroying 38 enemy aircraft. A further 30 aircraft were shot down by the escort. Such was the success of the strike that all production was stopped for two months and when deliveries recommenced, they were a mere fraction of the pre-strike output. Altogether, sixteen FAA aircraft were lost over the target area to enemy action.

Operation Meridian 1 had occurred on 24 January 1945.

At a total cost of 25 aircraft, the strikes around Palembang had cut the aviation gasoline output from Sumatra to 35% of its normal level, at a time when Japan was desperately short of oil in any form. The effects of the resulting shortage in Burma, Philippines, China and Okinawa are incalculable but it is arguable that the three strikes (Operation Lentil 4 Jan 45, and Operation Meridian 1 & 2) undertaken in January 1945 were the British Pacific Fleet’s greatest contributions to the ultimate victory.

Disposition of Carriers and Squadrons in British Pacific Fleet, January 1945 during Meridian 1 and 2

Indomitable
1839 Sqn 14 Hellcat
1844 Sqn 14 Hellcat
857 Sqn 21 Avenger

Illustrious
1830 Sqn 14 Corsair
1833 Sqn 14 Corsair
854 Sqn 21 Avenger

Victorious
1834 Sqn 14 Corsair
1836 Sqn 14 Corsair
849 Sqn 21 Avenger
Ships Flt 2 Walrus (SAR)

Indefatigable
887 Sqn 20 Seafire
894 Sqn 20 Seafire
1770 Sqn 12 Firefly
820 Sqn 21 Avenger

Image of Air strike on the Soengei Gerong oil refinery copyright FAA Museum.

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