The Royal Air Force During World War 2
100 to 109 Squadrons
No. 100 Squadron
Squadron Codes: HJ, NK, RA, FZ, JA, HW
Motto: SARANG TEBAUN JANGAN DIJOLOK (Don't let anyone attack the hornet's nest)
The squadron first formed on 11 February 1917 at Hingham in Norfolk. Assigned as a light bombed and scouting squadron, the unit went to France with Fe2Bs in March 1918, where it operated over Ypres and Somme. Then in May, it became a strategic bombing unit with Handley-Page 0/400s and joined the Independent Force, a strategic bombing formation, which began raiding industrial targets within Germany.
Following the end of the war, the squadron returned to England in September 1919 reduced to a cadre, but on 31 January 1920, absorbed the cadres from 117 and 141 Squadrons and became a squadron once again.
Initially operating with the army in Ireland, the unit was tasked with subduing the Irish free staters. This failed and the squadron left the country in the wake of the formation of the Irish Free State. Becoming day bombing squadron upon return to England, it later moved to Scotland in November 1930, becoming a torpedo squadron. An official requirement for torpedo squadrons in the Far East resulted in the squadron’s transfer to Singapore in December 1933.
Some consignments of Bristol Beauforts being license-manufactured in Australia were sent to Singapore and with these, the squadron entered the war in December 1941 following the Japanese surprise attack in the Far East and the Pacific. Virtually destroyed by the Japanese on mainland Malaya, the remanants joined 36 Squadron within Singapore Island in February 1942, becoming the coagulated final mass of Singapore’s torpedo-aircraft power. At the same time, a detachment had formed at Sydney’s Bankstown to take on more Beauforts. To this detachment’s ill-fortune, it arrived at Singapore on the eve of the Japanese invasion of the island on 8 February. Being not yet operational, the detachment was wiped out. A few survivors got away to Australia, forming the core of the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) new 100 Squadron. The rest fell into Japanese hands.
Erased off the books, the colors of No 100 languished until 15 December 1942, when the unit was reformed at England’s Grimsby airfield with 1 Group. Fitted with Avro Lancasters, the squadron participated in operations by 1 Group until the end of the war. After the war, the squadron existed for a time with the RAF until it was disbanded on 1 September 1959.
Vildebeest Mk II – Aug 1933 to Jan 1941
Vildebeest Mk III – Dec 1937 to Feb 1942
Beaufort Mk I – Dec 1941 to Jan 1942
Lancaster Mk I & III – Jan 1943 to May 1946
W/C JGW Swain – Dec 1942 to Apr 1943
W/C RV McIntyre – Apr to Nov 1943
W/C DW Holford – Nov to Dec 1943
W/C JF Dilworth – Dec 1943 to Mar 1944
W/C RVL Pattison – Mar to Sept 1944
W/C AF Hamilton – Sept 1944 to Mar
W/C TB Morton – Mar 1945 to N/A 1946
Seletar, Malaya – 5 Jan 1934
Kuantan – Dec 1941 (Dets)
Kemajoran – 31 Jan to 8 Feb 1942
Fisherman’s Bend, Singapore – 27 Nov to 1 Dec 1941 & 22 Dec 1941 to 1 Jan 1942 (Dets)
Point Cooke – 1 to 31 Jan 1942 (Det)
Richmond – 31 Jan to 25 Feb 1942 (Det)
Waltham, UK – 14 Dec 1942
Elsham Woods – 1 Apr 1945
Scampton – 15 Dec 1945 to 8 May 1946
Operational Performance (While with Bomber Command)
1 Group Lancasters – 267 bombing, 13 minelaying
Totals: 267 bombing, 13 minelaying = 280 raids
Sorties and Losses
1 Group Lancasters – 3,984 sorties, 92 aircraft lost (2.3 percent)
Totals: 3,984 sorties, 92 aircraft lost (2.3 percent)
An additional 21 Lancasters were destroyed in crashes
No. 101 Squadron
Squadron Codes: LU, SR
Motto: MENS AGITAT MOLEM (Mind over matter)
The squadron was first formed on 12 July 1917 at South Farnborough in Hampshire. Handed orders to conduct night bombing, No 101 flew FE2bs in scouting and observations operations (aside from bombing) over the western front. It saw action over Ypres, Somme and the Hindenburg Line. By the end of the war in November 1918, however, the squadron was reduced to a cadre and returned to England in March 1919, after which it disbanded on 31 December.
Reformed at Bircham Newton on 21 March 1928, the unit equipped with Boulton-Paul Sidestrands (the only squadron to have these), and from 1935, Boulton-Paul Overstrands – the first British bombers with enclosed and power-operated turrets. At the outbreak of the Second World War, the squadron could be found within the order of battle of 2 Group, the famous light bomber force. By this stage, however, the squadron had traded in its erstwhile biplanes for monoplane Bristol Blenheims. Operating out of West Raynham, the unit joined Fighter Command for a brief period from April to May 1940, but returning to Bomber Command afterwards, flew its first bombing raid against Germany in July.
After being hit repeatedly by Axis fighters during daylight operations during the Battle of Britain, the unit switched to night ops from mid-August. Many of its targets at this time were the vaunted enemy barges, rumored to be preparing carry the German invasion forces to England. When the invasion failed to materialize, the squadron joined Fighter Command in April 1941 again, moving to Manston under the control of 11 Group. Flying fighter escort sweeps in a sustained effort the Straits of Dover to enemy shipping, the unit opened the so-called “Channel Stop” missions.
Taking on Vickers Wellingtons in May, the the entire squadron transferred to Bomber Command’s 3 Group, remaining with this formation until September 1942. During that time, the unit bombed Italy for the first time and took part in the “Thousand-Bomber” raids of summer 1942, without losing any aircraft.
Transferring to 1 Group afterwards, the squadron was equipped with Avro Lancasters in October and raided Italy again before the year ended. Then, on 7 October, it started to receive exotic jamming equipment such as Airborne Cigar (ABC), which employed a specialized German-speaking crewman to identify and interfere with radio communications between German nightfighter crews and their dispatchers on the ground. The installment of ABC came with the addition of two large dorsal masts on the Lancasters. The added weight of the equipment necessitated a smaller bomb load. The later “Corona” gear utilized a similar system but allowed the German-speaking crewman to interact with the radio broadcast and transmit erroneous bearings and instructions to the enemy nightfighters, often in a running diatribe with their opposite numbers at ground control.
With No 101 being the only ABC unit within the RAF, its availability became paramount to operations. Consequently, a squadron aircraft was required to be present on every important Bomber Command raid. Bombs, however, continued to be dropped. On just four nights in January 1944, the squadron flew more 900 hours, dropping 600 tons of bombs. As D-Day approached, the squadron attacked railway lines and airfields in Northwest Europe, and on the fateful night of 5/6 June, 21 of its Lancasters jammed German wireless communications, especially communications concerning enemy nightfighters which could have wreaked havoc with the airborne transports that night.
On 25 April 1945, the squadron flew its last combat raid of the war, hitting Berchtesgaden. By when the war ended, No 101 had carried out more raids then of any other Bomber Command squadron of the war – a record reflected by its heavy casualties of 171 planes lost in action. One of these, Lancaster Mk III DV245 “S for Sugar” (nicknamed “The Saint”), was lost on 23 March 1945, shot down on its 119th sortie by enemy fighters during a daylight raid against Bremen. Surviving for a period in the post-war RAF, the squadron disbanded on 1 February 1957.
Blenheim Mk IV – Apr 1939 to May 1941
Wellington Mk IC – May 1941 to Oct 1942
Wellington Mk III – Feb to Oct 1942
Lancaster Mk I & III – Oct 1942 to Aug 1946
W/C JH Hargroves – Apr 1939 to Jul 1940
W/C NC Singer – Jul 1940 to Apr 1941
W/C D Addenbrooke – Apr 1941
W/C J McDougall – Apr to May 1941
W/C DR Briggs – May 1941 to Jan 1942
W/C THL Nicholls – Jan to Jun 1942
W/C EC Eaton – Jun to Apr 1942
W/C DA Reddick – Apr 1942 to Jul 1943
W/C GA Carey-Foster – Jul 1943 to Jan 1944
W/C RI Alexander – Jan to Jul 1944
W/C MH de L Everest – Jul 1944 to Jan 1945
W/C IM Gundrey-White – Jan to Oct 1945
West Raynham, UK – 6 May 1939
Oakington – 1 Jul 1941
Stradishall – 11 Aug 1942
Holme-on-Spalding Moor – 29 Sept 1942
Ludford Magna – 15 Jun 1943 to 1 Oct 1945
2 Group Blenheims – 81 bombing
3 Group Wellingtons – 129 bombing, 13 minelaying
1 Group Wellingtons – 4 bombing, 4 minelaying
1 Group Lancasters – 298 bombing, 10 minelaying
Totals: 512 bombing, 27 minelaying, = 539 raids
Sorties and Losses
2 Group Blenheims – 618 sorties, 15 aircraft lost (2.4 percent)
3 Group Wellingtons – 1,216 sorties, 42 aircraft lost (3.4 percent)
1 Group Wellingtons – 37 sorties, 1 aircraft lost (1.7 percent)
1 Group Lancasters – 4,895 sorties, 113 aircraft lost (2.3 percent)
Totals: 6,766 sorties, 171 aircraft lost (2.5 percent)
An additional 6 Blenheims and 33 Lancasters were destroyed in crashes.
Avro Lancaster Mk III, RAF Ludford Magna, Late-1943 From early October 1943, the squadron began flying Lancasters equipped with the Airborne Cigar (ABC) Jammers, the one and only squadron to use this equipment. This resulted in the squadron being dispatched for raids even when the remainder of their Group was resting, and led to the squadron taking part in more bombing raids than any other Lancaster squadron in 1 Group. With an extra German-speaking crewmember the squadron”s aircraft mixed in with the bomber stream, jamming German night-fighter radio communications. All ABC carrying aircraft like the above example also carried a reduced bomb load.
No. 102 (Ceylon) Squadron
Squadron Codes: TQ, DY, EF
Motto: TENATE ET PERFICITE (Attempt and achieve)
Unofficially known in its later history as “Morecambe’s own Squadron”, No 102 Squadron was first formed on 9 August 1917 at Hingham in Norfolk. It served as a night bombing squadron on the western front from September until the end of the war. Afterwards returning to England in March 1919, the squadron disbanded on 3 July.
Reformed at Worthy Down on 1 October 1935 as Ceylon gift squadron, the unit was operational by the time of the Munich crisis in 1936. When war came in September 1939, the squadron flew its first raid the day after on the night of the 4th, when three of its Whitley’s dropped leaflets on the Ruhr valley. Four nights later, when the Whitleys returned to the Ruhr to drop more leaflets, two of the six planes were shot down. It was an ominous start to the war. Soon, however, the squadron was fulfilling its raison d’etre: dropping bombs. The first fell on 12/13 December, when a lone Whitley spotting flashing lights off the island of Sylt, took it for a Seaplane landing area, and dumped its explosive cargo.
Upon Italy’s entry into the war, seven squadron Whitleys moved to a forward base at Jersey, Channel Islands, to attack Turin’s Fiat factory. Encountering heavy thunderstorms, five aborted but the remaining two reached Italy. One bombed the target and the other dopped its bombs on an alternate target. In November, a squadron officer Pilot Officer Leonard Chesire (later to win the Victoria Cross with 617 Squadron), piloting Whitley V P5005 “N for Nuts” set out to bomb an oil refinery at Wesseling, near Cologne.
Arriving on target, he discovered that his intercom was out and he spent the next 20 minutes , circling the area, trying to get a bearing on the target which was socked in by clouds. Deciding that the target was too well concealed to be attacked successfully, Cheshire diverted to the marshallying yards at Cologne. As he approached the target, the sky flashed with ack-ack fire. The Whitley shuddered as it took a barrage of hits. Thick black some swept into the cockpit and Cheshire lost control. The flaming Whitley plunged to 2,000 ft before Cheshire regained control. The dive had extinguished the flames, and Cheshire managed to return home safely after a flight of 8½ hours. Awarded the DFC for this, he would later receive the DSO for subsequent operations with the squadron.
In December 1941, the first Handley-Page Halifaxes arrived, and with these, the squadron took part in the “thousand-bomber” raids, the battle of the Ruhr, the assault on Hamburg and the attacks on Berlin. In 1944, with D-Day approaching, it attacked marshalling yards in France, dispatching 26 Halifaxes on D-Day itself to attack a gun battery on the Normandy coastline. Later, with the ground forces advancing in western Europe, the squadron tried to mend the logistical chokepoint that soon developed by flying in fuel to the troops. In one week alone, the squadron transported 134,250 gallons of fuel.
Following the victory in Europe, the squadron transferred to tansport Command on 7 May 1945, to help with the increasing amount of supply dropping missions to refugees in liberated Europe. By the time war ended in September 1945, the squadron (along with 44 and 78 Squadrons) had suffered the third highest overall losses in Bomber Command, and the highest losses in 4 Group (along with 75 Squadron). Its men had been awarded five DSOs, 115 DFCs and two bars and 34 DFMs. The squadron disbanded on 26 February 1946.
Whitley Mk III – Oct 1938 to 1941
Whitley Mk V – Nov 1939 to Feb 1942
Halifax Mk II – Dec 1941 to May 1944
Halifax Mk III – May 1944 to May 1945
Halifax Mk VI – Feb to May 1945
W/C CF Toogood – Oct 1938 to May 1940
W/C SR Groom – May 1940 to Jan 1941
W/C F Cole – Jan to Apr 1941
W/C CV Howes – Apr to Oct 1941
W/C L Howard – Oct 1941 to Jan 1942
W/C SB Bintley – Jan to Oct 1942
W/C GW Holden – Oct 1942 to Apr 1943
W/C HR Coventry – Apr to Jul 1943
W/C FRC Fowle – Jul to Sept 1943
W/C SJ Marchbank – Sept 1943 to Jul 1944
W/C LD Wilson – Jul 1944 to Jan 1945
W/C EFE Barnard – Jan to Mar 1945
W/C DF Hyland-Smith – Mar 1945 to N/A 1946
Driffield, UK – 11 Jul 1938
Leeming – 25 Aug 1940
Prestwick – 2 Sept 1940
Linton-on-Ouse – 10 Oct 1940
Topcliffe – 5 Nov 1940
Dalton – 15 Nov 1942
Topcliffe – 7 Jun 1942
Pocklington – 7 Aug 1942
Bassingbourn – 8 Sept 1945 to 15 Feb 1946
4 Group Whitleys – 181 bombing, 14 reconnaissance/leaflet
4 Group Halifaxes – 310 bombing, 84 minelaying, 13 leaflet
Totals: 491 bombing, 84 minelaying, 27 reconnaissance/leaflet
Sorties and Losses
4 Group Whitleys – 1372 sorties, 52 aircraft lost (3.8 percent)
4 Group Halifaxes – 4734 sorties, 140 aircraft lost (3.0 percent)
Totals: 6106 sorties, 192 aircraft lost (3.1 percent)
Handley-Page Halifax Mk III, RAF Pocklington, Late-1944 This Halifax Mk III sports red bands on the tail – a squadron indicator.
No. 103 Squadron
Squadron Codes: GU, PM
Motto: NOLI ME TANGERE (Touch me not)
The squadron first formed on 1 September 1917 at Beaulieu in Hampshire as a light bomber squadron. Flying over France as a scouting and observation unit, the squadron ended the war with DH9s. It then returned to England in March 1919, disbanding on 1 October.
Reformed at Andover on 10 August 1936, the unit equipped with Hawker Hinds. Subsequently taking on the Fairy Battle, the squadron went into action with these aircraft in France. In fact, the entire squadron had deployed to France the day before England and France declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939. Soon flying short and extended range missions, the squadron attacked the Meuse bridges but fortune was not in its favor.
On May 12, one of its own, James Hayter found himself piloting one of three Battles sent to attack river bridges and roads near Sedan. After shaking off some attacking Me 110s, the three aircraft flew along the River Meuse in line astern to attack a German pontoon bridge with their gunners firing at enemy troops along the banks. The successful bombing of the bridge held up the advance of German tanks for some hours. At this time, Hayter’s air gunner, LAC Ron Critchley, shot down a Hs 126 observation aircraft. Two days later Hayter and Critchley were shot down as prepared to land at base.
By Mid-May 1940, the squadron had lost its early bases and was now flying out of central France, suffering heavy losses all the while. Assuming control over the shattered remants of 218 squadron’s Battles on 21 May, the squadron continued operations. Its strength now numbered an impressive 31 aircraft, but weeks later, by when time it withdrew to Brittany it had 16 planes left. A fortnight later, by when the squadron departed for England, only eight were left.
Gathering at Honington, the unit re-equipped and re-armed, joining 1 Group in July. Unofficially taking on the nickname “Swindon’s Own,” the squadron joined the main bombers raids against Germany from the autumn of that year – a task that it carried strong until the end of the war. By the war’s end the squadron had flown the most bombing raids in 1 Group, suffering the highest losses. Despite the losses, one squadron Lancaster did survive the war. This was a Mark III machine ED888 “M2-Mike Squared.”
Flying for much of its career with 103 squadron, the aircraft flew its first operation on 4/5 May 1943, during a raid on Dortmund. Its last mission was on 4 December 1944 which comprised its 140th sortie (the first 66 with 103 Squadron, 65 with 576 Squadron and nine with 103 Squadron) – totaling 974 flying hours. Sadly, “Mike Squared” did not qualify for preservation after the war and was scrapped in January 1947.
The squadron later disbanded on 26 November 1945 by renumbering as 57 Squadron.
Battle Mk I – Jul 1938 to Oct 1940
Wellington Mk IC – Oct 1940 to Jul 1942
Halifax Mk II – Jul to Oct 1942
Lancaster Mk I & III – Oct 1942 to Nov 1945
W/C HJ Gemmell – Jan 1939 to Mar 1940
W/C TC Dickens – Mar to Nov 1940
S/L CER Tait – Nov to dec 1940
W/C CE Littler – Dec 1940 to Apr 1941
W/C BE Lowe – Apr to Aug 1941
W/C RS Ryan – Aug 1941 to Mar 1942
W/C JFH Du Boulay – Mar to Sept 1942
W/C RAC Carter – Sept 1942 to Apr 1943
W/C JA Slater – Apr to Oct 1943
W/C ED McK Nelson – Oct 1943 to May 1944
W/C HR Goodman – May 1944
W/C JR St John – May to Dec 1944
W/C DF MacDonald – Dec 1944 to Nov 1945
Benson, UK – 1 April 1939
Challerange, France – 2 Sept 1939
Plivot – 28 Nov 1939
Betheniville – 15 Feb 1940
Rheges-St. Lucian Ferme – 16 May 1940
Herbouville – 3 Jun 1940
Ozouer-le-Doyen – 4 Jun 1940
Soulge – 14 Jun 1940
Abingdon, UK – 15 Jun 1940
Honington – 16 Jun 1940
Newton – 3 Jul 1940
Elsham Woods – 11 Jul 1941 to 26 Nov 1945
1 Group Battles – 16 bombing
1 Group Wellingtons – 138 bombing, 6 minelaying
1 Group Halifaxes – 15 bombing
1 Group Lancasters – 317 bombing, 27 minelaying
Totals: 486 bombing, 33 minelaying = 519 raids
Sorties and Losses
1 Group Battles – 51 sorties, 1 aircraft lost (2.0 percent)
1 Group Wellingtons – 1,116 sorties, 31 aircraft lost (2.8 percent)
1 Group Halifaxes – 137 sorties, 12 aircraft lost (8.8 percent)
1 Group Lancasters – 4,536 sorties, 135 aircraft lost (3.0 percent)
Totals: 5,840 sorties, 179 aircraft lost (3.1 percent)
No. 104 Squadron
Squadron Codes: EP, PO
Motto: STRIKE HARD
The squadron first formed with an element from 20 Training Squadron on 4 September 1917 at Wyton in Huntingdon. Going to France in May 1918 with DH9s, the squadron joined the Independent Force, the pioneering strategic attack force on 6 June.
Flying long-range raids on targets in Germany against heavy opposition, the squadron dropped 41 tons of bombs on enemy targets and shot down 31 planes in combat with another 27 forced out of control during the war. In return, the squadron took such heavy losses that it was in effect, wiped out thrice. After the end of the war, the squadron returned to England in February 1919, disbanding on 30 June.
Reformed on 7 January 1936 from the “C” Flight of 40 Squadron, the new squadron became a training formation with 6 Group on 2 September 1939 – just a day before war was declared against Germany. It existed in this state until 6 April 1940, when it merged with 108 Squadron from 13 Operational Training Unit. Reformed again on 7 March 1941 within 4 Group at Driffield, the squadron equipped with Vickers Wellingtons and began night bombing operations from 9 May.
In October a detachment of 15 aircraft departed for Malta. The rest of the squadron would eventually receive notice about its renumberment to 158 Squadron on the following year, on 14 February 1942. The Malta detachment, meantime, was busy attacking targets in Sicily, Italy and Libya under dangerous conditions. It moved to Egypt in January 1942, to escape enemy strafing and bombing attacks on Malta. When the ground echelon of this flight arrived in Egypt the following month, this detachment found itself raised to full squadron status as 104 Squadron, while the element on England disbanded.
Flying by night over the Western Desert, the squadron followed the Germans during their retreat into Tunisia, assuming station on recently-captured airfields. Following the surrender of Axis forces in North Africa in May 1943, the squadron attacked Italy, deploying to that country in December 1943, again to recently-captured airfields. The subsequently operated over Northern Italy and the Balkans. Following the end of the war in September 1945, the squadron returned to Egypt in October. It later disbanded here, at Shaluffa airfield on 1 April 1947.
Blenheim Mk I – May 1938 to Apr 1940
Anson Mk I – May 1939 to Apr 1940
Blenheim Mk IV – Nov 1939 to Apr 1940
Wellington Mk II – Apr 1941 to Aug 1944
Wellington Mk X – Jul 1943 to Feb 1945
Liberator B Mk VI – Feb 1945 to Jan 1946
S/L DBG Tomlinson – Apr 1941
S/L PR Beare – Apr to May 1941
W/C WSG Simonds – May to Jul 1941
W/C PR Beare – Jul 1941
S/L WM Protheroe – Oct 1941 to N/A
Bassingbourne, UK – 2 May 1938
Bicester – 17 Sept 1939
Driffield – 7 Mar 1941 to 14 Feb 1942
Luqa, Malta – 18 Oct 1941 (Det)
Kabrit, Egypt (Air Ech) – 3 Jan 1942
(Grnd Ech) – 14 Jan 1942
LG.106, North Africa – 19 May 1942 (Det at Luqa)
Kabrit – 26 Jun 1942
Luqa, Malta – 6 Nov to 21 Jan 1943 (Det)
LG.224, North Africa – 7 Nov 1942
LG.104, North Africa – 12 Nov 1942
LG.237, North Africa – 27 Nov 1942
Soluch, Egypt – 6 Feb 1943
Gardabia Main, North Africa – 14 Feb 1943
Cheria, North Africa – 26 May 1943
Hani West, North Africa – 24 Jun 1943
Oudna, Mediterranean – 18 Nov 1943
Cerignola No.3, Italy – 14 Dec 1943
Foggia Main, Italy – 30 Dec 1943 to 31 Oct 1945
No. 105 Squadron
Squadron Codes: MT, GB
Motto: FORTIS IN PROELIS (Valiant in battles)
Unofficially known in later life as “Hereford’s own,” 105 Squadron first formed on 23 September 1917 at Andover in Hampshire. Initially classified as a day bombing unit, it became a corps reconnaissance squadron. A deployment to the frontline in France could have been expected at this point, but instead, the squadron went to Ireland to support the army there. Following the end of the war, the squadron remained for a time on the RAF’s order of battle but disbanded on 1 February 1920.
Reformed on 12 April 1937 at Harwell from the “B” Flight of 18 Squadron, the unit became a light bomber squadron. Equipped with Fairy Battles, the squadron went to France on the day war was declared on 3 September 1939. A part of the Advanced Air Striking Force (AASF), the unit went through the “Phony War” without much effort, but matters changed considerably after the Germans launched their Blitzkrieg in May 1940. Heavily-engaged, the unit attempted to support the army as best it could. It attacked the Meuse bridges in an attempt to stem the German tide, but suffering heavily. It finally withdrew to England in June. With the complete collapse of France in the following month, and with no immediate plans to return to the continent, the squadron joined 2 Group. It was equipped with Bristol Blenheim Mk IVs (the first squadron to be so outfitted), but early hopes for the aircraft’s abilities were dashed as the unit continued to take heavy losses while employing the type in daylight, over-the-channel operations.
Elsewhere, as an air campaign heated up against British-held Malta in the Mediterranean, the squadron went there (like so many other Blenheim squadron) to bolster the defenders. Remaining on Malta from July to October 1941, attacking naval and coastal targets in the Mediterranean and North Africa. Afterwards, the squadron returned to England afterwards, equipping with the first operational DeHavilland Mosquitoes in November. The arrival of the Mosquitoes gave the squadron the ability to launch fast, daylight raids against enemy targets – an advantage it used with deadly effect time after time.
By 1942, it had become one of two “Oboe” target-marking squadrons within Bomber Command. With one of these “Oboe” aircraft, Wing Commander Hughie Edwards, an Australian led a daring low-level 93-aircraft raid (albeit most of the aircraft were slower Lockheed Venturas from other units) against the Phillips factory in Eindhoven, Holland on 6 December 1942. Carried out in clear conditions, the raiders achieved complete surprise. The bombing was remarkable precision, although stray bombs killed 148 Dutch civilians and seven German soldiers. Despite the loss of 14 planes, it was a huge morale-booster for the light bomber force.
Earlier, an equally daring raid on 25 September 1942 against the Gestapo headquarters at Oslo had proved a failure. Of the four Mosquitoes sent out, one was shot down by attacking Focke-Wulf Fw190s over the town. The remaining three dropped their loads on target, but all three bombs passed through the building without exploding. On 27 January, nine squadron Mosquitoes attacked the Burmeister and Wain Diesel engine factory in Copenhagen, losing one aircraft. Then followed the most audacious raid of all, an attack on Berlin on the 30th in what was the first daylight raid against the German capital by British aircraft. The objective was a radio station to prevent it from broadcasting a speech by Luftwaffe Chief Hermann Göring.
Two waves of Mosquitoes were earmarked for the attack. The lead element from 105 Squadron, led by Squadron Leader RW Reynolds, swung into Germany. Roaring through heavy cloud cover, they identified the radio station below in the sprawling Berlin vista. Deftly dropping their bombs on it, they made their escape before the defenders could respond. The raid had proved a major coup for the English. They had bombed the station at the precise moment Göring had been set to make his speech. Göring later raged that: “It makes me furious when I see the Mosquito. I turn green and yellow with envy. The British, who can afford aluminum better than we can, knock together a beautiful wooden aircraft…What do you make of that?”
In May 1943, squadron Mosquitoes now wearing unfamiliar matt black paint, joined the elite 8 (Pathfinder Force) Group. Subsequently attached to 8 Group’s Light Night Striking Force (LNSF), the squadron remained as an Oboe Mosquito unit for the rest of the European war and took part in the pre-dawn aerial bombardment of the Normandy landing area before D-Day (6 June 1944). The Mosquitoes marked ten coastal batteries earmarked for destruction by Bomber Command.
In the last few weeks of the war, with the bombing campaign waning, the squadron was employed in marking the areas for Operation “Manna” – the dropping of supplies to the starved civil population of Holland suffering in the wake of German reprisals. By the time the war in Europe ended in May 1945, No 105 had earned the distinction of carrying out more raids and sorties than any other Mosquito squadron in Bomber Command. The squadron disbanded on 1 February 1946.
Battle – Sept 1937 to May 1940
Blenheim Mk IV – Jun 1940 to Dec 1941
Mosquito Mk IV – Nov 1941 to May 1944
Mosquito Mk IX – Jul 1943 to Feb 1946
Mosquito Mk XVI – Mar 1944 to Feb 1946
S/L GCO Key – Jun 1940
W/C JG Hawtrey – Jun to Aug 1940
W/C CKJ Coggle – Aug to Dec 1940
W/C AL Christian – Dec 1940 to May 1941
W/C HI Edwards – May to Sept 1941
W/C DW Scivier – Sept 1941
Lt-Col. FA Harte (SA) – Sept 1941
W/C PHA Simmons – Oct 1941 to Aug 1942
W/C HI Edwards – Aug 1942 to Feb 1943
W/C GP Longfield – Feb 1943
W/C JW Deacon – Feb to Mar 1943
W/C J de L Woolridge – Mar to Jul 1943
W/C JH Cundall – Jul 1943 to Sept 1944
W/C KJ Somerville – Sept 1944 to N/A 1945
Harwell, UK – 26 Apr 1937
Rheims, France – 3 Sept 1939
Villeneuve – 12 Sept 1939 (Dets at Perpingnan & Echemines)
Echemines – 16 May 1940 (Det at Villeneuve)
Nantes/Bougenais – 22 May 1940
Honington, UK – 14 Jun 1940
Watton – 10 Jul 1940
Swanton Morley – 31 Oct 1940
Lossiemouth – May 1941
Luqa, Malta – 28 Jul to 11 Oct 1941 (Det)
Horsham St. Faith – 8 Dec 1941 (Det at Leuchars)
Marham – 28 Sept 1942
Bourn – 23 Mar 1944
Upwood – 29 Jun 1945 to 1 Feb 1946
2 Group Blenheims – 99 bombing, 10 reconnaissance
2 Group Mosquitoes – 127 bombing
8 Group Mosquitoes – 487 bombing
Totals: 713 bombing, 10 reconnaissance = 723 raids
Sorties and Losses
2 Group Blenheims – 692 sorties, 22 aircraft lost (3.2 percent)
2 Group Mosquitoes – 548 sorties, 26 aircraft lost (4.7 percent)
8 Group Mosquitoes – 4,947 sorties, 10 aircraft lost (0.2 percent)
Totals: 6,187 sorties, 58 aircraft lost (0.9 percent)
An additional 10 Blenheims destroyed in crashes.
The Victoria Cross
Wing Commander Hughie Idwal Edwards, Australia. Survived, Age 26
On 4 July 1941, Edwards led a force of 12 Blenheim bombers by daylight, deep into Germany. Flying low, at a height of 50 feet over the telephone wires and high-tension cables of enemy-occupied Europe, they hoped to avoid detection. Their target was the heavily defended port of Bremen, a vital Baltic naval stop. As the raiders sped towards their objective, they ran into enemy ships 50 miles out and these betrayed their presence to enemy air defense units in the area.
When the Blenheims approached Bremen, a fierce barrage rose to greet them. Penetrating the AA fire, the Blenheims weaved around barrage balloons, but heavy fire over the port itself claimed four bombers. Edward”s Blenheim was hit. Undaunted, he led the survivors through the intense fire to the target, the port facilities. Roaring over the target, they dropped their bombs and made a wide turn to exit. They later returned to England intact, even through every aircraft had been hit.
Edwards, the first Australian airman to win the Victoria Cross in the Second World, assumed control of 105 Squadron on 1 August 1942, leading it until 10 February 1943. He later became an Air Commodore and retired from the RAF in 1963. In addition to the VC, he was a KCMG (Knights Commander of the most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George) with the CB (Companion of the most honorable order of Bath), the DSO, the OBE (Order of the British Empire) and the DFC. He died in 1983.
De Havilland Mosquito B Mk IV, RAF Marham, 1943 Squadron Leader Reg Reynolds' Mosquito during the 30 January 1943 raid. This aircraft led a section of three Mosquitoes to Berlin in a daring low-level raid designed to disrupt a Nazi party rally. The attacking aircraft consisted of the above Mosquito (DZ413, GB-K), the aircraft of Gordon/Hayes (DZ372, GB-C) and that of Wickham/Makin (DZ408 GB-F).