The Royal Air Force During World War 2
70 to 79 Squadrons

No. 70 Squadron

Squadron Code: DU

Motto: USQUAM (Anywhere)

The squadron first formed on 22 April 1916 at Farnborough in Hampshire as a fighter unit. At the end of World War I, it reduced to a cadre and returned to Britain, disbanding on 22 January 1920.

By renumbering 58 Squadron, the RAF brass reformed on 1 February 1920 at Heliopolis as a bomber-transport unit. Operating primarily in Iraq during these interwar years, it often provided the sole transport for British personnel and citizens in this remote part of the world, including Afghanistan.

In March 1939, the unit moved to Egypt and was still there when Second World War began. When Italy entered the conflict in June 1940, the squadron began lugging heavy bombs to attack Italian forces in Libya. Starting operations from 18 September, they bombed ports and installations not only in Libya but also Italy and Italian-held territories in Greece. It participated in the campaigns for Syria and Iraq (the latter classified as a civil insurgency), and when enemy forces were ejected from Libya, they accompanied the army to Tunisia. In December 1943, with a foothold established in Italy, they moved to Cerignola, near the large, sprawling airbase at Foggia. Equipped with long-range Liberators in January 1945, No 70 operated over the Balkans, dropping supplies to partisans and laying mines in the Danube.

When the war ended in August, the squadron returned to Egypt, its battle honors full, with names such as: El Alamein, El Hamma, Anzio, Salerno, the Gothic and Gustav lines. The squadron disbanded in Egypt on 31 March 1946

​Aircraft

Valentia Mk I – Nov 1935 to Oct 1940

Wellington Mk IC – Sept 1940 to Feb 1943

Wellington Mk III – Jan to Dec 1943

Wellington Mk X – Jun1943 to Feb 1945

Liberator B Mk VI – Jan 1945 to Mar 1946

Squadron Commanders

 

Unknown

Airfields

Helwan, Egypt – 30 Aug 1939

Habbaniya, Iraq – 30 Aug 1939 to 5 Oct 1940 (Det)

Heliopolis, Egypt – 10 Jun 1940

Kabrit, Middle East – 9 Sept 1940

Tatoi – 6 to 24 Nov 1940 (Det)

LG.75, North Africa – 12 Jan 1942

LG.104 – 15 Jan 1942

LG.224 – 26 Jun 1942

Abu Sueir – 29 Jun 1942

LG.224 – 6 Nov 1942

LG.106 – 11 Nov 1942

LG.140 – 30 Nov 1942

Benina, Tunisia – 19 Jan 1943

El Magrun – 23 Jan 1943

Gardabia East – 10 Feb 1943

Gardabia West – 25 Feb 1943

Kairouan-Temmar – 25 May 1943

Djedeida – 15 Nov 1943

Cerignola, Italy – 17 Dec 1943

Aqir, Palestine – 12 Oct 1945

Shallufa, Egypt – 12 Dec 1945 to 31 March 1946

No. 71 (American Eagle) Squadron

Squadron Code: XR

Motto: FIRST FROM THE EIRIES

Formed on 27 March 1917 at Castle Bromwich with Australians, the squadron was the fourth such unit made up of Australian volunteers during the First World War. By the end of the war, it was top Australian squadron in the Australian Flying Corps with 76 confirmed kills. Its post-war life, however, was numbered and it was disbanded in 1919.

 

Reformed at 19 September 1940 at Church Fenton, once again with volunteer foreigners, this time neutral Americans who wished to fight the Germans, the unit missed the Battle of Britain because it had to train. It eventually equipped with Hawker Hurricanes in November and was declared operational in December. Its first combat sortie followed on 5 February 1941. Christened the ‘American Eagle’ Squadron, No 71 flew under British officers. Encounters with the enemy came quick and against those seasoned veterans of the Luftwaffe, the learning curve was high. Nevertheless, in May, Pilot Officer Alexander achieved a probable over an enemy aircraft, which boosted squadron morale. Then on 21 July, the American Pilot Officer William Dunn shot down an Messerschmitt Me109 over Lille, in what was the squadron’s first kill of the war.

 

Converting to Spitfires that July, the unit began to fight the Messerschmitts on more equal terms. On 27 August, Dunn destroyed two Me109F’s to add to his bag of three, making him the first American ace of World War II. By November, Dunn’s fellow Americans, Gus Daymond and Carroll McColpin, were aces too. On 15 November, however, the squadron’s British commander, Squadron Leader Stanley Meares was killed in aerial combat. An American officer, Flight Lt Chesley Peterson assumed command, making No 71 an all American unit.

 

The squadron did some night-flying that November, but with onslaught of winter, flying activities tapered off all flying. Morale dropped, but picked up the following spring as flying and victories increased. In July, word came through that the unit might be deployed outside Britain, but this order did not materialize and the squadron fought on. August was an especially busy month with squadron supporting the Dieppe raid on the 19th. Flying top cover for the assaulting allied forces, the squadron shot down 10 aircraft. The British hierarchy regarded the squadron as a "crew of primitive cowboys," ill-disciplined, adamant in their refusal to pledge allegiance to the The King and totally obsessed with sex.

 

Eventually plans were made to transfer the unit to United States Army Air Force (USAAF) control. Consequently, on 29 September 1942, No 71 disbanded, and was redesignated as the 334th (USAAF) Fighter Squadron. All men and aircraft transferred to the newly-formed American 4th Fighter Group, one of the first USAAF formations to be formed in England, taking their well-earned laurels and records with them. In their brief existence as a British unit, the squadron had destroyed 41 enemy aircraft destroyed between September 1940 and September 1942.

​Aircraft

Hurricane Mk I – Nov 1940 to Apr 1941

Hurricane Mk IIA – Apr to Aug 1941

Spitfire Mk IIa – Aug to Sept 1941 

Spitfire Mk Vb – Sept 1941 to Sept 1942

Squadron Commanders

 

S/L WM Churchill, DSO, DFC – Sept 1940 to Feb 1941

S/L WEG Taylor – Feb to Jun 1941

S/L H de CA ‘Paddy’ Woodhouse, AFC – Jun to 31 Aug 1941

S/L S Meares – Aug to 15 Nov 1941 (KIA)

S/L CG Petersen, DSO, DFC (US) – Nov 1941 to 29 Sept 1942

Airfields

Church Fenton, UK – 1 Sept 1940

Kirton-in-Lindsey – 23 Nov 1940

Martelsham Heath – 4 Apr 1941

Debden – 2 May 1941

Gravesend – 14 Aug 1942

Debden – 20 Aug to 29 Sept 1942

Contemporary art showing the emblem of the squadron as it transitioned from an RAF unit to an American fighter squadron in the US 4th Fighter Group. (American Air Museum in Britain)

World War II Aces

  1. F/L Gregory A. ‘Gus’ Daymond, DFC* – US (7 Victories†) Early to Oct 1941 & Early to Sept 1942 →334/4FS, NCD USA

  2. F/L William R. Dunn – US (9 Victories; 5 with this unit, 2 with US 406FG) Sept 1940 to 27 Aug 1941 (WIA)

  3. F/O John J. Lynch – US (13 Victories, 1 with this unit) Oct 1941 to Sept 1942 →249Sq

  4. F/O Carroll W. ‘Red’ McColpin, DFC – US (11 Victories; 6 with this unit) Sept 1941 to 23 Jan 1942 →133Sq

  5. S/L Chesley G. ‘Pete’ Peterson, DSO, DFC – US (8 Victories; 6 with this unit) Nov 1941 to 29 Sept 1942 →US 4 FG (last 2 kills here)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vb, RAF Gravesend, August 1942 Squadron Leader Chesley Peterson flew this Spitfire (BM361). Peterson, an American volunteer, from Riverside, California, joined the squadron on 7 November 1940, scoring his first victory almost a year later on 7 September 1941. Taking command of the unit on 15 November, he led it until its disbandment in September 1942. Transferred to the American 4th Fighter Group, Peterson became the Group Executive and Operations officer, later taking command of the the Group on 20 August 1943 as a Lt Colonel. In addition to his five kills with 71 Squadron, Peterson shot down three more planes while with the 4th and ended the war as the Combat Operations Officer with the American 9th Air Force Headquarters. The squadron badge is at the top left hand corner. (Photo: US National Archives)

No. 72 (Basutoland) Squadron

Squadron Codes: SD, RN

Motto: SWIFT

No 72 Squadron first formed on 2 July 1917 at Uphavon with an element from the Central Flying School. Roughly two decades later, the squadron received Supermarine Spitfires in April 1939 was operational by the start of the Second World War that September.

 

Immediately in action, two Flying Officers in the squadron, Sheen and Elsdon encountered fourteen Heinkel He115s over the North Sea on 21 October. Circling around the German machines, the cautiously and trading sporadic fire, the two men shot down two of the Heinkels. If this was expected to set the tempo for subsequent operations, it did not. The squadron entered a lean period, moving to Scotland, where it saw no enemy aircraft for next three months even though it was raring to employ a batch of experimental Spitfires armed with 20mm cannons in action.

On March 2, 1940, however, the unit was deployed to the Midlands where it was forced to give up it Spitfires for a period as the airfield at Acklington did not have infrastructure to handle Spitfires. Instead, the squadron was handed aging Gloster Gladiator biplane fighters which it operated for a few weeks.

 

Handed orders to escort naval convoys until June, the squadron went into action over Dunkirk and flew some night patrols at that same time (this last by a detachment at Wollsington). In this detachment, one pilot, Flying Officer Thompson spotted a night-flying Ju88 illuminated by a searchlight and blasted it from the sky.

By August, still in the Midlands, the unit intercepted a large force of 30 to 50 Germans bombers on the 15th. The attacking Germans had been told by their commanders that they could expect an easy run as the British had based all their fighters in the south of England. Instead, they found 72 squadron (along with fighters from 79 and 607 Squadrons). The Germans broke ranks, jettisoning their payloads into the sea and trying to escape by flying into clouds. The British shot down 23 planes. No 72 had accounted for six.

Moving to the Biggin Hill sector later that August, the squadron began to feel the full strength of the German offensive. Still, they shot down 61½ enemy aircraft before returning to the north in November. As winter descended, combat slackened off, and the squadron began 1941 by flying air cover patrols for the army. Going to Algeria via Gibraltar in November 1942, the squadron shot down another 53.6 airplanes before the close of the North African campaign in May 1943. Then followed movement to Malta to cover the Sicilian invasion in July. On July 11, the squadron became the first RAF squadron to deploy on Sicily – arriving just one day after the seaborne assault that trust two allied armies on Sicilian shores. Despite their glorious entry on Sicily, the squadron was soon facing heavy enemy opposition. On the 12th , the unit shot down 13 airplanes and damaged 10 others, for the loss of two Spitfires.

After Sicily fell, the unit retired from operations, but supported the landings in Italy, shooting down their 200th kill of the war on 16 September 1943. By 1944, the squadron was escorting allied bombers over Italy, and by the following year had fought over all the major allied offensives of the Italian campaign, including the landings at Salerno, Anzio and Nettuno. Following the end of the European war in May 1945, the squadron went to Austria with the forces of occupation, disbanding at Zeltweg on 30 December 1946.

​Aircraft

Spitfire Mk I – Apr 1939 to Apr 1941
Gladiator Mk I & II – Mar 1940
Spitfire Mk IIA – Apr to Jul 1941
Spitfire Mk IIB – Apr to Jul 1941
Spitfire Mk VB – Jul 1941 to Jul 1942
Spitfire Mk VC – Jul 1942 to Feb 1943

Spitfire Mk IX – Jul to Aug 1942
Spitfire Mk VB – Aug to Nov 1942
Spitfire Mk Ixc – Feb 1943 to Oct 1944
Spitfire Mk VC – Jun 1943 to Feb 1944
Spitfire Mk LF.IX – Oct 1944 to Dec 1946

Squadron Commanders

 

S/L RA Lees – Dec 1938 to Jul 1940

S/l AR Collins – Jul to Sept 1940

S/L E Graham – Sept 1940 to Apr 1941

S/L DFB Sheen, DFC* – Apr to Oct 1941

S/L CA Masterman, OBE – Oct 1941 to Apr 1942

S/L CBF Kingcome, DFC* – Feb to Jul 1942

S/L RW Oxspring, DFC** – Jul 1942 to Apr 1943

S/L WF Daniel, DFC – Apr to Dec 1943

Maj. AC Bosman, DFC – Dec 1943 to Jan 1944

S/L JMV Carpenter, DFC – Jan to Apr 1944

S/L CIR Arthur, DFC – Apr to Nov 1944

S/L PL Parrott, DFC – Nov 1944 to Feb 1945

S/L KNR Sissons – Feb to Apr 1945

Maj. HE Wells – Apr 1945

Capt. WE Colahan – Apr to May 1945

S/L E Cassidy, DFC – May to Jul 1945

S/L DJ Johnson – Jul to Oct 1945

Airfields

Church Fenton, UK – 1 Jun 1937
Leconfield – 17 Oct 1939 (Det at Drem)
Church Fenton – 1 Nov 1939 (Det at Drem)
Drem – 1 Dec 1939
Leconfield – 12 Jan 1940
Church Fenton – 13 Jan 1940
Acklington – 2 Mar 1940
Gravesend – 1 Apr 1940
Acklington – 6 Jun 1940 (Det at Woolsington)
Biggin Hill – 31 Aug 1940
Croydon – 1 Sept 1940
Biggin Hill – 14 Sept 1940
Coltishall – 13 Oct 1940
Matlask – 30 Oct 1940

Coltishall – 2 Nov 1940
Leuchars – 29 Nov 1940
Acklington – 15 Dec 1940
Gravesend – 8 Jul 1941
Biggin Hill – 2 Jul 1941

Gravesend – 20 Oct 1941
Biggin Hill – 22 Mar 1942
Lympne – 30 Jun 1942
Biggin Hill – 7 Jul 1942
Morpeth – 4 Aug 1942
Ayr – 12 Aug 1942 (Det at Drem)
Ouston – 26 Sept 1942
Maison Blanche, Algeria – 16 Nov 1942
Bone – 18 Nov 1942

Souk el Arba, Tunisa – 20 Nov 1942

Souk el Khemis – 15 Jan 1943

Constantine – 1 Feb 1943

Souk el Khemis – 25 Feb 1943
La Sebala I – 13 May 1943 (Det at Utique)
Meteur – 24 May 1943
Hal Far, Malta – 10 Jun 1943
Comiso, Sicily – 17 Jul 1943
Pachino – 30 Jul 1943
Panebianco – 2 Aug 1943
Cassala – 2 Sept 1943
Falcone – 6 Sept 1943
Tusciano, Italy – 12 Sept 1943
Capodichino – 12 Oct 1943
Lago – 15 Feb 1944
Tre Cancelli – 5 Jun 1944
Tarquinia – 14 Jun 1944
Grosseto – 25 Jun 1944
Piombino – 5 Jul 1944
Calvi – 20 Jul 1944
Ramatuelle – 20 Aug 1944
Sisteron – 25 Aug 1944
Lyons/Bron, France – 7 Sept 1944
La Jasse, Italy – 2 Sept 1944
Peretola – 2 Oct 1944
Rimini – 1 Nov 1944
Ravenna – 17 Feb 1945
Rivolto – 4 May 1945
Klagenfurt, Austria – 11 May 1945
Zeltweg – 8 Sept to 2 Oct 1945

World War II Aces

  1. F/L Hugo T. ‘Sinker’ Armstrong, DFC – Aust. (10½ Victories; 4½ with this unit) Mar to Sept 1942 →611Sq

  2. P/O Eric P.W. Bocock (5 Victories; 1 with this unit) Summer 1941 to Mar 1942 →602Sq

  3. P/O Harry W. Charnock, DFC, DFM (8 Victories; 5 with this unit) Aug 1942 to Jan 1943 (WIA) →NCD

  4. F/L David G.S. Richardson Cox, DFC (7.3 Victories, 4 with this unit) May 1942 to May 1943→NCD, 504Sq, 909Wing. Later Bar to DFC & CDG.

  5. S/L Stephen W. Daniel, DFC* (16½ Victories†) 1941 to 11 Dec 1943 →OTU, 601, 145Sqs. Later DSO.

  6. F/O Thomas A.F. ‘Jimmie’ Elsdon, DFC (7 Victories†) Dec 1937 to Jul 1941 (WIA 7 Sept 1941) →257, 136Sqs, 165, 293, 169, 185Wings, HQ EAC, Transport Command UK

  7. F/L Ronald A. Hagger, DFC (7 Victories; 2 with this unit) Apr to Jun 1943 →HQ Fighter Command, USAAF Liason Officer, US 361 FG, Test Pilot Technical Training Command

  8. F/L Roy J.H. Hussey, DFC, DFM (11½ Victories†) 1942 to 1943 →19Sq (KIFA 20 Feb 1944)

  9. F/O Bruce J. Ingalls, DFC – Can. (8 Victories, 6 with this unit) Jul 1943 to Mar 1944 →417Sq

  10. F/O George N. Keith, DFC – Can. (8½ Victories†) Mar to 4 Aug 1943 (WIA, DOW)

  11. F/O Jerrold Le ‘Chem’ Cheminant – Channel Is. (5 Victories; 3 with this unit) Aug 1942 to 26 Apr 1943 →232Sq (DFC), NCD

  12. P/O James J. ‘Orange’ O’Meara, DFC (11.7 Victories; 1 with this unit) 20 Sept to 9 Oct 1940 →421Flt (91sq)

  13. S/L Robert W. ‘Bobby/Oxo’ Oxspring, DFC** (13.3 Victories; 5 with this unit) Jul 1942 to Apr 1943 →HQ 242Gp, HQ FC, 24Wing (4 V-1 kills here), 141Wing, Detling Wing, NCD US

  14. P/O Ronald J.H. ‘Robbie’ Robertson (5.3 Victories†) Dec 1940 to 20 Dec 1942 (WIA, H, Lost right eye) →UK (DFC), ATC

  15. P/O Joseph G.L. ‘Larry’ Robillard, DFM – Can. (7 Victories; 1 with this unit) Nov 1941 to Apr 1942 →411Sq

  16. F/L John W. ‘Pancho’ Villa, DFC (14.66 Victories, 9½ with this unit) Jul to Oct 1940 →92Sq

  17. F/L Eric N. ‘Timber’ Woods, DFC – Can. (10.6 Victories; 1 with this unit) Mar to Jul 1942 →249Sq

No. 73 Squadron

Squadron Codes: HV, TP

Motto: TUTOR ET OLTOR (Protector and avenger)

The squadron first formed on 1 July 1917 at Upavon as a fighter unit. During World War I the unit was operating as a ground-attack unit but years later, by the time of the Second World War, it was adopted its original banner of fighter squadron.

 

Equipped with biplane Gloster Gladiators in June 1937, it converted to Hurricanes in July the following year and the Gladiators went on to 3 Squadron. An official unit insignia also came into being, encompassing a dog in rampant pose, a maple leaf on its shoulder. The insignia, its origins in the last war, came from a previous squadron commander, Major T. O’B Hubbard (November 1917 to July 1918) who had painted Old Mother Hubbard’s dog looking into her empty cupboards on his Camel. This now became a Talbot (sadly, a now extinct hunting dog), the maple leaf on its shoulder honoring previous Canadian members of the squadron.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, No 73 was one of the two Hurricane squadrons that joined the Advanced Air Striking Force (AASF), moving to France in September. Initially traveling to northern France to familiarize French gunners with the Hurricane, the squadron failed to make an impression on the French Air Force, whose Curtiss Hawk 75s jumped them on 20 October. After this indignity, on 8 November, the squadron redeemed its morale, when Pilot Officer ‘Cobber’ Kain, a New Zealander shot down a German Dornier Do17 at 27,000 ft over France. It was the squadron first kill of the of the war, and the Kain had become the first allied pilot on the western front to down an enemy aircraft over continental Europe since 1918.

 

Sensationalized in the press, Kain repeated his feat again that month – his constituting the squadron two out of three victories scored by the unit thus far. By March 1940, this squadron tally had inched up to five. Then, on 10 May 1940, when the Germans attacked in force, the squadron found itself in heavy, sustained combat, trying to cover allied airfields from German attacks. Ejected from its own base at Rouvres by German army columns on the 14th, it shot down two German planes before evacuating, eventually withdrawing to England on the 17th.

Rebuilt in Britain, the unit acted as a nightfighter formation during the following Battle of Britain. Losing many aircraft to London’s anti-aircraft defenses, the unit claimed 19½ kills over the enemy before the battle ended in September. Operations ceased on 20 October to allow No 73 to prepare for an impending transfer to North Africa, where it became one of the first two RAF Hurricane squadrons (the other being  274 Squadron) to be transferred overseas.

Becoming operational in January 1941, the squadron’s Sergeant Alfred Marshall opened the unit’s North African account by shooting down three Italian Savoi-Marchetti SM.79 bombers on the 3rd. Moving its operations to Tobruk in March, it claimed more kills, this time Germans aside from the Italians. Taking heavy casualties in the process, especially against the Me109s, the unit was down to less than five operational Hurricanes by April 25. it withdrew to Sidi Haneish. Sending a detachment to Crete in May after the German airborne assault there, the flight arrived too late and could do little to stem the enemy tide. Meantime, working up at Sidi Haniesh, once again for nightfighting, the squadron also flew daylight raids over enemy-held Gazala airfield, sweeping the area in support of the army.

Night flying began in August, protecting the Canal Zone and conducting intruder sorties far into the Mediterranean. In 1943, however, a plan to inflict Sicily with the same amount of intruder sorties met with disaster and the squadron took heavy losses. Later, in January 1944, the unit began flights over the Adriatic, becoming a fighter-bomber unit in April, and becoming heavily committed over Yugoslavia and the Dalmatians. Later that year, it went to Greece to suppress the communist ELAS movement, but returned to Yugoslavian operations in February 1945, continuing this until the end of the war.

Remaining in the Mediterranean after the war, the squadron disbanded on Cyprus, while serving as a Canberra squadron, on 17 March 1969.

​Aircraft

Hurricane Mk I – Jul 1938 to Jan 1942

Hurricane Mk IIB – 1941 to Febuary 1942

Tomahawk Mk IIB – Sept to Nov 1941

Hurricane Mk IIC – Nov 1941 to Jul 1943

Spitfire Mk Vc – Jun 1943 to Sept 1944

Spitfire Mk IX – Oct 1943 to Nov 1946

Spitfire Mk VIII – Jul to Nov 1944

Squadron Commanders

 

S/L BW Knox – May 1939 to Mar 1940

S/L KAK McEwan – Mar to Apr 1940

S/L JWC More – Apr to Aug 1940

S/L MWS Robinson – Aug to Sept 1940

S/L AD Murray –Sept 1940 to Apr 1941

S/L PG Wykeham-Barnes, DFC – Apr to Oct 1941

S/L DH Ward (NZ) – Oct 1941 to Jun 1942 (KIA)

S/L GRAM Johnston – Jun to Oct 1942

S/L JB Selby, DFC – Oct 1942 to Feb 1943

S/L RV Ellis, DFM – Feb to Jul 1943

S/L EL Joyce, DFM – Jul to Nov 1943

S/L JH Chase – Nov 1943 to Jun 1944

Maj. DW Goulding, DFC – Jun 1944 to Feb 1945

S/L JH Aston, DFC – Feb to Apr 1945

S/L P Furniss, DFC – Feb to Late 1945

Airfields

Digby, UK – 9 Nov 1937

Le Havre, France – 9 Sept 1939

Norrent Fontes – 28 Sept 1939

Rouvre – 9 Oct 1939

Riems – 11 Apr 1940

Rouvres – 19 Apr 1940

Riems – 10 May 1940

Rouvres – 11 May 1940

Riems – 14 May 1940

Villenueve-les-Vertus – 16 May 1940

Gaye – 18 May 1940

Eschimines – 3 Jun 1940

Raudin – 7 Jun 1940

Nantes – 15 Jun 1940

Church Fenton, UK – 18 Jun 1940
Castle Camps – 5 Sept 1940

Left for Egypt – 13 Nov 1940

Takoradi, Africa (Air ech) – 27 Nov 1940

Heliopolis, Egypt (Grnd ech) – 30 Nov 1940

                             (Air ech) – 6 Dec 1940

Sidid Haneish – 30 Dec 1940

Gazala West – 31 Jan 1941

Bu Amud – 10 Mar 1941

El Gubbi – 9 Apr 1941

Sidi Haneish – 27 Apr 1941

Amriya – 1 Sept 1941

Port Said – 6 Sept 1941

Kilo 8 – 10 Oct to 18 Dec 1941 (Det.)

Shandur – 18 Dec to 3 Apr 1942 (Det.)

El Adem, Libya – 3 Feb 1942

Gasr-el-Arid – 18 Feb 1942

Gambut II – 21 Feb 1942

Gasr-el-Arid – 27 Feb 1942

Gambut I – 11 Mar 1942

Gambut Main – 17 Apr 1942

El Adem – 20 May 1942

Gambut Main – 27 May 1942

LG.115 – 17 Jun 1942

LG.76 – 20 Jun 1942

Qasaba, Egypt – 23 Jun 1942

El Daba – 26 Jun 1942

Burg-el-Arab – 28 Jun 1942

LG.89 – 2 Jul 1942

El Ballah – 23 Jul 1942

Shandur – 30 Jul 1942

LG.85 – 22 Aug 1942

LG.21 – 7 Nov 1942

LG.13 – 8 Nov 1942

LG.155, Libya – 10 Nov 1942

Gambut West – 12 Nov 1942

El Adem – 16 Nov 1942

El Magrun – 28 Nov 1942

Merduma – 23 Nov 1942

Alemel Chel, Tunisia – 1 Jan 1943

Tamet – 11 Mar 1943

Bir Dufan – 22 Jan 1943

Gasr Garabulli – 4 Feb 1943

El Assa – 15 Feb 1943

Nefatia South – 21 Mar 1943

Gabes Main – 8 Apr 1943

Sfax – 12 Apr 1943

Kairouan – 20 Apr 1943

Monastir – 21 Apr 1943

La Sebala II – 29 Apr 1942

Montecorvino, Italy – 18 Oct 1942

Luqa, Malta – Jul 1943 (Det)

Foggia Main – 2 Dec 1943

Canne – 12 Sept 1944

Hassani, Greece – 8 Dec 1944 to 21 Jan 1945 (Det)

Prkos – 2 Apr 1945

Brindisi, Italy – 15 May 1945

Hal Far, Malta – 3 Jul 1945 to 16 Jul 1946

World War II Aces

  1. F/Sgt. Donald R. Beard, DFM (5 Victories†) 1942 to Early 1943 →N/A

  2. F/O Bruce A. Bretherton – Aust. (8 Victories; 2 with this unit) Mar 1943 to Jan 1944 →255Sq

  3. F/O James Denis, DFC – Fr. (6½ Victories†) 10 Apr 1941 to Jan 1942 →Gp ‘Alsace’

  4. P/O Hugh W. ‘Chubby’ Eliot (8¼ Victories; 3¼ with this unit) May to Oct 1940 →261Sq

  5. S/L Richard W. Ellis, DFM (5 Victories†) 7 Jun 1940 to Oct 1941 →127Sq →& 1942 to Jul 1943 →Test Pilot Vickers UK

  6. F/Sgt. Geoffrey W. Garton (8.3 Victories; 4.3 with this unit) May 1940 to 22 Apr 1941 →250Sq

  7. F/O George E. ‘Randy’ Goodman, DFC (12.6 Victories; 5 with this unit) Nov 1940 to 14 Jun 1941 (KIA)

  8. S/L George R.A.M. Johnston, DFC (9.83 Victories; 4 with this unit) Early 1941 to Oct 1942 →122Wing (last 5.83 kills here, DSO), Tangmere (« to DFC)

  9. S/L Ernest L. Joyce, DFM – NZ (10 Victories; 8 with this unit) Jan to Dec 1942 (F/Sgt.) →243Wing (1 kill) & Jul to Nov 1943 →CO 122Sq (last kill, KIA 18 Jun 1944)

  10. F/O Edgar J. ‘Cobber’ Kain, DFC – NZ (16 Victories†) Nov 1937 to 6 Jun 1940 (KIFA)

  11. Sous Lt. Albert Littolf – Fr. (9½ Victories, 4 with this unit, 2.83 with VVS, 0.67 with ADA) Early 1941 to Apr 1941 (Attached from GCIII/2) →274Sq

  12. F/Sgt. Alfred E. Marshall (17 Victories; 12½ with this unit) May 1940 to May 1941 →250Sq

  13. F/O Richard F. ‘Dicky’ Martin, DFC (5½ Victories; 3½ with this unit) Jul 1939 to 8 Nov 1939 (POW Belgium, Escaped) & Dec 1939 to 23 May 1940 & Apr 1941 (WIA) →250Sq

  14. S/L James W.C. ‘Hank’ More, DFC (5 Victories†) Apr to Aug 1940 →HQ 9 Gp, NCD, FE (OBE), 224Gp (POW 22 Jan 1943, died enroute to Japan when prison ship was sunk by Allied submarine on 12 Sept)

  15. F/L Newell ‘Fanny’ Orton, DFC* (17 Victories; 15 with this unit) Nov 1937 to 15 May 1940 (WIA) →54Sq

  16. F/L John F. ‘Tiger’ Pain – Aust. (7.3 Victories; 1 with this unit) Sept 1941 to Feb 1943 →NCD Africa, 123Sq, NCD Africa, UK, 41, 42Gps, 20MU, Australia Mar 1944

  17. F/O Donald S. Scott, DFC (6.6 Victories†) Mar 1940 to Jun 1941 →94Sq, Liason Officer Turkey, NCD UK

  18. F/L John E. Scoular, DFC (15½ Victories, 12½ with this unit) Mar 1937 to Apr 1941 →’K’ Flt (1 kill, 22 Feb 1941), 250Sq

  19. S/L John B. Selby, DFC (5 Victories; 4 with this unit) Spring 1942 to Feb 1943 →23Sq

  20. F/O John A. Sowrey (6 Victories; 2 with this unit) May to Jun 1942 (Attached from 213Sq) →213Sq

  21. F/O James E. ‘Jas’ Storrar, DFC (12½ Victories; 2 with this unit) Oct 1940 to Apr 1941 →65Sq

  22. S/L Derek H. Ward, DFC* – NZ (6¼ Victories; 3 with this unit) Sept 1941 to 17 Jun 1942 (KIA)

  23. S/L Peter G. Wykeham-Barnes, DFC* (15½ Victories, 2 with this unit) 20 Apr 1941 to Oct 1941 →23Sq

Hawker Hurricane Mk IIC, Libya, Late-1941 No 73 Squadron was one of three Hurricane squadrons transferred overseas in late-1940. The squadron began operating in the western desert as ground attack unit and its Hurricanes were suitably ‘tropicalised’ by adding a Vokes air filter to the nose. Note the large squadron flash painted with the A1-Type RAF roundel on the fuselage – its colors from the squadron insignia.

No. 74 (Trinidad) Squadron

Squadron Codes: ZP, JH, 4D

Motto: I FEAR NO MAN

The squadron first formed on 1 July 1917 at Northolt as a training unit. By March 1918, it was in France as a fighter unit and after the armistice, was disbanded in 1919.

In the mid-war years, plans were made to reform the squadron from a flight belonging to 23 Squadron. However, 23 Squadron was set to go overseas, its men destined for Malta aboard the HMS Neuralia, a troopship, and so 74 Squadron was effectively reborn aboard the HMS Neuralia. Upon disembarkation at Malta in September, ceremonies celebrated the birth of the new unit, the so-called ‘Demon Flight’ as it became known, the nickname taken from the name of their primary equipment, the Hawker Demon.

Although the nickname also served as a cover for security purposes during the Abyssinian Crisis when the RAF attempted to mask the movement of its squadrons into the Mediterranean theater, the unit soon unveiled its 74 Squadron designation from 14 November. When the Abyssinian Crisis passed, the squadron returned to England, taking up station in Hornchurch with orders to defend London. In April 1937, its two-seater Demons went away in favor of Gloster Gauntlets and from February 1939, Spitfires replaced the Gauntlets.

Completely operational by the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, the squadron zealously took to the air at the slightest hint of enemy air intrusion. On 6 September, just three days into the war, the squadron took off on its second scramble for day (although no enemy aircraft had attacked) and shot down two 56 Squadron Hurricanes. Flying Officer John Freeborn was one of the pilots later indicted in the so-called ‘Battle of Barking Creek,’ when with other pilots of 74 Squadron, he was misdirected towards the Hurricanes over the Thames Estuary. Freeborn had shot down one before the mistake was realized. A court-martial later exonerated him of blame.

In November, a more tangible enemy in the form of a Heinkel He115 flying boat was attacked, but without the confirmation of a kill. Then, with winter, a long lean period beset the squadron. Flying over France from May 20, it ran into so many enemy planes now that a few kills were scored, but many losses incurred in return. In one week of May alone, the squadron lost five pilots in action.

Licking its wounds, the squadron prepared for the Battle of Britain which was taking shape. In heavy action in June and July, the unit had the advantage of operating over home territory, frequently taking on the German escorts, leaving the bombers for the Hurricanes. Moving to 12 Group in August for a short rest, it returned to the fray in September, finishing off the battle with 86 confirmed kills to its credit. In the November that followed, the squadron destroyed 26 planes, followed by 12 in December.

In 1941, it escorted convoys and flew fighter sweeps, seeing little action. In May 1942, it deployed to Palestine, but did not have enough aircraft to begin operations and instead spent the time acting as a maintenance unit for USAAF B-24 Liberators. It would take until August 1943 for the squadron to became combat-ready again. A detachment went to the Dodecanese, where Flight Sergeant Wilson shot down a Ju88 on the September 29, and caused two Me109s to collide on the same mission. Driven out of the Aegean Island of Cos in October, it spent a few more months wandering aimlessly in the Mediterranean when it received orders to move to England.

Returning home in 1944, the squadron equipped with Spitfire Mk IXs and began operations on May 17 over western France. In July, after a short spell combating V-1 Flying bombs, it transferred to the 2nd Tactical Air Force and began sorties in support of the army. From now on, the squadron’s activities fell into two categories: ground-attack and bomber escort. The squadron ended the war on this routine, although it flew little after April 1945. Surviving without disbandment in the post-war RAF, the squadron eventually broke up on 31 August 1971.

​Aircraft

Spitfire Mk I – Feb 1939 to Sept 1940

Spitfire Mk IIa – Sept 1940 to May 1941

Spitfire Mk Vb – May to Jul 1941

Spitfire Mk IIa – Jul to Dec 1941

Hurricane Mk IIB – Dec 1942 to Aug 1943

Spitfire Mks Vb & Vc – Aug 1943 to Apr 1944

Spitfire Mk LF.IXe – Oct 1943 to Apr 1944

Spitfire Mk LF.XVIe – Mar to May 1945

Squadron Commanders

 

S/L CE Sampson – Apr 1938 to Mar 1940

S/L FL White – Mar to Aug 1940

S/L AG Malan, DFC (SA) – 28 Aug 1940 to Mar 1941

S/L JC Mungo-Park, DFC* – Mar to Jun 1941 (KIA)

S/L L Meares – Jan to Aug 1941

S/L PHM Richey – Aug to No 1941

S/L PCN Mathews – Nov 1941 to Jul 1942

S/L J Addison – Jul to Dec 1942

S/L PF Illingworth – Dec 1942 to Mar 1943

S/L JCF Hayter – Mar 1943 to Dec 1944

S/L AJ Reeves, DFC – Dec 1944 to May 1945

W/C HC Kennard, DFC – May to Sept 1945

S/L RT Llewellyn, DFM – Sept 1945 to Jan 1946

Airfields

Hornchurch, UK – 21 Sept 1936

Rochford – 22 Oct 1939

Hornchurch – 29 Oct 1939

Rochford – 3 Nov 1939

Hornchurch – 14 Nov 1939

Rochford – 2 Dec 1939

Hornchurch – 16 Dec 1939

Rochford – 29 Dec 139

Hornchurch – 16 Jan 1940

Rochford – 12 Feb 1940

Hornchurch – 23 Mar 1940

Rochford – 20 Apr 1940

Leconfield – 25 May 1940

Rochford – 6 Jun 1940

Hornchurch – 25 Jun 1940

Northolt – 5 Aug 1940

Wittering – 14 Aug 1940
Kirton-in-Lindsey – 21 Aug 1940
Manston – 22 Aug 1940 

Coltishall – 9 Sept 1940
Biggin Hill – 15 Oct 1940

Manston – 20 Feb 1941

Gravesend – 1 May 1941

Acklington – 9 Jul 1941

Llanbedr – 3 Oct 1941

Long Kesh – 24 Jan 1942

Atcham – 25 Mar 1942

Ramat David, Palestine – 10 Apr 1942

Geneifa – 4 Jun 1942

Helwan, Egypt – 21 Jun 1942

Ramat David, Palestine – 8 Jul 1942

Hadiera, Middle East – 4 September 1942

Doshan Tappeh – 18 Oct 1942

Mehrabad, Iran – 1 Dec 1942 to 19 Mar 1943

Abadan, Middle East – 24 Mar 1943

Shaibah – 29 Mar 1943

Habbaniya, Iraq – 17 May 1943

Aqir, Palestine – 21 May 1943

LG.106, Egypt – 23 May 1943

Idku – 26 Aug 1943

Nicosia, Cyprus – 19 Sept 1943

Peristerona, Aegean – 11 Oct 1943

Idku, Egypt – 23 Oct 1943

Dekheila – 22 Nov 1943

Idku – 12 Dec 1943

Dekheila – 13 Jan 1944

Idku – 4 Mar 1944

North Weald, UK – 24 Apr 1944

Lympne – 15 May 1944

Tangmere – 3 Jul 1944

Rochford – 24 Jul 1944

Tangmere – 8 Aug 1944

B.8 Sommervieu, France – 19 Aug 1944

B.29 Bernay – 4 Sept 1944

Gamaches – 11 Sept 1944

B.57 Lille-Vendeville – 12 Sept 1944

B.55 Courtrai, Belgium – 17 Sept 1944

B.70 Duerne/Antwerp – 25 Nov 1944

B.85 Schijndel, Holland – 6 Feb 1945

B.105 Drope, Germany – 14 Apr 1945

Colerne, UK – 11 May 1945 to 14 Aug 1946

World War II Aces

  1. F/O Henry C. Baker (5 Victories; 1 with this unit) Jan to Jul 1941 →127, 229, 118Sqs, NCD

  2. P/O Bryan V. Draper, DFC (6.6 Victories†) Feb to Dec 1940 →CFS, 45Sq (KIA 28 Feb 1945)

  3. F/O John C. Freeborn, DFC* (12 Victories†) 29 Oct 1938 to 6 Jun 1941 →OTU, 602, 118Sqs, 286Wing

  4. S/L Adolf G. ‘Sailor’ Malan, DSO, DFC* – SA (29½ Victories, 16½ with this unit) Dec 1936 to 10 Mar 1941 →Biggen Hill Wing (13 victories here, 17 May to 24 Jul 1941, * to DSO), 58OTU, US Lecture Tour, CO CGS, CO Biggen Hill, CO 19Wing, 145 FF Wing, AGS, RAF Staff College

  5. S/L John C. Mungo-Park, DFC* (11.83 Victories†) 5 Sept 1939 to 27 Jun 1941 (KIA)

  6. F/O William H. Nelson, DFC – Can. (5 Victories†) Jul to 1 Nov 1940 (KIA)

  7. P/O Wilfred M. ‘Bill’ Skinner, DFM (9½ Victories†) 10 Jun 1939 to Mar 1941 (F/Sgt.) & Jun to 6 Jul 1941 (POW)

  8. P/O Robert L. Spurdle – NZ (10 Victories; 6 with this unit) 21 Aug 1940 to Apr 1941 →91Sq

  9. P/O Peter C.B. St John (5 Victories) Late 1939 to 22 Oct 1940 (KIA)

  10. F/O Harbourne M. ‘Steve’ Stephen, DSO, DFC* (15¾ Victories; 15½ with this unit) May 1940 to Jan 1941 →234Sq

  11. P/O Henryk ‘Henry/Sneezy’ Szczesny – Pol. (9.3 Victories; 4.3 with this unit) Aug to Dec 1940 →317Sq

  12. P/O Alistair F. Wilson (4½ or 5 Victories†) 1942 to 1943 →103MU, 145 & 154Sqs

Supermarine Spitfire Mk I, RAF Biggen Hill, 1940 Adolphus Gysbert Malan flew this aircraft during the Battle of Britain. He earned his nickname ‘Sailor’ by serving as a cadet aboard a training ship before the war. A flight commander during the Battle of Britain, he had developed a strong hatred and contempt for the enemy and preferred damaging enemy bombers as much as possible without actually shooting them down, reasoning that returning crippled aircraft with dead or dying crews would cause great damage to German morale. The squadron’s Tiger badge is displayed on the top left corner. (Painting of Malan: IWM copyright)

No. 75 (New Zealand) Squadron

Squadron Codes: FO, AA, JN

Motto: AKE AKE KIA KAHA (For ever and ever be strong)

The squadron first formed on 1 Oct 1916 at Goldington in Bedfordshire as a Home Defense Unit. Initially equipped with ragtag force of two-seat BE aircraft, it later acquired Sopwith Camels and flew these in the defense of London for the rest of the war. Disbanded in Essex on 13 June 1919, the squadron had to wait for nearly two decades to reform, forming at Driffield on 15 March 1937 in the role that it hunted in the last war, heavy bombers.

 

Created from the ‘B’ Flight of 215 Squadron, the unit initially had no aircraft and trained with antiquated Virginias and Harrows. On 1 March 1939, it became a group pool squadron, in effect a mystic title for what was an Operational Training Unit. By July, its fortunes had changed somewhat when it was moved Stradishall and equipped with Vickers Wellington heavy bombers. At the outbreak of war in September 1939, the unit, instead of joining operational squadrons in the impending strikes against the enemy, joined No 6 (Training) Group and then, found itself absorbed by the 15 Operational Training Unit, disappearing off the books.

 

Reformed yet again, this time on 4 April 1940, the fledgling unit, not yet a squadron was transferred to the Royal New Zealand Air Force Heavy Bomber Flight, operating out of Feltwell in Norfolk, within 3 Group. It now became 75 (New Zealand) Squadron, the first Commonwealth squadron within Bomber Command, and began those early, ineffectual but courageous operations against Nazi Germany that Bomber Command became famous for in the first two years of its wartime career. In a raid on Munster on 7/8 July 1941, squadron Sergeant JR Ward displayed some that bravery, winning the Victoria Cross and ushering in accolades for his squadron.

 

Equipped with Shorts Stirlings in 1942, the squadron participated in the Battle of the Ruhr, witnessing the destruction of Hamburg, followed by the later famous raid against the German experimental station at Peenemunde in 1943. In March 1944, Lancasters replaced the Stirlings (which stunted by their short wingspan were flak magnet by flying at lower altitudes) and made ready to support the Normandy invasion in June. They bombed V-1 launch sites and flew close support in aid of the army in the bloody battles for Caen.

 

At one point, on 30 June, a Lancaster Mk III flown by Squadron Leader NA Williamson (in ND917), landed at a landing ground on the Normandy beachhead after bombing Villers-Bocage (a scene of bitter fighting between German Panzers and the British 7th Armored Division). Williamson sought to help his wounded flight engineer, and in doing so, had landed the first heavy bomber in Normandy – no easy feat on the landing ground’s rough, short runway.

 

The unit later flew against oil targets (at the behest of the Americans), attacking transportation and production targets in the process. It was also heavily committed in Bomber Command’s little-acknowledged mine-laying campaign. In 1945, by the end of the war, the squadron had carried out the fourth highest bombing raids of all Bomber Command heavy squadrons, while suffering the second highest casualty rate. It also dropped the third greatest tonnage of bombs (21,600 tons) during the war, aside from 2,344 mines – a figure most likely representing the second highest tally within Bomber Command. Aside from Ward’s Victoria Cross, men from the squadron won six DSOs, 88 DFCs, two CGM and 17 DFMs.

 

Flying home Allied POWs after the war, the squadron disbanded on 15 October, allowing the Royal New Zealand Air Force to claim that number in 1958.

​Aircraft

Wellington Mk I – Jul 1939 to 1941

Wellington Mk IC – Apr 1940 to Oct 1942

Wellington Mk III – Jan to Oct 1942

Stirling Mk I – Nov 1942 to 1943

Stirling Mk III – Mar 1943 to Apr 1944

Lancaster Mk I & III – Mar 1944 to Oct 1945

Squadron Commanders

 

W/C MW Buckley – Apr to Nov 1940

W/C CE Kay – Nov 1940 to Sept 1941

W/C R Sawrey-Cookson – Sept 1941 to Apr 1942

W/C EG Olson – Apr to Jul 1942

W/C V Mitchell – Jul to Dec 1942

S/L GT Fowler – Dec 1942 to Feb 1943

W/C GA Lane – Feb to May 1943

W/C M Myatt – May to Aug 1943

W/C RD Max – Aug 1943 to May 1944

W/C RJA Leslie – May to Dec 1944

W/C RJ Newton – Dec 1944 to Feb 1945

W/C CH Baigent – Feb to Oct 1945

Airfields

Stradishall, UK – 13 July 1939

Harwell – 4 Sept 1939

Feltwell – 4 Apr 1940

Mildenhall – 15 Aug 1940

Feltwell – 1 Jan 1941                                                   

Mildenhall – 15 Aug 1942

New Market – 1 Nov 1942

Mepal – 28 Jun 1943

Spilsby – 21 Jul to 15 Oct 1945

Operational Performance

 

Raids flown

3 Group Wellingtons – 291 bombing, 24 minelaying, 4 leaflet, 1 photoreconnaissance.
3 Group Stirlings – 103 bombing, 107 minelaying
3 Group Lancasters – 190 bombing, 18 minelaying, 1 leaflet

Totals: 584 bombing, 149 minelaying, 5 leaflet, 1 photo ontinentalce.

 

Sorties and Losses

3 Group Wellingtons – 2,540 sorties, 74 aircraft lost (2.9 percent)
3 Group Stirlings – 1,736 sorties, 72 aircraft lost (4.1 percent)
3 Group Lancasters – 3,741 sorties, 47 aircraft lost (1.3 percent)

Totals: 8,017 sorties, 193 aircraft lost (2.4 percent)

An additional 8 Lancasters were destroyed in crashes.

The Victoria Cross
Sergeant James Ward, New Zealand. Survived, Age 22

During a forty-one aircraft raid against Münster, Germany on the night of 7/8 July 1941, Sergeant Ward who was flying as a second pilot on a brand-new Wellington Mark IC, found himself called into action, after a German nightfighter raked the Wellington’s undefended belly with concentrated cannon fire. 

 

The crew’s intercommunication line, wireless set and hydraulic lines were knocked out and further disaster was only narrowly averted when Sergeant Box, the tail gunner, despite being badly hit in the foot, shot down the attacking Messerschmitt Me110 when it pulled into his sights, certainly saving the bomber from early destruction. 

With the German knocked out, the New Zealanders went about inspecting their battered craft. They soon found that a slashed petrol feed pipe in the starboard engine had set the starboard wing on fire, and as the fire threatened to engulf the wing, Ward’s pilot, Squadron leader R.P. Widdowson, ordered him to try and extinguish the flames.

 

Enlisting the help of two of the crew, Ward ripped away the fuselage fabric on the starboard side so that the fire would not spread and then attempted to use a hand extinguisher on the flames. Meeting little success, he picked up a cockpit cover canvas, and decided to go out onto the wing over the protests of the horrified crew who were convinced that young Ward would die.

Having the presence of mind to anchor a rope around his waist and wear a parachute (he had initially not wanted to, but the crew persuaded him otherwise) Ward crawled out onto the wing root and miraculously made it to the source of the fire. "It was just a matter of getting something to hang on to. It was like being in a terrific gale only worse than any gale I’ve every known," he said later.

He began to stuff the cockpit cover into the burning hole beside the starboard engine, but the intensity of the flames was too much to bear, and the pain-ridden Ward slackened his grip on the cover.  In an instant, the howling wind had seized the canvas cover. It took all of the Ward’s strength to push it back over the flames. Smothering the flames, he had just pushed the cover completely into the hole, when the wind took it again and snatched it away into the night. With little left to do now, he began the slow process of returning to the fuselage.

Astonishingly, the Wellington returned home without further incident, although the fire did erupt once again, briefly. Crash-landing the bomber at base, the crew survived their remarkable ordeal, although the Wellington never flew again. An immediate recommendation for the Victoria Cross was made on Ward’s behalf, with a DFC recommended for Sergeant Box and a DFM for another crewman.

‘Jimmy’ Ward’s Victoria Cross was the first of three Victoria Crosses won by New Zealand air force men during the war. Tragically, he died later on 15 September, when his aircraft was hit by flak and crashed in Germany. He is buried at Hamburg. (Photo: IWM CH3200)

Vickers Wellington Mk IA, RAF Harwell, Late 1939 The Wellington Mk I was the first in a long line of Wellingtons to serve admirably with the RAF during the war. The variant was powered by two 1,050 hp Bristol Pegasus XVIII engines and armed with two double-gun turrets. Defense for beam attacks were non-existent although a ventral ‘dustbin’ turret offered some protection from lower creeping attacks.

No. 76 Squadron

Squadron Codes: NM, EY, MP

Motto: RESOLUTE

The squadron first formed on 15 September 1916 at Ripon in Yorkshire as a Home Defence Unit. Using a landing ground in its home country of Yorkshire, hunting for Zepplins, the squadron ended war the war without any victories and disbanded on 13 June 1919.

The squadron reformed on 12 April 1937 at Finningley from the ‘B’ Flight of 7 Squadro as a heavy bomber unit. Equipped with Handley-Page Hampdens before the start of World War II, the squadron was soon turned into a group pool squadron in 5 (Training) group unit. Later that month, it was transferred to 6 (Training) Group and on 8 April 1940, amalgamated with 7 Squadron to form 16 Operational Training Unit.

 

Effectively disbanded, an attempt was made to reform the unit on 30 April 1940, but this unit too, disbanded not a month later on 20 May. Reformed again, this time on 12 April 1941 at Linton-on-Ouse from the ‘C’ Flight of 35 Squadron, the unit equipped with Halifaxes and prepared to join the Bomber Command air offensive against Germany. Indeed, the second squadron with the Halifax, the squadron began its war on the night of 12/13 June 1941 with a raid against Dusseldorf.

Almost a year later on the night of 10/11 April 1942, the squadron dropped Bomber Command’s and the world’s first 8,000 lb bomb during a raid on Essen – a feat managed by Pilot officer M.W. Renaut and in crew in a Halifax Mk II (R9487 ‘A’ for ‘Apple’). In May, on the night of 30/31, the squadron went on to take part in the ‘Thousand-Bomber’ raid on Cologne. Aside from this, the unit also soon began attacking area targets, railways, gun batteries and the Channel ports in occupied France.

In July, however, a large squadron detachment left for the Middle East, becoming 462 Squadron in that theater. The rest of the unit, still in England, was reinforced, operating continuously in 4 Group for the rest of the war. From August 1942 to April 1943, the famed wartime bomber leader, Wing Commander G L Cheshire led the unit, making such a strong impression that when he left the squadron for Marston Moor as a station commander, the squadron diarist wrote" ‘What the squadron has lost, Marston Moor will gain. It was under the character and personal supervision of Group Captain Cheshire that the squadron became what it is today-one of the best in Bomber Command.’ Perhaps high self-praise, but the unit end the war with a singular record: that of having carried out more raids than any other Halifax squadron of the war. The price for this did not come cheap, costing the lives of 787 men with another 278 shot down and captured. Remarkably 27 of these escaped and returned to England. Following the end of the European war, the squadron transferred to Transport Command on 7 May 1945 and moved to India in November, to support allied forces in reclaiming Southeast Asia. The squadron later disbanded at New Delhi on 1 September 1946.

​Aircraft

Hampden Mk I – Mar 1939 to May 1940

Anson Mk I – May 1939 to Apr 1940

Halifax Mk I – May 1941 to Feb 1942

Halifax Mk II – Oct 1941 to Apr 1943

Halifax Mk V – Feb 1943 to Feb 1944

Halifax Mk III – Jan 1944 to 7 May 1945

Halifax Mk VI – Apr to 7 May 1945

Dakota – 7 May 1945 to 1 Sept 1946

Squadron Commanders

 

W/C DS Allan – Sept 1939 to Apr 1940

W/C SO Bufton – Apr 1940 to May 1941

W/C GT Jarman – May to Sept 1941

W/C JJA Sutton – Sept to Nov 1941

S/L JT Bouwens – Nov to Dec 1941

W/C DO Young – Dec 1941 to Jul 1942

W/C CC Calder – Jul to Aug 1942

W/C GL Cheshire – Aug 1942 to Apr 1943

W/C DC Smith – Apr to Dec 1943

W/C D Iveson – Dec 1943 to Aug 1944

W/C RK Cassels – Aug 1944 to Jan 1945

W/C LGA Whyte – Jan to Jun 1945

W/C RK Cassels, AFC – Jun to Jul 1945

W/C PA Nicholas, DFC – Jul 1945 to Sept 1946

Airfields

Finningley, UK – 12 Apr 1937

Upper Heyford – 23 Sept 1939

West Raynham – 30 Apr 1940

Linton-on-Ouse – 12 Apr 1941

Middleton St. George – 4 Jun 1941

Linton-on-Ouse – 17 Sept 1942

Holme-on-Spalding Moor – 16 Jun 1943

Broadwell – 6 Aug 1945

Portreath – 29 August to 20 Sept 1945

Operational Performance

 

Raids Flown

4 Group Halifaxes – 376 bombing, 17 minelaying, 3 leaflet

 

Sorties and Losses

4 Group Halifaxes – 5,123 sorties, 139 aircraft lost (2.7 percent)

An additional 16 Halifaxes were destroyed in crashes.

Handley-Page Halifax Mk I, RAF Middleton St. George, Late-1941 Driven by four 1,280 hp Merlin X engines, the Mk I was armed with six Browning machineguns (two in the front and four in the back turret).

No. 77 Squadron

Squadron Codes: ZL, TB, KN, 7B (C-Flight)

Motto: ESSE POTIUS QUAM VIDERI (To be, rather than to seem)

The squadron first formed on 1 October 1916 at Edinburgh as a Home Defense unit.

 

Operational with Armstrong Whitworth Whitleys by the start of the Second World War in September 1939, No 77 flew a few ‘Nickel’ raids, dropping leaflets over Germany. Operating detachments from an advanced airfield codenamed ‘Sister’ at Villeneuve, France, the squadron later extended its efforts to Prague, Warsaw, Vienna and the Ruhr valley. On the night of 15/16 March 1940, on what was their first outing to Warsaw, a Whitley flown by Flight Lt Tomlin (NV1387, L for Love), dropped their leaflets over the city and turning back, ran into bad weather over Germany. After several minutes of turbulent flying, they decided that they had crossed the French border and decided to put down on a large flat field. Landing safely, they got out and found locals approaching. Trying to converse with them, they discovered to their horror, the German language greeting them. Immediately taking to the Whitley, they took off just as the first of the German troops arrived, firing rifles. They later landed safely in France.

 

By this time, No 77 also flew recce and air patrols in the weeks leading up to the Blitzkrieg. When the shooting war finally broke out, they began a series of bombing raids, bombing Germany for the first time on the night of 11/12 May. In April 1941, the unit went to Chevinor in North Devonshire for a temporary attachment to Coastal Command’s 19 Group. From here, flying out towards the Bay of Biscay, they hunted submarines, spotting U-705 on 3 September, sinking her with depth charges.

 

Returning to Bomber Command’s 4 Group in October 1942, the squadron converted to Handley-Page Halifaxes. Readying just days before the opening of the Battle of the Ruhr, the unit played a major role in that campaign. It also played a prominent role in the mine-laying campaign of 1944, and in September to October of that year, circumvented desperate British Second Army fuel shortages by delivering half a million gallons of fuel to Brussels.

 

Transferring to Transport Command on 7 May 1945 with the virtual end of the European War, the squadron moved to India, where it disbanded on 1 November 1946 by renumbering as 31 Squadron.

​Aircraft

Whitley Mk III – Nov 1938 to 1941

Whitley Mk V – Sept 1939 to Oct 1942

Halifax Mk II – Oct 1942 to 1944

Halifax Mk V – Apr to May 1944

Halifax Mk III – May 1944 to May 1945

Halifax Mk VI – Apr 1945 to May 1945

Dakota – May 1945 to Nov 1946

Squadron Commanders

 

W/C J Bradbury – Feb to Nov 1939

W/C CH Appleton – Nov 1939 to Jun 1940

W/C J MacDonald – Jun to Aug 1940

W/C GT Jarman – Aug 1940 to May 1941

W/C DP Hanafin – May 1941

W/C JRA Embling – Apr to Dec 1942 (ShD, Evaded)

W/C AE ‘Lofty’ Lowe – Dec 1942 to Oct 1943

W/C JA Roncoroni – 12 Oct 1943 to Sept 1944

W/C DS Clark – Sept 1944 to Dec 1944

W/C JDR Forbes – Dec 1944 to Jul 1945

W/C JKM Cooke, DSO, DFC – Jul 1945 to N/A

Airfields

Driffield, UK – 25 Jul 1938

Villeneuve, France – Oct 1939 to Mar 1940 (Det)

Kinloss, UK – 15 Apr to May 1940 (Det)

Driffield – 4 May 1940

Linton-on-Ouse – 28 Aug 1940

Topcliffe – 5 Oct 1940

Leeming – 5 Sept 1941

Chivenor – 6 May 1942

Elvington – 5 Oct 1942

Full Sutton – 15 May 1944

Broadwell – 31 Aug to 1 Oct 1945

Operational Performance

 

Raids Flown

4 Group Whitleys – 223 bombing, 13 leaflet, 3 reconnaissance
4 Group Halifaxes – 220 bombing, 27 minelaying

Totals: 446 bombing and reconnaissance, 27 minelaying, 13 leaflet = 486 raids

 

Sorties and Losses

4 Group Whitleys – 1687 sorties, 69 aircraft lost (3.3 percent)
4 Group Halifaxes – 3692 sorties, Aircraft lost (2.0 percent)

Totals: 5379 sorties, 131 aircraft lost (2.4 percent)

Handley-Page Halifax Mk II Series Ia (Special), RAF Elvington, 1943 This aircraft has standard red codes with the Type C1 roundel. The Halifax Mk II Series Ia had the previous glasshouse-type arrangement replaced by a smooth ‘Z’ fairing, a purely an interim measure pending the installation of a full plexiglass nose. The Halifax was a very difficult aircraft to control, and particularly violent evasive maneuvers during combat had a tendency to cause fatal spins. The Halifax Mk II Series IA aircraft was later relegated as glider-tugs for the large Hamicar tank-carrying gliders from late 1943.

No. 78 Squadron

Squadron Codes: ED, EY

Motto: NEMO NON PARATUS (Nobody unprepared)

The squadron first formed on 1 November 1916 at Harrietsham in Kent and served in the Home Defense force as an observation unit. Its first commander became a man of repute. Major Pierre van Ryneveld (later Colonel), in 1920, carried out the first successful flight between England and South Africa with Flight Lt. Quintin Brand, the latter an important officer later in his own life as the commander of 10 Group during the Battle of Britain. Both men received knighthoods for the feat. Meantime, No 78, having seen little combat (mainly in the form of brushes against Gotha bombers) disbanded nearly a year after the war on 31 December 1919.

 

Reformed on 1 November 1936 at Boscombe Down from the ‘B; Flight of 10 Squadron, the unit became a bomber squadron. It opened the Second World in the humble role of a group pool squadron with 4 Group, not beginning frontline operations until 19 July 1940, when the formation of other Operational Training Units freed it from its training role. Halifaxes replaced the aging Whitleys in 1942, and the squadron would fly them until the end of the war. It took part in the historic thousand-bomber raid on Cologne on 30/31 May 1942, followed by the raid against Peenemunde on 17/18 August 1943, the bombing of the coastal battery at Mont Fleury on the eve of D-Day on 5 June 1944. On D-Day itself, the mounted several operations support of the assault, including bombing gun emplacements at Le Harvre.

 

In February 1945, the unit had also contributed aircraft for the airborne operation involving the destruction of the Tragino aqueduct in Italy. On 7 May 1945, the unit transferred to Transport Command, to help in the logistics of repatriating allied POWs to England and to carry supplies to refugees in continental Europe. Throughout the war, the squadron had flown the most sorties in 4 Group (4 sorties more than 10 Squadron), but along with 102 Squadron had suffered the most losses in the Group. Nevertheless, the squadron is believed to have dropped the greatest tonnage of bombs (16,900) in 4 Group, more than a third of that total between D-Day and VE-Day. They also laid 1,064 mines and destroyed 31 enemy aircraft (11 more were probably destroyed) and 35 damaged. The squadron’s own losses include a monumental 182 aircraft. Surviving for a period after the war, the squadron disbanded on 30 September 1954.

​Aircraft

Whitley Mk IV – Jun 1939 to 1941

Whitley Mk V – Aug 1939 to Mar 1942

Halifax Mk II – Mar 1942 to 1944

Halifax Mk III – Jan 1944 to May 1945

Dakota – May 1945 to 1950

Squadron Commanders

 

W/C R Harrison – Mar 1937 to Jan 1940

W/C M Wiblin – Jan 1940 to feb 1941

W/C GT Toland – Feb to Mar 1941

W/C BV Robinson – Mar to Jul 1941

W/C T Sawyer – Jul 1941 to Jan 1942

W/C EJ Corball – Jan to May 1942

W/C AS Lucas – May to Jul 1942

W/C JB Tait – Jul to Nov 1942

W/C GB Warner – Nov 1942 to Aug 1943

W/C GK Lawrence – Aug 1943 to Apr 1944

W/C A Markland – Apr to Sept 1944

S/L FA Hurley – Sept to Nov 1944

W/C JL Young – Nov 1944 to Sept 1945

Airfields

Dishforth, UK – 15 Jul 1939

Ternhill – 3 Sept 1939

Dishforth – 15 Sept 1939

Linton-on-Ouse – 15 Oct 1939

Dishforth – 1 Jan 1941

Middleton St. George – 7 Apr 1941

Croft – 20 Oct 1941

Middleton St. George – 10 Jun 1942

Linton-on-Ouse – 16 Sept 1942

Breighton – 16 Jun 1943 to 20 Sept 1945

Operational Performance

 

Raids Flown

4 Group Whitleys – 163 bombing
4 Group Halifaxes – 323 bombing, 32 minelaying, 7 leaflet
Totals: 487 bombing, 32 minelaying, 7 leaflet

 

Sorties and Losses

4 Group Whitleys – 1,117 sorties, 34 aircraft lost (3.0 percent)
4 Group Halifaxes – 5,120 sorties, 158 aircraft lost (3.1 percent)

Totals: 6,237 sorties, 192 aircraft lost (3.1 percent)

No. 79 (Madras Presidency) Squadron

Squadron Codes: AL, NV

Motto: NIL NOBIS OBSTARE POTEST (Nothing can stand without us)

No 79 Squadron was first formed at Gosport on 8 August 1917 from 79 Training Squadron. It disbanded, following the end of World War I, on 15 July 1919.

Reformed years later from the ‘B’ Flight of 32 Squadron at Biggen Hill on 22 March 1937, the unit equipped with Gloster Gauntlets. Haweker Hurricanes supplanted the Gauntlets in November 1938. Operational by the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, the unit scored 11 Group’s first kill of the war, destroying a reconnaissance Dornier Do17 near Manston on 21 November. That following winter, however, it saw no air action at all, but with some enthusiasm, packed its kit for deployment to France in spring.

 

Unfortunately, it arrival there on 10 May 1940 came on the very day that the German Blitzkrieg opened up. Soon, the unit was under orders to support four British Hurricane and two Gladiator squadrons already deployed there. In action for a tumultuous ten days, beyond anything the pilots could have done to prepare for during training, the squadron destroyed 25 enemy aircraft, and remained reasonably in one piece until it was returned to England.

 

Staying with 11 Group in southeast England for the next Battle of Britain, the squadron was withdrawn in July to Scotland to 13 Group. In the backwaters of the battle, it saw slight combat. Encounters improved when it returned to Biggen Hill in August, and was thrown into the thick of the fighting. In all, the squadron shot down 27 enemy planes that summer, during that battle, to add to its tally in France.

Moving to South Wales even before the battle had ended on 8 September, the squadron flew coastal patrols, but on 20 November, reached an important milestone in its history when one of its pilots, Flight Lt David Haysom shot down a Ju88 taking after-action photos of Coventry after it had been blasted by German bombers the night before. The next year, 1941, saw little tangible achieved in terms of material destruction of the enemy.  In any case, the year could have been largely put towards operational rest, for in the wake of Japan’s entry into the war, the squadron received orders to move to India to operate in the tenuous theater of operations which would become the Far East.

Arriving at Bombay (now Mumbai, India) on 20 June 1942, the unit began to assemble its aircraft and gather its stead for operations on the horizon. With the British routed from Burma, Malaya and Singapore, and with the Japanese halted before the tangled, jeweled forests of eastern India, the unit took its time preparing for its return to combat. A detachment went to the seedy, humid town of Chittagong near the the Burmese border, and as soon as it arrived on the 14th, Japanese bombers raided its airfield the following day. A few aircraft from the detachment managed to get airborne and took on the bombers, shooting down three and damaging two others.

In 1943, No 79 began operating ‘Rhubarbs’ and armed-reconnaissance flights over Burma, occasionally escorting British Blenheims on raids deep into the country. Withdrawing in July to train for army support duties, the unit returned to the front in 1944. Having been equipped with tough American-made Republic P-47 Thunderbolts in May 1944, the squadron became a formidable ground attack unit when it returned to action on 1 November. Blasting ground targets, the squadron escorted allied bombers when it could, keeping the sorties going until the Japanese capitulated in 1945. After the war ended, the squadron stayed in Burma, disbanding here on 30 December 1945.

​Aircraft

Hurricane Mk I – Nov 1938 to 1941

Hurricane Mk IIB – Jun to Dec 1941

Hurricane Mk IIB – Jun 1942 to Sept 1944

Thunderbolt Mk II – Sept 1944 to Dec 1945

Squadron Commanders

 

S/L CC McMullen – Jan 1939 to Feb 1940

S/L RV Alexander – Feb to May 1940

S/L JDC Joslin – May to Jul 1940

S/L JH Hayworth – Jun 1940 to Jun 1941

S/L GD Haysom – Jun to Sept 1941

S/L GL Sinclair – Sept to Nov 1941

S/L CD Smith – Nov to Dec 1941

S/L AV Clowes – Dec 1941 to Apr 1942

S/L CA Jones – Feb 1942 to Feb 1944

S/L DO Cunliffe – Feb to Jul 1944

F/L KG Hemingway – Jul to Dec 1944

S/L RD May – Dec 1944 to Aug 1945

S/L RA Stout – Aug to Oct 1945

Airfields

Biggen Hill, UK – 22 Mar 1937

Manston – 23 Nov 1939

Biggen Hill – 8 Mar 1940

Mon-en-Chaussee, France – 10 May 1940

Norrent Fontes – 12 May 1940

Merville – 15 May 1940

Biggen Hill, UK – 20 May 1940

Digby – 27 May 1940

Biggin Hill – 5 Jun 1940
Hawkinge – 2 Jul 1940
Sealand – 11 Jul 1940
Acklington – 13 Jul 1940
Biggin Hill – 27 Aug 1940
Pembrey – 8 Sept 1940

Warmwell – 5 Dec 1941

Fairwood Common – 14 Jun 1941

Bagington – 24 Dec 1941

Left for India – 4 Mar 1942

Bombay, India – 20 Jun 1942

Kanchrapura – 27 Jun 1942

Dohazari – 8 Jan 1943

Ramu – 21 Jan 1943

Comilla – 25 May 1943

Ranchi – 20 Jul 1943

Alipore – 1 Oct 1943

Chittagong – 7 Dec 1943

Dohazari – 28 Jan 1944

Yelahanka – 26 May 1944

Arkonam – 17 Sept 1944

Manipur Road – 19 october 1944

Wangjing, Imphal Plains – 19 Nov 1944

Myingyang North, Burma – 19 Apr 1945

Meiktila – 7 Jun to 30 Dec 1945

World War II Aces

  1. F/L Roderick R.H. ‘Russ’ Bowes, DFC –Aust. (5.3 Victories†) Late 1941 to 21 May 1943 (KIA)

  2. Sgt. Henry Cartwright, DFM (5 Victories†) 1939 to 4 Jul 1940 (KIA)

  3. F/L Rupert F.H. Clerke (5 Victories; 2 with this unit) 1940 to Jul 1941 →157Sq

  4. F/L James W.E. Davies, DFC (7 Victories†) 1939 to 27 Jun 1940 (MIA)

  5. F/O James ‘Jim’ Gillies, MC (5 Victories) Early 1943 to 12 Apr 1944 (KIA)

  6. S/L Geoffrey D.L. ‘David’ Haysom, DSO, DFC – SA (5 Victories†) Nov 1938 to Sept 1941 →OTU, 260Sq, 239Wing (DSO), DAF Italy

  7. P/O William H. ‘Bill’ Millington – Aust. (9¾ Victories; 8 with this unit) May to 31 Aug 1940 (WIA, stayed in burning plane to prevent it from crashing into a village) →249Sq

  8. F/O Donald W.A. ‘Dimsie’ Stones, DFC (9.16 Victories; 7.3 with this unit) Mar to Dec 1940 (P/O) & May to Jul 1941 →249Sq

  9. P/O Owen V. Tracey – NZ (6 Victories; 3 with this unit) Jul 1940 to Jan 1941 →274Sq

Republic Thunderbolt Mk II (P-47D-28-RE), Wangjing, Imphal, 1944 The ‘Jug’ or the ‘Juggernaut’ as the Thunderbolt was known to its American pilots, was a formidable aircraft. It was the heaviest single-engined fighter of the Second World War and was capable taking monstrous damage. The RAF took delivery of a total of 585 P-47D Thunderbolts – the most widely produced variant of the series, and employed almost all of them at one time or another with fifteen squadrons in the Far East. The squadron insignia (present in small on engine cowling) consist of a rampant Salamander surrounded by fire. The Salamander was off course, fabled to live in and extinguish fire, and thus its representation in the squadron’s badge. The animal was also chosen for its readiness to face danger – a trait thought befitting a fighter squadron. 

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