No. 61 Squadron RAF: Wikis

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No. 61 Squadron
See [1]
No. 61 Squadron coat of Arms
Active 1917–1919
1937–1958
Country United Kingdom
Branch Royal Air Force
Motto Per purum tonantes ("Thundering through the clear air")
Mascot The Lincoln Imp, which associates the squadron with the district in which it was re-formed in 1937.
Aircraft flown
Bomber Handley Page Hampden (February 1939-October 1941)

Avro Manchester (June 1941-June 1942)
Avro Lancaster (April 1942 onwards)

Fighter Sopwith Pup
Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5
Sopwith Camel

No. 61 Squadron is a squadron of the Royal Air Force. It was first formed as a squadron of the British Royal Flying Corps during the First World War. It was reformed in 1937 as a bomber squadron of the Royal Air Force and served in the Second World War.

Contents

First World War

No. 61 Squadron was formed at Rochford, Essex, on 2 August 1917, as one of the first three single-seater fighter squadrons of the London Air Defence Area intended to counter the daylight air raids. It was equipped with the Sopwith Pup.

The squadron first went into action on 12 August, when a formation of 10 Gotha bombers came in over the mouth of the Thames. Sixteen Pups of No. 61 Squadron took off to intercept them and succeeded in turning the enemy back, but not before two bombs had been dropped near No. 61's hangars on Rochford Aerodrome. In 1918 the squadron was re-equipped with SE5s, but before the Armistice was signed it began to change over to Sopwith Camels. The squadron was disbanded in 1919.

Second World War

No. 61 Squadron was re-formed in 1937 as a bomber squadron, and in World War II flew with No. 5 Group, RAF Bomber Command. The squadron's first operational mission was on 25 December 1939, comprising an armed reconnaissance over the North Sea by 11 Hampden bombers. This was followed on 7/8 March 1940 by the first bombing mission, when one Hampden, during a security patrol of Sylt-Borkum-Norderney, bombed an enemy destroyer which opened fire on it.

The unit took part in many notable operations including:

  • the first bombing raid on a German land target (Hornum, 19/20 March 1940);
  • the first big bombing raid on the German mainland (Monchengladbach, 11/12 May 1940);
  • the first bombing raid on Berlin (25/26 August 1940);
  • the attacks on Le Creusot and Peenemünde (17 October 1942 and 17/18 August 1943, respectively);
  • the successive drainings of the Dortmund-Ems and Mitteland Canals (late 1944);
  • the attack on Wesel just before the crossing of the Rhine (23/24 March 1945).

Beginning operations with Hampdens, the squadron was given Manchesters towards the end of 1941 and later (spring 1942), Lancasters. Four of its Lancasters; ED860 "N-Nan", EE176, JB138, and LL483, each became veterans of more than 100 operational sorties. Records show that in the case of the first three aircraft, the long road to their centuries included participation in the raid on 3/4 November 1943, when Flight Lieutenant William Reid of No. 61 Squadron won the Victoria Cross.

In the summer of 1942 No. 61 was twice loaned to Coastal Command for anti-submarine operations in the Bay of Biscay. It was detached from its base in Rutland to St Eval in Cornwall, and on the very first occasion that it operated from there, 17 July, a crew captained by Flight Lieutenant PR Casement (Lancaster I R5724) became the first Bomber Command crew to bring back irrefutable evidence that they had destroyed a U-boat at sea, in the form of a photograph showing the U-boat crew in the water swimming away from their sinking vessel.

The squadron's last operational mission in WWII was on 25/26 April 1945, when 10 Lancasters bombed an oil refinery and tankerage at Vallø (Tønsberg), and 4 other Lancasters aborted. The last mission before VE Day was on 6 May 1945, when the squadron's Lancasters ferried 336 ex-POWs home to the UK from Europe.

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Bomber Command WWII Bases

Code Letters

During the 1938 Munich crisis, No. 61 was allotted the code letters "LS". In WW2 the squadron's aircraft were coded "QR".

Post-war

No. 61 Squadron re-equipped with Avro Lincolns in 1946. These saw action in Malaya as part of Operation Firedog and in Kenya during the Mau Mau Uprising. The squadron became an English Electric Canberra squadron at RAF Wittering in 1954. These took part in the Suez crisis of 1956. No. 61 disbanded in 1958.

See also

References

  1. ^ [1]

External links


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