Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation
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On 9 May 1918, it was proposed to form the squadron for deployment to France with DH9As in September and then October but these plans were cancelled on 4 July. Its formation was immediately rescheduled to form on 12 September for deployment on 12 November, but this plan was suspended on 29 July. It was eventually formed on 12 October 1918, from elements of Nos 27, 35, 52 and 53 Training Depot Squadrons at Wyton. It received some DH9As but having failed to achieve operational status was disbanded on 9 December.
The reformed on 14 February 1942 as a Wellington unit in No 3 Group from a nucleus provided by No 40 Squadron at Alconbury. In August 1942, it was selected as No 3 Group's contribution to the newly formed Pathfinder Force and moved to Warboys. It continued to operate Wellingtons in its new role until January 1943, when it converted to Lancasters. The squadron maintained it's role as a target marking squadron until the end of the war, moving to Upwood in March 1944 and Wyton in June 1945, where it disbanded on 25 September 1945.
Motto: We light the way
Squadron Codes used: -
On 9 May 1918, it was proposed to form the squadron for deployment to France with Snipes in August but by the end of May these plans had been cancelled. It was then proposed to make it the first Salamander equipped unit, again for deployment in August, but on 4 July these plans were also cancelled. Its formation was immediately rescheduled to form on 14 July, again with Salamanders, for deployment on 14 September, but equipment shortages led to its deployment being put back to 14 October and then 14 November. It was fully equipped by 11 November with a revised deployed date of 21 November, but the Armistice, resulted in the cancellation of this and the squadron disbanded on 1 February 1919.
The squadron reformed at Debden on 13 December 1941, before moving to Castle Camps four days later. It was January 1942 before it received its equipment of Mosquito night fighters, becoming the first RAF night fighter equipped with this excellent aircraft. Following a lengthy work up, the squadron became operational on 27 April. Operating in the East Anglian area, it received some Mosquito VIs in July 1943, which it used to begin intruder operations as well as its usual night interception duties.
In November 1943, it moved to Predannack, from where it continued with both of these roles but in March 1944 it reverted to the purely defensive role when it moved to Valley. However, a further change of role and parent unit came in May 1944, when it joined No 100 (Bomber Support) Group at Swannington. It was now supporting Bomber Command operations by carrying out intruder missions against German night fighter bases and flying within the bomber stream to attack enemy night fighters attempting to intercept the bombers. The squadron disbanded on 16 August 1945.
Motto: Our cannon speak our thoughts
Squadron Codes used: -
On 9 May 1918, it was proposed to form the squadron for deployment to France with Snipes in early September. Its equipment was then changed to Salamanders with a revised deployment of late September, but these plans were cancelled on 4 July. Its formation was immediately rescheduled to form on 14 August for deployment in October, but this plan was suspended on 29 July. It eventually formed as a Salamander squadron at Upper Heyford on 4 September 1918, from elements of the Nos 42, 50 and 53 Training Depot Squadrons and the Central Flying School. It is unlikely to have received any operational aircraft by the Armistice and it disbanded on 20 November 1918.
The squadron reformed on 14 February 1942 at Driffield from a nucleus provided by No 104 Squadron, equipped with Wellingtons until June when Halifaxes arrived. At the same time the squadron moved to a new home at East Moor and then in November to Rufforth. In February 1943, the squadron moved to what would be its main wartime home of Lissett, from it operated as part of Bomber Command's Main Force for the remainder of the war. Halifax III aircraft arrived in January 1944 and at the same time 'C' Flight was used to provide the basis of No 640 Squadron, which immediately moved to Leconfield. After the war, the squadron together with the rest of No 4 Group, was transferred to Transport Command and began receiving Stirlings in June. These were taken to Stradishall in August, from where it conducted trooping flights to the Middle East and India until disbanding on 31 December 1945.
One of No 158's Halifax IIIs, LV907 named 'Friday the 13th' ended the war having completed 128 operational missions and after the war was displayed in London, but unfortunately only the nose panel with its distinctive nose art and mission marking was saved and is now housed in the RAF Museum at Hendon. However, the aircraft has been recreated by the Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington from various Halifax and Hastings components and newly built items.
Motto: Strength in unity
Squadron Codes used: -
On 9 May 1918, it was proposed to form the squadron for deployment to France as a fighter unit in September, equipped with either Dolphins or SE5As but by the end of the month these plans were cancelled and the squadron never formed during World War One.
The history of this unit in World War Two is somewhat confused but it began to form on 2 January 1942 at Molesworth as a Liberator equipped bomber unit destined for the Middle East. The ground personnel left by sea in February 1942 and arrived in Egypt in April, in the meantime the air element was still in the UK training. In May most of the ground staff were sent to India and it was June before the air element began its journey and on arrival it absorbed the aircrew of No 160 Squadron. In July this joint unit moved to Palestine, its aircraft now being serviced by personnel of Nos 458 and then 454 RAAF squadrons. Finally in September the No 159 element continued on to India and the element left in the Middle East adopted the identity of No 160 Squadron.
Arriving at Salbani in late September the squadron was finally ready to begin operations against the Japanese in November. Long range bombing operations then became the order of the day until the end of the war, with targets being located in Burma, Malaya, Siam and even the Dutch East Indies. With the war over, the squadron transferred to transport duties until disbanding on 1 June 1946.
Motto: Quo non, quando non (Whither not, when not?)
Squadron Codes used: -
On 9 May 1918, it was proposed to form the squadron for deployment to France with DH9As in early October, soon amended to late October but these plans were cancelled on 4 July. Its formation was immediately rescheduled to form on 20 September for deployment on 20 November, but this plan was suspended on 29 July and then on 17 August, cancelled. The squadron never formed during World War One.
Like No 159, the history of this unit in World War Two is somewhat confused but it began to form on 16 January 1942 at Thurleigh as a Liberator equipped general reconnaissance unit destined for the Far East. The ground personnel left by sea in February 1942 and arrived in India in June, in the meantime the air element was still in the UK training at Polebrook. It was June before the air element began its journey and on arrival in the Middle East, whilst en-route, it was absorbed by No 159 Squadron. In July this joint unit moved to Palestine, its aircraft now being serviced by personnel of Nos 458 and then 454 RAAF squadrons. Finally in September the No 159 element continued on to India and the element left in the Middle East adopted the identity of No 160 Squadron. From November aircraft began moving to India, those left in the Middle East continuing its operations until 15 January 1943 when it was amalgamated with No 147 Squadron to form No 178 Squadron.
As more aircraft and crews joined the original No 160 ground personnel in India it began to reform as a general reconnaissance unit beginning operations over the Bay of Bengal on 6 February 1943. The squadron was also soon carrying out long-range photo-reconnaissance missions over Sumatra and other Japanese held territory as well as minelaying and from June 1945 it began supply dropping operations. After the war, it transferred to transport operations, operating from India to Ceylon and Malaya, these ending in June 1946. The squadron returned to Leuchars, where it had its establishment reduced to six aircraft. Continuing in the general reconnaissance role its Liberators were replaced by Lancasters in August but on 30 September 1946 it was disbanded by being renumbered No 120 Squadron.
Motto: Api soya paragasamu (We seek and strike)
Squadron Codes used: -
All Squadron badges on this page are courtesy of Steve Clements
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Sqns 161 - 165
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