No. 49 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

No. 49 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

No. 49 Squadron (RAF) during the Second World War

Aircraft - Location - Group and Duty - Books

No.49 Squadron had been created from C Flight of No.18 Squadron in 1936. By the start of the Second World War it was equipped with the Handley Page Hampden, which it kept until 1942. Like most Bomber Command units No.49 Squadron spent the first few months of the war on a mix of reconnaissance, mine laying and leaflet dropping duties, while the Allied governments held their bombers back.

That caution ended on 11 May 1940, when the squadron began operations over Germany. It remained part of the main bomber force until the end of the war, first with the Hampden, then with the Avro Manchester, and after that aircraft was withdrawn with the Avro Lancaster.

Aircraft
September 1938-April 1942: Handley Page Hampden
April-July 1942: Avro Manchester I
July 1942-March 1950: Avro Lancaster I and Lancaster III

Location
14 March 1938-2 January 1943: Scampton
2 January 1943-16 October 1944: Fiskerton
16 October 1944-22 April 1945: Fulbeck
22 April-28 September 1945: Syerston

Squadron Codes:

Group and Duty
26 September 1939: Bomber squadron with No. 5 Group

Books


No. 4 Squadron RAF

No. 4 Squadron formed at Farnborough in 1912 as part of the Royal Flying Corps. Operating a miscellaneous mixture of aircraft including early Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2s and Breguet biplanes, it quickly moved to Netheravon where it remained until the outbreak of the First World War. The more useful aircraft in its inventory were sent to France under the command of Major G H Rayleigh on 16 August 1914, to carry out reconnaissance in support of the British Expeditionary Force. On 19 August Lieutenant G. W. Mapplebeck flew the squadron's first mission over France, a reconnaissance flight searching for German cavalry in the vicinity of Gembloux, Belgium. Other aircraft remained in England to carry out anti-Zeppelin patrols. ΐ] Α] Β]

It was reinforced on 20 September by the personnel who had remained behind in England, forming C Flight, equipped with Maurice Farman "Shorthorns". It concentrated on the reconnaissance role, standardising on the Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 in 1916. In the Battle of the Somme, 4 Squadron flew contact patrols keeping track of the position of advancing troops at low level, in addition to more regular reconnaissance and artillery spotting missions. It re-equipped with the Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8 in June 1917, in time to take part in the Battle of Messines and the Battle of Passchendaele. It remained equipped with the R.E.8 until the Armistice with Germany on 11 December 1918 ended the fighting. Γ] It returned to the United Kingdom in February 1919, disbanding in September that year. ΐ]

Between the wars [ edit | edit source ]

No 4 Squadron reformed on 30 April 1920 at Farnborough, equipped with Bristol F.2 Fighters. Part of the squadron moved to Aldergrove near Belfast in November 1920 as a result of the Irish War of Independence, moving to Baldonnel Aerodrome near Dublin in May 1921, before rejoining the rest of the squadron at Farnborough in January 1922. ΐ] Β] Δ] Not for the last time, 4 Squadron deployed on Royal Navy aircraft carriers when they sailed to Turkey on HMS Ark Royal and Argus during the Chanak crisis in August 1922, returning to Farnborough in September 1923. When the 1926 General Strike broke out, No. 4 Squadron's aircraft were used to patrol railway lines to deter feared sabotage. Β] Ε]

It replaced its elderly Bristol Fighters with new Armstrong Whitworth Atlas aircraft, which were purpose designed for the squadron's Army co-operation role, in October 1929, while these in turn were replaced by Hawker Audaxes in December 1931. Β] Ζ] Η] In February 1937 it moved from Farnborough to RAF Odiham, soon re-equipping with the Hawker Hector, a more powerful derivative of the Audax. In January 1939, it discarded its Hector biplanes in favour of the new monoplane Westland Lysander. ⎖]

Second World War [ edit | edit source ]

Hawker Typhoon FR IB, number EK427 this aircraft was flown by 4 Squadron (March 1945)

Shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, the squadron moved to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force. Following Germany's invasion of France and the Low Countries on 10 May 1940, 4 Squadron was frequently forced to change bases by the approach of the advancing German armies, being withdrawn to the UK on 24 May. Δ] Losses had been heavy, with 18 aircrew killed, while 60% of the groundcrew were lost. Β] It continued in the coastal patrol and air-sea rescue role while training for its main army co-operation role after returning to the UK. Ζ]

In 1942 the Squadron changed its mission from the traditional Army Co-operation role, where it would operate fairly low-performance aircraft from airstrips close to the front-line, to that of fighter-reconnaissance, receiving the more modern Curtiss Tomahawk and North American Mustang, soon settling on the Mustang, flying low-level attack and reconnaissance flights against targets on the continent. In August 1943, it joined 2 Tactical Air Force in support of the planned invasion of Europe, changing to the pure reconnaissance mission in January, and replacing its Mustangs with Mosquito PR.XVI and Spitfire PR.XIs. It discarded its Mosquitoes in June, moving to France in August, and briefly supplementing its Spitfires with a few Hawker Typhoons for low-level reconnaissance. It retained its Spitfires at VE Day, moving to Celle in Germany to carry out survey operations in support of the British Army of Occupation until it was disbanded on 31 August 1945. ΐ] Β] ⎗]

Post War operations [ edit | edit source ]

A Harrier GR9 of No. 4 Squadron

A Hawk T2 with special markings for the 100th anniversary of the squadron

The squadron reformed the next day by renumbering 605 Squadron, a light bomber squadron equipped with Mosquitoes based at Volkel in the Netherlands. It re-equipped with de Havilland Vampire fighter-bombers in July 1950, replacing them with North American Sabres in October 1953. The Sabres were discarded in favour of the Hawker Hunter in July 1955, retaining these until it disbanded at RAF Jever on 31 December 1960. Β] ⎖]

Again, the squadron was not allowed to remain dormant for long, as it reformed on 1 January 1961 by renumbering No. 79 Squadron RAF, flying Hunter FR.10s in the low-level reconnaissance role. It re-equipped with the Hawker-Siddeley Harrier in 1970, first flying them from RAF Wildenrath in West Germany. It moved on to RAF Gütersloh in 1977. Β] ⎖]

The squadron operated the Harrier until the final withdrawal of the type, receiving numerous upgrades and new versions over the years. In April 1999, the squadron left Germany to move to RAF Cottesmore. Β]

On 31 March 2010, No. 4 Squadron disbanded and reformed as No. 4 (Reserve) Squadron at RAF Wittering, taking over from No. 20 (R) Squadron as the Harrier Operational Conversion Unit. ⎘] As a result of the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, the squadron disbanded in January 2011, ⎙] only to reform on 24 November 2011, when No. 19 (R) Squadron, operating the BAE Hawk T2 from RAF Valley in the tactical weapons training role, was renumbered. Ώ]


49 Squadron Association

The original book (right hand picture) is now out of print and the second edition has over 100 additional pages of new data with more than 100 new photographs. It is a genuine &lsquohard back&rsquo with dust jacket and retails at only £35.

Unfortunately, there are no copies of either edition still available.
The untimely death of the author, John Ward, means that the publication of the planned third edition will now be delayed.
Future publication details will be announced to members and via the Association's Facebook page.


Recommended reading by other publishers

Almost a lifetime

Shamrock Publications
PO Box 615
Saltspring Island
British Columbia
V8K 2W2 Canada

Copies can be sent to Europe for $35 (Canadian)
For further details contact the Publishers.

Nachtjagd War Diaries


Nachtjagd War Diaries by Dr Theo E W Boiten

Volume one (black cover) ISBN 978-0-9554735-6-2
Volume two (white cover) ISBN 978-1-906592-00-4

Both books are published by Red Kite at £40 each

Books by Oliver Clutton-Brock

Books by Oliver Clutton-Brock

'Footprints on the sands of time'
ISBN-10: 1904010350
ISBN-13: 978-1904010357

'RAF Evaders' is published
ISBN-10: 190650217X
ISBN-13: 978-1906502171

Both books are published by Grub Street

Bomber Command Losses

This is the first book in a series of nine volumes which is a unique reference source for those interested in the operations of Bomber Command and for those researching members of their family who served with Bomber Command during the conflict.

This book and the other volumes identifies the units, the aircraft, the crews and the circumstances behind each loss (operational or training) on a day-by-day basis in the European Theatre of Operations.

Appendices detail loss totals by squadron and aircraft type for each year group loss totals squadron bases by group and bomber OTU losses by unit and type. The meticulous and wide ranging research undertaken for this work will appeal to the historians and enthusiasts, as well as to the relatives and friends of the large number of airmen involved.

(You need to search for "Bomber Command" as "Chorley" produces no results!)

"Three of a kind" by Kerry White


The main 49Sqn interest is the section concerning F/L Les Hammond RAAF.


49 Squadron Association


Image courtesy of Chris Allan

7/8 July, 1944 ST LUE-D'ESSERENT (CRIEL):

5 Group paid a second visit to the V1 storage dump at St Leu on the 7th. A slightly smaller force of 208 Lancasters led by Pathfinder Mosquitoes, accurately bombed the tunnels in which the flying bombs were stored. But the cost in men and aircraft was to be high 29 Lancasters and 2 Mosquitoes were lost as German night-fighters again took their toll.
The second crew reported missing was that piloted by F/O Cyril Baker (LL976) again there were no survivors. This crew lie at rest together in Marissel Cemetery, Oise, France.

Crew on their 4th operation.


Information and images received from Chris Allan:
Ronald Nineham (1875420). Born in 1925 was a sergeant in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. He was a tail gunner in Lancaster LL976 of 49 Squadron. According to William Tack from Barley who was his pal "He appeared to enjoy it. Ronnie volunteered to go on a mission in place of a friend who had been taken ill. Never have the words, "Greater love hath no man than this. That a man lay down his life for his friend", been more true than on that day". On the 7/8th July, 1944, 5 Group was on a mission to attack the V1 rocket base at St Leu with a force of 208 Lancasters led by Pathfinder Mosquitoes. They accurately bombed the tunnels in which the flying bombs were stored but at a terrible cost with 29 Lancasters and 2 Mosquitoes lost as German night-fighters took their toll. Ronnie Nineham's Lancaster, on just its 4th operational mission, was shot down by an ME 110 night-fighter at Beauvoir-en-Lyons, with all seven crew lost. He was aged just 19 years old and is buried at Marissel National Cemetery, Oise, France. There is also a memorial to the crew of LL976 at Stele & Beauvoir en Lyons and in August 2006 a touching ceremony was held at the local church to remember their sacrifice.

He is still remembered in the village with affection.

The above images of the Barley village war memorial and the closeup showing Ronald Nineham's name are courtesy of Roger Bedford.


Aircraft of 101 Sqn

  • F.E.2b, 1917-19.
  • DH9A, 1928-29
  • Sidestrand, 1928-36.
  • Overstrand, 1935-38.
  • Blenheim, 1938-41.
  • Battle, 1939-40
  • Wellington, 1941-42.
  • Stirling, 1942
  • Lancaster, 1942-46.
  • Lincoln, 1946-51.
  • Canberra,B2/B6 1951-57.
  • Vulcan B1/B1A, 1957-68.
  • Vulcan B2, 1968-82.
  • VC10 K2/K3, 1984-2013.
  • VC10 K4/C1K 1994-2013.

Distinguished Service Order : Flying Officer A S Grant RAAF, 49 Squadron RAF

Distinguished Service Order (Geo VI). Unnamed as issued.

This Distinguished Service Order was awarded to Flying Officer Arthur Stanley Grant for his actions during a bombing mission over Le Creusot, France in 1942. Born in Inverell on 21 June 1913, Grant was working for the Goldsborough Mort Company at the outbreak of war. He applied for admission to the RAAF and was accepted for the Empire Air Training Scheme in October 1940 as a navigator.

After training in Canada he arrived in England in October 1941 as pilot officer, qualified in Air Observer Astro Navigation. On completion of operational training he was promoted to flying officer on 18 February 1942. A week later Grant arrived at 455 Squadron equipped with Handley Page Hampden bombers, based in Nottingham.

The first operational flight for Grant was a mine laying mission off the French port of L'Orient on 9 March. Over the next seven weeks he flew mine laying and bombing missions over France, Germany and the Dutch coast. In late April he transferred to 420 Squadron Royal Canadian Air Force also flying Hampdens, and took part in two '1000 bomber raids' over Cologne and Essen. In July he transferred to 49 Squadron RAF.

On October 17, 49 Squadron was involved in a low level daylight attack on the Schneider armament works at Le Creusot. The raid was an outstanding success, not least because of Grant's exceptional navigation. Following the raid, the operations board showed the scheduled and actual times of arrival to target and return to base to be identical. For their execution of the mission both Wing Commander Leonard Cain Slee and Grant were awarded the Distinguished Service Order. The citation for the award reads in part:

'On 17th October, 1942, Wing Commander Slee and Flying Officer Grant were captain and navigator respectively of the leading aircraft of a large force of Lancaster bombers which attacked the Armament and Locomotive Works at Le Creusot. Much depended on their efforts but each in his respective role displayed superb skill and determination and a large measure of the outstanding success achieved can be attributed to their sterling work.'

Five days later Grant took part in a bombing raid on the Italian fleet at Genoa. During this mission, the aircraft's compass failed leaving Grant to reckon a course to the target and return utilising astronavigation, the practice of using celestial bodies to calculate an aircraft's position. The calculations proved so accurate that the mission was successfully completed. His actions during this raid contributed to his being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC).

Grant's first tour was completed with a run over Munich on 21 December. Taking a break from operational service, Grant was posted to the Bombing Development Unit on 6 January 1943. During this period he was involved in the training of Pathfinder Force (PFF) units in the use of new navigation and target identification aids. Promoted to acting flight lieutenant early in his posting, his rank was made substantive on 18 August.

Grant commenced his second operational tour on 28 January 1944 as a Pathfinder with 139 Squadron. In February and March alone Grant flew over a dozen missions above Germany taking in Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich, Kiel, Hanover, and Cologne. He was promoted to squadron leader on 8 March.

On 19 March, during a raid over Berlin, his aircraft received severe damage from anti-aircraft fire, knocking out the navigation system. Grant again reckoned a course to the target and return without the aid of a compass. For his actions he was awarded a Bar to his DFC.

Grant completed his second tour on 26 July with a raid over Hamburg. This marked the end of his operational flying and he returned to Australia to see out the remainder of his service. He was demobilised on 5 October 1945.

Following the war, he resumed his career with Goldsborough Mort, resigning in 1966 to work with an Adelaide based trustee firm. Ill health forced his retirement in 1972 and he died in the Repatriation General Hospital on 7 September 1991.


403 Squadron

Formed at Calgary, Alberta on 15 October 1948, the squadron flew Mustang aircraft in a fighter bomber and fighter role until January 1957 when it was redesignated a transport unit and re-equipped with Expeditor aircraft. In March 1958 it was reassigned to a light transport and emergency rescue role and received Otter aircraft. A reduc­tion of the Auxiliary Force resulted in the squadron being disbanded on 1 April 1964.

Brief Chronology: Formed as No. 403 (FB) Sqn (Aux), Calgary, Alta. 15 Oct 48 (1). Titled No. 403 “City of Calgary” (FB) Sqn (Aux) 3 Sep 52. Redesignated No. 403 “City of Calgary” (F) Sqn (Aux) 16 Nov 53. Redesignated No. 403 “City of Calgary” (T) Sqn (Aux) 25 Jan 57. Redesignated No. 403 “City of Calgary” Sqn (Aux) 1 Apr 58. Disbanded 1 Apr 64.

Title: “City of Calgary

Nickname: “Wolf”

  • W/C W.A. Mostyn-Brown, AFC 15 Jan 50 – 31 Jan 52. , DFC 1 Feb 52 – 29 Nov 53 died.
  • W/C A.R. Cruickshank 30 Nov 53 – 29 Nov 56 ret.
  • W/C G.M. Kelly, CD 30 Nov 56 – 28 Feb 59.
  • S/L H.T. Johnstone 1 Mar 59 – 25 Nov 59 ret.
  • S/L W.H. Huston, CD 26 Nov 59 – 7 Sep 60. 8 Sep 60 – 31 Jan 63 ret.
  • W/C W.H. Huston, CD 1 Feb 63 – 1 Apr 64.

File number: PA-1599-382a-80 Title: Wing Commander A. R. Cruickshank briefs pilots of #403 Auxiliary Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force, Calgary, Alberta. Date: [ca. January 28, 1956]

Higher Formations and Squadron Location

Tactical Air Command (1 Aug 51),

Air Defence Command (16 Nov 53),

Training Command (25 Jan 57),

Air Transport Command (1 Apr 61):

No. 30 Wing (Auxiliary) (1 Aug 54),

Representative Aircraft (Unit Code 1948-51 AD, 1951-58 PR)

North American Harvard Mk.II (Aug 49 – Mar 57)

North American Mustan Mk.IV (Nov 50 – Oct 56)

Canadair Silver Star Mk.3 (Nov 55 – Feb 57)

Beechcraft Expeditor Mk.3 (Aug 56 – Mar 64)

de Havilland Otter (Oct 56 – Mar 64)

(1) Was to have been formed as No. 403 (Fighter Reconnaissance) Squadron (Auxiliary) on 15 September 1948, but the order was amended.


49 Squadron Association


1 Group Lancasters had attacked the Lutzkendorf refinery the previous night achieving moderate success. Just after 18.00hrs on Sunday evening, 231 Lancasters and 11 Mosquitoes from Lincolnshire's 5 Group, set out to finish the job. The raid itself was a total success with the refinery being rendered inactive.

The cost had been 6 Lancasters and their crews. A second aircraft from the squadron failed to return: F/O 'Polly' Perkins (RA531) and crew were brought down over Germany there were no survivors. The crew now rest together in the Berlin War Cemetery Sgt Bernard Manning the mid-upper gunner was only 19 years old and the rear gunner, F/Sgt Dennis Hull was just 18. Again perhaps 'fate' had been at work, for their skipper, F/O Robert Perkins, the son of a Lincolnshire farmer, had only recently confided to a fellow pilot, that he 'knew' he was not going to survive the war.


The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (410155) Warrant Officer Robert Barnes Flegg, No. 70 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Second World War.

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Gerard Pratt, the story for this day was on (410155) Warrant Officer Robert Barnes Flegg, No. 70 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Second World War.

410155 Warrant Officer Robert Barnes Flegg, No. 70 Squadron, Royal Air Force
KIA 7 July 1944
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 18 February 2016

Today we pay tribute to Warrant Officer Robert Barnes Flegg, who was killed on active service with the Royal Air Force.

Born in the Melbourne bayside suburb of Hampton on 19 August 1918, Bob Flegg was the son of William Ernest Flegg and Grace Pearl Flegg. As a young man Flegg attend Hampton Primary School and Hampton High School, then Taylor’s Coaching College. He trained as a clerk at Hemingway and Robertson’s, and was later employed with the Melbourne firm Evans Brothers.

A keen sportsman, Flegg was a highly talented cricketer, but it was in football that he excelled. Playing as a full forward for Ormand, Flegg booted 130 goals in his first season in the A Grade amateurs. In three seasons at Ormand he would kick 245 goals and represent Victorian amateurs.

After a season with Sandringham in the Victorian Football Association, Flegg joined the St Kilda Football Club in the Victorian Football League for the 1941 season. In his first and only season of league football Flegg kicked a remarkable 47 goals in 18 matches.

In October 1941 Flegg married Leslie Mavis Smith, and in December of that year he enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force. He began training as a pilot, and in January 1943 embarked for overseas service. As part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, Flegg was one of almost 27,500 RAAF pilots, navigators, wireless operators, gunners, and engineers who joined squadrons based in Britain throughout the course of the war.

Arriving in England, Flegg undertook further training before being posted to No. 70 Squadron, Royal Air Force. Flying out of Italy, this squadron was equipped with the twin-engine Vickers Wellington medium bomber.

On the night of 6 July 1944 the bombers from No. 70 Squadron took part in a larger force’s raid on the Fuersbrunn airfield in Austria. The operation caused significant damage to this important airfield, grounding many enemy fighters. However, the cost for the RAF was severe. Ten Wellington bombers, two Liberators, and one Halifax aircraft failed to return out of a force of 57.

Flegg’s Wellington was one of those lost. He was killed in action along with his British crewmates and fellow Australian Flight Sergeant Josiah Turner.

Flegg was 25 years old. His body was later recovered and buried at the British Commonwealth War Cemetery at Klagenfurt, Austria.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with around 40,000 other Australians who died while serving in the Second World War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Warrant Officer Robert Barnes Flegg, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.


The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (410155) Warrant Officer Robert Barnes Flegg, No. 70 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Second World War.

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Gerard Pratt, the story for this day was on (410155) Warrant Officer Robert Barnes Flegg, No. 70 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Second World War.

410155 Warrant Officer Robert Barnes Flegg, No. 70 Squadron, Royal Air Force
KIA 7 July 1944
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 18 February 2016

Today we pay tribute to Warrant Officer Robert Barnes Flegg, who was killed on active service with the Royal Air Force.

Born in the Melbourne bayside suburb of Hampton on 19 August 1918, Bob Flegg was the son of William Ernest Flegg and Grace Pearl Flegg. As a young man Flegg attend Hampton Primary School and Hampton High School, then Taylor’s Coaching College. He trained as a clerk at Hemingway and Robertson’s, and was later employed with the Melbourne firm Evans Brothers.

A keen sportsman, Flegg was a highly talented cricketer, but it was in football that he excelled. Playing as a full forward for Ormand, Flegg booted 130 goals in his first season in the A Grade amateurs. In three seasons at Ormand he would kick 245 goals and represent Victorian amateurs.

After a season with Sandringham in the Victorian Football Association, Flegg joined the St Kilda Football Club in the Victorian Football League for the 1941 season. In his first and only season of league football Flegg kicked a remarkable 47 goals in 18 matches.

In October 1941 Flegg married Leslie Mavis Smith, and in December of that year he enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force. He began training as a pilot, and in January 1943 embarked for overseas service. As part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, Flegg was one of almost 27,500 RAAF pilots, navigators, wireless operators, gunners, and engineers who joined squadrons based in Britain throughout the course of the war.

Arriving in England, Flegg undertook further training before being posted to No. 70 Squadron, Royal Air Force. Flying out of Italy, this squadron was equipped with the twin-engine Vickers Wellington medium bomber.

On the night of 6 July 1944 the bombers from No. 70 Squadron took part in a larger force’s raid on the Fuersbrunn airfield in Austria. The operation caused significant damage to this important airfield, grounding many enemy fighters. However, the cost for the RAF was severe. Ten Wellington bombers, two Liberators, and one Halifax aircraft failed to return out of a force of 57.

Flegg’s Wellington was one of those lost. He was killed in action along with his British crewmates and fellow Australian Flight Sergeant Josiah Turner.

Flegg was 25 years old. His body was later recovered and buried at the British Commonwealth War Cemetery at Klagenfurt, Austria.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with around 40,000 other Australians who died while serving in the Second World War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Warrant Officer Robert Barnes Flegg, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.


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