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  103 Squadron Royal Air Force

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Heavy Conversion Units
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Other units
Bomber Command
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1485 Gunnery Flight
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178 Support Unit
399 Signals Unit
Nationality based Sqns

Updated: 28 Sep 06

Formed: 1 Jan 1917, Beaulieu

Disbanded: Mar 1919

Reformed: 1936

Renumbered: to 57 Sqn in Dec 1945

Squadron was based at:

RAF Andover :: 1936

RAF Unsworth :: 1937

RAF Abingdon :: Jun 1940 - Jul 1940

RAF Newton :: Jul 1940 - Jul 1941

RAF Elsham Wolds :: 11 Jul 1941 - Nov 1945

RAF Scampton :: Dec 1945 -

Squadron code: PM

Aircraft operated:

DH9 :: < May 1918 -

Hawker Hind :: 1936 - 1937

Fairey Battle :: 1937 - Oct 1940

Wellington :: Oct 1940 - Aug 1942

Halifax Mk II :: Jul 1942 - Nov 1942

Lancaster Mk I :: Oct 1942

Lancaster Mk III :: Oct 1942 -

103 Sqn formed on 1 Sep 1917 as a day bomber squadron at Beaulieu, the nucleus being drawn from 16TS, moving one week later to Old Sarum. The Sqn deployed to Azelot on the Western Front in France on 12 May 1918, attached to 80 Wing of 10 Bde, tasked with daytime bombing and reconnaissance.

In Aug 1918, Lt Col Strange, OC 80 Wing, decided to strike at the German air force directly. On 16 Aug 1918 detailed 65 aircraft of the Wing to attack the German airfield at Haubourdin. 88 Sqn and 92 Sqn acted as fighter cover. 4 Sqn started the attack diving on to the airfield and releasing their bombs amongst the aircraft and buildings on the ground. 2 Sqn and 103 Squadron followed releasing their bombs at low level, destroying an ammunition dump and 30 aircraft, and damaging buildings aon the airfield.

103 Sqn was disbanded in Mar 1919, subsequently reformed in 1936 as the German threat menaced.

Flown to France at the outbreak of war as part of the Advanced Air Strike Force (AASF) all was peaceful until 10 May 1930 when Germany began its attack in the West. The Sqn flew into action immediately against a superior enemy and was withdrawn in Jun 1940 to RAF Abingdon when France neared defeat.

From Abingdon the Sqn moved to Newton and came once more under 1 Gp of Bomber Command. October saw re-equipping with the new Wellington bomber, with ops against Germany commending from Dec 1940. Night raids over the next 3 months concentrated on Germany. Spring and summer 1941 concentrated on U Boat bases and pens along the French Atlantic coast, and key German ships at Brest. The Sqn arrived at Elsham Wolds in Jul 1941, from where raids in force were conducted against Germany over the winter.

In May 1942 the Sqn participated in the series of Thousand Bomber Raids together with many other Lincolnshire based squadrons and re-equipped to the Halifax in Aug 1942.

576 Sqn was formed from C Flight of 103 Sqn in Nov 1943.

The RAF Elsham Wolds website has a comprehensive and fascinating collection approximately 40 aircrew biographies and stories from World War II which put a fascinating human dimension on the history of the station and 103 Sqn and 576 Sqn: click here.

103 Sqn history on the 103 and 576 Sqn website

103 Sqn in the Great War

Elsham Wolds, 103 and 576 Sqn biographies

Aviation Heritage Lincolnshire
(Tourism)

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