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  44 (Rhodesia) Squadron Royal Air Force
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Heavy Conversion Units
1654 HCU
1656 HCU
1660 HCU
1661 HCU
1662 HCU
1665 HCU
1667 HCU
1668 HCU
21 HGCU

Advanced Flying Schools
201 AFS

Advanced Flying Units
12 AFU
15 AFU

Flying Training Schools
1 FTS
2 FTS
3 FTS
6 FTS
7 FTS
12 FTS
1 Lancaster Finishing School
Central Flying School

Operational Training/
Conversion Units
(Fighter)
6 OTU
53 OTU

56 OTU

(Bomber)
228 OCU
230 OCU

Air Armament Schools
1 AAS
2 AAS
Empire Central AS

Other schools
1 Gp Aircrew School
1 Ground Defence School
1 Air Observers School
Central Gunnery School
5 Gp Anti Air School

Other units
Bomber Command
Coastal Command
Fighter Command
HQ No 5 Group
HQ No 23 Group
1485 Gunnery Flight
2782 Defence Sqn
178 Support Unit
399 Signals Unit
Nationality based Sqns

Updated: 9 Jan 09

Formed: 24 Jul 1917

Disbanded: 1919

Reformed: Mar 1937

Disbanded: 16 Jul 1957

Reformed: 10 Aug 1960

Disbanded: 21 Dec 1982

Squadron was based at:

Hainault Farm :: Jul 1917 - 1919

RAF Wyton :: Mar 1937 - Jun 1937

RAF Waddington :: Jun 1937 - 31 May 1943

RAF Dunholme Lodge :: 31 May 1943 - 30 Sep 1944

RAF Spilsby :: 30 Sep 1944 - 21 Jul 1945

RAF Mepal :: 21 Jul 1945 - 25 Aug 1945

RAF Mildenhall :: 25 Aug 1945 - Aug 1946

RAF Wyton :: Aug 1946 -

RAF Marham :: <=Jan 1951 - Jul 1957

RAF Waddington :: Aug 1960 - Dec 1982

Squadron code: JW (before Sep 1939), KM

Aircraft operated:

Sopwith Camel :: Jul 1917 - 1919

Hind :: Mar 1937 - Dec 1937

Blenheim :: Dec 1937 - Feb 1939

Hampden :: Feb 1939 - Dec 1941

Lancaster Mk I, Mk III :: 24 Dec 1941 - Oct 1945

Lincoln :: Oct 1945 - 1947=>

Washington :: Jan 1951 -

Canberra :: ?? - Jul 1957

Vulcan B1 :: Aug 1960 - ??

Vulcan B2 :: ?? - Dec 1982

44 Sqn was the first squadron to receive the Lancaster bomber into front line service, on 24 Dec 1941. Its Hampdens were tranferred to 420 Sqn RCAF. It was not taken into action until 10 Mar 1942 when 2 aircraft from 44 Sqn attacked Essen. The next month 44 Sqn was to make its first major Lancaster-equipped attack when it participated on a rare 2 x 6-ship, tree-top height, daylight attack on the MAN diesel works in Augsburg with 97 Sqn. 5 of the 12 returned. This earnt Sqn Ldr John Nettleton a Victoria Cross his was the only Lancaster left in his original flight of six. This is considered one of Bomber Command's milestone operations.

44 Sqn moved from RAF Waddington to RAF Dunholme Lodge in May 1943 due to runway construction. It converted from Lancaster to Lincoln at RAF Mildenhall in Oct 1945, taking over 622 Sqn's aircraft.

In Dec 1941, 129 of 490 ground crew were Rhodesian.

During the 1956 Suez Crisis, the by now Canberra-equipped, Marham-based Sqn flew over Egypt from Cyprus but was disbanded on 16 Jul 1957. It then reformed at Waddington on 10 Aug 1960 with the Vulcan B1, replacing this with Vulcan B2 in Nov 1967. 44 Sqn Vulcans participated in the Black Buck bombing missions to the Falklands in apr/May 1982 but was nevertheless disbanded on 21 Dec 1982.

During World War II there were more men per capita from Rhodesia that from any other Empire country serving in Britain's armed forces. There are memorials to 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron at RAF Waddington and Dunholme Lodge. A selection of photographs are is included on this site.

I have been contacted by Mr Edward Crum whose father took off from Waddington in Q7549 on 3rd March 1942 to go gardening (mine-laying) around Heligoland. He told me he was first off the ground, which would make him and his crew the first men ever to take a Lanc into action. He was subsequently shot down on the Augsburg raid and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner.

44 Sqn memorials

44 Sqn history on RAF site

RAF Spilsby history website

RAF Dunholme Lodge page on Royal Air Force website

RAF Waddington website

RAF Waddington history on RAF website

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