Squadron Royal Air Force
'Per purum tonantes' thundering through the clear air
> Units and Formations
Updated: 23 Sep 10
Formed: 2 Aug 1917
Disbanded: 31 Mar 1958
Squadron was based at:
RAF Syerston ::
RAF Hemswell :: 3 Sep 1939 - 17 Jul 1941
RAF Skellingthorpe :: 16 Nov 1941 - 1 Feb 44; 15 Apr 1944 - 16 Jun 1945
RAF Coningsby :: 1 Feb 1944 - 15 Apr 1944
RAF Sturgate :: 16 Jun 1945 - Jan 1946
RAF Waddington :: Jan 1946 - 1953
RAF Wittering :: 1953 -
Squadron code: LS (prior to Sep 1939), QR
Sopwith Pup :: 1916 -
Sopwith Camel :: 1918 - 1919
Hawker Audax :: 1937
Hampden :: Feb 1939 - Oct 1941
Manchester :: Jul 1941 -
Lancaster Mk I, Mk II, Mk III
Lincoln :: May 1946 - ??
Canberra :: - May 1958
61 Sqn RFC one of the first 3 single-seater fighter squadrons of the London Air Defence Area formed in Aug 1917. It was to to counter daylight air raids with the Sopwith Pup.
On 7 Mar 1940 61 Sqn lost its first aircrew in a crash landing at RAF Digby. Handley Page Hampden Mk1 bomber, number L4111, piloted by Fg Off (P) Derek Clinkard, went on an 'offensive patrol' to attack the Luftwaffe base at Sylt, one of the German Frisian Islands. The full account of the crew and the event are on a separate page. So is the story of how a close friend of one of the crew, also serving in the RAF, was informed.
61 Sqn's Hampdens were the first Bomber Command aircraft to drop bombs on German soil, on 19 Mar 1940. The target was the Hornum seaplane base.
While 61 Sqn was based at Hemswell it had a large number of Polish aircrew in the Squadron. At that time aircrew were instructed to bring their bombs back if they could not find the target. When an armourer asked a Polish pilot how they always managed to find the target when rest of the Squadron couldn’t, the reply was simple: "All Germany is the target!"
Post-war it saw service in Malaya for a few months countering the Communist guerrilla threat. In Mar 1954, it undertook a similar role against the Mau Mau in Kenya.
On 16 Aug 1954 the Sqn reconsituted and took Canberra crews from 231 OCU. It took Canberra to the Middle East during the Suez Crisis in 1956, before disbanding on 31 Mar 1958.
Details of the 61 Sqn Museum are on the memorial page.
Mr David Collins provided me with photograph and the following question:
If anyone can help please get in touch.
J A Campbell, a mid-upper gunner who served on 463 Sqn RAAF and 61 Sqn RAF has contributed his memories of 61 Sqn to the site: view here.
61 Sqn history on RAF site
powered by blueconsultancy