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  61 Squadron Royal Air Force
'Per purum tonantes' thundering through the clear air

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Flying Squadrons
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467 Sqn
486 Sqn
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527 Sqn
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550 Sqn
576 Sqn
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613 Sqn
616 Sqn
617 Sqn
619 Sqn
625 Sqn
626 Sqn
627 Sqn
630 Sqn

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: 23 Sep 10

Formed: 2 Aug 1917

Disbanded: 1919

Reformed: 1937

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

Aircraft operated:

Sopwith Pup :: 1916 -

SE5 ::

Sopwith Camel :: 1918 - 1919

Hawker Audax :: 1937

Anson ::

Blenheim ::

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:

I recently came across a photo of 7 aircrew members standing by the side of QR.X but there are no names on the back. I'd like to name these men but it's difficult. Do you have a "Any body know" section?
Thanks David (Collins)

61 Sqn - photo of 7 aircrew members standing by the side of QR.X
Click for full-size photo

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

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