No. 149 Squadron, RFC, was formed at Yapton, Sussex, on 3rd March 1918, as a night-bomber unit and three months later went to France equipped with FE2b's. Engaged in bombing enemy communications, airfields, etc., as well as on reconnaissance duties on the Second Army Front, it dropped more than 80 tons of bombs and made 161 reconnaissances.
Two interesting details worthy of mention concern the squadron's equipment. All the FEs were fitted with a "flame reducer" designed by an officer of the squadron - Captain CES RusseIl. This successfully damped all exhaust flame, an important requirement for night-flying aircraft. All aircraft were fitted with special racks, designed by one of the squadron's mechanics which could carry either Michelin flares or bombs without modification. The FEs were thus instantly adaptable for either bombing or reconnaissance. Of the squadron's original 18 FEs which flew to France in June 1918, seven were still in service on Armistice Day.
After the Armistice No. 149 was the only FE squadron chosen to accompany the Army of Occupation into Germany. It returned to the United Kingdom in March 1919, and was disbanded at Tallaght, Co. Dublin, the following August.
The squadron was re-formed in 1937 at Mildenhall - again as a night-bomber unit - and now equipped with Heyford aircraft. Wellingtons were received early in 1939 and on 4th September that year No. 149 shared with No. 9 Squadron the distinction of making the RAF's second bombing raid of World War 2; the targets were German warships at BrunsbŁttel.
The squadron played a prominent part in the early offensive against Germany, Italy and enemy-occupied territory and, after having re-equipped with Stirlings, took part in the first 1,000-bomber raids. In 1943 it made a significant contribution to the Battle of the Ruhr, and also took part in the Battle of Hamburg and the famous raid against the German V-weapons experimental station at Peenemunde. Between February and July 1944 - and in addition to dropping high explosives on the enemy - the squadron helped supply the French Maquis with supplies, arms and ammunition by parachute.
Towards the end of 1944 the Stirlings were replaced by Lancasters and with these the squadron continued its offensive until late April 1945. It then dropped food to the starving people of Holland and later, after the German surrender, ferried many ex-POWs back to England from the Continent.
During December 1943 the squadron was responsible for introducing a new technique of high-level mining. Among the many decorations won by its members was a Victoria Cross awarded posthumously to Flight Sergeant RH Middleton, RAAF, for his part in a raid on Turin on the night of 28/29th November 1942.
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Date Last Updated : Wednesday, April 6, 2005 2:40 AM
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