No.7 Squadron, RFC, was formed at Farnborough, Hampshire, on 1st May 1914, under Major JM Salmond (later Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir John Salmond) but it was broken up only three months later in order to bring other squadrons up to war strength before they went overseas. On 24th September 1914, formation was resumed and in the following April the squadron went to France equipped with RE5s and Vickers FB9s which latter were soon replaced by Voisins. Operational duties included reconnaissance, photography, artillery co-operation and bombing. In August 1915, Captain JA Liddell was awarded the third air VC for bringing his badly-damaged RE5 back from a reconnaissance sortie over Ostend-Bruges-Ghent to the Belgian airfield at Fumes after an air combat in which he himself received wounds from which he later died.
No.7 took part in the battles of Loos, the Somme and Arras, and towards the end of the First World War - flying RE8s - was placed at the disposal of the Belgian Army for its attack in the northern sector of the Front. After the Armistice it went to Germany with the Army of Occupation. It returned to England in September 1919, and was disbanded at Farnborough at the end of that same year.
In June 1923, the squadron was re-formed at Bircham Newton as a heavy bomber unit. At first it consisted of an H.Q. and one flight equipped with Vickers Vimy aircraft, but early in July a second flight was formed by the transfer of the Vimy flight of No.100 Squadron from Spittlegate. The Vimys gave way to Vickers Virginias at the end of 1924 and in April 1927, the squadron moved to Worthy Down under the command of Wing Commander CFA Portal, later to become Marshal of the Royal Air Force Lord Portal of Hungerford, C-in-C Bomber Command in 1940 and Chief of the Air Staff from 1940 for the remainder of the Second World War. In September 1927, when the squadron won the Laurence Minot memorial bombing trophy for the first time, Wing Commander Portal was bomb-aimer for Squadron Leader EO Grenfell, with whom he formed the winning crew. Wing Commander Portal was also bomb-aimer when the squadron won the trophy the following year. Up to 1936 No.7 went on to win the trophy six more times, sharing it once with No. 58 Squadron.
Handley Page Heyford IIs replaced the Virginias during the first half of 1935 and in July of that year the new aircraft figured in the review of the RAF by HM King George V at Mildenhall. In October 1935, B Flight became the nucleus of No.102 (B) Squadron, which was re-formed as part of the RAF Expansion Scheme. In April 1936, the new B Flight collected Heyford IIIs from Handley Page's and in early in September the squadron moved from Worthy Down to Finningley and in the following April B Flight again broke away-this time to be the nucleus of No.76 (B) Squadron.
In the spring of 1938 No.7 had at last received its first modern monoplanes, the Whitley I. These were replaced by Whitley IIIs in late 1938, but during April/May, 1939, the squadron was re-armed yet again - this time with Handley Page Hampdens.
When the Second World War broke out the squadron was at Doncaster and engaged in training crews to operational standard for No.5 Group. It moved back to Finningley and then to Upper Heyford (No.6 Training Group) during the third and fourth weeks of September 1939, and in April, 1940, lost its identity when it was absorbed into No.16 OTU. It re-formed at Finningley at the end of April - again as a Hampden bomber squadron - but was disbanded three weeks later.
Re-formed again in August 1940, at Leeming, No.7 became the first squadron in Bomber Command to have four-engined bombers, and by early 1941 had moved to Oakington and was ready to begin operations with its new Short Stirlings. On the night of 10/11th February 1941, No.7 made its first bombing attack with the Stirlings - on oil storage tanks at Rotterdam - and just over two months later paid its first visit to Berlin. Among other early targets were Brest, Rotterdam, Emden (this was the target when the squadron made its first daylight raid, on 28th April), Hamburg and Mannheim. In 1942 minelaying was added to the squadron's duties and in May and June its Stirlings took part in the 1,000-bomber raids on Cologne, Essen and Bremen. Later that year it was one of the five squadrons selected to form the nucleus of the Pathfinder Force.
In May 1943, Lancasters began to replace the Stirlings, and in August seventeen of the squadron's new aircraft took part in the famous raid on Peenemunde. For the remainder of that year and the early part of 1944 night attacks on Germany continued, but with the approach of the Allied invasion, France became the main target area. During the early stages of the liberation campaign a number of daylight attacks were made on German troop positions.
More than 580 decorations were awarded to No.7 Squadron during the Second World War.
Bomber Command WWII Bases:
Re-formed 30.4.40 as No.7 (B) Squadron at
Bomber Command WWII Aircraft:
Note: In the latter part of 1944 No.7 received from No.635 Squadron one of the half-dozen or so Lancaster VIs produced. Between 25th Aug. & late Nov this aircraft, JB675 "O-Oboe", made a number of operational sorties with No.7, being subsequently handed over to the RAE at Farnborough.
First Operational Mission in WWII:
Last Operational Mission in WWII:
Last Mission before VE Day:
Date Last Updated : Wednesday, April 6, 2005 2:40 AM
© Crown Copyright 2004 and © Deltaweb International Ltd 2004