No.75 Squadron, RFC, was formed at Goldington (Bedford) on 1st October 1916, as a Home Defence unit. Its first equipment consisted of the usual collection of single- and two-seat BE types, but it later received Avros and then Sopwith Camels.
Disbanded in Essex in 1919, the squadron was re-formed in 1937 as a heavy bomber squadron but in March 1939, became a Group pool squadron or, in other words, assumed the role of what was later known as an operational training unit. Soon after the outbreak of war the squadron was posted to No.6 (Training) Group and on 4th April 1940, its number plate, with the letters "NZ" added, was transferred to a Royal New Zealand Air Force heavy bomber flight which was based at Feltwell, Norfolk, a station in No. 3 Group.
Equipped with Wellingtons, No. 75 (NZ) Squadron of the RAF - the first Commonwealth squadron to be formed in Bomber Command - took part in the early bombing offensive against enemy-occupied territories, and while returning from a raid on Munster on 7/8th July 1941, one of its aircrew, Sergeant Pilot JR Ward, RNZAF, won the Victoria Cross. Towards the end of 1942 the squadron converted to Stirlings and subsequently contributed to the Battle of the Ruhr, the devastation of Hamburg, and the famous raid against the German V-weapons experimental station at Peenemunde. In March 1944, No. 75 began to exchange its Stirlings for Lancasters and was ready in time to participate in preparation and support of the Allied invasion, the bombing of flying-bomb sites and close-support of the armies. (Here it may be mentioned that a Lancaster of the squadron (ND917, a Mark III, captained by Squadron Leader NA Williamson, RNZAF) was, on 30th June, 1944, the first British heavy bomber to land in Normandy after the invasion began. The Lancaster was returning from an attack on Villers Bocage in support of the Army and the pilot brought it down on one of the new landing strips in the beach-head in order to seek medical aid for his flight engineer, who had been wounded by flak.) In the later stages of the war No. 75 Squadron played a prominent part in the offensive against German oil production and transport. It was also one of the foremost units in Bomber Command's successful minelaying campaign.
In all, No. 75 Squadron and its predecessor, the New Zealand Wellington bomber flight, were awarded many decorations including one VC, 6 DSOs, 88 DFCs, 4 bars to DFCs, 2 CGMs and 17 DFMs.
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Date Last Updated : Wednesday, April 6, 2005 2:40 AM
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