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115 Squadron

115 SQUADRON

Squadron badge

Motto:

"Despite the elements".

Badge:

A dexter hand erased at the wrist holding a tiller. This unit laid great stress on the importance of navigation and the hand on the tiller is taken to be symbolic of this.

Authority:

HM King George VI, February 1938.


History of 115 Squadron:

No 115 Squadron, RFC, was formed at Catterick, Yorkshire, on 1st December 1917, and at the end of August 1918, after having been equipped with Handley Page 0/400 twin-engined bombers, joined the Independent Force in France. Its first raid was made on 16/17th September when nearly 4 tons of bombs were dropped on Metz-Sablon. For this raid the squadron was congratulated by Major-General Sir Hugh Trenchard and the OC 83rd Wing described the raid as "the finest piece of work which has ever been done by a new squadron". Its most successful raid was made against Morhange airfield when five 0/400s, making double trips, dropped 61/2 tons of bombs on their objective. During its service in France, No 115 made fifteen raids, the longest being to Baden and dropped 26 tons of bombs.

Disbanded in 1919, the squadron was re-formed as No 115 (Bomber) Squadron in 1937 and in the Second World War took part in scores of raids and also played an active part in Gardening (minelaying) for victory. In April 1940, while flying Wellingtons (and while on temporary loan to Coastal Command) it gained the distinction of making the RAF's first bombing raid of the war on a mainland target-the enemy-held Norwegian airfield of Stavanger/Sola. Sixteen months later, in August 1941, it undertook the initial Service trials of Gee, the first of the great radar navigational and bombing aids.1 As a result of its subsequent report on these trials Gee was put into large-scale production for Bomber Command.

From the spring of 1943 onwards No 115 flew Lancasters and for a while it was one of the relatively few operational units to use the Mark II version. The mighty Lancaster, with its huge bomb load, was probably the best-known bomber of all time and in the closing months of the war No 115 had two particularly distinguished specimens - Lancaster Is ME803 and '836. The former joined the squadron in May 1944, and between 31st May/1st June that year when it bombed Trappes West marshalling yards and 22nd April 1945, when it bombed Bremen, it logged 105 operational sorties. From May to October 1944, it served with "C" Flight (which had formed in November 1943) and was coded "A4-D". "C" Flight became the nucleus of No 195 Squadron in October 1944, but ME803 remained with No 115 and was re-coded "KO-L"; it retained these letters up to and including 27th February 1945, the date of its 101st operational sortie (if not longer), and made its subsequent trips - beginning 9/10th April - as "IL-B" of the new "C" Flight, which had begun operations in November 1944. In May 1945, ME803 was transferred to No 1659 HCU.

The other Lancaster, ME836, joined No 115 in May or June 1944 (from No. 75 Squadron, but without any ops to its credit), and between 11/12th June, when it bombed Nantes and 24th April 1945, when it bombed Bad Oldesloe (using the G-H blind-bombing radar device with which it was then equipped), made 97 operational sorties. It made the first 37 as "A4-C" and the remainder - beginning 15th November 1944 - as "KO-S".

The Squadron carried on flying Lancasters until they were replaced by Lincolns in September 1949 but the Squadron was disbanded on 1 March 1950. On 13 June 1950 No. 115 was reformed at Marham and in August received Washingtons which it flew until converted to Canberras in February 1954 until the Squadron was disbanded again on 1 June 1957. On 21 August 1958, No. 116 Squadron at Watton was renumbered No. 115, moving its Varsities a few days later to Tangmere for Signals Command duties. In October 1963, it returned to Watton where the Varsities were supplemented by Argosies during 1968 before it moved to Cottesmore. In August 1970, No. 115 became fully equipped with Argosies, replacing them with Andovers between 1976 and 1978. In January 1983, the Squadron moved to Benson where it remained until disbanded on 1 October 1993.

1. A series of four Gee trials was undertaken in all- one of them (the first) over the North Sea and the rest over enemy territory. The first trial over enemy territory took place on 11/12th August 1941: two Gee aircraft operated over the Ruhr and, thanks to the new navigational aid, found their target (Monchengladbach) without any searching; bombs were dropped using Gee co-ordinates for the release and the town was hit. The Gee equipment proved equally successful in each of the other trials.

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