Bomber Command

Bomber Command No.102 Squadron

No. 102 Squadron

102 squadron badge Motto: "Tentate et perficite" ("Attempt and achieve").
Badge: On a demi-terrestrial globe a lion rampant holding in the fore-paws a bomb. The dark demi-globe on which the lion is standing is indicative of night-bombing duties.
Authority: King George VI, March 1938.

No 102 Squadron, RFC, was formed at Hingham, Norfolk, in August 1917, and from September 1917 until the Armistice served on the Western Front as a night-bomber squadron equipped with FE2b's; its duties included night bombing of enemy airfields, railheads and billets, night reconnaissance and the machine-gunning of troops and transport. During its service on the Western Front the squadron dropped a total of almost 365 tons of bombs, 317 tons of which were dropped between 21st March 1918 - the day on which the Germans launched their spring offensive - and the Armistice. Trains were bombed on 93 occasions and transport on 113 occasions.

Disbanded in 1919, No 102 re-formed in 1936 as a heavy bomber squadron and when war came again it was flying Whitleys. On the second night of the war - 4/5th September 1939 - three of its Whitleys dropped propaganda leaflets on the Ruhr.

When the next leaflet raid was made - again on the Ruhr - four nights later, two of the six crews involved failed to return. Subsequently it was learned that one of these crews had forced - landed in then neutral Belgium and had been interned, and that the other had forced - landed in Germany and been made prisoners of war.

The squadron's first bombing attack of the war was made on 12/13th December 1939, when a Whitley engaged on a security patrol of Sylt attacked what appeared to be lights indicating a seaplane alighting area.

Italy's declaration of war on 10/11th June 1940, brought a swift reply. The following night seven of the squadron's Whitleys set out from an advanced base in the Channel Islands (Jersey airport) to attack the Fiat Works at Turin. Thunderstorms and severe icing were encountered and five aircraft had to return early. The other two reached Turin, where one bombed the primary target whilst the other bombed an alternative target.

No 102 Squadron will always be associated with the name of Leonard Cheshire. On the night of 12/13th November 1940, Pilot Officer - as he then was - GL Cheshire was captain of Whitley V P5005 "N - Nuts" detailed to attack an oil refinery at Wesseling, not far from Cologne. It appears that he arrived in the target area within a few minutes of the ETA but owing to intercom trouble was unable to discover his exact position until some twenty minutes later, by which time the target was blanketed by cloud. He decided to attack the railway marshalling yards at Cologne instead and while he was approaching this target his aircraft was suddenly shaken by a succession of violent explosions. The cockpit filled with black fumes and Cheshire lost control of the aircraft, which dived about 2,000 feet, with its fuselage on fire. Cheshire regained control, the fire was extinguished and the Whitley, with a gaping hole in its fuselage, was brought safely back to base after, being in the air for 81/2 hours. Cheshire gained an immediate DSO. He was later awarded the DFC for operations with No 102 Squadron.

In 1942 No 102 Squadron re-equipped with Halifaxes and continued with aircraft of this type for the rest of the European war. It took part in each of the three historic 1,000-bomber raids in May/June 1942, and, later, in the battles of the Ruhr, Hamburg, and Berlin. It was well to the fore in the pre-invasion attacks on railway communications in Northern France and on the eve of D-Day sent 26 aircraft - the largest number it had yet dispatched - to bomb an enemy gun battery on the coast of Normandy. In September/October 1944, it undertook the transportation of petrol to Belgium for the Second Army and in just over one week carried 134,250 gallons without mishap. In the great day and night 1,000 - bomber attacks on Duisburg in the closing stages of the war some of its crews made two round trips within twenty-four hours.

Among the awards gained by its personnel were 5 DSOs 115 DFCs, two bars to the DFC, and 34 DFMs.

On 7th May 1945, No 102 was transferred to Transport Command.

Bomber Command WWII Bases:

  • Driffield : Jul 1938-Aug 1940
  • Detachments in France (Villeneuve, code name Sister) at various times during
  • period Oct 1939-Feb 1940).
  • Detachments at Kinloss Nov/Dec 1939 (on loan to Coastal Command) &
  • Apr-May 1940.
  • Leeming : Aug 1940-Sep 1940 Sqdn loaned to Coastal Command Sep-Oct 1940
  • & based at Prestwick; a/c were detached to Aldergrove & operated from there.
  • Linton-on-Ouse : Oct 1940-Nov 1940
  • Topcliffe : Nov 1940-Nov 1941
  • Dalton : Nov 1941-Jun 1942
  • Topcliffe : Jun 1942-Aug 1942
  • Pocklington : Aug 1942-May 1945

Transferred from Bomber Command to Transport Command 7.5.45.

Bomber Command WWII Aircraft:

  • Armstrong Whitworth Whitley III and V : Oct 1938-Feb 1942
  • Handley Page Halifax B.II, B.III and B.VI : Dec 1941-May 1945

Code Letters:

  • During the 1938 Munich crisis No 102 was allotted the code letters "TQ". In
  • WW2 the sqdn's ac were coded "DY".

First Operational Mission in WWII:

  • 4/5th September 1939 : 3 Whitleys dropped Nickels over the Ruhr.

First Bombing Mission in WWII:

  • 12/13th December 1939 : 1 Whitley, during a security patrol in Sylt area,
  • bombed lights in the sea off west coast of Sylt & "on the southernmost tip of the island".

Last Operational Mission in WWII:

  • 25th April 1945 : 18 Halifaxes bombed gun batteries on island of Wangerooge
  • & another Halifax aborted.
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