Bomber Command No.115 Squadron
No. 115 Squadron
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: King George VI, February 1938.
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".
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.
Bomber Command WWII Bases:
- Jun 1937-Sep 1942
- Detached to Kinloss for ops with Coastal Command in Apr 1940.
- Mildenhall : Sep 1942-Nov 1942
- East Wretham : Nov 1942-Aug 1943
- Little Snoring : Aug 1943-Nov 1943
- Witchford : Nov 1943 onwards
Bomber Command WWII Aircraft:
- Vickers Wellington I, IA, IC, II and III : Apr 1939-Mar 1943
- Avro Lancaster B.I, B.II and B.III : Mar 1943 onwards
- During the 1938 Munich crisis No 115 was allotted the code letters "BK". In WW2 the squadron's a/c were coded "KO", & in the case of "C" Flt's a/c "A4" & "IL".
First Operational Mission in WWII:
- 6th October 1939 : Armed search by 6 Wellingtons for German warships reportedly off Norwegian coast.
First Bombing Mission in WWII:
- 3rd December 1939 : 7 Wellingtons bombed German warships off Heligoland during armed reconnaissance. 2 other Wellingtons on same op did not deliver attacks.
Last Operational Mission in WWII:
- 24th April 1945 : 20 Lancasters bombed marshalling yards at Bad Oldesloe & another Lancaster aborted.
Last Mission before VE Day:
- 7th May 1945 : 26 Lancasters dropped supplies to Dutch at The Hague.