Bomber Command

Bomber Command No.9 Squadron

No. 9 Squadron

9 squadron badge Motto: "Per noctem volamus" (Throughout the night we fly).
Badge: A bat. The badge is based on a device used previously.
Authority: King Edward VIII, November 1936.

No. 9 Squadron, RFC, was formed at St. Omer, France, on 8th December 1914, from the HQ Wireless Unit and was originally known as No. 9 (Wireless) Squadron. This original unit only lasted for a brief period, its two flights being absorbed into other units early in 1915, and its headquarters disbanded. In April it was re-formed at Brooklands under the command of Major HCT Dowding, later to become Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, AOC-in-C Fighter Command, during the Battle of Britain.

The squadron crossed to France in December 1915, equipped with BE2c's for army co-operation work. It was engaged on this duty on the Western Front until the Armistice in 1918, and from June, 1917, onwards flew RE8s. After the Armistice No. 9 Squadron formed part of the Army of the Rhine and was again disbanded in 1919.

In 1924 the squadron was re-formed as a heavy bomber squadron equipped with Vickers Vimy aircraft, later replaced by Vickers Virginias and then Handley Page Heyfords.

At the outbreak of World War 2, the squadron was flying Wellingtons and on the day after war began the squadron took part in the well-known raid against the German battleships at Brunsbüttel. Of the six No. 9 Squadron aircraft despatched two failed to return.

An outstanding example of courage and self-sacrifice was shown to the squadron in 1941 by its Commanding Officer, Wing Commander R Arnold, captain of a Wellington detailed to attack shipping off Flushing.

The Wellington was attacked and set on fire by enemy fighters. The CO ordered his crew to bale out, keeping the stricken aircraft straight and level while they jumped. It was then too late to get out himself and he went down with the aircraft. The crew were made prisoners.

In 1942 the "Wimpeys" were replaced by Lancasters and with these No. 9 took part in the epic raid on the Peenemunde V-weapons experimental station in August 1943, and, in conjunction with No.617 Squadron - and using 12,000-lb 'Tallboy' bombs - put an end to the famous German battleship Tirpitz on 12th November 1944. Great honour came to the squadron on 2Oth February 1945, when it was announced in the London Gazette that Flight Sergeant George Thompson had been posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his gallantry during a daylight raid on the Dortmund-Ems Canal on 1st January 1945.

Bomber Command WWII Bases:

  • Honington : Jul 1939-Aug 1942
  • Detached to Lossiemouth for ops with No.18 Group Coastal Command in Apr
  • 1940.
  • Waddington : Aug 1942-Apr 1943
  • Bardney : Apr 1943 onwards
  • Detachment in North Russia (Yagodnik) in Sep 1944 for an op against the
  • Tirpitz.
  • Detachment at Lossiemouth in Oct and again in Nov 1944, for two further ops
  • against the Tirpitz.

Bomber Command WWII Aircraft:

  • Handley Page Heyford III : Mar 1936-Feb 1939
  • Vickers Wellington I, IA and III : Feb 1939-Aug 1942
  • Avro Lancaster B.I and B.III : Aug 1942 onwards

9 squadron Lancaster B MK 1

Code Letters:

  • During the 1938 Munich crisis No. 9 was allotted the code letters "KA". In
  • WW II the squadron's aircraft were coded "WS".

First Operational Mission in WWII:

  • 4th September 1939 : 6 Wellingtons despatched to bomb German warships at
  • Brunsbüttel. 3 a/c bombed a German warship off Brunsbüttel with no observed result, 1 jettisoned bombs over harbour (and, apparently, hit & set on fire a merchantman), and 2 others failed to return.

Last Operational Mission in WWII:

  • 25th April 1945 : 17 Lancasters despatched to bomb target at Berchtesgaden.
  • 11 bombed primary, 1 bombed an alternative target (a bridge) at Berchtesgaden, and the other 5 completely aborted.

Last Mission before VE Day:

  • 6th May 1945 : 5 Lancasters ferried ex-POWs home to UK from Continent.
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