Bomber Command

Bomber Command No.207 Squadron

No. 207 Squadron

207 squadron badge Motto: "Semper paratus" ("Always prepared").
Badge: A winged lion statant. The design of this badge was based on a similar device which the unit had been unofficially using for some time previously.
Authority: King Edward VIII, May 1936.

The first British squadron used solely for long-range night bombing, and the first to operate Handley Page bombers, No. 207 Squadron had its origin in "B" Squadron of No 4 Wing of the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS), which was formed at Eastchurch, Kent, in August 1915. It crossed to Petite Synthe, France, in April 1916, and in November became No. 7 Squadron RNAS. Its duties originally consisted of fighting and day- and night-bombing for which it was equipped with Nieuport two-seaters, Sopwith 11/2-Strutters, Caudron G4 twin-engined bombers and Short single-engined bombers.

At the beginning of April 1917, by which time the Nieuports and Caudrons had been disposed of, No. 7 (Naval) Squadron moved to Coudekerque and amalgamated with a RNAS Handley Page 0/100 unit which was being formed there, but retained it's title. About the same time the 11/2-Strutters were handed to another squadron, leaving No. 7 (Naval) Squadron with a mixture of Shorts and 0/100s which it operated until June when the Shorts were retired. During April and May the squadron made a series of night raids on Ostend as part of the counter-bombing offensive against the increased activity of German seaplane units at Ostend and Zeebrugge. In addition to night bombing, its 01/00s flew daylight coastal patrols against the German Fleet. The squadron also played a valuable part, in the summer of 1917, in the counter-measures against German air bases from which the daylight raids on England originated. During August and September 1917, it attacked enemy rail centres and dumps to interrupt the transport of reserves and munitions to the Ypres sector.

One flight of No. 7 (Naval) Squadron crossed to England early in September 1917, and flew inshore anti-submarine patrols off the North Yorkshire coast from Redcar. After about a month this flight moved to Manston where it formed the nucleus of "A" Squadron, which later became No. 16 (Naval) Squadron and, later still, No. 216 Squadron, RAF.

The remainder of the squadron's operational echelon continued work and, in company with No. 7A Squadron, bombed Antwerp and Hoboken and attempted to bomb Cologne.

When the RAF was formed on 1st April 1918, the squadron became No. 207 Squadron and, later in the month, returned to England where it was re-equipped with ten Handley Page 0/400s. Early in June it went back to France - to Ligescourt, near Abbeville.

In the closing months of the war the squadron was employed on night bombing, principally against railway centres. With the Allied advance it moved forward to Estrées-en-Chaussée in late October 1918, and the night before the Armistice six of its 0/400s dropped four tons of bombs on Namur railway station. In all, in World War 1, its aircraft flew on 120 raids and dropped 587 tons of bombs.

Early in 1919 No. 207 Squadron became part of the Army of Occupation; in August, after handing over its aircraft to No. 100 Squadron and having been reduced to cadre, it returned to England.

The squadron was disbanded at Uxbridge on 20th January 1920, but was re-formed 12 days later at Bircham Newton as a day-bomber unit equipped with DH9As.

About twenty-one months later the squadron went to Turkey to strengthen the British garrison there. The CO was then Squadron Leader AW Tedder - later Eisenhower's second-in-command during the allied invasion of Europe in World War II. Back in England again No. 207 went to Eastchurch, its birthplace, where its aircraft were fitted with radio equipment. It was not until 1935 that it went abroad again - to the Sudan for ten months.

Between the wars a variety of aircraft passed through the squadron's hands - DH9As, Fairey IIIFs, Gordons, Vincents, Wellesleys and Battles. Its formation flying at the annual Hendon Air Displays earned much praise; in October 1937, the squadron took part in a fly past for visiting staff officers of the German Air Force.

A Battle squadron at the outbreak of World War 2, it did not become operational for some months; it acted, instead, as a training unit and in April 1940, was absorbed into No. 12 OTU. Then, on 1st November, it was re-formed at Waddington in No. 5 Group, for the express purpose of bringing the new Avro Manchester into operational service.

The squadron took the Manchesters on their first raid of the war on 24/25th February 1941, when six aircraft attacked a Hipper-class cruiser at Brest. A year later, on 12th February 1942, its Manchesters flew on operations against the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, when the German warships dashed in daylight from Brest to North German ports. The Manchesters continually gave trouble in service, mainly because their Vulture engines were unreliable under full load and, by June 1942, No. 207 Squadron, and the six other squadrons similarly equipped, had exchanged their Manchesters for Lancasters.

During the famous low-level raid on Le Creusot on 17th October 1942, one of the 14 Lancasters despatched by the squadron had to turn back on three engines. Soon afterwards it was attacked by three Arado 196 floatplanes. The Lancaster's gunners shot down two of them and damaged the third.

With the Lancaster, No. 207 Squadron ranged as far afield as Italy and Gdynia, Poland. Its raids on enemy territory were sometimes costly and in May 1943, and March 1944, two No. 207 Squadron COs - Wing Commanders TAB Parselle and VJ Wheeler - did not return from raids on Düsseldorf and Frankfurt respectively. On D-Day the squadron's Lancasters attacked Caen in support of the Normandy landings. The squadron's last operational mission, on 25th April 1945, was against the SS Barracks at Berchtesgaden.

In its 540 operations in World War 2, the squadron lost 154 crews. Seven DSOs, 115 DFCs and 92 DFMs were won by its members.

Bomber Command WWII Bases:

  • Cranfield : Aug 1939-Dec 1939

Became a No.6 Group training sqdn 2.9.39.

  • Cottesmore : Dec 1939-Apr 1940
  • Cranfield : Apr 1940

Moved to Benson late Apr 1940 & simultaneously absorbed into No. 12 OTU.
Re-formed 1.11.40 as No. 207 (B) Sqdn at

  • Waddington : Nov 1940-Nov 1941
  • Bottesford : Nov 1941-Sep 1942
  • Langar : Sep 1942-Oct 1943
  • Spilsby : Oct 1943 onwards

Bomber Command WWII Aircraft:

  • Fairey Battle : Apr 1938-Apr 1940
  • Avro Manchester I : Nov 1940-Mar 1942
  • Avro Lancaster B.I and B.III : Mar 1942 onwards

207 squadron Manchester B Mk Ia

207 squadron Lancaster B Mk I

Code Letters:

  • During the 1938 Munich crisis No. 207 was allotted the code letters "WJ". In
  • WW2 the sqdn's Manchesters and Lancasters were coded "EM".

First Operational Mission in WWII:

  • 24/25th February 1942 : 6 Manchesters bombed a Hipper-class cruiser in Brest
  • harbour.

Last Operational Mission in WWII:

  • 25th April 1945 : 5 Lancasters bombed Berchtesgaden & 2 other Lancasters
  • aborted.

Last Mission before VE Day:

  • 4th May 1945 : Unknown number of Lancasters ferried ex-POWs home to UK from
  • Belgium.
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