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TOPIC: 78 Squadron

78 Squadron 09 Jun 2014 15:18 #1

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78 Squadron was formed as a Home Defence unit on 1st November 1916, initially with its Headquarters in Hove and equipped with BE 2c, BE 2e, BE12 and BE12a aircraft. 78 Squadron operated during the First World War, flying a mixture of 1 1/2 Strutters, Camels and Bristol Fighters from Sutton's Farm, until their disbandment in December 1919.

The Squadron reformed at Boscombe Down in 1936, and in 1939 was labelled a Tiger Squadron by King George VI. 'B' Flight of No 10 Squadron based at Boscombe Down was retitled 78 squadron flying Heyford night bombers. The Squadron moved to Dishforth in Yorkshire and became part of the newly created No 4 Group. In the Summer of 1937, No 78 began converting to Whitley MkVs, and following the outbreak of World War II, the squadron trained newly formed crews prior to posting on to operational squadrons, moving to RAF Linton-on-Ouse on 15 October 1939. It returned to Dishforth in July with front-line duties as a night bomber squadron.The unit joined the front line bomber force in July of 1940. 78 Squadron contributed 22 Halifax to Operation Millennium, the first 1,000 bomber raid against Cologne In February 1941, Whitleys from 78 Squadron and No. 51 Squadron, flying from Malta, were used to drop paratroops over southern Italy for Operation Colossus, the first British paratroop operation of the Second World War. In April 1941, the squadron moved to RAF Middleton St. George. In September, the squadron flew its first bombing raid against Berlin. It moved again, to RAF Croft, in October 1941. The squadron moved back to Middleton St. George in June 1942 and to Linton-on-Ouse in September 1942, re-equipping in early 1942 with four-engine Handley Page Halifaxes to replace its Whitleys, with conversion being completed in March that year, and flying its first operation with the Halifax, against Ostend on 29 April 1942.On the night of 30/31 May 1942. In June 1943, the squadron moved to RAF Breighton to free up Linton-on Ouse for the Canadian bomber force of No. 6 Group.

In January 1944 the squadron replaced its Merlin-powered Halifax B.IIs with Halifax B.IIIs

During WW2 78 Squadron carried out 6337 operational sorties: 6017 bombing and 320 mine-laying sorties during which 17,000 tonnes of bombs and mines were dropped. For the remainder of the European War, the unit continued in this role, but in May 1945 it was transferred to Transport Command and, after converting to Dakotas, moved to Egypt. 78 squadron took up route flying around the Mediterranean, North Africa and Middle East, receiving Vallettas in 1950. The Squadron moved to Kabrit where it remained until 1951 and then Fayid Egypt before disbanding at the end of September 1954.

78 squadron was reformed again in 1956 and stationed at RAF Khormaksar, Aden where they were equipped with the Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneers. The Squadron was split into two flights equipped with Pembrokes and Twin Pioneers.

In June 1962, 78 Squadron was awarded The Standard by Her Majesty the Queen, which was presented in 1965. Shortly after being awarded its Standard, 78 Squadron was re-equipped with the 9 Wessex Mk2 helicopters. In 1967 the Wessex's accompanied 78 Squadron in their move to Sharjah, Yemen. The Squadron disbanded at Sharjah in 1971 and reformed yet again at RAF Mount Pleasant in the Falklands in 1986; amalgamating 1310 Flight operating the Chinook HC1 and 1564 Flight operating the Sea King HAR3. From 1988 to 2007, 78 Squadron were the only RAF squadron permanently based in the Falkland Islands, until they return to the UK to RAF Benson in 2008.
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Last Edit: by netcompsys.

78 Squadron 12 Jun 2014 08:04 #2

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[IMG]/community/146680=16831-Arthur Collins RAF retirement.BMP
[IMG]/community/146680=16830-HalifaxIII LV794 Bombing up 003.jpg

M/Nav Arthur Collins served twice with 78 squadron. First at RAF Breighton in 1943/1944 and secondly RAF Khormaksar Aden in 1959/1962

On 4/7th June 2010 Arthur Collins' family attended the 78 Squadron reunion at RAF Breighton Yorkshire being the airfield from which he left in his Handley Page Halifax LV794 E-YO bomber for Augsburg south Germany on the 24th/25th February 1944 which he failed to return. On that fateful final flight returning from bombing the MAN diesel factory in Augsburg Germany his aircraft was shot at by a JU88 night fighter and the aircraft caught fire and exploded. The Luftwaffe pilot Maj. Major Gunther Radusch engaged the Halifax at a height of 6,500 mtrs. at 00.20 hrs. over the village of Fischbach bei Dahn, Rheinland-Pfalzer in southern Germany. At the date the aircraft went missing Arthur had logged up 300.75 hours flying time. Arthur was blown out of the aircraft after been shot at by a night fighter and the aircraft caught fire and exploded. Arthur regained his senses just 200 metres above the ground and the rear gunner. who also survived, cut him down from his parachute which was stuck in a fir tree. Arthur's leg was very badly injured with bullet holes and shrapnel and was pulled to a roadside at the edge of the village of Fischbach bei Dahn and left until a farmer picked him up in the morning. He was taken to a convent hospital and the doctors fixed him up exceptionally well. The German pilot, Gunther Radusch who shot him down came to visit him in hospital a few days later expressing his regrets at killing some of Arthur' crew and spoke in perfect English as he had spent 4 years at Oxford University in England before the war. He left Arthur a supply of cigarettes and chocolates. When he was fully recovered he was transferred to POW camp and returned to the UK on a hospital ship from Marseille in March 1945.

After World War 2 he was initially stationed at RAF Swanton Morley Norfolk then RAF Driffield Yorkshire, RAF Waddington Lincolnshire, RAF Marham Norfolk, RAF Waterbeach Cambridge, RAF Tangmere Chichester and then Arthur rejoined his wartime 78 squadron again in the late 1950's for 3 years at RAF Khormaksar Aden flying Twin Pioneers. He continued with the RAF until retirement at RAF Northolt, During his 40 year career with Bomber/Strike Command he flew in 15 different types including Avro Lincoln, B27 Washington and towards the end of his flying life in Pembrokes and Devons with Met Comm squadron at RAF Widenrath and RAF Northolt.

Here is an original oil painting by the renowned aviation artist John Young depicting his Halifax being bombed up at RAF Breighton on 24 February 1944 and a photo of Arthur's retirement at RAF Northolt in 1979 after 40 service in the RAF
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Last Edit: by netcompsys.

78 Squadron 19 Jun 2014 13:21 #3

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[IMG]/community/146910=16933-MHAS Arthur and Alf report 24 Feb 1944 001.jpg

Here is an extract from the Martlesham Heath Airfield Society magazine from 2005 in which the Navigator Arthur Collins and the Wireless Op/Air Gunner Alf Flexman recall the fateful nights on 24/25th February 1944 when their 78 squadron Halifax LV794 EY-0 left RAF Breighton and was shot down by a Ju88 returning from a raid of the MAN factory in Augsburg

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