295 Squadron, 38 Group, Royal Air Force: History

Squadron Badge: A hand manacled and couped at the wrist holding a sword in its scabbard in bend sinister

Motto: 'In caelo auxilium' ('Aid From The Skys')

 

HISTORY

 

Squadron Code Letters '8Z' & '8E'.
No.295 Squadron was formed - from a nucleus of No.296 squadron - at Netheravon on 03 August 1942 as an Airborne Forces Squadron, initially equipped with Whitley’s. In November it carried out leaflet dropping flights over France.
In June 1943 No.295 Squadron was engaged in ferrying gliders to North Africa until September 1943 under Operations 'BEGGAR' and 'ELABORATE'. Ferrying was dangerous: On 14 June 1943, a Halifax/Horsa combination was attacked by 2 Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condors of KG 40. Sadly, the glider cast off and ditched, and the Halifax was shot down. Happily, sometimes No.38 Group planes were lucky like Halifax DG396/QQ of No.295 Squadron which evaded from an attack of Ju88s of V/KG 40 on 18 September 1943 (Click to read the story and see photos of DG396).

No.295 Squadron began converting to Albemarles in October 1943 and continued supply drops to the resistance in France and trained for the invasion of Europe.
On the eve of 'D'-Day, for Operation 'TONGA', from Harwell, No.295 Squadron shared with No.570 Squadron the distinction of dropping the first troops of the invasion into Normandy. The leading Albemarle this night took off, at 23:03 hrs on 05 June, and was piloted by Squadron Leader Merrick, with Air Vice Marshall L.N. Hollinghurst, CBE OBE DFC, AOC No.38 Group, as his co-pilot. Merrick was followed soon by an aircraft piloted by F/Lt Kingdon. At 00:20 hrs on 06 June 1944, dropped by these Albemarles of No.295 and also No.570 Squadron, the first airborne forces to touch the French soil were the 22nd Independent Parachute Company.
In recognition of their part in this important task, S/Ldr Merrick and his navigator, W/O Farrow, and F/Lt Kingdon and his navigator, F/Lt Richardson, were awarded the DFC.
Soon after this aircraft, 'Tonga' went on for No.295 Squadron and 8 aircraft took off, together with 8 aircraft of No.570 Squadron (the last of these No.295 Squadron's aircraft took off at 23:14 hrs). 10 troops of 8th Parachute Battalion were in the aircraft of F/O Ralph, the other No.295 Squadron's aircraft carried 'C' Company of Canadian Parachute Battalion & containers.
2 other aircraft of No.295 Squadron took off, always for 'TONGA', but with Horsa gliders (F/Lt Unwin with troops of 9th Parachute Battalion and P/O. Yull with No.3 Section, 224 Parachute Field Ambulance), together with 2 aircraft of No.570 Squadron, between 23:18 - 23:20 hrs.
To complete the participation of No.295 to 'TONGA', 21 aircraft took off again between 01:28 and 01:44 hrs (11 of No.295, loaded with 6th Airborne Division HQ and 10 aircraft of No.570), including Wg/Cdr MacNamara, commanding No.295 Squadron, who had Major General Crawford as passenger, and towed a glider piloted by Major Griffiths carrying Major General Gale, the Commander of the 6th Airborne Division.
All the aircraft returned safely from 'TONGA' but low cloud had provided difficulties: 2 cast off at Worthing ; 2 cast off just before the French coast and 2 ropes were broken in the area, one probably by flak.
Later on 06 June followed Operation 'MALLARD', the delivery by glider of the remainder of the 6th Airborne Division just before dusk. 20 of the Squadron's aircraft towed gliders to the Landing Zones (LZs), together with 21 aircraft of No.570 Squadron. They took off, led by Wg/Cdr Bangay, commanding No.570 Squadron, between 18:50 and 19:20 hrs. The aircraft of F/O Stewart crashed on take-off without serious injuries. Sgt Hall's glider cast off at Ford. The remaining 39 were released at LZ 'N' and LZ 'W'.
All returned safely.
On 07 June 1944, messages of congratulations were received from A.O.C., C.I.G.S, Station Commander, and like other Group Squadrons, 2 aircraft (F/Lt Unwin, P/O Yull) took part in a 'COONEY PARTY' and dropped SAS teams in the Brest Peninsular (See No.296 Squadron History).
After 'D'-Day in June 1944, the crews of No.295 Squadron began training at 1665 HCU (Tilstock) to convert to Stirling Mk IV.
Albemarle SOE operations continued and on 27 July 1944 was the first operational sortie with the four-engined bomber Stirling Mk IV.
In August, No.295 had already 19 Stirlings and in September, 33.
On 17 September 1944 the Squadron sent from Harwell to Arnhem, Holland, for Operation 'MARKET' I, 25 Stirlings Mk IV towing gliders (on board were troops of the 1st Airborne Division who had to be dropped at DZ 'N' in the Nijmegen area on the Waal to secure bridges over the lower branches of the Dutch Rhine). The 1st aircraft, piloted by Wg/Cdr Angell, took off at 11h20 and all were airborne at 11:40 hrs. 22 tugs were released over the LZ and 3 failed to reach it. All the aircraft returned safely.
No.295 flew operations 'MARKET' (re-supply missions) until 23 September.
Operations 'MARKET II', 18 September: 23 aircraft were involved (3 towed gliders) and 19 completed their mission. Flak was severe but all returned safely.
Operation 'MARKET III', 19 September: 16 aircraft took off. 2 were badly damaged before reaching the DZ and 13 completed their mission. Ground opposition was fierce and all but 3 aircraft were badly damaged. Sadly, LK170 piloted by F/S Hall, failed to return.
Operations 'MARKET IV', 20 September: 17 aircraft took off and 16 reached the DZ (many were damaged). Weather was poor and enemy opposition was intense. Sadly, a second aircraft failed to return (LJ618 of F/O Couper).
Operation 'MARKET V', 21 September: 11 aircraft took off and 10 reached the DZ. Ground opposition was less intense but No.295 Squadron lost its third aircraft (LK115 of P/O Peel).
Operations 'MARKET VII', 23 September: 14 aircraft flew this last mission. One Stirling Mk IV (LJ986) was hit over the target area after having dropped his supplies, and landed at Ghent with an engine out of action. The 13 others returned to Base.
No.295 Squadron had flown 106 sorties for the operations 'MARKET' and had 7 men killed and 3 aircraft lost.
On 24 March 1945, the Squadron took part in Operation 'VARSITY', the Rhine crossing, with 30 aircraft, carrying 222 troops, plus many vehicles, in its towed gliders. 29 aircraft reached the DZ and several were hit by flak. LK137 piloted by W/O Symmons never returned.
SOE sorties had always continued, mainly over Scandinavia where the weather conditions (and also German fighters) were dangerous. By example, No.295 Squadron's Stirling LK171 flown by Group Captain Surplice DSO DFC, was lost after carburettors of all four engines froze over.
Shortly after the German surrender, No.295 Squadron took 22 Stirlings with troops to Norway to disarm the German garrison, this was followed by trooping flights to Europe.
No.295 Squadron was disbanded on 21 January 1946 but was reformed at Tarrant Rushton Dorset when No.190 Squadron was renumbered No.295 Squadron, but disbanded again on 1st April 1946.
It reformed again on 10 September 1947 at Fairford Glostershire as an Airborne Forces Squadron and disbanded finally on 1st November 1948.

 

Commanding Officers:

03 August 1942           Squadron Leader A.B. WILKINSON DFC(US)                                                           (Temp O.C. - S/L Wilkinson was awarded two King's                                     Commendations for Valuable Service in the Air)

29 August 1942           Wing Commander G.P. MARVIN CBE, MiD

01 January 1943         (Acting Wing Commander P.M.V. LYSAGHT                                                             (Temp O.C. - KiA, 19 February 1943)
                                   (Acting W/C Lysaght was awarded a King's Commendation                                     for Valuable Service in the Air)

                                   (Squadron Leader L.C. BARTRAM                                                                            (Temp O.C.)

March 1943                 Wing Commander B.R. MACNAMARA OPW2(USSR)

                                   OPW2(USSR): Order of the Great Patriotic War (Second                                    Class) - Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

14 September 1944       Wing Commander H.E. ANGELL DFC                                                                       (Wing Commander promotion confirmed on 03 October                                     1944)

December 1945            Wing Commander R.N. STIDOLPH

 

Date / Base / Aircraft

03 August 1942  Squadron formed at Netheravon Wiltshire in No.38 Group -                                                                                    nucleus from No.296 Squadron

August 1942 / Netheravon Wiltshire / Whitley V

February 1943 / Netheravon Wiltshire / Halifax V, Whitley V

01 May 1943 / Holmsley South Hampshire (det Goubrine II Tunisia) / Halifax V,                                                                                                                    Whitley V

30 June 1943 / Hurn Dorset / Halifax V, Whitley V

October 1943 / Hurn Dorset / Albemarle II, Halifax V, Whitley V

November 1943 / Hurn Dorset / Albemarle I, Albemarle II

15 March 1944 / Harwell Oxfordshire / Albemarle I, Albemarle II

April 1944 / Harwell Oxfordshire / Albemarle I, Albemarle II, Albemarle V

June 1944 / Harwell Oxfordshire / Stirling IV, Albemarle I, Albemarle II,                                                                                                                Albemarle V

July 1944 / Harwell Oxfordshire / Stirling IV

11 October 1944 / Rivenhall Essex / Stirling IV

21 January 1946  Squadron Disbanded

21 January 1946  Squadron Reformed at Tarrant Rushton Dorset in No.38 Group                                                                                   (No.190 Squadron renumbered)

January 1946 / Tarrant Rushton Dorset / Halifax A.7

01 April 1946  Squadron Disbanded - renumbered as No.297 Squadron

10 September 1947  Squadron Reformed at Fairford Glostershire in No.38 Group

September 1947 / Fairford Glostershire / Halifax A.9

01 November 1948  Squadron Disbanded

Halifax A V DG 396/QQ of No.295 Squadron during Operation 'ELABORATE' (UK-North Africa glider ferry), No.38 Wing, Army Co-operation Command, Holmsley South, June 1943
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