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© RAF WWII 38 GROUP SQUADRONS (161, 190, 196, 295, 296, 297, 298, 299, 570, 620, 644, GPEU, HCU, HGCU, LWU, ORTU, OTU, PTS) REUNITED
A Brief History of No.38 Wing and No.38 Group
(As written in Official Roll of Honour)
      No.38 Wing was established 15th January 1942. It’s first Commander was Group Captain Sir Nigel NORMAN. The Wing’s first Order of Battle consisted of No.296 and No.297 Squadrons, both based at Netheravon.
      Neither of the squadrons was immediately available for operations, so the Wing had to command of detachments from Bomber Command for both Operations “BITING (Bruneval) and “FRESHMAN” (Norway). The first was very successful, but the second was tragically disastrous. In the meantime, No.295 Squadron was formed at Netheravon 3rd August 1942.
      During 1943, changes of all aircraft types and operational bases were made. From March to August, No.295 Squadron flew transits of Halifax / Horsa combinations from Portreath to North Africa (Operation “BEGGAR”). Subsequently No.296 and No.297 Squadrons flew Albemarles and Halifaxes in Operation “HUSKY”, (the invasion of Sicily). Later, No.295 and No.297 Squadrons towed further gliders to North Africa during the period August to November 1943 for Operation “ELABORATE” (see photos of Halifax DG396/QQ).
     Tragically, Air Commodore Sir Nigel Norman was killed on 19th May 1943. He was on his way to North Africa, but the aircraft crashed on take-off from Portreath. On 6th November 1943 No.38 Wing became No.38 Group
with nine squadrons : four Albemarle (295, 296, 297, 570), one Halifax (298) and four Stirling (299, 190, 196, 620). All were fully manned in January 1944 and No.644 (Halifax) Squadron completed the order of battle during February 1944.
      From February 1944 until the end of the war in Europe many sorties were made in support of Special Operations Executive and detachments of the Special Air Service. Sorties to drop leaflets were also carried out. By 5th June 1944 the Group’s strength was fully redeployed between Brize Norton, Fairford, Harwell, Keevil and Tarrant Rushton for Operation “OVERLORD” (the invasion of Europe). Between that day and 16th June the Group was involved in operations “TONGA”, “MALLARD”, and “ROB ROY”.
      Three months later, the Group went back to war with a vengeance (Operation “MARKET”) from 17th to 21st September, an attempt to take bridges over the canals and across the Rhine at Nijmegen. The worst levels of casualties were suffered particularly in No.190 and No.196 Squadrons on 20th and 21st September.
      Immediately after the operation HQ No.38 Group moved to Markshall (Essex) in October 1944, and the squadrons were redeployed once more to Earls Colne, Rivenhall, Great Dunmow, Wethersfield (later to Shepherds Grove) and Woodbridge while 199 Squadron remained at Fairford. On 10th March 1945 No.161 Squadron and RAF Tempsford came under the control of
No.38 Group. On 24th March 1945 the squadrons were fully employed in delivering airborne troops to the far bank of the Rhine (Operation “VARSITY”). It is of particular note that 60 RAF pilots were lost flying gliders in this action.
      By New Year 1946 virtually all the Squadrons in the Group had been disbanded or transferred to the Far East and HQ No.38 Group moved to Upavon in May 1946. No.297 Squadron remained in service and No.295 Squadron was reformed in August 1947. The two squadrons were based at Fairford.

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38 GROUP RAF

ORDER OF BATTLE

JULY 1944

Station
Squadron Aircraft Serviceable Strength Total Total
Serviceable gliders :





 
Horsa, Hamilcar ,Waco
Tarrant
298
Halifax
30
39
 


Rushton
644
Halifax
21
36
51/75
49
61
26
Fairford
190
Stirling
33
39





620
Stirling
30
35
63/74
82
/
3
Keevil
196
Stirling
36
38




299 Stirling
35
39
71/77
78
/
/
Brize
296
Albemarle
37
39




Norton
297
Albemarle
36
38
73/77
80
/
/

295
Stirling
0
4
Albemarle



Harwell
295
Albemarle
34
35
70/72




570
Stirling
0
4
Stirling
72
/
/

570
Albemarle
36
37
0/8



Other Stations
/
/
/
/
/
456
/
1
TOTAL
/
/
328
383
/
817
61
30

 

Albemarle : 143/149

Stirling : 134/159

Halifax : 51/75

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