No. 296 Squadron RAF

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No. 296 Squadron RAF
Active 25 Jan 1942 – 23 Jan 1946
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Role Airborne forces and Transport
Part of No. 38 Group RAF[1]
Motto Prepared for all things[2][3]
Engagements Sicily, Normandy, Arnhem
Insignia
Squadron Badge heraldry In front of a sword in pale, the point downwards, a scroll[2][3]
Squadron Codes XH (Aug 1942 – Nov 1943)[4][5]
9W (Oct 1943 – Jan 1946)[6][7]
7C (Mar 1944 – Jan 1946)[8][9]

No. 296 Squadron RAF was an airborne forces squadron of the Royal Air Force during World War II. With sister squadrons 295 and 297 it formed 38 Wing, which later expanded to create No. 38 Group RAF.[1]

History[edit]

With the Airborne Forces[edit]

An Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk.V like the ones used by 296 Sqn.

No. 296 Squadron was formed at Ringway Airport near Manchester on 25 January 1942 from the Glider Exercise Unit as an airborne forces unit, equipped with obsolete Hawker Hectors and Hawker Harts, and moved to RAF Netheravon to concentrate on glider training. In June 1942 it began to receive the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley and in October 1942 began flying leaflet dropping missions over France. In early 1943 the squadron converted to the Albemarle Mk.I and in Summer 1943 moved 32 aircraft to Froha, Algeria to take part in Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily, returning later in the year.

An example of the Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle as used by 296 Sqn.

The Squadron was involved in the first part of the D-Day landings. On the night of 5/6 June 1944, as part of Operation Tonga, three Albemarles flew Pathfinder parachutists to Normandy followed by eight more loaded with paratroops of 5th Parachute Brigade. During 6 June the squadron returned with a further eight towing Horsa gliders. For Operation Mallard which immediately followed, 296 squadron despatched 19 aircraft towing gliders to Normandy. Other missions involved dropping SAS sabotage teams behind enemy lines. The Albemarle's last major mission came during the battle of Arnhem, where the squadron towed across forty-six gliders in two waves from Manston aerodrome without loss in the first two days of the battle. The Albemarles gave way in September 1944 to the Handley Page Halifax of which 30 were provided for Operation Varsity, the Rhine crossings. At the end of the war the squadron was used to ferry troops to Norway and Denmark to take the German surrender and to bring liberated POWs back to Britain.

With Transport Command[edit]

The squadron operated a mail service to India from December 1945 until it disbanded on 23 January 1946 at RAF Earls Colne, Essex.

Aircraft operated[edit]

Aircraft operated by No. 296 Squadron RAF, data from[3][10][11]
From To Aircraft Version
January 1942 August 1942 Hawker Hector Mk.1
January 1942 August 1942 Hawker Hart
June 1942 March 1943 Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk.V
January 1943 November 1944 Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle Mks.I, II
September 1944 November 1944 Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle Mks.IV, V
September 1944 Mar 1945 Handley Page Halifax Mk.V
February 1945 January 1946 Handley Page Halifax Mk.III
December 1945 January 1946 Handley Page Halifax A.7

Squadron bases[edit]

Bases and airfields used by No. 296 Squadron RAF, data from[3][10][11]
From To Base Remark
25 January 1942 1 February 1942 RAF Ringway, Cheshire Formed here
1 February 1942 25 July 1942 RAF Netheravon, Wiltshire Det. at RAF Hurn, Dorset
25 July 1942 25 October 1942 RAF Hurn, Dorset
25 October 1942 19 December 1942 RAF Andover, Hampshire
19 December 1942 25 June 1943 RAF Hurn, Dorset
3 June 1943 15 October 1943 RAF Stoney Cross, Hampshire Ground echelon
3 June 1943 24 June 1943 Froha, Algeria Air echelon
24 June 1943 15 October 1943 Goubrine II, Tunisia Air echelon. Dets. at Cassibile, Sicily and Torrente Comunelli Airfield, Sicily
15 October 1943 14 March 1944 RAF Hurn, Dorset Det. at RAF Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland
14 March 1944 29 September 1944 RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire
29 September 1944 23 January 1946 RAF Earls Colne, Essex Disbanded here

Commanding officers[edit]

Officers commanding No. 296 Squadron RAF, data from[10]
From To Name
January 1942 October 1942 S/Ldr. P.B.N. Davis
October 1942 July 1943 W/Cdr. P.R. May, AFC
July 1943 August 1943 W/Cdr. L.C. Bartram
August 1943 October 1944 W/Cdr. D.I. McInnies
October 1944 February 1945 S/Ldr. R.W. Jamieson
February 1945 January 1946 W/Cdr. T.C. Musgrave

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Bowyer, Michael J.F. and John D.R. Rawlings. Squadron Codes, 1937–56. Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens, 1979. ISBN 0-85059-364-6.
  • Delve, Ken. The Source Book of the RAF. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1994. ISBN 1-85310-451-5.
  • Flintham, Vic and Andrew Thomas. Combat Codes: A full explanation and listing of British, Commonwealth and Allied air force unit codes since 1938. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 2003. ISBN 1-84037-281-8.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth 1918–1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air Britain (Historians), 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Jefford, Wing Commander C.G., MBE, BA, RAF(Retd.). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1988 (second edition 2001). ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Coastal, Support and Special Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Jane's Publishing Company, 1982. ISBN 0-7106-0187-5.

External links[edit]