No. 161 Squadron RAF

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No. 161 Squadron RAF
Groupe 161 de Tangmere 1943 Lysander 5594.jpg
No. 161 Squadron at Tangmere in 1943
Active 9 May 1918 - 17 August 1918
15 February 1942 – 2 June 1945
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Motto Liberate
Squadron badge heraldry An open fetterlock
Squadron codes MA Feb 1942 - 1945
JR Apr 1944 - 1945 (Lysander Flight only)

No. 161 (Special Duties) Squadron was a highly secretive unit of the Royal Air Force, which, together with 138 Squadron, was tasked with missions of the Special Operations Executive during the Second World War. Their primary role was to drop and collect secret agents and equipment into and from Nazi-occupied Europe. The squadron had a secondary role in acting as the King's Flight.


A proposal was made on 9 May 1918 to create a Squadron flying the Airco DH.9A in a daylight bombing role. The scheduled formation date was postponed several times before the plans were entirely cancelled. The squadron was reformed at RAF Newmarket on 15 February 1942 when the King's Flight was combined with elements of 138 Squadron. In April, 161 Squadron moved to RAF Tempsford in Bedfordshire where it would remain until disbandment on 2 June 1945.[1]


Several types of aircraft were used by the squadron in the course of their duties.

The Lysanders were used for the landing and collection of agents, while the other types were used for parachuting agents and supplies.


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This aircraft and the remains of the pilot were discovered 53 years, to the day, after it went missing on an operation.