No. 5 Group RAF
|No. 5 Group|
|Active||1 Apr 1918 – 15 May 1919|
1 Sep 1937 – 15 Dec 1945
|Branch||Royal Air Force|
|Part of||RAF Bomber Command|
|Group Headquarters||Morton Hall, Swinderby, Lincolnshire|
|Air Vice-Marshal Arthur Travers "Bomber" Harris|
Air Vice-Marshal Ralph Cochrane
|Group badge heraldry||A lion rampant|
The Group was formed on 1 September 1937, with its headquarters at RAF Mildenhall, in Suffolk. In October the same year, the group headquarters (HQ) was moved to St Vincents Hall in Grantham, Lincolnshire. During the Second World War, 5 Group was concentrated primarily in south Lincolnshire (whereas 1 Group was more concentrated in the north of the county). Most of the 5 Group airfields were around Lincoln, including RAF Scampton.
By the end of the Second World War, the Group had grown to 15 squadrons. During the war, it included a significant proportion of Royal Australian Air Force (or Australian-born RAF) personnel, both aircrews and ground staff, who were concentrated in three "Article XV squadrons": No. 455 Squadron RAAF, No. 463 Squadron RAAF and No. 467 Squadron RAAF. The Group also famously included an elite, multi-national unit: No. 617 Squadron, perhaps better known as "The Dambusters". 617 Sqn was formed in March 1943, and comprised RAF, RAAF, RCAF/Canadian and RNZAF/New Zealand aircrew personnel, who had been hand-picked from squadrons throughout Bomber Command.
1939 – 1945
From 11 September 1939 until 22 November 1940, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Arthur Harris was in charge. The group started the war with 10 squadrons, all equipped with the Handley Page Hampden. The Group continued to fly only Hampdens until the northern winter of 1940–1941 when it began to convert to the new Avro Manchester.
Early in 1942, the Manchester, was replaced by its four-engined variant: the Avro Lancaster, started to equip the group squadrons. On 17 October 1942, under Operation Robinson, some 86 Lancasters from 5 Group (without fighter escort) flew deep into occupied France to attack the Schneider armaments works at Le Creusot and the associated electrical station at Montchanin. On the night of 22–23 October, 85 Lancasters of the Group attacked Genoa without a single loss. On 24 October, 74 Lancasters delivered a daylight attack on Milan.
Using the Stabilizing Automatic Bomb Sight (SABS) and the 12,000 lb (5,400 kg) Tallboy, 617 Sqn achieved a bombing error of only 94 yd (86 m) at the V Weapon launch site at Abbeville, during December 1943.
During the lead-up to D-day, Cochrane was an advocate of low-level marking, to improve accuracy, and lobbied heavily to be allowed to prove the principle operationally. New systems of target-marking were developed as result and were tested by 617 Squadron – especially its commanding officer, Wing Commander Leonard Cheshire, using the de Havilland Mosquito and North American Mustang. (Cheshire was subsequently awarded the Victoria Cross and taken off active operations.)
5 Group was disbanded on 15 December 1945.
- First "thousand-bomber attack" on Cologne on 30 May 1942 (shared)
- "Dambuster" attack on the dams at the Möhne Reservoir, the Edersee and Sorpedam on 17 May 1943 (without backup)
- Operation Bellicose, the first ‘shuttle raid’ of the war, against rocket facilities near Lake Constance and shipping at La Spezia Naval Base via Tunisia, in June 1943.
- Operation Hydra against the Peenemünde Army Research Center on 17 August 1943
- Attack on Braunschweig, 15 October 1944 (without backup)
- Attack on Heilbronn, 4 December 1944 (without backup)
- Attack on Dresden on 13 February 1945 (without backup on the first attack)
- Grand Slam attack on Schildesche viaduct near Bielefeld on 14 March 1945 (without backup)
- Attack on Würzburg, 16 March 1945 (shared)
- Attack on the oil refinery at Tønsberg in Southern Norway, the last raid by heavy bombers of Bomber Command in World War II.
1918 to 1919
1937 to 1945
- 17 August 1937 Air Commodore William Bertram Callaway
- 11 September 1939 Air Vice-Marshal Arthur Travers Harris
- 22 November 1940 Air Vice-Marshal Norman Bottomley
- 12 May 1941 Air Vice-Marshal John Slessor
- 25 April 1942 Air Vice-Marshal Alec Coryton
- 28 February 1943 Air Vice-Marshal Ralph Cochrane
- 16 January 1945 Air Vice-Marshal Hugh Constantine
- Moyes, Philip J. R. (1976) . Bomber Squadrons of the RAF and Their Aircraft (2nd ed.). London: Macdonald and Jane's. ISBN 978-0-354-01027-6.
- Otter, Patrick (1996). Lincolnshire Airfields in the Second World War. Newbury: Hushion House, Countryside Books. ISBN 978-1-85306-424-1.
- Pine, L.G. (1983). A Dictionary of Mottoes (1st ed.). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 978-0-7100-9339-4.
- Ward, Chris (2007). 5 Group Bomber Command: An Operational Record. London: Pen & Sword Aviation. ISBN 978-1-84415-579-8.