No. 6 Group RCAF

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No. 6 Group RCAF
Memorial to 6 Group RCAF Squadrons - - 139213.jpg
Memorial to 6 Group RCAF squadrons near RAF Croft. The memorial text says "In memory of and to honour those who served at Croft during World War II. Dedicated by the members of 431 Iroquois and 434 Bluenose R.C.A.F Squadrons. 6 Group Bomber Command. 26 September 1987.
Active 25 Oct 1942–31 Aug 1945
Country  Canada
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Royal Canadian Air Force Ensign (1941-1968).svg Royal Canadian Air Force
Role Strategic and tactical bombing
Size 14 squadrons at peak strength
Part of RAF Bomber Command
Garrison/HQ Allerton Park, Yorkshire
Motto Latin: Sollertia et ingenium
(Translation: "Initiative and skill")[1]
Air Vice-Marshal G.E. Brookes,
Air Vice-Marshal C.M. McEwen
Group badge heraldry A maple leaf superimposed on a York rose[1]
Aircraft flown
Bomber Vickers Wellington
Short Stirling
Handley Page Halifax
Avro Lancaster
Trainer British Aircraft Eagle
Foster Wikner Wicko
Airspeed Oxford

No. 6 Group RCAF oversaw the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) heavy bomber squadrons in Europe during the Second World War, between 1942 and 1945. The group operated out of airfields in Yorkshire, England. There was technically no 6 Group RAF during the Second World War, although a unit by that name had been previously active in the RAF, in: 1918; 1924–26, and 1936–39 (when it was a training unit).[2][3]

The group was made up of Article XV squadrons: RCAF units formed under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, for service with British operational formations; hence No. 6 Group was part of Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command. However, a significant number of personnel from the RAF, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) and other Allied air forces were attached to 6 Group during the war.


Canadian bomber squadrons began participating in the war effort in 1941 and were attached to RAF Bomber Command groups. Canada, however, wanted its own identifiable presence in Allied air operations overseas, and it did not want its air force to be merely a source of manpower for the Royal Air Force. To this end, 6 (RCAF) Group was formed on 25 October 1942[4] with eight squadrons.

At the peak of its strength, 6 Group consisted of 14 squadrons.[5] Fifteen squadrons would eventually serve with the group, which was almost every RCAF heavy bomber squadron.[5][6] Headquarters for 6 Group was at Allerton Park near Knaresborough and Harrogate in North Yorkshire.

Order of battle for No. 6 Group RCAF, April 1943[7][8][9]
Station Squadron Aircraft Version
RAF Croft No. 420 Squadron RCAF
No. 427 Squadron RCAF
1535 BATF
Vickers Wellington
Vickers Wellington
Airspeed Oxford
Mks.III, X

RAF Dishforth No. 424 Squadron RCAF
No. 425 Squadron RCAF
No. 426 Squadron RCAF
No. 428 Squadron RCAF
No 1659 (Canadian) Heavy Conversion Unit RAF
1512 BATF
Vickers Wellington
Vickers Wellington
Vickers Wellington
Vickers Wellington
Handley Page Halifax
Airspeed Oxford
Mks.III, X
Mks.III, X
Mks.III, X
Mks.III, X
Mks.I, II

RAF Leeming No. 420 Squadron RCAF Handley Page Halifax Mk.II
RAF Middleton St. George No. 419 Squadron RCAF Handley Page Halifax Mk.II
RAF Skipton-on-Swale No. 408 Squadron RCAF Handley Page Halifax Mk.II
RAF Topcliffe Group Communications Flight (GCF) British Aircraft Eagle
Foster Wikner Wicko


Aircrew and groundcrew of a No. 428 Squadron RCAF Lancaster bomber

Significant operations involving 6 Group included raids on U-boat bases in Lorient and Saint-Nazaire, France and night bombing raids on industrial complexes and urban centres in Germany.

No. 6 Group flew 40,822 operational sorties.[4] A total of 814 aircraft[4] and approximately 5,700 airmen did not return from operations and 4,203 [10] airmen lost their lives.


No. 6 Group was mainly formed from 4 Group, which was based primarily in Yorkshire. Once split, most of 6 Group`s airfields were north of York and most of 4 Group`s were south and east of the city.[11] Like most other groups within RAF Bomber Command, the "base" system was used for station organization.[12]

Four bases comprising 11 stations made up No. 6 Group. A base consisted of a main station, or headquarters, and a number of sub-stations. Late in 1943, Bomber Command bases were designated with a two-number identifier. The first number represented the group number, and the second number represented the base within that group. The first base within the group was the group's training base. No. 61 Base was therefore the training base for No. 6 Group. Each base was commanded by an Air Commodore and each station was commanded by a Group Captain.

No. 61 Base No. 62 (Beaver) Base[13] No. 63 Base No. 64 Base
RAF Topcliffe, Yorkshire (HQ) RAF Linton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire (HQ) RAF Leeming, Yorkshire (HQ) RAF Middleton St. George, County Durham (HQ)
RAF Dishforth, Yorkshire RAF East Moor, Yorkshire RAF Skipton-on-Swale, Yorkshire RAF Croft, North Yorkshire
RAF Dalton, Yorkshire RAF Tholthorpe, Yorkshire
RAF Wombleton, Yorkshire

Operational squadrons[edit]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b Moyes 1976, p. 344.
  2. ^ "Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation, Group No's 1 - 9." Retrieved: 19 February 2010.
  3. ^ Dunmore 1991, p. 4.
  4. ^ a b c Moyes 1976, p. 346.
  5. ^ a b Millberry 1984, p. 166.
  6. ^ Dunmore 1991, p. 375.
  7. ^ Halley 1988, pp. 494–510.
  8. ^ Delve 1994, p. 62.
  9. ^ Sturtivant and Hamlin 2007, pp. 97, 125–126.
  10. ^ Bashow 2005, p. 458.
  11. ^ Otter 1998, p. 15.
  12. ^ "Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation. Bomber Command Bases." Retrieved: 19 February 2010.
  13. ^ Sturtivant and Hamlin 2007, p. 77.


  • Bashow, David L. No Prouder Place: Canadians and the Bomber Command Experience 1939-1945. St. Catharine's, Ontario, Canada: Vanwell Publishing Limited, 2005. ISBN 1-55125-098-5.
  • Delve, Ken. The Sourcebook of the RAF. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing Ltd., 1994. ISBN 1-85310-451-5.
  • Dunmore, Spencer and William Carter. Reap the Whirlwind: The Untold Story of 6 Group, Canada's Bomber Force of World War II. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: McLelland and Stewart Inc., 1991. ISBN 0-7710-2924-1.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth, 1918-1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Milberry, Larry, ed. Sixty Years - The RCAF and CF Air Command 1924 - 1984. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Canav Books, 1984. ISBN 0-9690703-4-9.
  • Moyes, Philip J.R. Bomber Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London, UK: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1964 (2nd edition 1976). ISBN 978-0-35401-027-6.
  • Otter, Patrick. Yorkshire Airfields in the Second World War. Toronto:, Ontario, Canada: Hushion House, 1998. ISBN 1853065420.
  • Sturtivant, Ray, ISO and John Hamlin. RAF Flying Training and Support Units since 1912. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 2007. ISBN 978-0-85130-365-9.

External links[edit]