No. 50 Squadron RAF

From Our Contribution

50 Squadron.jpg
Skellingthorpe. 2 May 1942. A Heavily laden Hampden of No. 50 Squadron, RAF, preparing to take off for raid on Hamburg.
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Swinderby, Lincolnshire, England, 1942. Lancaster R5735 "A"of No. 50 Squadron RAF

Brief History

No. 50 Squadron reformed at RAF Waddington on 3 May 1937, equipped with Hawker Hind biplane light bombers. It began converting to the Handley Page Hampden monoplane medium bomber in December 1938. It was still equipped with Hampdens when the Second World War broke out, forming part of 5 Group, Bomber Command. It flew its first bombing raid on 19 Mar 1940 against the seaplane base at Hörnum on the island of Sylt. On 12 Apr 1940, in an attempt to attack German warships off Kristiansand returning from the German invasion of Norway, 50 Squadron took part in an attack on the German fleet. When 12 Hampdens of 50 and 44 Squadron spotted a German warship and attempted to attack, they lost 6 of their number to beam attacks by German fighters. After these losses, daylight attacks with Hampdens were abandoned.

50 Squadron continued operations by night, taking part in the RAF's strategic bombing offensive against the Germans for the remainder of 1940 and 1941. It re-equipped with Avro Manchesters from April 1942, moving to RAF Skellingthorpe, near Lincoln. The Manchester was disappointing, however, with unreliable engines and had a lower ceiling than the Hampden it replaced. 50 Squadron contributed 17 Manchesters to Operation Milliennium the "1,000 aircraft" raid against Cologne on 30/31 May 1942. It lost two aircraft that night, one of which piloted by Flying Officer Leslie Thomas Manser who was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for pressing on with the attack after his aircraft was heavily damaged, and when a crash became inevitable, sacrificing his own life by remaining at the controls to allow the rest of his crew to parachute to safety.

The Squadron soon re-equipped with the four-engine Avro Lancaster, which it used for the rest of the war against German targets, flying its last mission of the war against an Oil Refinery at Vallø in Norway on 25/26 April 1945. The squadron flew 7,135 sorties during the war with a loss of 176 aircraft. It replaced its Lancasters with Avro Lincolns in 1946, disbanding at Waddington on 31 January 1951. Seventy six (76) Australian airmen lost their lives while posted to this squadron.

Air Crew

Battle Honours

Individual Honours Australian Personnel

  • 23 x Dstinguished Flying Cross & 2 Bars
  • 13 x Distinguished Flying Medal


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