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No. 102 Squadron R.A.F.

Description of the Squadron's Badge On a demi-terrertrial globe a lion rampant holding in the fore-paws a bomb.
Squadron's Motto: et perficite (Attempt and achieve)
Formation date:
Brief History: Disbanded 1919 Reformed 1936 (bomber) Transferred to transport Command and Disbanded 2/1946. Reformed 10/1954 (Bomber), renumbered 8/1956 as No.59 squadron. Reformed 8/1956 Thor IRBM until 4/1963
Squadron Bases & Airfields Equipment Used and Dates
Heyford 10/1935-11/1938
Whitley 10/1938-2/1942
Halifax 12/1941-5/1945
Liberator ?

Formed for the purpose of night bombing at Hingham in August 1917, No. 102 Squadron was equipped with the RAF F.E.2b aircraft which it took to France a month later. Here it embarked on a winter offensive behind the German lines, attacking in the main enemy aerodromes and railways stations in the north of France. Some installations, such as Gontrose airfield and Courtrai and Menin railway stations, became very, regular targets. This was continued through until the German spring offensive required more tactical bombing. The squadron turned more to reconnaissance sorties, endeavoring, by means of flares, to discover where the enemies were advancing by night and then attacking them at low level with machine-guns. The squadron continued a measure of this type of operation even after the German drive had been halted; through that summer of 1918 No. 102 remained very busy, refining its techniques for attacking aerodromes and railways. Even though the 'Fee' was outclassed as an aircraft it continued to provide a fine, stable bombing platform. During mid-summer the squadron was operating mainly in the Bapaume area. with roads and military transport on the list of targets. This was intensified as the Germans began to retreat and now it set out to destroy the Somme bridges at Peronne. As the offensive went into the autumn the squadron concent­rated once more on railway trans­port, bombing train after train as they attempted to escape by night.

With World War 1 over, the squadron returned to England in March 1919 and was disbanded at Lympne on 3 July 1919.

On October 1935 No. 102 was re­formed from B Flight of No. 7 Squad­ron, then at Worthy Down, although it was not until March 1936 that it had built up sufficiently to be a sep­arate unit from No. 7 Squadron. It. was once again a night bomber squadron, equipped with the Hand­ley Page Heyford and soon moved north to Yorkshire as part of the newly formed No. 4 Group, Bomber Command. Here it eventually re­ceived the standard No. 4 Group bomber, the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley. With these it began leaflet raids over Germany on the second night of World War 2, the Ruhr being its area of operation. Such raids, continued through that bitter cold winter and it was not until December that a squadron aircraft dropped bombs in anger, on a seaplane base at Sylt. During 1940 No. 102 became fully involved in the mounting offensive over the continent by night, and flew some long distance sorties to Turin in Italy almost im­mediately after the Italians had entered the war in June 1940.

The Whitley was able to take a lot of punishment and in two instances aircraft from No. 102 Squadron returned to England in severely damaged condition, one with most of the upper surfaces of its wings mis­sing and the other (flown by Leonard Cheshire when he was a pilot officer) with a large portion of the fuselage side blown open after an in-flight fire. This slow lumbering bomber was used until February 1942, by which time the squadron had been adopted by Ceylon and was flying aircraft paid for and named by this island.

Eventually the Handley Page Halifax took the Whitley's place in the squadron. At the time of re-equipment the Halifax was having its own troubles so No. 102 did not become operational until April. It was then into thethousand-bomber' raids of that year and for the next 18 months the squadron flew night after night out over Germany, attacking the allotted targets. And always there would be a number missing by daybreak, as was the case with most bomber squadrons at the time. The beginning of 1944 brought a variety of targets to the unit as Bomber Command was drawn into preparations for the Second front with many targets in France. These mostly rail targets were an echo of World War 1 for No. 102 Squadron. Maximum effort went into the activities of those summer months, the squadron being happy to have converted to Halifax Mk IIIs with Bristol Hercules radial engines.

In September 1944 No. 102 temporarily took on a transport role when it used its aircraft to fly petrol to Belgium to overcome an imminent shortage by the 2nd Army. This task lasted for about a month before the squadron returned to the bomber offensive, taking part in the heavy raids which built up to a climax as the war drew to a close. With the war over the squadron immediately transferred to Transport Command where it re-equipped with Consoli­dated Liberators. It moved to Bas­singbourn and began to fly regular trooping and POW flights to India and back to speed up the return of them, thousands of troops of the 'For­gotten Army'. Once this backlog was cleared the number of transport squadrons could be reduced, and No. 102 was disbanded at Upwood on 15 February 1946.

With the build-up of RAF Germany in the mid-1950s No. 102 Squadron was re-formed as a bomber unit in this command. This took place at Gutersloh on 20 October 1954, and tasked as a for­ward nuclear strike bomber squadron it flew English Electric Can­berra B.Mk 2s for Just under two years, until it was again disbanded renumbering as No. 59 at Gutersloh on 20 August 1956. Since then the squadron has had one further existence, as a Thor IRBM unit at Full Sutton froth August 1939 to 27 April 1963.

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