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No.61 Sqn RAF - Squadron Profile.

No.61 Sqn RAF

Founded : 25th July 1917
Country : UK
Fate : Disbanded 31st March 1958
Known Aircraft Codes : QR, LS

Per prurum tonantes - Thundering through the clear sky

On July 1917 at RAF Rochford in Essex No.61 Squadron was formed and along with two other squadrons formed the London Air Defence Area intended to counter the daylight air raids. 61 squadron was equipped with the Sopwith Pup. The squadron first went into action on 12 thAugust, when a formation of 10 German Gotha bombers were seen over the Thames. Sixteen Sopwith Pups of No.61 Squadron took off to intercept them and succeeded in turning the enemy back, but not before two bombs had been dropped near No.61s hangars on Rochford Aerodrome. In 1918, 61 squadron was re-equipped with SE5s. When the armistice had been signed and the war was over 61 squadron was disbanded on 13th June 1919. No. 61 Squadron was re-formed on 8th March 1937 as a bomber squadron, and initially flying Hawker Audax, then the Avro Anson, followed by the Bristol Blenheim and during World War II flew with No. 5 Group, Bomer Command flying the Handley Page Hampden. The squadrons first operational mission was on 25th December 1939. The squadron then was equipped with the Avro Manchester. The slow delivery of the Manchester meant that the squadron operated both aircraft from July 1941 when the first Manchesters arrived, through to October 1941 when the use of the last of the Hampdens stopped. The squadron struggled on with the Manchester before converting to the Avro Lancaster in 1942, which 61 squadron flew for the rest of the war. Four of its Lancasters; ED860 N-Nan, EE176, JB138, and LL483, each served on more than 100 operational sorties. Records show that in the case of the first three aircraft, the long road to their centuries included participation in the raid on 3/4 November 1943, when Flt Lt William Reid of No. 61 Squadron won the Victoria Cross. After the war No. 61 Squadron re-equipped with Avro Lincolns in May 1946 and saw action in Malaya during Operation Firedog and during the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya. In 1954 at RAF Wittering, 61 Squadron was equipped with the new English Electric Canberra. The Canberras of the squadron were used during the Suez Crisis in 1956. Finally on March 31st 1958, 61 squadron wasd disbanded.

No.61 Sqn RAF

No.61 Sqn RAF Artwork Collection
Click the images below to view the fantastic artwork we have available to purchase!



Bill Reid VC by Graeme Lothian. (P)


Lancaster VC by Graeme Lothian.


No Turning Back by Robert Taylor.


Lancaster BIIIs of 61 Sqn RAF by Keith Woodcock.

Aircraft for : No.61 Sqn RAF
A list of all aircraft known to have been flown by No.61 Sqn RAF. A profile page including a list of all art prints for the aircraft is available by clicking the aircraft name.
SquadronInfo

Blenheim


Click the name above to see prints featuring Blenheim aircraft.

Manufacturer : Bristol

Blenheim

The Bristol Blenheim, the most plentiful aircraft in the RAFs inventory when WWII began, was designed by Frank Barnwell, and when first flown in 1936 was unique with its all metal monoplane design incorporating a retractable undercarriage, wing flaps, metal props, and supercharged engines. A typical bomb load for a Blenheim was 1,000 pounds. In the early stages of the war Blenheims were used on many daylight bombing missions. While great heroism was displayed by the air crews, tremendous losses were sustained during these missions. The Blenhiem was easy pickings at altitude for German Bf-109 fighters who quickly learned to attack from below. To protect the vulnerable bellies of the Blenheims many missions were shifted to low altitude, but this increased the aircrafts exposure to anti-aircraft fire.

Hampden




Click the name above to see prints featuring Hampden aircraft.

Manufacturer : Handley Page
Retired : 1942
Number Built : 1500

Hampden

The Handley Page HP.52 Hampden was a twin-engine medium bomber built for the Royal Air Force and was used by Bomber Command in the early years of world war two. Along with the other medium bombers the Whitley and Wellington, the Hampden bore the brunt of the early bombing war over Europe, taking part in the first night raid on Berlin and the first 1,000-plane raid on Cologne. The newest of the three medium bombers, the Hampden was known as the Flying Suitcase because of its cramped crew conditions. A total of 226 Hampdens were in service with eight Royal Air Force squadrons by the start of the Second World War. Despite its speed and agility, in operational use the Hampden was no match for the fighters of the Luftwaffe (ME109 and FW 190) and the Hampdens role as a day bomber was brief, but Hampdens continued to operate at night on bombing raids over Germany and in mine laying (code-named gardening) in the North Sea. Almost half of the Hampdens built 714, were lost on operations, witht he loss of 1,077 crew killed and another 739 missing. German flak accounted for 108; with one Hampden being lost due to German Barrage balloons; 263 Hampdens crashed due to a variety of causes, and 214 others were classed as missing. Luftwaffe pilots claimed 128 Hampdens, shooting down 92 at night. The Hampden soon became obsolete for its roll as a medium modern bomber, after operating mainly at night, it was retired from Bomber Command service in late 1942. but continued with Coastal Command throughout 1943 as a long-range Torpedo Bomber (the Hampden TB Mk I which carried the Mk XII torpedo in an open bomb-bay and a single 500lb (230kg) bomb under each wing) The Hampden was also used by the Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal New Zealand Air Force.

Lancaster




Click the name above to see prints featuring Lancaster aircraft.

Manufacturer : Avro
Production Began : 1942
Retired : 1963
Number Built : 7377

Lancaster

The Avro Lancaster arose from the avro Manchester and the first prototype Lancaster was a converted Manchester with four engines. The Lancaster was first flown in January 1941, and started operations in March 1942. By March 1945 The Royal Air Force had 56 squadrons of Lancasters with the first squadron equipped being No.44 Squadron. During World War Two the Avro Lancaster flew 156,000 sorties and dropped 618,378 tonnes of bombs between 1942 and 1945. Lancaster Bomberss took part in the devastating round-the-clock raids on Hamburg during Air Marshall Harris' Operation Gomorrah in July 1943. Just 35 Lancasters completed more than 100 successful operations each, and 3,249 were lost in action. The most successful survivor completed 139 operations, and the Lancaster was scrapped after the war in 1947. A few Lancasters were converted into tankers and the two tanker aircraft were joined by another converted Lancaster and were used in the Berlin Airlift, achieving 757 tanker sorties. A famous Lancaster bombing raid was the 1943 mission, codenamed Operation Chastise, to destroy the dams of the Ruhr Valley. The operation was carried out by 617 Squadron in modified Mk IIIs carrying special drum shaped bouncing bombs designed by Barnes Wallis. Also famous was a series of Lancaster attacks using Tallboy bombs against the German battleship Tirpitz, which first disabled and later sank the ship. The Lancaster bomber was the basis of the new Avro Lincoln bomber, initially known as the Lancaster IV and Lancaster V. (Becoming Lincoln B1 and B2 respectively.) Their Lancastrian airliner was also based on the Lancaster but was not very successful. Other developments were the Avro York and the successful Shackleton which continued in airborne early warning service up to 1992.

Lincoln


Click the name above to see prints featuring Lincoln aircraft.

Manufacturer : Avro

Lincoln

Full profile not yet available.

Manchester


Click the name above to see prints featuring Manchester aircraft.

Manufacturer : Avro

Manchester

Full profile not yet available.
Signatures for : No.61 Sqn RAF
A list of all signatures from our database who are associated with this squadron. A profile page is available by clicking their name.
NameInfo

Wing Commander Arthur Doubleday DSO DFC MID
Click the name above to see prints signed by Wing Commander Arthur Doubleday DSO DFC MID
Wing Commander Arthur Doubleday DSO DFC MID

Flying Wellingtons then Lancasters on his 1st tour, Arthur Doubleday began his second tour on Lancasters at Waddington with 467 Sqn RAAF. From April 1944 he commanded 61 Sqn RAF Lancasters. He finished the war as Chief Instructor 75 OTU.



Warrant Officer Ken Johnson
Click the name above to see prints signed by Warrant Officer Ken Johnson
Warrant Officer Ken Johnson

As a Mid-Upper Gunner he flew on Lancasters with 9 and 61 Squadrons taking part in many raids including the final attack to sink the Tirpitz in November 1944 along with attacks on Berchtesgaden, Hitlers alpine home.




Flying Officer Bill North
Click the name or photo above to see prints signed by Flying Officer Bill North
Flying Officer Bill North

Flying Lancasters with 61 Squadron, in 1944 he was shot down over Northern France. With his aircraft badly hit, he gave the order to bale out, but as some of the crew had damaged parachutes, he elected to stay with the aircraft and crash land. Despite being badly wounded, he managed to land his Lancaster at night, and every crewmember walked away - two of them evading capture and returned to England. Bill spent the rest of the war as a POW.




Flight Lieutenant Bill Reid VC
Click the name or photo above to see prints signed by or with the mounted signature of Flight Lieutenant Bill Reid VC

28 / 11 / 2001Died : 28 / 11 / 2001
Flight Lieutenant Bill Reid VC

Volunteering for RAF aircrew in 1940, Bill Reid learned to fly in California, training on the Stearman, Vultee and Harvard. After gaining his pilots wings back in England he flew Wellingtons before moving on to Lancasters in 1943. On the night of Nov 3rd 1943, his Lancaster suffered two severe attacks from Luftwaffe night fighters, badly wounding Reid, killing his navigator and radio operator, and severely damaging the aircraft. Bill flew on 200 miles to accurately bomb the target and get his aircraft home. For this act of outstanding courage and determination he was awarded the Victoria Cross. Died 28th November 2001.



Citation for the Victoria Cross, gazetted 14th December 1943.

On the night of November 3rd, 1943, Flignt Lieutenant Reid was pilot and captain of a Lancaster aircraft detailed to attack Dusseldorf. Shortly after crossing the Dutch coast, the pilots windscreen was shattered by fire from a Messerschmitt. Owing to a failure in the heating circuit, the rear gunners hands were too cold for him to open fire immediately or to operate his microphone and so give warning of danger; but after a brief delay he managed to return the Messerschmitts fire and it was driven off. During the fight with the Messerschmitt, Flight Lieutenant Reid was wounded in the head, shoulders and hands. The elevator trimming tabs of the aircraft were damaged and it became difficult to control. The rear turret, too, was badly damaged and the communications system and compasses were put out of action. Flight Lieutenant Reid ascertained that his crew were unscathed and, saying nothing about his own injuries, he continued his mission. Soon afterwards, the Lancaster was attacked by a Focke Wulf 190. This time, the enemys fire raked the bomber from stem to stern. The rear gunner replied with his only serviceable gun but the state of his turret made accurate aiming impossible. The navigator was killed and the wireless operator fatally injured. The mid-upper turret was hit and the oxygen system put out of action. Flight Lieutenant Reid was again wounded and the flight engineer, though hit in the forearm, supplied him with oxygen from a portable supply. Flight Lieutenant Reid refused to be turned from his objective and Dusseldorf was reached some 50 minutes later. He had memorised his course to the target and had continued in such a normal manner that the bomb-aimer, who was cut off by the failure of the communications system, knew nothing of his captains injuries or of the casualties to his comrades. Photographs show that, when the bombs were released, the aircraft was right over the centre of the target. Steering by the pole star and the moon, Flight Lieutenant Reid then set course for home. He was growing weak from loss of blood. The emergency oxygen supply had given out. With the windscreen shattered, the cold was intense. He lapsed into semiconsciousness. The flight engineer, with some help from the bomb-aimer, kept the Lancaster in the air despite heavy anti-aircraft fire over the Dutch coast. The North Sea crossing was accomplished. An airfield was sighted. The captain revived, resumed control and made ready to land. Ground mist partially obscured the runway lights. The captain was also much bothered by blood from his head wound getting into his eyes. But he made a safe landing although one leg of the damaged undercarriage collapsed when the load came on. Wounded in two attacks, without oxygen, suffering severely from cold, his navigator dead, his wireless operator fatally wounded, his aircraft crippled and defenceless, Flight Lieutenant Reid showed superb courage and leadership in penetrating a further 200 miles into enemy territory to attack one of the most strongly defended targets in Germany, every additional mile increasing the hazards of the long and perilous journey home. His tenacity and devotion to duty were beyond praise.

London Gazette, 1943.


Flt Lt B S Turner DFC
Click the name above to see prints signed by Flt Lt B S Turner DFC
Flt Lt B S Turner DFC

Volunteered for the RAF in 1940 and trained as a Heavy Bomber pilot flying Tiger Moths, Airspeed Oxfords and Wellingtons at Hatfield, South Cerney and Pershore respectively. His first operational posting was to a grass field aerodrome at Feltwell where he flew Wellingtons with 75 NZ Sqn. After a tour of 37 trips mainly over Germany he then spent two and a half years as taxi driver with various navigation training flights and some two years later was posted to 61 Sqn at Skellingforth for a second tour of ops flying Lancasters - flying N for Nan on her 100th trip. After 21 ops he went to T.R.E. Defford as an experimental pilot. At that time the Air Force was preparing Tiger Force for the invasion of Japan, but because of the atomic bomb being dropped the invasion did not take place. Flying at Defford was with radar boffins testing their various offensive and defensive radar equipment in about ten different types of aircraft. In 1946 Fly Lt Turner left the Air Force.



Flight Lieutenant Murray Valentine
Click the name above to see prints signed by Flight Lieutenant Murray Valentine
Flight Lieutenant Murray Valentine

Completing his first tour as a Wireless Operator with 61 Sqn, he flew with 617 Sqn dropping the 12,000 lb Tallboy and 22,000 lb Grand Slam bombs. The war ended halfway through his second operational tour.




Wing Commander Jim Wright DFC
Click the name or photo above to see prints signed by Wing Commander Jim Wright DFC
Wing Commander Jim Wright DFC

Upon completing his training in 1943 Jim Wright joined 61 Sqn at Syerston as a Navigator on Lancasters and served in the crew of Flight Lieutenant Ken Ames DFC and Bar. After completing 5 operations with 61 Sqn, F/L Ames and crew were posted to East Kirkby to join the newly formed 630 Squadron. After a brief spell in hospital, after a trip to Kassel on the 22 October 1943 and after completing 22 operations with 630 Squadron, Jim Wright joined 97 (Pathfinder) Squadron at Coningsby for the commencement of their 2nd tour. Jim and the crew completed 16 operations with 97 squadron with their last operation was on the 19th of September 1944. In January 1944 they completed trips to Stettin, Brunswick, Magdeburg and 4 to Berlin. Their next trip to Berlin was on 15th February 1944 followed by operations to Leipzig, Stuttgart and Augsburg. In March they went to Stuttgart, Charmand-Ferront, Stuttgart, Frankfurt and Nuremburg. In April to Toulouse, Pillau Canal (Konigsberg), Tours and Juvisy. In May, to finish their first tour, they went to Bourg. Following completion of operational duties with 97 Squadron Jim Wright was seconded to BOAC and served as an Operations Officer at Hurn and Heathrow in1945 until being demobed in October 1946. Then Jim worked for BOAC 1946 until December 1950 as an Air Traffic Control Officer (ATCO) in British West Africa (Yundum & Half Die, Gambia) and as a Flight Operations Officer at Prestwick and Heathrow before rejoining the RAF 1951 for ATCO duties until he retired in 1976.


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