(Rhodesia) Squadron Royal Air Force
Fulmina regis iusta (The King's thunderbolts are righteous)
> Units and Formations
Formed: 24 Jul 1917
Reformed: Mar 1937
Disbanded: 16 Jul 1957
Reformed: 10 Aug 1960
Disbanded: 21 Dec 1982
Squadron was based at:
Hainault Farm :: Jul 1917 - 1919
RAF Wyton :: Mar 1937 - Jun 1937
RAF Waddington :: Jun 1937 - 31 May 1943RAF Dunholme Lodge :: 31 May 1943 - 30 Sep 1944
RAF Spilsby :: 30 Sep 1944 - 21 Jul 1945
RAF Mepal :: 21 Jul 1945 - 25 Aug 1945
RAF Mildenhall :: 25 Aug 1945 - Aug 1946
RAF Wyton :: Aug 1946 -
RAF Marham :: <=Jan 1951 - Jul 1957
RAF Waddington :: Aug 1960 - Dec 1982
Squadron code: JW (before Sep 1939), KM
Sopwith Camel :: Jul 1917 - 1919
Hind :: Mar 1937 - Dec 1937
Blenheim :: Dec 1937 - Feb 1939
Hampden :: Feb 1939 - Dec 1941
Lincoln :: Oct 1945 - 1947=>
Washington :: Jan 1951 -
Canberra :: ?? - Jul 1957
Vulcan B1 :: Aug 1960 - ??
Vulcan B2 :: ?? - Dec 1982
44 Sqn was the first squadron to receive the Lancaster bomber into front line service, on 24 Dec 1941. Its Hampdens were tranferred to 420 Sqn RCAF. It was not taken into action until 10 Mar 1942 when 2 aircraft from 44 Sqn attacked Essen. The next month 44 Sqn was to make its first major Lancaster-equipped attack when it participated on a rare 2 x 6-ship, tree-top height, daylight attack on the MAN diesel works in Augsburg with 97 Sqn. 5 of the 12 returned. This earnt Sqn Ldr John Nettleton a Victoria Cross his was the only Lancaster left in his original flight of six. This is considered one of Bomber Command's milestone operations.
44 Sqn moved from RAF Waddington to RAF Dunholme Lodge in May 1943 due to runway construction. It converted from Lancaster to Lincoln at RAF Mildenhall in Oct 1945, taking over 622 Sqn's aircraft.
In Dec 1941, 129 of 490 ground crew were Rhodesian.
During the 1956 Suez Crisis, the by now Canberra-equipped, Marham-based Sqn flew over Egypt from Cyprus but was disbanded on 16 Jul 1957. It then reformed at Waddington on 10 Aug 1960 with the Vulcan B1, replacing this with Vulcan B2 in Nov 1967. 44 Sqn Vulcans participated in the Black Buck bombing missions to the Falklands in apr/May 1982 but was nevertheless disbanded on 21 Dec 1982.
During World War II there were more men per capita from Rhodesia that from any other Empire country serving in Britain's armed forces. There are memorials to 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron at RAF Waddington and Dunholme Lodge. A selection of photographs are is included on this site.
I have been contacted by Mr Edward Crum whose father took off from Waddington in Q7549 on 3rd March 1942 to go gardening (mine-laying) around Heligoland. He told me he was first off the ground, which would make him and his crew the first men ever to take a Lanc into action. He was subsequently shot down on the Augsburg raid and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner.
44 Sqn history on RAF site
RAF Dunholme Lodge page on Royal Air Force website
RAF Waddington history on RAF website
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