No. 101 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

At the outbreak of the Second World War, No. 101 Squadron had just be re-equipped with the Bristol Blenheim IV. Until the summer of 1940, No. 101 Squadron was a reserve squadron. It flew its first Blenheim operation on 4 July 1940, and was occupied with the attack on the German invasion fleet gathering the channel ports.

In April 1941 the squadron began to transfer to the Vickers Wellington, joining the main bomber force in June 1941. After just over a year operating the Wellington, the squadron converted to the Avro Lancaster I and III.

From October 1943 it began to use ABC jamming equipment, while remaining with the main bomber force. ABC, or Airborne Cigar was a system designed to jam the radio frequencies used by the Germans to transmit a running commentry on the night's events to their night fighters. When equipped with the ABC equipment, No 101 Squadron Lancasters carried an eighth German speaking crew men, whose role was to listen in to the German radio transmissions and decide which ones to jam. As a result of its extra role, No. 101 Squadron eventaully expanded to contain 42 aircraft.

It suffered exceptionally heavy casualties, losing 145 Lancasters on operations, as German night fighters could detect the jamming transmissions. Only three other squadrons lost most Lancasters than No 101. One countermeasure was the early use of the Rose tail turret, with two 0.50in machine guns, introduced in May 1944, five months before the turret was cleared for general use. Unusually for a squadron involved in Electronic Counter Measures, No. 101 Squadron did not join No 100 Group.

At the end of the war No. 101 Squadron was one of the Lancaster squadrons used in Operation Manna, dropping much needed food into Holland.

Motto: "Mens agitat molem" (Mind over Matter)

Location
1 December 1934 to 6 May 1939: Bicester
6 May 1939 to 1 July 1941: West Raynham
1 July 1941 to 11 February 1942: Oakington
11 February to 11 August 1942: Bourn
11 August to 29 September 1942: Stradishall
29 September 1942 to 15 June 1943: Holme-in-Spalding Moor 1942
15 June 1943 to 1 October 1945: Ludford Magna

Aircraft
June 1938 to April 1939: Bristol Blenheim I
April 1939 to May 1941: Bristol Blenheim IV
April 1941 to February 1942: Vickers Wellington IC
February 1942 to October 1942: Vickers Wellington III
October 1942 to August 1945: Avro Lancaster I and III

Squadron Codes: MW (C flight), SR

Group and Duty
26 September 1939: Reserve bomber squadron with No.2 Group, 79 Wing
By October 1942: Bomber squadron with No. 1 Group (probably from April 1941)
April 1943: Bomber squadron with No. 1 Group
April 1945: Bomber squadron with No. 1 Group

Known/ Significant Raids
4 July 1940: First operation with Blenheim IV
June 1941: First operations over Germany
20/21 November 1942: First Lancaster raid, to Turin
7/8 October 1943: First use of ABC during a raid on Stuttgart
18/19 October 1943: First lose of an ABC aircraft, during a raid on Hannover
30/31 March 1944: Loses six out of 26 aircraft sent to support raid on Essen
22/23 April 1944: Accompanies No. 5 Group on its first independent deep penetration raid to Brunswick

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (24 March 2007), No. 101 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/101_wwII.html

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