No. 153 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

Aircraft - Locations - Group and Duty - Books

No.153 Squadron had two incarnations during the Second World War, first as a night fighter squadron which served both at home and in the Mediterranean, and then as a Lancaster squadron in Bomber Command.

The squadron was formed from 'A' Flight of No.256 Squadron, which flew from Squires Gate to Ballyhalbert on 14 October 1941, and began flying on the following day although the squadron was not officially formed until 24 October.

The squadron began by flight night patrols using the Defiant two-seat turret fighter. The first Blenheim night fighters arrived on 10 December and were used for training, before the Beaufighter arrived in January 1942. While the rest of the squadron trained on the Beaufighter, A Flight remained operational with the Defiant. In May 1942 the Beaufighter became operational, and the Defiants were retired.

The squadron remained in Northern Ireland until December 1942, but in that month sixteen of its Beaufighters flew to Algeria via Gibraltar, and the squadron began to provide night cover for Allied bases in North Africa and fly convoy protection patrols. At this point the squadron was operating from a series of bases along the Algerian coast.

In July 1944 a detachment from No.153 moved to Sardinia, from where it flew intruder missions over southern France and northern Italy, as well as helping to cover the Allied landings in southern France. In August a flight of Spitfires and Hurricanes was added for dawn patrols, but on 5 September 1944 the squadron was disbanded.

One month later, on 7 October 1944, the squadron reformed at Kirmington around twenty Lancaster crews from No.166 Squadron. Operations began on the same night and the squadron remained with Bomber Command's Main Force until the end of the war. It was then used for trooping flights to Italy, before disbanding on 28 September 1945.

Aircraft
October 1941-May 1942: Boulton Paul Defiant I
January 1942-January 1943: Bristol Beaufighter I
August 1942-September 1944: Bristol Beaufighter VI
August-September 1944: Supermarine Spitfire VIII and IX
August-September 1944: Hawker Hurricane IIC

October 1944-September 1945: Avro Lancaster I and III

Location
October 1941-January 1943: Ballyhalbert

December 1942-July 1943: Maison Blanche
July 1943-September 1944: Reghaia
    July-September 1944: Detachment to Alghero

October 1944: Kirmington
October-September 1945: Scampton

Squadron Codes: TB (Beaufighter), P4 (Lancaster)

Duty
1941-1942: Home Based Night Fighter
1942-1944: Mediterranean Based Night Fighter
1944-1945: Bomber Command

Part of
10 July 1943: 2nd Air Defence Wing; North African Coastal Air Force; Northwest African Air Forces; Mediterranean Air Command

Books

Bomber Offensive, Sir Arthur Harris. The autobiography of Bomber Harris, giving his view of the strategic bombing campaign in its immediate aftermath. Invaluable for the insights it provides into Harris’s approach to the war, what he was trying to achieve and the problems he faced. Harris perhaps overstates his case, not entirely surprisingly given how soon after the end of the war this book was written (Read Full Review)
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Lancaster Squadrons 1944-45, Jon Lake. A well balanced look at the career of the Avro Lancaster in 1944-45, the period most famous for the systematic night bombardment of German cities. This was also the period that saw the Lancaster used to support the invasion of France, and the period that saw 617 Squadron drop Barnes Wallis's huge streamlined bombs with great precision. [see more]
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Bristol Beaufighter, Jerry Scutts (Crowood Aviation). A detailed look at the development and service career of the Bristol Beaufighter, the first dedicated night fighter to enter RAF Service. Superceded by the Mosquito in that role, the Beaufighter went on to serve as a deadly anti-shipping weapon, and to earn the nickname "whispering death" over the jungles of Burma.
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (28 December 2010), No. 153 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/153_wwII.html

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