No. 296 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.296 Squadron was an airborne forces squadron, forming on 25 January 1942 from the Gilder Exercise Unit. For the first six months of its existence it was equipped with obsolete Hectors and Harts, and concentrated on glider training, but in June 1942 it began to receive the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley, with which it began flying leaflet dropping missions over France (from October).

At the start of 1943 the squadron began to convert to the Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle, and it would be this aircraft that it would use in its most important operations. These starting in the summer of of 1943 when the squadron moved to Algeria, taking part in the airborne part of the landings on Sicily.

No.296 Squadron was involved in the first part of the D-Day landings, towing eight gliders to Normandy on the night of 5-6 June 1944. During 6 June the squadron returned with a further nineteen gliders.


No.296 Squadron Picture Gallery

The Albemarle's last major mission came during the battle of Arnhem, where the squadron towed forty-six gliders without loss over the first two days of the battle. In September 1944 the first Handley Page Halifaxes arrived, and the squadron provided thirty of these aircraft for the Rhine crossings. At the end of the war the squadron was used to ferry troops to Norway and Denmark to take the German surrender and to bring liberated POWs back to Britain. The squadron operated a mail service to India from December 1945 until it disbanded on 23 January 1946.

Aircraft
January-August 1942: Hawker Hector I
January-August 1942: Hawker Hart
June 1942-March 1943: Armstrong Whitworth Whitley V
January 1943-September 1944: Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle I, II
September 1944-November 1944: Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle V, VI
September 1944-March 1945: Handley Page Halifax V
January 1945-January 1946: Handley Page Halifax III

Location
25 January-1 February 1942: Ringway
1 February-25 July 1942: Netheravon
25 July-25 October 1942: Hurn
25 October-19 December 1942: Andover
19 December 1942-4 June 1943: Hurn
4-24 June 1943: Froha
24-25 June 1943: Goubrine II
25 June-15 October 1943: Stoney Cross
15 October 1943-14 March 1944: Hurn
14 March-29 September 1944: Brize Norton
29 September 1944-23 January 1946: Earl's Colne

Squadron Codes: A, 9W, D, 7C

Duty
Glider Tug squadron with No. 38 Group, Allied Expeditionary Air Force

Books
Review of Halifax Squadrons by John lake Halifax Squadrons of World War II , Jon Lake. This is a very good book on the combat record of the Handley Page Halifax. It covers much more than just its role as a front line bomber, with chapters on the Halifax with Coastal Command, the Pathfinders and SOE, amongst others. [see more] cover cover cover

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (23 March 2007), No. 296 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/296_wwII.html

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