No. 37 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.37 Squadron had been reformed in 1937 as a heavy bomber squadron equipped with the Harrow bomber. It received more modern aircraft, in the shape of the Vickers Wellington I on May 1939, giving the squadron just over three months to get used to the new aircraft.

The squadron went into action seven hours after the British ultimatum to Germany expired, flying a sweep over Heligoland Bight. Heavy loses soon forced Bomber Command to abandon this sort of daylight raid, and the squadron became a night bomber unit.

Vickers Wellingtons of No.37 Squadron
Vickers Wellingtons of No.37 Squadron

In November 1940 the squadron was transferred to Egypt, via Malta, from where it carried out a number of sorties. Once in Egypt the squadron took part in the campaign in the western desert, supporting the Eighth Army against Rommel and the Afrika Korps. It also took part in the suppression of the Iraqi revolt and sent a detachment to Greece (March 1941).

In 1943 the squadron took part in the Allied advance, moving to Libya in February and to Tunisia in May. This allowed its bombers to range further across occupied Europe. Finally in December 1943 the squadron moved to Italy, staying at Tortorella from 29 December 1943 until 2 October 1945. While in Italy the Wellingtons were finally replaced with Liberator VIs. From its base in Italy the squadron attacked targets in Italy, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Albania, as well as dropping supplies to the Yugoslav partisans. The squadron also took part in Allied operations to mine the Danube, blocking it to Axis shipping.

Aircraft
May 1939-November 1939:  Vickers Wellington I
September 1939-October 1940: Vickers Wellington IA
October 1940-March 1943: Vickers Wellington IC
March 1943-April 1943: Vickers Wellington III
March 1944-December 1944: Vickers Wellington X
October 1944-March 1946: Consolidated Liberator VI

Location
26 April 1937-30 November 1940: Feltwell
8-14 November: Malta while in transit
30 November-17 December 1940: Fayid
17 December 1940-25 April 1942: Shallufa
March 1941: Detachment sent to Greece
25 April-27 June 1942: LG.09
27-29 June 1942: LG.224
29 June-6 November 1942: Abu Sueir
6-13 November 1942: LG.224
13-30 November 1942: LG.106
30 November 1942-23 January 1943: LG. 140
23 January-14 February 1943: El Magrun
14-25 February 1943: Gardabia East (Libya)
25 February-30 May 1943: Gabdabia West
30 May-15 November 1943: Kairouan/ Temmar(Tunisia)
15 November-14 December 1943: Djedeida
14-29 December 1943: Cerignola (Italy)
29 December 1943-2 October 1945: Tortorella

Squadron Codes:

Group and Duty
26 September 1939-Novmber 1940: Bomber squadron with No. 3 Group
November 1940-December 1943: Bomber squadron, North Africa
December 1943-1945: Italy

Known Raids
3 September 1939: Sweep over Heligoland Bight seven hours after the expirary of the British ultimatum to Germany.

Books

Wellington in Action, Ron Mackay. A well illustrated guide to the development and service career of this classic British bomber. Mackay looks at the early development of the Wellington and the unusual geodetic frame that gave it great strength, the period when the Wellington was the mainstay of Bomber Command and the many uses found for the aircraft after it was replaced in the main bomber stream. cover cover cover
Hitler's Gulf War - The Fight for Iraq 1941, Barrie G James. A compelling account of one of the more obscure but important campaigns of the Second World War, presented from the point of view of the British, Iraqi and German participants in the Iraqi revolt that threatened to hand the Germans a commanding position in the Middle East. [read full review]

cover cover cover
How to cite this article: Rickard, J (24 March 2007), No. 37 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/37_wwII.html

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