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No.582 Squadron was a Lancaster-equipped Pathfinder squadron that served with Bomber Command's main force from April 1944 until the end of the Second World War.
The squadron was formed on 1 April 1944 around detachments from Nos.7 and 156 Squadrons, both members of the Pathfinder Force since 1942. The squadron became operational on 9 April 1944 and took part in the last year of Bomber Command's campaign – the last heavy bomber raid was an attack on an oil refinery at Tonsberg (Norway) on the night of 25/26 April 1945. During this period No.582 Squadron took part in 165 raids, mixing target marking and normal bombing operations. The squadron flew 2,157 sorties and lost 28 aircraft in combat during this period.
On 11 July 1944 a Lancaster of No.582 Squadron became the first to use Oboe equipment to control a heavy bomber raid. One Lancaster was equipped with the Oboe equipment, and was flown by Wing Commander G.F. Grant of No.109 Squadron, a Mosquito squadron that was already using the equipment. On this occasion the target was a flying bomb site at Gapennes, and the successful use of Oboe allowed Bomber Command's heavy bombers to greatly increase their accuracy.
Members of the squadron won two posthumous Victoria Crosses. The first came on 23 December 1944 during a daylight attack on the railway yards at Gremberg, Cologne. This was a small-scale raid with 27 Lancasters and 3 Mosquitoes, split into three formations, each with eight bombers, one Lancaster pathfinder and one Mosquito pathfinder. As this small force approached Cologne the cloud cleared and it was decided to abandon the Oboe raid, which involved a long straight run-in and instead allow the bombers to bomb visually. Squadron Leader R.A.M. Palmer D.F.C., one of the Pathfinders, didn't receive this order and continued with his Oboe run despite heavy and accurate flak. He dropped his bombs but his aircraft was shot down with the loss of everyone but the tail gunner. Squadron Leader Palmer was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery in pressing on, the only one to be awarded to an Oboe crew.
The second V.C. came on the night of 23/24 February 1945 during a raid on Pforzheim and was awarded to Captain E. Swales, a South African. He was operating as the Master Bomber for the raid. His aircraft was attacked by a German night fighter and two engines were knocked out. Despite this Swales stayed over Pforzheim until the end of the raid and only then turned for home. After about an hour the aircraft approached turbulent clouds that it was in no condition to navigate. Swales ordered his crew to bail out and stayed at the controls until the last man was gone. The aircraft then plummeted to the ground, killing him.
April 1944-September 1945: Avro Lancaster I and III
April 1944-September 1945: Little Staughton
Squadron Codes: 6O
April 1944-September 1945: Pathfinder Squadron, Bomber Command
April 1944-September 1945: No.8 (Pathfinder) Group
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