No. 196 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.196 Squadron served with Bomber Command from November 1942 to November 1943, before becoming an airborne support squadron, taking part in the D-Day invasion, the Arnhem operation and the crossing of the Rhine.

The squadron was formed at Driffield on 7 November 1942 as a Wellington-equipped bomber squadron. The first aircraft arrived in December and the squadron was declared operational on 1 February 1943, flying its first raid on 4 February. A mix of bombing and mine laying missions were flown with the Wellingtons, before in July 1943 the squadron began to convert to the Stirling at No.1651 HCU at Waterbeach. Bombing operations resuming in August, but in November the squadron was transferred to airborne support duties.

After a period of training the squadron began to drop supplies to SOE operatives in France in February 1944. The squadron continued to perform this role until the end of the war, although with regular interruptions. The first came on the night of 5-6 June when the squadron provided twenty-three Stirlings to carry paratroopers to Normandy for the airborne element of the D-Day landings, while another seventeen aircraft were used to tow gliders to France later on D-Day. The rest of June was spent flying supplies into France.

The squadron was heavily involved in the Arnhem landings, taking part in the paratrooper drop on 17 September before towing twenty-two Horsa gliders to Arnhem on 18 September. Several days of supply dropping missions followed, at a cost of eleven aircraft lost, five on them on 20 September.

In October the squadron moved to East Anglia. Operations in support of SOE continued, but air sea rescue missions were also flown. In February 1945 the squadron also began to carry out tactical bombing raids to support the army. Thirty aircraft were used to tow Horsa gliders during the Rhine crossing on 24 March 1945, and the squadron was then used to ferry fuel to the advancing armies.

After the end of the fighting the squadron was used to repatriate POWs, to fly troops to Denmark and Norway and on trooping flights for the RCAF. From September 1945 to the end of the year it was used to fly long-distance services to India, Burma and Singapore. At the start of 1946 it began to fly mail runs to the continent, before being disbanded in March 1946.

December 1942-July 1943: Vickers Wellington X
July 1943-February 1944: Short Stirling III
February 1944-March 1946: Short Stirling IV
January-March 1946: Short Stirling V

November-December 1942: Driffield
December 1942-July 1943: Leconfield
July-November 1943: Witchford
November 1943-January 1944: Leicester East
January-March 1944: Tarrant Rushton
March-October 1944: Keevil
October 1944-January 1945: Wethersfield
January 1945-March 1946: Shepherd's Grove

Squadron Codes: ZO, 7T

November 1942-November 1943: Bomber squadron
November 1943 onwards: Airborne support squadron

Part of
4 March 1943: No.4 Group; Bomber Command
6 June 1944: No.38 Group; HQ Allied Expeditionary Air Force


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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (27 January 2011), No. 196 Squadron (RAF): Second World War,

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