No. 161 Squadron RAF

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No. 161 Squadron RAF
Squadron badges in Tempsford church.jpg
No. 161 Squadron insignia at right
Active 9 May 1918 - 17 August 1918
15 February 1942 – 2 June 1945
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Air Force Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Air Force
Motto(s) Liberate[1]
Insignia
Squadron badge heraldry An open fetterlock
Squadron codes MA Feb 1942 - 1945
JR Apr 1944 - 1945 (Lysander Flight only)

No. 161 (Special Duties) Squadron was a highly secretive unit of the Royal Air Force, performing missions as part of the Royal Air Force Special Duties Service. It was tasked with missions of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) during the Second World War. Their primary role was to drop and collect secret agents and equipment into and from Nazi-occupied Europe. The squadron had a secondary role in acting as the King's Flight.

History[edit]

No. 161 Squadron Lysander at Tangmere 1943

The squadron was formed at RAF Newmarket on 15 February 1942 from 138 Squadron’s Lysander flight and a flight of Whitleys and Wellingtons.[2] These were combined with pilots and aircraft from the King’s Flight to create the second SD squadron.[3] The unit was commanded by Edward Fielden, an experienced pilot who had been the CO of the King’s Flight. He inherited two very experienced officers in Guy Lockhart and “Sticky” Murphy from 138.[4] 161’s A Flight was made up of 6 Lysanders, with Guy Lockhart as its commanding officer. A Flight undertook the pick-up operations. The squadron’s B Flight flew two-engine Whitleys and Wellingtons, and did agent parachute drops and supply drop missions.

In April 1942 the squadron joined 138 Squadron at RAF Tempsford in Bedfordshire. It remained there for the duration of its service. In November 1942 the B Flight’s Whitleys were replaced with the four-engine Halifax.[5]

Following the end of the war in Europe, the squadron was disbanded 2 June 1945.[6]

Aircraft[edit]

Several types of aircraft were used by the squadron in the course of their duties.

The Lysanders were used for the landing and collection of agents, while the other types were used for parachuting agents and supplies.

References[edit]

Citations
  1. ^ Pine, L.G. (1983). A dictionary of mottoes (1 ed.). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. p. 129. ISBN 0-7100-9339-X.
  2. ^ Foot 2004, p. 95.
  3. ^ Ashworth 1995, p. 123.
  4. ^ Ward 2009, p. 50.
  5. ^ Oliver 2005, p. 88.
  6. ^ http://www.setbook.us/books/955644.html
Bibliography
  • Ashworth, Chris RAF Bomber Command 1936-1968 Sparkford, Somerset: Stephens (1995).
  • Foot, M. R. D. SOE in France New York: Frank Cass Publishers (2004) [1966].
  • Oliver, David Airborne Espionage: International Special Duty Operations in the world wars Stroud, U.K.: Sutton Publishers (2005).
  • Verity, Hugh We Landed by Moonlight Sheperton, Surrey: Ian Allan Limited (1978).
  • Ward, Chris 3 Group Bomber Command Barnsley : Pen & Sword Aviation, (2008).

External links[edit]

This aircraft and the remains of the pilot were discovered 53 years, to the day, after it went missing on an operation.