No.44 Squadron

On mount, an elephant
Badge
On mount, an elephant
Motto
Fulmina regis justa - The King’s thunderbolts are righteous
Formed
24 July 1917
Disbanded
21 December 1982

Formed at Hainault Farm on 24 July 1917, No 44 Squadron was a home defence unit. Despite its difficult handling qualities the unit successfully began night patrols in defence of the London area with Camels. On the night of 28/29 January 1918 two of the unit’s pilots, Capt G H Hackwill and Second Lieutenant C C Banks recorded the first night victory when they shot down a German Gotha bomber at Wickford. On 31 December 1919 the squadron disbanded.

The unit reformed at RAF Wyton on 8 March 1937 as a light bomber unit. In early 1939 the squadron was designated a training unit with the task of converting No 5 Group pilots from single-engined to twin-engined aircraft. On 1 June it reverted to an operational squadron. During the early months of the war it was involved in patrols over the North Sea and leaflet dropping. Involved in bombing from 1940 the squadron became the first to convert onto the new Lancaster heavy bomber in late 1941. On 17 April 1942 Squadron Leader J D Nettleton lead a combined force of Nos 44 and 97 Squadron Lancasters in a daring daylight low level raid on the Maschinenfabrik Augsburg Nürnberg Aktiengesellschaft (MAN Diesel Factory) at Augsburg. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for this mission. It operated as part of the main bomber force for the rest of the war.

No 44 Squadron remained in Bomber Command in the post war period. The unit was involved in the 1956 Suez crisis attacking Egyptian targets. On 16 July 1957 the unit disbanded.

The squadron reformed at RAF Waddington as a part of the V-bomber force on 10 August 1960. After flying some long range ‘Black Buck’ bombing missions to the Falklands the unit disbanded on 21 December 1982.


AIRCRAFT

Sopwith 1½ Strutter 1917 - 1917
Camel 1917 - 1919
Hind 1937 - 1938
Blenheim I 1937 - 1939
Hampden 1939 - 1941
Anson I 1939 - 1939
Lancaster I/III 1941 - 1947
Lincoln 1945 - 1951
Washington 1951 - 1953
Camberra 2 1953 - 1957
Vulcan 1/2 1960 - 1982


Reference Sources

The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force James J Halley Air Britain (Historians) Ltd 1988

RAF Squadrons Wg Cdr C G Jefford Airlife 2001

Bomber Squadrons of the RAF and their aircraft Phillip J R Moyes Macdonald & Jane’s 1976

Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their aircraft John D R Rawlings Crecy Books 1993

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