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1917 214_Squadron_crest 1977

Motto : "Ultor in umbris" ("Avenging in the shadows")
Badge : A nightjar volant affrontée. The nightjar was chosen because it is a bird which is active at night and is indicative of the role of the squadron.
Authority : King George VI, March 1938

World War 1

The squadron was originally formed at Coudekerque, near Dunkirk, on 28th July 1917, as No. 7A Squadron, RNAS, and from the beginning its role was heavy night bombing. On the 9th December 1917, it reformed as No. 14 Squadron; RNAS, and on 1st April 1918, the same day the Royal Air Force was formed, 200 was added to its number "14" and it became No. 214 Squadron, RAF. Equipped with Handley Page twin-engined bombers, they flew from coastal airfields in France, mainly engaged in night attacks against naval and army targets in Belgium, but also bombed targets in France. At the start it operated under the Dunkirk Naval Command, then from March to June in the 7th Brigade under the control of the Army, and lastly, from 4th June to the Armistice in the 82nd Wing, again under the Naval Command. In April and May 1918, it assisted in the Naval blocking operations at Zeebrugge and Ostend. An interesting event during its wartime career was the night of 24/25th July 1918, when it dropped the RAF's first 1,650-lb. bomb on the enemy. (see note A) Posted to Egypt in 1919, No. 214 disbanded the following year.

World War 2

214 Squadron was next resurrected in 1935 at Boscombe Down as a bomber squadron again. Later it arrived at the newly built Feltwell airbase from Scampton on April 13th 1937. From here it flew Harrows from April 1937 to July 1939 but began switching to Wellington I's in May 1939. The squadron then moved to Feltwell satellite station, Methwold in Sept 1939 and remained there untill moving to Stradishall in Feb 1940. It is interesting to note that Methwold was nothing more than a field with some tents at the time. 214 Squadron officially entered the war on June 14, 1940 flying Wellingtons and the first raid was a fire raising attack on German forests by 2 Wellingtons on 14/15 June 1940.

In September 1941 214 Squadron was honoured by being adopted by the British Malayan Federation and had "Federated Malay States" officially incorporated in its title. The FMS put up the funds to raise the squadron and equip it.

For the most part of the Second World War the squadron served in No. 3 Group and over this period flew some of the bloodiest missions of the war against naval, industrial and other targets in Europe. Many never returned. 214 Squadron provided completely unbroken service throughout the war in Bomber command (though not on Ops for first nine months) and had the highest percentage of losses of 3 Group. It also played an active role in Gardening or minelaying operations.

In April 1942 214 Squadron converted to Stirlings. It is little known, but the nucleus of the recently re-forming 215 Squadron destined for the Middle East, was to a large extent, made up from experienced crews pulled away from 214 Squadron beginning sometime in the fall of 1941 and continuing untill the spring of 1942.

In Oct 1942 214 Squadron moved to Chedburgh then on to Downham Market in Dec 1943, continuing with Stirlings until January 1944 when its tour of duty with No. 3 Group ended. The squadron was later transferred to No.100 (Bomber Support) Group where it was subsequently re-equipped with American Flying Fortress aircraft. Here it was engaged in radio counter-measures (detection and jamming of enemy radio and radar equipment) until May of 1945.

In June 1943 'C' Flight of 214 Squadron was detached to form 620 Squadron.

On 27 July 1945, 214 Squadron disbanded. Later the same day, 614 Squadron, a Liberator unit at Amendola Italy, was renumbered 214 Squadron and moved to Palestine in August where it converted to Lancasters before being renumbered 37 Squadron on 15 April 1946.

On 4 November 1946, 214 Squadron reformed at Upwood as part of post war bomber command, later re-equipping with Lincolns in February 1950. A detachment of these was based in Kenya during the Mau-Mau uprising and the squadron disbanded again on 30 December 1954.

On 15 June 1955, it was reformed at Laarbruch with Canberras for photographic reconnaissance duties but was renumbered 80 Squadron on 1 August 1955.

On 21 January 1956, 214 Squadron reformed at Marham as a Valiant squadron of the V-bomber force and in September 1956 was detached to Malta for attacks on Egyptian airfields during the Suez campaign. In April 1962, it became a tanker squadron and was disbanded on 28 February 1965, with the grounding of the Valiant force. * See FIRST CONTACT on the Articles page for an in depth look at In-Flight refuelling.

On 21 July 1966, 214 Squadron reformed at Marham with Victor tankers which were used for refuelling both fighters and bombers during long-range moves and in maintaining fighter patrols beyond their normal range. It disbanded on 28 January 1977.

The aircraft that dropped the big bomb was an HP 0/400 piloted by Sergeant LA Dell with Middelkerque being the intended target of the attack. The following account of the effect of this raid as extracted from the records of the 5th Group, Dover Patrol: "...[The bomb] functioned successfully and all the lights in the town immediately went out and AA fire (which had been intense) stopped and was not renewed although a subsequent photograph showed that the bomb had dropped in a field about half a mile east of the town. The crater caused by the bomb had a diameter of over 50 feet and the spread of earth displaced covered an area over 100 yards in diameter."

Air Bases

Boscombe Down : 1935
Scampton :
Feltwell : Apr 13 1937-Sep 1939
Methwold : Sep 1939-Feb 1940
Stradishall : Feb 1940-Jan 1942
Honington : Jan 1942
Stradishall : Jan 1942-Oct 1942
Chedburgh : Oct 1942-Dec 1943
*Downham Market : Dec 1943-Jan 1944
*In Jan. 44 the squadron transferred from Downham Market & No. 3 Group to Sculthorpe & No. 100 Group and became known as No. 214 (BS) Sqdn and had a radio counter-measures role.
Sculthorpe : Jan 1944-May 1944
Oulton : May 1944 onwards

Commanding Officers

Sqn Cdr/Maj Herbert G Brackley DSO, DSC; (later A/Cdre) 9 December 1917
Maj William L Welsh DSC; (Later AM) 26 March 1919
Maj Brown July 1919
Absorbed into no. 216 Squadron on 1 February 1920
Wg/Cdr David F Luckling;(later A/Cdre) 19 September 1935
Wg/Cdr O C Bryson MC, DFC, AM 29 October 1937
Wg/Cdr W Sanderson 28 September 1938
Wg/Cdr F E Nuttall February 1940
Wg/Cdr G H Loughnan October 1940
Wg/Cdr Richard B Jordan DFC;(later AM) March 1941
Wg/Cdr G L Cruickshanks August 1941
Wg/Cdr R D B MacFadden 17 September 1941
Wg/Cdr E J P Davy 12 February 1942
Wg/Cdr Kenneth Duke Knocker April 1942
Wg/Cdr A H Smythe DFC AFC 15 July 1942
Wg/Cdr M V M Clube March 1943
Wg/Cdr Des J McGlinn July 1943
Wg/Cdr D D Rogers August 1944
Wg/Cdr R L Bowes March 1945
Squadron disbanded on 27 July 1945
On 4 November 1946 the Squadron reformed again but no names have been discovered for this period.
Squadron disbanded on 30 December 1954
Wg/Cdr L H Trent VC, DFC 21 January 1956
Wg/Cdr Sir Michael James Beetham DFC, AFC, GCB, CBE, DL : (later Marshall of the Royal Air Force) 10 February 1958
Wg/Cdr P G Hill 1960
Wg/Cdr K Smith DFC 1962
Wg/Cdr P B MaCorkindale 1964
Squadron disbanded on 1 March 1965
Wg/Cdr D Mullarkey MBE 1 July 1966
Wg/Cdr C D Preece AFC 10 June 1968
Wg/Cdr J R Tucker June 1970
Wg/Cdr Anthony G Skingsley; (later ACM) 12 June 1972
Wg/Cdr David Parry Evans; (later ACM) 5 July 1974
Wg/Cdr John D Lomas 11 July 1975
Sqn/Ldr Godfrey W Moffatt 24 December 1976
Squadron finally disbanded on 28 January 1977

Source :

Ian Lawson comments on the numerous changes in command: "One other aspect worth mentioning, as far as the inexperienced junior officer was concerned, and I suppose the NCO aircrew as well, was the constant changes that took place in the senior appointments in the Squadron. When Wing Commander Nuttall left, Squadron leader Baldson acted as C/O while Squadron Leader Sharp moved to command A Flight from B Flight, and Squadron Leader Kitchen took over B Flight. In the meantime Wing Commander Loughnan took over as C/O and Squadron Leader Smythe left to join the Wellington OTU at Hartwell. In March Wing Commander Jordan took over as C/O. We barely had time to get to know them nor, for that matter, they us. (From "Portrait of a Bomber Pilot" by Christopher Jary) - Recommended reading!

Squadron Aircraft

Handley Page : 1918
Harrow : Apr 1937 - July 1939
Vickers Wellington I, IA, IC, II : May 1939-Apr 1942
*Short Stirling I and III : Apr 1942-Jan 1944
Boeing Fortress II : Jan to Nov 1944
Boeing Fortress III : Feb 1944 onwards

*Mk I from April 1942 to Dec 1943 and Mk III from Feb 1943 to Jan 1944

Source :

Code Letters

During the 1938 Munich crisis No. 214 Squadron was allotted the code letters "UX". In WW2 it's aircraft were coded "BU" (and, in the case of "C" Flt's Stirlings, "PX").
*214 Squadron code: BU and PX *

Source :

First Bombing Mission in WWII

14/15th June 1940 : 2 Wellingtons bombed, with incendiary bombs, part of Black Forest east of line Oberkirch-Geubach.

A tragic day for 214 Squadron

On 1st / 2nd April 1942, 214 Squadron lost 7 Wellington Mark I C's

R1789 X9979 Z1052 Z1156 Z8805 Z8842 Z8979

Mission: Take off 20:19 Hrs on Operation 'Lineshoot' to bomb railway yards in Hanau, Lohr.

35 Wellingtons and 14 Hampdens were to carry out attacks on railway targets. 22 aircraft reported that they had carried out this task but 12 Wellingtons and 1 Hampden were lost. 7 of the lost Wellingtons were from 214 Squadron, with a loss of 41 lives and only 1 survivor, Sgt C.H. Davidson in Z1052. As the few surviving aircraft staggered back to base shot to pieces, the eagerly waiting ground crews scanning the skies for their returning aircraft would have been stunned beyond our comprehension to learn the few wrecks comming in was all there would be. That evening there were an incredible 41 empty bunks of friends and crew mates that would never be comming home and 41 dreaded telegrams to mothers and fathers. Sixty years later this tragedy still tears at ones heart. Unknown to many, this very day some of the long time veterans of the squadron had left for Egypt (See Photo album 4 "The exodus of 214 Squadron to 215 Squadron".

Notes from 214 Squadron ORB :

2 April 1942

14 Wellingtons were detailed to attack the railway in the Hannau area - 7 failed to return.
3 aircraft attacked the railway at Hannau
1 aircraft attacked the railway at Aschaffenburg, which was easily identified by the U-shaped bend in the river. Bombs were seen to burst near the railway bridge west of the town.
1 aircraft attacked the railway 3 miles north west of Lohr.
1 aircraft attacked the railway 12 miles east of Aschaffenburg. All bombs were seen to burst in the marshalling yards and tracks were broken. Coaches in the marshalling yards were machine gunned.
1 aircraft attacked the railway at Heidelburg. Bridges and railway were clearly seen. Bombs were seen to burst on the railway track. Debris was thrown up and fell in the river.
1 aircraft attacked a railway bridge at Mainz over the Rhein. The crew are confident that the end of the bridge was destroyed.
1 aircraft returned early having been severely damaged in the Middelkirche area.
1 aircraft attacked Dorsal. The bombs fell on the railway line, 50 yards away from a stationary train.

Source : Simon Dawes and Ian Hunt and Doug Eagleton

Last Mission before VE Day

2nd/3rd May 1945 : Window patrol by 11 Fortresses in Kiel area.

Source : Much above 214 Squadron history from RAF site and numerous secondary sources. Compiled, edited & written by Kevin Crawford.

Raids flown

3 Group Wellingtons - 184 bombing, 1 minelaying
3 Group Stirlings - 131 bombing, 88 minelaying, 3 leaflet
100 Group Fortresses - 192 RCM


Wellingtons - 1532 sorties 45 aircraft lost
Stirlings - 1432 sorties 54 aircraft lost
Fortresses - 1225 sorties 13 aircraft lost (13 obviously wrong, 17 identified to date)
Stirlings - 1432 sorties 54 aircraft lost (29 Stirlings lost in crashes)
Harrows - Unknown
No 214 Squadron flew a total of 4,189 sorties during which they lost 112 aircraft or 2.7%
No 214 Squadron suffered the highest percentage losses in 3 Group

Source : 'The Bomber Command War Diaries' by Martin Middlebrokk and Chris Everitt

End of 214 Squadron newspaper article

Article written by Sarah Dane, reporter from the Kings Lynn News and Advertiser and daughter of Flight Lieutenant Michael Dane
Source : Flt/Lt David Card

Source : Flt/Lt David Card

The order of service for the laying-up of the standard of 214 Squadron at Ely Cathedral
Source : Flt/Lt David Card

No 214 Squadron Operations Record Book (ORB)

Digital copies of the No 214 Squadron Operations Record Book and Summary of Events can be purchased from The National Archives.

No 214 Squadron ORB's are under the AIR 27 category and are currently priced at £3.50 per month. Click on this link to go to The National Archives.

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