No. 106 Squadron (RAF) Bomber Command

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About This Unit

No.106 Squadron RAF (Squadron Code 'ZN') - Pro Libertate - For Freedom

For the purposes of the Virtual War Memorial Australia, No. 106 Squadron (RAF) is included as one of the RAF Squadrons in which Australians served, fought and died during WW II.

During WW2 the Empire Air Training Scheme supplied tens of thousands of aircrew for the Royal Air Force (RAF) air war in Europe, and later in other theatres of war. While a number of so-called Article XV national squadrons were created in Fighter, Bomber and Coastal Commands of the RAF, the majority of Australian aircrew were posted, along with their Commonwealth colleagues, to RAF Squadrons (and also to RCAF and RNZAF units) as individual crew members,where they would 'crew up' often with a very multi-national aircrew comprised of men from all over the Commownwealth. Ground staff were similarly assigned.

This unit history is an extract of the Wikepedia which is recommended for reading in conjunction with the Squadron MoD site (see link)

The squadron reformed in 1 June 1938 at Abingdon from a nucleus provided by a flight from No. 15 Squadron. Initially equipped with Hawker Hind biplane light bombers, it began to receive Fairey Battle monoplanes the following month. These were actually withdrawn from the squadron before the Hinds, in June 1939.  It had been determined that No. 106 was to be allocated to No 5 Group which was to be equipped with Handley Page Hampdens, which were classified as a medium bomber.  The Hampdens began to arrive in May 1939 .

At the outbreak of the Second World War the squadron was flying Hampdens with No. 5 Group in a training role which continued up until 1 March 1941 when it reverted to front-line status and began regular night bombing operations against 'Fortress Europe', flying its first operational bombing raid on Cologne, although it had taken part in some mine laying prior to that.

After a short spell in early 1942 when it operated Avro Manchesters (the twin engined unsuccessful precursor of the Lancaster), from May 1942 No, 106 started replacing them with Lancasters.  However it did not become converted completely to Lancasters before some of the squadron's Manchesters had participated in the 1,000-bomber raids on Cologne, Essen and Bremen in May 1942.

In October 1942 it contributed 10 Lancasters to No. 5 Group's low-level epic dusk raid ("Operation Robinson") on Le Creusot and two more (one of which was piloted by the CO, Wing Commander Guy Gibson who was later to win fame leading No. 617 Squadron the legendary Dambusters) to the subsidiary raid on Montchanin.

In 1943 it took part in the first "shuttle-bombing" raids (when the targets were Friedrichshafen and Spezia in Italy) and the famous attack on Peenemunde the secret experimental site on the Baltic Coast.  Among the targets attacked in 1944 were a coastal gun battery at St. Pierre du Mont and the V1 Flying Bomb storage sites in the caves at St. Leu d'Esserent.

In December 1944, it made a 1,900-mile round trip to bomb the German Baltic Fleet at Gdynia, while in March 1945, it was represented in the bomber force that so pulverised the defences of Wesel just before the Rhine crossing that Commandos were able to seize the town with only 36 casualties.  In April 1945, came the last of the squadron's operations against the enemy – a bombing attack on an oil refinery at Vallo (Tonsberg) in Norway, and a simultaneous minelaying expedition to the Oslo fjord.

During the Second World War, No 106 Squadron operated on 496 nights and 46 days, flying 5,834 operational sorties. In so doing it lost 187 aircraft – a percentage loss on sorties flown of 3.21 – but on the credit side its gunners claimed 20 enemy aircraft destroyed, 3 probably destroyed and 29 damaged. A total of 267 decorations were won by the squadron, including a Victoria Cross awarded to Sergeant NC Jackson for conspicuous bravery during an attack on Schweinfurt on 26/27 April 1944.

After VE-Day, No. 467 Sqn RAAF arrived at RAF Metheringham to train with No. 106 Sqn for operations in the Far East 'Tiger Force' but the end of the war overtook this plan and the squadron was used to fly POW's and troops home, principally from Italian bases until it finally disbanded at Metheringham, on 18 Feb 1946.