No. 180 Squadron (RAF) Suaviter in modo fortier in re (Agreeable in manner, forcible in act)

About This Unit

No. 180 Squadron is included on this site becasue it was one of a great many RAF squadrons to which RAAF (and other Commonwealth) aircrew were assigned and in which they served fought and often died, carrying the air war to Nazi Germany.  RAAF aircrew assigned to RAF Bomber Command suffered the highest loss rates of any cohort of Asutralian service personnel in WW2.

No.180 Squadron was raised as a Medium Bomber squadron 1942 and was equipped with the excellent North American B-25 Mitchell.  It continued to operate the type until after the end of hostilities over Northern Europe, being equipped with the legendary de Havilland Mosquito in September 1945.

The squadron was raised as part of No.2 Group, Bomber Command, at West Raynham on 13 September 1942

By the end of November it was fully equipped with 22 aircraft, and after work up training it flew its first combat mission on 22 January 1943, an attack on Ghent in Belgium, that resulted in the loss of two aircraft.

After an 'operational pause,  operations recommenced in May. At the end of May 1943 No.2 Group, and No.180 Squadron with it, left Bomber Command to join the newly formed Second Tactical Air Force, being assembled to support the 'return to Europe'.  Nos.98, 180 and 320 Squadrons formed No.139 Wing (originally designated as No.138 Airfield), all equipped with the B25 Mitchell.

They flew daylight raids over France and Belgium preparing for the D-Day landings. This also saw the squadron go on a two week night bombing course at Swanton Morely in April 1944.

From May until October the squadron operated at night against German troop concentrations, transport links and other tactical targets, supporting the fighting in Normandy and Northern Europe.

No. 180 Squadron was part of a raid on the HQ of Panzer Group West at the Chateau of La Caine on 10 June 1944, when 61 B25s took part in the attack. By September the advancing armies had moved too far east for No.180 Squadron to easily support them, and attention turned to those isolated pockets of German resistance left on the French coast.

In October the group moved to Europe to support the Allied advance, and in December supporting the forces engaged in Battle of the Bulge.  This period included a raid on German troop concentration near Henebach on 22 December, despite thick cloud cover.

On 1 January 1945 the squadron was in the air during Operation Bodenplatte, a massive Luftwaffe 'last gasp' attack on Allied airfields that casued chaotic scenes on Allied airfields.  180 Squadron lost three aircraft on the ground. From then until the end of the war the squadron operated ever further to the east, moving to a base in German in April 1945. Communication links were its most important target during this period, and the near-total disruption of every road and rail link in German played an important part in the eventual German collapse.

At the end of the war the squadron remained on the continent, exchanging its lend-lease B25s for the faster and more nimble  de Havilland Mosquito in September 1945.

180 Squadron ceased to exist on 31 March 1946 when it was renumbered as No.69 Squadron.


Compiled and edited by Steve Larkins 31 Aug 2019