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British Military Aviation in 1942

January

During the course of this month, the Luftwaffe mounts a total of 1,973
sorties against Malta. SixRoyal Air Force (RAF) aircraft are destroyed
on the ground during the Luftwaffe raids and a further 54 are damaged.

3 January

51 Hawker Hurricane fighters arrive in Singapore with the advance parties
of Nos. 17, 135, 136 and 232 Squadrons.

20 January

Royal Air Force (RAF) Hawker Hurricanes based in Singapore shoot down
8 of a formation of 27 unescorted Japanese bombers over Singapore.

21 January

Following recent British successes, the Afrika Korps launch a counter-offensive
In the Western Desert. Benghazi is recaptured by the Germans on 28 January,
but the German advance grinds to a halt at Gazala on 4 February.

25 January

Seven Hurricanes, approximately a quarter of Malta’s serviceable fighters,
are shot down by Luftwaffe Messerschmitt Bf109s.

26 January

Twelve Vickers Vildebeests of No.36 and No.100 Squadrons, escorted by
Hawker Hurricanes and Brewster Buffaloes, attack the Japanese landing
at Endau in southern Malaya and five Vildebeests are shot down. A further
nine Vildebeests are lost during the course of a subsequent attack, which
is accompanied by a smaller fighter escort.

27-30 January

48 Hawker Hurricane Mk11A fighters are flown off HMS Indomitable by pilots
of Nos. 242, 258 and 605 Squadrons to reinforce the defences of Singapore.

January

Thirty Hawker Hurricane Mk1 fighters, together with the Bristol Blenheim
bombers of No.113 Squadron, arrive in Burma from the Middle East for the
defence of Rangoon.

January

The remnants of the Royal Air Force (RAF) bomber force on Singapore are
evacuated to Sumatra.

February

The Luftwaffe’s onslaught against the island of Malta continues throughout
February. During the course of this month, 2,447 sorties are flown against
the island, the airfield at Luqa is attacked no fewer than 142 times,
Ta’Kali 37 times, Hal Far 23 times and the ‘Q’ (decoy) site at Krendi
20 times.

1 February

The RAF Regiment is formed. A senior Army officer, Major General C.F.
Liardet, is seconded to the Royal Air Force to command this new formation.

1 February

The Mingaladon Wing is formed under the command of Wing Commander Frank
Carey for the defence of Rangoon in Burma.

6-14 February

During a series of Japanese air attacks on the Palembang area, the Royal
Air Force loses thirty Hawker Hurricanes, most of which are destroyed
on the ground on 7 February. Subsequently, six enemy transports are sunk
for the loss of seven aircraft on 14 February.

8-9 February

Following heavy air bombardment Japanese forces land on Singapore Island
capturing RAF Tengah airfield.

10 February

The remnants of the Royal Air Force (RAF) fighter force on Singapore is withdrawn to bases
in Sumatra.

11-12 February

The ‘Channel Dash’. Following repeated attacks on the German battlecruisers
Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the cruiser Prinz Eugen by RAF Bomber Command,
in an effort to prevent them sailing to intercept British shipping in
the Atlantic, it is decided that the ships should be withdrawn to Germany
(Operation Cerberus). In parallel, the Luftwaffe draw up a plan centred
on the assembly of a massive fighter screen to protect the vessels en
route through the English Channel known as Operation Donnerkeil (Thunderbolt).

Under the cover of poor weather, the ships sortied from Brest at 2245hrs
on the night of 11 February. Misfortune dogged the comprehensive surveillance
network established by the Royal Air Force (RAF) to detect the German
capital ships as soon as they sailed (Operation Fuller) and, due to a
combination of circumstances, standing patrols failed to detect the force
as it left Brest. It was not until 1110hrs that a positive sighting was
reported in the English Channel.

Victoria Cross

In response, 6 Fairey Swordfish of No.825 Squadron at RAF Manston launched
a torpedo attack. All 6 aircraft were destroyed and 13 men lost. The commander
of this force, Lieutenant Commander Eugene Esmonde of the Royal Navy,
was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for the gallantry that he and
his fellow airmen demonstrated. Subsequently, attacks by Bristol Beaufort
torpedo bombers and Lockheed Hudson maritime patrol aircraft of RAF Coastal
Command, in appalling weather conditions, failed to hit the German warships,
as did any of the 242 aircraft despatched by No.5 Group, RAF Bomber Command.

However, both Scharnhorst and Gneisenau detonated air-dropped mines previously
laid by the Royal Air Force, although Gneisenau was only slightly damaged,
Scharnhorst could only limp into the German port of Wilhelmshaven at twelve
knots, having shipped a thousand tons of water.

12 February
Victoria Cross

A Posthumous Victoria Cross is awarded to Lieutenant Commander Esmonde of
the Royal Navy, for his daylight attack on the German battlecruiser Scharnhorst
in the Straits of Dover. The aircraft involved was a Fairey Swordfish
(W5984 ‘H’) of No.825 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm.

15 February

A second Special Duties squadron, No.161 Squadron, is formed at Newmarket
from personnel detached from No.138 Squadron.

15 February

British forces on Singapore capitulate to the invading Japanese.

15-16 February

British forces join the Dutch and Americans in maximum-effort operations
against Japanese invasion forces off Sumatra, inflicting heavy destruction
on landing ships in the Banka Strait and in the mouth of the Palembang
River.

22 February

Air Marshal Sir Arthur Harris succeeds Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Peirse
as Commander in Chief Bomber Command.

22 February

Royal Air Force Bristol Blenheim bombers and Vickers Vildebeest torpedo
bombers destroy a warship and hit several other vessels of the Japanese
occupation forces on Java.

27 February

Operation Biting: Armstrong Whitworth Whitleys of No.51 Squadron, led
by Wing Commander P.C. Pickard, take-off from Thruxton carrying 6 officers
and 113 men of ‘C’ Company, 2nd Parachute Battalion, under the command
of Major J.D. Frost, together with Royal Air Force RDF (radar) specialist,
Flight Sergeant C.W.H. Cox.

This assault force is dropped near the Luftwaffe Würzburg radar
station at Bruneval, near Le Havre, and successfully seizes the station.
Flight Sergeant Cox then dismantles elements of the radar, which are brought
back to the United Kingdom for examination, together with three prisoners,
when the force withdraws by sea. The assault is brilliantly successful,
all of the objectives are achieved, at a cost of three members of the
attacking force killed, two missing and seven wounded.

March

During the month, the Luftwaffe fly a total of 4,927 sorties against Malta.
Throughout the month, the average serviceability of Royal Air Force (RAF)
aircraft on the island falls as low as twelve, the RAF lose 12 fighters
in combat, with 9 pilots killed, and a further 46 are destroyed on the
ground. RAF casualties during Luftwaffe bombing attacks are 28 killed
and 34 wounded.

1 March

Martin 139s, Brewster Buffaloes, Lockheed Hudsons and Bristol Blenheims
attack Japanese ships landing troops on Java, with one Martin 139 and
one Buffalo lost. A second attack by all available aircraft sinks two
troopships, inflicting heavy losses on enemy forces.

1 March

A United States Navy (USN) Lockheed Hudson of VP82 sinks the submarine
U-656, south west of Newfoundland. This is the first German submarine
to be sunk by United States forces in the Second World War.

2 March

Martin 139s attack Japanese shipping, sinking two large transports and
damaging three others. Martins also attacked Japanese aircraft on the
ground at Kalidjati and this attack is repeated at dusk by Royal Air Force
(RAF) and Dutch fighters.

3 March

Allied aircraft begin to evacuate Java. Royal Air Force and Dutch fighters
continue to provide fighter cover until 7 March.

3 March

No.44 Squadron makes the first operational sortie with the new Lancaster
bomber – a mine-laying operation in the Heligoland Bight.

3-4 March

The Renault factory in Billancourt, near Paris, is bombed by over 220
Royal Air Force (RAF) aircraft.

7 March

The first Supermarine Spitfires reaches Malta, when fifteen aircraft are flown
off the United States Navy (USN) aircraft carrier USS Wasp. The first
fighter squadron on Malta to re-equip with the Spitfire, No.249 Squadron,
become operational on 10 March and is fully re-equipped by 17 March.

7 March

A United States naval airship and submarine exercise successfully demonstrates
the practicability of radio sonobuoys in aerial anti-submarine warfare.

8 March

Japanese forces enter Rangoon. The remnants of No.221 Group RAF are moved
north to Magwe and Akyab Island where they form into the Burwing and Akwing.

8-9 March

The first electronic navigation aid is brought into service by RAF Bomber
Command – ‘Gee’ is employed for the first time by RAF Bomber Command.
The target for this raid, the German industrial city of Essen, is attacked
by a force of 211 aircraft. However, industrial haze prevents accurate
bombing.

12 March

The Empire Central Flying School is formed at Hullavington from the Central
Flying School.

20 March

Ten Hawker Hurricanes and nine Bristol Blenheims from Magwe attack Mingaladon,
destroying sixteen Japanese aircraft on the ground and eleven in the air.
In the following 24 hours 230 enemy aircraft attack Magwe, destroying
eleven Hurricanes and all but six Blenheims.

20-21 March

The Luftwaffe launch a devastating series of raids on Ta’Kali in Malta,
demolishing virtually every building on the airfield.

During 21 March, the first phase of Operation Scantling/Picket witnesses
the arrival of a further nine Supermarine Spitfires on Malta, escorted
by two Bristol Blenheims. In the second phase of this operation on 29
March, a further seven Spitfires, three Blenheims and two Bristol Beauforts
are flown to the island.

27 March

The Japanese launch a three-day assault on Akyab, destroying a further
seven Hawker Hurricanes. The surviving aircraft are evacuated to India.
Over 8,600 civilians are airlifted to safety by Douglas Dakota transport
aircraft of No.31 Squadron RAF and the 2nd Troop Carrier Squadron, United
States Army Air Force (USAAF).

28-29 March

RAF Bomber Command mounts its first concentrated raid against a German
city. A total of 234 aircraft are despatched, of which twelve fail to
return. The target is the ancient Hanseatic port of Lübeck and the
attacking force drops large numbers of incendiaries which destroy most
of the wooden buildings in the old town. A series of similar raids are
subsequently carried out against the port of Rostock. Such is their effect
that the Germans for the first time use the phrase Terrorangriff (Terror
raids) to describe them.

April

The Blitz on Malta reaches its height during this month. A total of 9,599
sorties are flown by the Luftwaffe against Malta, during which 6,500 tons
of bombs are dropped. No fewer than 44 aircraft are destroyed on the ground,
82 damaged and a further 20 fighters are destroyed in combat over the
island. The Luftwaffe loses 45 aircraft.

4-9 April

On 4 April a Consolidated Catalina patrol aircraft of No.205 Squadron
RAF reports that a Japanese carrier task force is approaching Ceylon.
On the following day, 150 Japanese aircraft attack Colombo harbour in
the hope of surprising the Royal Navy’s Far Eastern Fleet at anchor. However,
the fleet is at sea.

36 Hawker Hurricanes of No.30 and No.258 Squadrons, together with six
Fairey Fulmars of No.803 and No.806 Squadrons, Fleet Air Arm, take off
to intercept the enemy over the sea, having been alerted by radar. The
British aircraft are outclassed by the Mitsubishi A6M ‘Zero’ fighters
operated by the Imperial Japanese Navy and 15 Hurricanes and 4 Fulmars
are shot down.

10-11 April

The first 8,000 pound High Capacity bomb is dropped by a RAF Bomber Command
aircraft. A Handley Page Halifax of No.76 Squadron captained by Pilot
Officer M. Renault drop the weapon on Essen.

15 April
George Cross

In recognition of the gallantry of its citizens and defenders under incessant
air attack and in the face of serious food shortages, the island of Malta
is awarded the George Cross. In his letter addressed to the British Governor
of Malta from Buckingham Palace and in his own hand, King George VI wrote:
“To honour her brave people I award the George Cross to the Island
Fortress of Malta to bear witness to a heroism and devotion that will
long be famous in history.”

17 April
Victoria Cross

Twelve Avro Lancasters of No.44 and No.97 Squadrons, RAF Bomber Command, are
despatched on a daylight low-level raid on the MAN submarine diesel engine
works at Augsburg in southern Bavaria. Although a brilliant feat of arms,
seven aircraft from the attacking force are shot down en route to, or
at the target. Furthermore, little damage is done to the MAN factory –
five of the seventeen bombs that hit the target fail to detonate. The
commanding officer of No.44 Squadron, Squadron Leader J.D. Nettleton,
is awarded the Victoria Cross for the valour and leadership that he demonstrated
during the attack.

18 April

The first air attack on the Japanese homeland is carried out by sixteen
North American B25 Mitchell medium bombers of the United States Army Air
Force (USAAF). The aircraft fly from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet.

20 April

Operation Calendar: 46 Supermarine Spitfires are flown to Malta from the
deck of the United States Navy (USN) carrier USS Wasp, together with the
pilots of No.601 and No.603 Squadrons RAF. However, in response the Luftwaffe
launch a series of devastating raids on the airfields at Luqa and Ta’Kali.
By 23 April, nine of the Spitfires have been destroyed on the ground and
a further 29 damaged.

25-26 April

The Luftwaffe mounts the first in a series of night ‘reprisal’ raids on
British cities in revenge for the area attacks on the Baltic ports of
Lübeck and Rostock. This sequence of attacks becomes known as the
‘Baedeker Blitz’. The first city to be singled out for such an attack
is Exeter.

26 April

Winston Churchill instructs the United Kingdom Petroleum Warfare Department
to investigate ways of dispersing fog from emergency airfields.

9 May

During the first phase of Operations Oppidan and Hansford, sixty Supermarine
Spitfires are flown to Malta from the United States aircraft carrier USS
Wasp and the Royal Navy carrier HMS Eagle. In an effort to ensure that
they are not immediately destroyed on the ground, the Spitfires are operational
within 35 minutes of their arrival and they fly 134 sorties during the
day. A further sixteen aircraft are flown to Malta during the second phase
of Oppidan/Hansford, which takes place on 18 May.

10 May

The Luftwaffe ends its air assault on Malta and German air units begin
to relocate from Sicily to the Western Desert in support of the Afrika
Korps, or to the Russian Front. As a consequence, although enemy air raids
continue on the island, their intensity is considerably reduced and the
Royal Air Force is able to regain air superiority over Malta. Moreover,
during May, the Royal Air Force is able to resume its air offensive against
enemy shipping from Malta, which leads to a sharp drop in Axis supplies
reaching North Africa.

30 May
Victoria Cross

The Victoria Cross is posthumously awarded to Flying Officer L.T. Manser for
his selfless efforts to enable his crew to escape from their burning bomber,
an Avro Manchester of No.50 Squadron, RAF Bomber Command.

30-31 May

Operation Millennium: the first ‘Thousand Bomber Raid’ is carried out by RAF Bomber
Command on the German city of Cologne. 1,046 aircraft drawn from Bomber
Command squadrons and Operational Training Units (OTUs) drop more than
2,000 tons of bombs on the target in 90 minutes.

The next morning sees the operational debut of the de Havilland Mosquito in Bomber
Command, when four aircraft of No.105 Squadron undertake a combined bombing
and reconnaissance sortie to Cologne.

1-2 June

The second ‘Thousand Bomber Raid’ is carried out by RAF Bomber Command
against Essen. 956 aircraft are despatched, of which 767 claim to have
attacked. Subsequent reconnaissance reveals that the results of the raid
are disappointing.


3 June

Operations Tilden and Style: 27 Supermarine Spitfires are flown to Malta
from the Royal Navy carrier HMS Eagle.

3-4 June

The first attack on a surfaced submarine at night using a Leigh Light
is carried out by a Vickers Wellington of No.172 Squadron, RAF Coastal
Command, flown by Squadron Leader J.H. Greswell. The target is the Italian
Navy Marconi Class submarine Luigi Torelli. When illuminated, the submarine
initially remains on the surface and fires recognition flares, believing
the aircraft to be friendly. The Wellington then drops four Mk8 depth
charges, damaging the submarine.

3-6 June

The Battle of Midway: United States naval forces sink three Japanese fleet
carriers for the loss of one of their own, irrevocably altering the balance
of power in the Pacific.

9 June

Operations Maintop and Salient: an additional 32 Supermarine Spitfires
arrive on Malta, flown from the deck of the carrier HMS Eagle.

10-12 June

The Bristol Beaufort torpedo bombers of No.217 Squadron arrive on Malta
to enhance the Royal Air Force’s anti-shipping campaign from that island.
Additionally, on 11 June, No.235 Squadron (Bristol Beaufighter) also arrive
on the island.

12 June

Flight Lieutenant A.K. Gatward and Sergeant G. Fern of No.236 Squadron
fly at low level to Paris in a Bristol Beaufighter. They proceed to fly
along the Champs Elysees before dropping a large French tricolour over
the Arc de Triomphe and strafing the Gestapo headquarters in the city.

25-26 June

The third of Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris’s ‘Thousand Bomber Raids’
is mounted against Bremen, with 960 aircraft despatched. The raid marks
the last operational sortie of the Avro Manchester, the unsuccessful forerunner
of the widely admired Avro Lancaster.

29 June

United States Army Air Force (USAAF) aircrew bomb a target in enemy-occupied
Europe for the first time. Captain Charles Kegelman and his crew from
the 15th Bombardment Squadron (Light), US Eighth Air Force, fly a Douglas
Boston light bomber of No.226 Squadron, No.2 Group, RAF Bomber Command
during an attack by twelve Bostons from that squadron on the marshalling
yard at Hazebrouck. No aircraft are lost.

1 July

The first Boeing B17 Flying Fortress to be ferried across the Atlantic,
lands at Prestwick in Scotland.

4 July

The United States Army Air Force (USAAF) flies its first operation over
Europe. Six Douglas Boston light bombers of the 15th Bombardment Squadron
(Light) accompany six Bostons of No.226 Squadron in attacks upon Luftwaffe
airfields at De Kooy, Bergen, Haamstede and Valkenburg in the Netherlands.
Intense light anti-aircraft fire is encountered when crossing the Dutch
coast. Two of the aircraft flown by USAAF crews are lost, one is damaged
beyond repair and another is damaged.

Following the success of the Afrika Korps in capturing the British stronghold
of Tobruk on 21 June, the Luftwaffe resums its assault on Malta. During
July, Axis air units fly 2,851 sorties against the island, during which
they drop 695 tons of bombs and 2,300 incendiaries. Luftwaffe attacks
are concentrated on Malta’s airfields in an attempt to destroy its air
defence fighters on the ground and wrest air superiority from the Royal
Air Force. During the attacks, 37 Luftwaffe aircraft and 36 Supermarine
Spitfires of the Royal Air Force are shot down. Attacks slacken from 14
July, but resume their former intensity during 23-27 July.

11 July

The longest-range daylight raid to date is carried out by aircraft of
RAF Bomber Command, when they attack shipyards at Danzig in Poland.

15 July

Operations Colima and Pinpoint: 31 Supermarine Spitfires are flown to
Malta from the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle. Subsequently, a further 28
Spitfires are flown to the island from the same carrier on 21 July in
Operations Knapsack and Insect.

31 July

The German submarine U-754 is sunk in the waters off Nova Scotia by a
Consolidated Catalina of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). This is
the RCAF’s first U-boat kill.

6 August

‘Moonshine’, the first offensive radio counter-measures (RCM) radar jammer
to enter service with the Royal Air Force, is used operationally for the
first time.

11 August

During Operation Bellows: a further 37 Supermarine Spitfires arrive by
air on Malta from the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle. However, later on this
day the Eagle is struck by four torpedoes fired by the German submarine
U73 and sinks within five minutes.

14 August

The two surviving merchantmen from the Pedestal convoy carrying essential
supplies, the Brisbane Star and the tanker Ohio, limp into harbour at
Malta. The convoy had been subjected to intense attack during its passage
from the Straits of Gibraltar.

15 August

The Pathfinder Force (PFF) is formed, under the command of Group Captain
D.C.T. Bennett, as a specialised target-marking force within RAF Bomber
Command. The Pathfinder Force subsequently acquires group status as No.8
Group, RAF Bomber Command, on 13 January 1943.

16-17 August

The first experimental use of the Pathfinder Force in an attack on Emden
in Germany.

17 August

The United States Eighth Air Force mounts its first heavy bomber mission
from the United Kingdom. Twelve Boeing B17E Flying Fortresses of the 97th
Bombardment Group bomb the marshalling yard at Rouen/Scotteville, with
no aircraft lost.

17 August

Offensive shipping strikes from Malta resume with attacks on the Italian
vessel Rosalino Pilo by Bristol Beauforts of No.86 Squadron and Bristol
Beaufighters of No.235 and No.252 Squadrons. She is subsequently sunk
by a Royal Navy submarine.

17 August

During Operations Headlong/Baritone, 29 Spitfires are flown to Malta from
the aircraft carrier HMS Furious.

19 August

Operation Jubilee: an amphibious assault by Canadian, British, and United
States troops is mounted to seize temporarily the English Channel port
of Diepp. Extensive air support is provided by RAF Fighter, Bomber and
Coastal Commands, under the control of the Air Officer Commanding No.11
Group, RAF Fighter Command (Air Marshal Leigh-Mallory).

During the course of operation, Allied aircraft fly 2,614 sorties. German
ground forces and the Luftwaffe oppose the landings in strength and Allied
ground, air and naval casualties are heavy. During the course of 19 August
the Royal Air Force loses 106 aircraft and three high speed launches (HSLs).
Although the operation is unsuccessful, a number of vitally important
lessons are learned which are subsequently applied in the planning and
conduct of landings in the Mediterranean and the invasion of North-West
Europe (Operation Overlord).

24 August

A specially converted Supermarine Spitfire Vc operating from Alexandria
in Egypt manages to successfully intercept a Junkers Ju86P-2 high altitude
reconnaissance aircraft. This is the first success against these very
high flying aircraft. The combat takes place at 12,800 metres (42,000
feet), even though the British fighter pilot has no pressurised protection
against operating at that extreme height.

6 September

The United States Eighth Air Force suffers its first heavy bomber losses
in combat. Two Boeing B-17s, one from the 92nd Bombardment Group and one
from the 97th Bombardment Group, are shot down during a mission against
aircraft factory at Meaulte.

16 September

It is announced that Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) pilots have ferried
100,000 aircraft of 117 different types.

19 September

RAF Bomber Command mounts the first Allied daylight raid on Berlin. Six
de Havilland Mosquito BIVs of No.105 Squadron, RAF, take off from Horsham
at 1230hrs for a high-level raid on the city, however, due to poor weather
over the target, only one aircraft bombs Berlin, through cloud. Two aircraft
bomb the alternate target (Hamburg), two return with mechanical problems
and one fails to return.

25 September

RAF Bomber Command carries out the first raid on a Gestapo headquarters
in enemy-occupied Europe. Four de Havilland Mosquito BIVs of No.105 Squadron
fly from Leuchars to bomb the Gestapo headquarters in Oslo. Enemy fighters
intercept the attackers en route to the target and one Mosquito is lost.
Although at least four bombs from the remaining aircraft hit the Headquarters,
one fails to explode and three smash their way through the opposite wall
and explode outside the building.

25 September
The three American-manned ‘Eagle Squadrons’ in Fighter Command, Nos. 71, 121
and 133 Squadrons, are transferred to Fighter Command of the 8th United
States Army Air Force, becoming the 334th, 335th and 336th Squadrons of
the 4th Fighter Group.

11-19 October

The Luftwaffe resume all-out attacks on Malta. During this period, Axis
forces fly 2,400 sorties against the island. However, none of the airfields
on Malta are put out of action for more than 30 minutes and only two aircraft
are destroyed on the ground. The Luftwaffe loses 46 aircraft shot down
and the Royal Air Force loses 30 Supermarine Spitfires.

17 October

94 Avro Lancasters of RAF Bomber Command are despatched in a daylight
raid on the Schneider munitions and heavy engineering factory, and associated
electricity transformer, at Le Creusot, over 300 miles inside France.
The aircraft transits to the target at very low level without fighter
escort and although none of the Lancasters are intercepted by Luftwaffe
fighters, four aircraft are damaged by bird strikes. The attackers drop
140 tons of bombs on the target. One Lancaster is lost when it flies into
a building during its bombing run.

© Imperial War Museum
23-24 October

The Eighth Army launches the first phase of its offensive at El Alamein (Lightfoot)
with extensive support from the Desert AirForce. The second phase of the
battle (Supercharge) begins on 1/2 November, and results in the compete
defeat of the Afrika Korps.

24 October

The first daylight attack on Italy is mounted by RAF Bomber Command aircraft
based in the United Kingdom, when 88 Avro Lancasters of No.5 Group are
despatched to attack Milan. Three Lancasters are lost en route, one near
the target and two over northern France, and one aircraft crashes in the
United Kingdom. This raid forms part of a series aimed at Italian targets,
timed to coincide with the opening of 8th Army’s El Alamein offensive.

29 October

During Operation Train, Malta is further reinforced by 29 Supermarine
Spitfires flown from the aircraft carrier HMS Furious.


8 November

British and American troops, with air support provided by the Royal Air
Force (RAF) and the United States Army Air Force (USAAF), invade French
Morocco and Algeria (Operation Torch). Luftwaffe reinforcements begin
to reach Tunisia from 9 October.

17 November – 4 December
Victoria Cross

The Victoria Cross is posthumously awarded to Wing Commander H.G. Malcolm
for his leadership during the bombing raids on Bizerta airfield and the
close air support which he provided for the First Army near Cheuigui in
Tunisia.

19-20 November

Operation Freshman: two Handley Page Halifax aircraft depart from RAF
Skitten in Scotland, each towing a Horsa glider (sailplane) carrying sixteen
Royal Engineers, in an attack on the Norsk Hydro Plant at Vermork, near
Rjukan, some 60 miles due west of Oslo. A landing zone for the gliders
(sailplanes) was to be established by Norwegian agents and marked using
a ‘Eureka’ transponder.

Tragically, although the first glider-tug combination, captained by Squadron
Leader Wilkinson, successfully managed the 340 mile crossing from the
United Kingdom to Norway, the aircraft was unable to find the landing
zone due to the failure of the ‘Rebecca’ receiver fitted to the aircraft.
As the pilot attempted to find the correct site on map reading alone,
the glider’s towing rope snapped and the glider crashed at Fylesdalen.
8 of the 17 men in the glider were killed and 4 severely injured and all
of the survivors were captured before they could leave the scene of the
crash. The injured men were subsequently poisoned and the uninjured men
were shot by the Gestapo on 18 January 1943.

The second tug, captained by Flight Lieutenant Parkinson, and its glider
crashed immediately after crossing the Norwegian coast. All of the crew
of the tug were killed and the survivors from the glider were captured
and shot a few hours later. The Norsk Hydro Plant was believed to be manufacturing
heavy water for the German nuclear programme and was subsequently destroyed
by Norwegian agents.

Victoria Cross
28-29 November

The Victoria Cross is posthumously awarded to Flight Sergeant R.H. Middleton
of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) for saving the lives of his crew
after an attempted bombing raid on the Fiat factory at Turin in Italy.
Middleton was the captain of a Short Stirling (BF372 ‘OJ-H’) of No.149
Squadron, RAF Bomber Command.

6 December

Operation Oyster: a mixed force of light bombers from No.2 Group, RAF
Bomber Command, led by Wing Commander J.E. Pelly-Fry, carries out an attack
on the Philips radio and valve works in Eindhoven in the Netherlands.
Aircraft that participate in the attack include 47 Lockheed Venturas of
Nos. 21, 464 and 487 Squadrons, 36 Douglas Bostons of Nos. 88, 107, and
226 Squadrons and ten de Havilland Mosquitoes of No.105 and No.139 Squadrons.
Two factories within the complex are severely damaged, and there is little
destruction outside the boundaries of the works. However, nine Venturas,
four Bostons and one Mosquito are lost, most to enemy fighters, and three
aircraft crash on landing in the United Kingdom. This 19% loss rate is
clearly unsustainable, and further large daylight raids of this type are
not repeated.

20-21 December

The ‘Oboe’ ground controlled blind bombing system is first tested by Bomber
Command in a raid on a power station at Lutterade in the Netherlands by
six de Havilland Mosquitoes of No.109 Squadron RAF Bomber Command.