The RAF Helicopter Training School is formed at Andover, under the command
of Squadron Leader B.H. Arkell. The school was equipped with Sikorsky
R4 helicopters.

1 January

Operation Bodenplatte (Baseplate): the Luftwaffe launches over 800 fighters and
fighter-bombers, predominantly Focke Wulf Fw190s and Messerschmitt Bf109s,
in a low-level surprise attack on Allied advanced airfields in Belgium

and the Netherlands. Surprise was complete, although the attacks on some
airfields were ineffective. Nevertheless, 224 Allied aircraft were destroyed
(144 RAF) with a further 84 damaged beyond unit repair.

Despite this, Bodenplatte proved to be a phyrric victory. Allied pilot
losses were minimal, and the aircraft destroyed were replaced within two
weeks. By contrast, the Luftwaffe lost 300 aircraft during the course
of the operation to Allied airfield defences, German anti-aircraft units
that had not been warned of the planned assault, and accidents. Surviving
records indicate that 237 Luftwaffe pilots were killed, went missing or
were captured and 18 wounded, including some of Germany’s most experienced
fighter leaders.

1 January
Victoria Cross

The Victoria Cross is posthumously awarded to Flight Sergeant G. Thompson,
a wireless operator, for saving the lives of his fellow crewmembers during
a dawn bombing raid on the Dortmund-Ems canal in Germany in an Avro Lancaster
(PD377 ‘U’) of No.9 Squadron, RAF Bomber Command.

11 January

A ceasefire is announced in Greece between government forces and the National
Popular Liberation Front (ELAS) guerillas and agreement is confirmed by
the government on 12 February. Despite numerous infringements of the ceasefire
during 1945, the Royal Air Force (RAF) units began to withdraw during
the year. RAF squadrons comprising Greek personnel were transferred to
the Royal Hellenic Air Force in mid-1946 and the RAF presence in Greece
had ended by the end of that year.

13-14 February

RAF Bomber Command opens what will become one of the most controversial aerial
bombardments in the history of the Combined Bomber Offensive – the raids
conducted on the city of Dresden by the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the
night and by the Eighth United States Army Air Force (USAAF) during the
following day.

During the opening weeks of 1945, consideration within the higher Allied
politico-military leadership turned to the manner in which British and
United States strategic bomber forces might be used to aid the Soviet
advance into Germany. The desire to provide some tangible assistance to
the Soviet armed forces led to the conception of a plan, codenamed Thunderclap,
to disrupt German defensive operations by striking at vital urban centres
where, as Sir Charles Portal, the Chief of the Air Staff, noted on 26
January 1945, “a severe blitz will not only cause confusion in the
evacuation from the East but will also hamper the movement of troops from
the West.”

Debate within the Air Ministry with regards to the merit of diverting
RAF Bomber Command and the US Eighth Air Force from their current primary
targets – oil production facilities, jet aircraft factories and submarine
yards – to Thunderclap was spurred by the intervention of the Prime Minister,
Winston Churchill. On 26 January, Churchill pressed the Secretary of State
for Air, Sir Archibald Sinclair,”I asked [on 25 January] whether
Berlin, and no doubt other large cities in East Germany, should not now
be considered especially attractive targets. Prey report to me tomorrow
what is going to be done.” Moreover, the possible advantages of such
attacks were not lost on Soviet military leaders. At Yalta on 4 February,
General Antonov advocated air attacks against communication centres including
Berlin and Leipzig.

The first such centre to be attacked was Dresden. A planned USAAF attack
on the city on 13 February 1945 was abandoned due to unsuitable weather.
However, on the night of 13-14 February 796 Avro Lancasters and nine de
Havilland Mosquitoes of RAF Bomber Command, attacking in two raids separated
by a gap of three hours, dropped 1,478 tons of high explosive and 1,182
tons of incendiaries on the city. Following the second raid, a firestorm
developed, which led to large areas of the city being burned out. At the
time of the attack, Dresden was crowded with refugees fleeing the advancing
Soviet Army. It is now accepted that between 40,000 and 50,000 casualties
resulted from these attacks.

14 February

A second attack was carried out by the United States Army Air Force (USAAF)
on the following day, when 311 Boeing B17 Flying Fortresss of the 1st
Air Division, US Eighth Air Force dropped a further 771 tons of bombs
on the city. Two further US attacks were mounted on 15 February and on
2 March 1945. Subsequently, Chemnitz was also attacked by the Royal Air
Force as a Thunderclap target and on 26 February 1,066 USAAF Boeing B17
and Consolidated B24 Liberator bombers dropped 2,796 tons of bombs on

23 February
Victoria Cross

The Victoria Cross is posthumously awarded to Captain E. Swales of the South
African Air Force for his action in the bombing of the rail junction at
Pforzheim in Germany in an Avro Lancaster PB538 ‘M’, No.582 Squadron RAF
Bomber Command.

3 March

The V1 flying bomb campaign against the United Kingdom reopens with the
launch of an extended-range variant of the missile from launching sites
in the Netherlands. This bombardment ceased at the end of March, by which
time 275 missiles had been fired. However, of these only thirteen reached

During the V1 campaign as a whole, over 10,000 weapons were launched
at the United Kingdom. Of these, 7,488 crossed the British coast. 3,957
were shot down by the defences. Of the 3,531 that were not shot down,
2,419 landed in the London area, approximately 30 hit Southampton and
Portsmouth and a single weapon landed on Manchester. 6,184 people were
killed and 17,981 people injured.

14 March

The first 22,000 pound Grand Slam bomb is dropped by Squadron Leader C.C.
Calder of No.617 Squadron on the Bielefeld railway viaduct. The viaduct
collapsed as a consequence of the attack.

19 March

Bomber Command drop six 22,000 pound Grand Slam bombs on the viaduct at

24 March

Operation Varsity: a total of 440 aircraft and gliders (sailplanes) belonging
to No.38 and No.46 Groups, RAF Transport Command and 234 aircraft of the
US IX Troop Carrier Command drop the British 6th Airborne Division in
support of an amphibious attack across the Rhine near Wesel.

27 March

The last V2 rocket to fall on Britain falls at Orpington in Kent at 1645hrs.

27 March

Argentina declare war on Germany and Japan.

29 March

The last V1 flying bomb, of 2,419 to arrive over England during the Second
World War, is destroyed near Sittingbourne in Kent.

31 March

The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP), also known as the
Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS), prior to June 1942, officially ends.
By 30 September 1944, EATS/BCATP had generated a total of 168,662 aircrew
in training schools located in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Southern
Rhodesia. Of this total, 75,152 were pilots, 40,452 navigators, 15,148
air bombers and 37,190 belonged to other aircrew categories. Although
South Africa was not part of EATS/BCATP, under a parallel agreement, Royal
Air Force aircrew were trained in South African Air Force Air Schools.

10 April

The German Air Force flies its last organised operation over Britain –
a reconnaissance sortie by an Arado Ar234 jet aircraft over Scotland.

24 April

Royal Air Force (RAF) jet aircraft fly their first operation on the Continent,
when Gloster Meteors of No.616 Squadron attack the Luftwaffe airfield
at Nordholz.

29 April
RAF Bomber Command commence mass food drops to the Dutch civilian population
in areas still occupied by the German armed forces (Operation Manna).

Following the conclusion of an agreement that German anti-aircraft units
would not fire on aircraft dropping food on designated dropzones, between
29 April and 8 May 1945, thirty-three squadrons from Nos. 1, 3 and 8 Groups
RAF Bomber Command flew approximately 3,150 sorties and delivered 6,685
tons of food. The United States Eighth Army Air Force delivered a further
3,700 tons in 5,343 sorties (Operation Chowhound).

30 April

Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun, whom he had recently married, commit suicide
in the air raid shelter in the Chancellery in Berlin and their bodies
are burnt.

© Imperial War Museum

RAF armoured cars, supported by No.114 Squadron (de Havilland Mosquito),
suppress hostilities within the Subeihi tribe, Aden.

2 May

Axis forces in Italy surrender and approximately one million German personnel
are taken prisoner by the Allies.

2 May

Wing Commander J.B. Nicolson VC is killed when the No.355 Squadron Consolidated
Liberator in which he was flying as an observer crashes into the sea following
an engine fire 130 miles south of Calcutta.

4 May

The first prisoners of war are repatriated by air in RAF Bomber Command
aircraft (Operation Exodus). Bomber Command flew 2,900 sorties over the
next 23 days, carrying 72,500 prisoners of war.

7 May

The last U-boat to be sunk by an aircraft under RAF Coastal Command control,
the Type VIIC submarine U-320, is attacked by a Consolidated Catalina
of No.210 Squadron flown by Flight Lieutenant K.M. Murray. The submarine
subsequently sank on 9 May off the Norwegian coast – none of the crew

Between 3 September 1939 and 8 May 1945, Royal Air Force (RAF), United
States Army Air Force (USAAF) and United States Navy (USN) aircraft under
RAF Coastal Command control had participated in the destruction of 207
U-boats and sunk 513,804 tons of Axis shipping (343 ships). A total of
5,866 aircrew and 1,777 aircraft were lost on operations.

7 May

The agreement for total and unconditional surrender of the Germans forces
is signed at the headquaters of the Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary
Force, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, near Rheims.

The German delegation was led byGeneral Alfred Jodl, chief of the Operations
staff of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht

(the German High Command). The surrender was subsequently ratified in the presence
of senior Allied officers at the Soviet headquarters in Berlin on 8 May.

8 May

The Royal Observer Corps is stood down and re-formed on a peacetime basis.
As at this date there were a total of 1,420 Royal Observer Corps posts
and forty operations rooms, manned by 32,000 observers.

16 May

Avro Lancaster ‘Aries’ of the Empire Air Navigation School left the United
Kingdom in order to fly over the True North and Magnetic North Poles.
The aircraft returned to RAF Shawbury on May 26 after covering a total
distance of 17,720 miles

25-26 May

Incendiary raids by the United States 20th Army Air Force burned out nearly
17 square miles of the city of Tokyo, approximately 50% of the area of
the city.

31 May

The strength of the Royal Air Force (RAF) stands at some 55,469 aircraft
as at this date, of which 9,200 were first-line machines.

15 July

The Royal Air Force’s Second Tactical Air Force (2TAF) is redesignated
British Air Forces of Occupation (BAFO). With the end of the Second World
War in Europe, the RAF within Germany is initially tasked with assisting
the British Army in maintaining order within the British Zone and supervising
the dissolution of the Luftwaffe. The first Air Officer Commanding of
BAFO was Air Chief Marshal Sir William Sholto Douglas.

16 July

At 0529hrs, the first atomic weapon is successfully detonated at the Trinity
test site at Alamogordo in New Mexico, USA. The weapon generated a yield
of 18,600 tons of TNT.

26 July

Results of the British general election are made known. The Conservative
Party and its leader, Winston Churchill were defeated and the Labour Party
were now in power. Labour leader Clement Atlee became Prime Minister.

26 July

A declaration to the Japanese, drawn up at Potsdam and signed by President
Truman, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Generalissimo Chaing Kai-sek
is issued, calling for the unconditional surrender of the Japanese forces.
It did not mention the atom bomb, but stated “the alternative for
Japan’s complete and utter destruction.”

28 July

Japanese Prime Minister Suzuki states in a press release: “Japan
is not on her knees” and “not one enemy soldier stands on Japanese
soil” and “Japan is determined to fight tooth and nail for every
inch of her sacred land.”

1 August

Royal Air Force Northern Ireland loses its independent command status
and is placed under RAF Coastal Command.

8 August

The Soviet Union declares war on Japan.

9 August
Victoria Cross

The Victoria Cross is awarded posthumously to Lieutenant R.H. Gray RCNVR for
his attack on the Japanese destroyer Amakusa in Onagawa Bay in a Chance
Vought Corsair IV (FG-1D KD658) of No.1841 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm.

14-15 August

The unconditional surrender of Japan is announced at midnight by President
Truman and Prime Minister Attlee.

26 August

Operations Birdcage and Mastiff commence. Operation Birdcage involved
the dropping of leaflets on prisoner of war and internment camps, detailing
the actions to be taken by the inmates in the aftermath of the Japanese
surrender. Operation Mastiff was the codename applied to the dropping
of airborne medical teams to the camps, RAPWI (Recovery of Allied Prisoners
of War and Internees) teams, including RAF personnel and supplies were
parachuted to camps in Burma, Siam, French Indo-China and the Dutch East


During this month, British forces rapidly build up in the Netherlands
East Indies, which fall within the South East Asia Command area. An Air
Headquarters, Netherlands East Indies is formed and a RAPWI (Recovery
of Allied Prisoners of War and Internees) control unit arrived on 15 September
to join a reconnaissance group parachuted into Batavia on 8 September.

Following the declaration on 17 September of an independent Republic
of Indonesia by the People’s Preservation Force, lead by Achmed Soekarno,
No.28 Squadron RAF (Supermarine Spitfire FR XIVs) arrived at Medan in
Sumatra to deter any nationalist attempt to disrupt the evacuation of
Allied detainees. Also during this month, ‘A’ Flight of No.656 Squadron
(equipped with Auster AOP V light aircraft) became operational at Soerabaya
and on 31 September a flight of No.110 Squadron (de Havilland Mosquito
FBVI) arrived at Kemajoran in Batavia.

2 September

The 1939-45 war ends at 1030hrs Tokyo time (0130hrs GMT), when the unconditional
surrender of Japan is signed on board the battleship USS Missouri, at
anchor in Tokyo Bay. Following the surrender, the operational phase of
Operation Mastiff (the despatch of RAPWI teams to prisoner of war and
internment camps by parachute) began in earnest.

11 September
© Imperial War Museum

Following an agreement at the Potsdam Conference that the United Kingdom
would accept the Japanese surrender in French Indo-China south of the
16th parallel, prior to the resumption of French colonial control, Douglas
Dakotas of No.62 Squadron began to airlift the leading elements of the
80th Brigade, 20th Indian Division, into Saigon.

On the following day, the first French troops flew into Saigon. In practice,
British troops concentrated on disarming Japanese forces in the country,
allowing French troops to deal with local nationalist movements affiliated
to the Viet Minh.

12 September

Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder is promoted to the rank of Marshal
of the Royal Air Force.

15 September

Headquarters, RAF Hong Kong was formed to administer all units based in
Hong Kong or operating along the Chinese coast.

19 September

No.273 Squadron RAF (Supermarine Spitfire IXs) is deployed to Tan Son
Nhut airfield in French Indo-China. Following its arrival, the squadron
flew armed reconnaissance sorties in support of British troops in the
French colony. Subsequently, No.273 Squadron was joined at Tan Son Nhut
by No.267 Squadron (Douglas Dakotas) and a flight of Mosquito PR34s belonging
to No.684 Squadron engaged on photo-mapping duties. The airfield was also
occupied by the Gremlin Task Force – a unit consisting of Japanese aircrew
under British command, formed to operate Japanese transport aircraft in
support of British and French forces.

13 October

Following rioting around Saigon, the airfield at Tan Son Nhut comes under
attack. British forces were now obliged to use Japanese personnel to assist
in containing the Viet Minh.

17 October

The air component of Air Headquarters, Netherlands East Indies, No.904
Wing, land at Batavia. This includes No.60 and No.81 Squadrons, equipped
with Republic P47 Thunderbolts and No.2739 and No.2962 Squadrons of the
RAF Regiment. Both flying squadrons were operational from Kemajoran by
19 October and immediately began to fly sorties in support of SEAC forces.

30 October -15 November

Following the outbreak of widespread and fierce conflicts between British
troops attempting to occupy the Netherlands East Indies and Indonesian
nationalists, Air Headquarters, Netherlands East Indies is heavily reinforced.
Additional combat assets included elements of Nos. 47, 81 and 110 Squadrons
(de Havilland Mosquito FBVI) search and rescue support was provided by
No.27 Squadron (Bristol Beaufighter X) and photo-reconnaissance by No.681
Squadron (Spitfire PR XIX). Additionally, No.31 Squadron (Douglas Dakota)
provided transport support to British troops in the colony. Royal Air
Force aircraft were regularly called upon to fly armed reconnaissance
and close air support sorties.

7 November

A new World speed record is established by Group Captain H.J. Wilson of
the RAF High Speed Flight. Flying a Gloster Meteor MkIV over a course
above Herne Bay in Kent, Group Captain Wilson achieved a speed of 606mph.
This was the first officially recognised record to be established by a
jet aircraft.

23 November

RAF Mediterranean and Middle East is renamed RAF Mediterranean/Middle
East (MED/ME). The command encompassed RAF stations and units in the Central
Mediterranean, North Africa, Middle East, the Levant, Iraq, the Sudan,
Aden and East Africa. The first Air Officer Commanding was Air Marshal
Sir Charles Medhurst.

30 November

As part of the restructuring of Air Command South East Asia (ACSEA), RAF
Air Command Far East is formed to control AHQs in existence or being established
throughout the Far East, including those in Burma, Malaya, Hong Kong and

30 November

The Air Transport Auxiliary is disbanded. During the war its pilots have
ferried 307,378 aircraft.


Attempts by the British Government to limit Jewish immigration and the
desire to create an independent Israeli state lead to an upsurge of terrorism
within Palestine. In response, during the course of 1945 a number of Royal
Air Force squadrons were despatched to Palestine to carry out anti-terrorist,
anti-immigration and transport operations in support of British Army units
within the country.

By December, these included: No.6 Squadron (Hawker Hurricane IV), No.32
and No.208 Squadrons (Supermarine Spitfire LF9), No.213 Squadron (North
American Mustang III/IV), Nos. 37, 178 and 214 Squadrons (Consolidated
Liberator VI), No.644 Squadron (Handley Page Halifax VII/IX) and detachments
from No.78 and No.512 Squadrons (Douglas Dakota C4), No.651 Squadron (Auster
AOP5) and No.680 Squadron (Mosquito PR16).


No.230 Squadron (Short Sunderland GRV) commence repatriation flights from
Batavia in the Netherlands East Indies to Malaya.

1 December

Lord Mountbatten visits Saigon in order to officially receive the sword
surrendered by the Japanese Supreme Commander in French Indo-China, Count
Terauchi. During his visit, Lord Mountbatten praised the Royal Air Force
for its work in the area under difficult circumstances.

11 December

Supermarine Spitfire IXs of No.273 Squadron carried out strafing attacks
on Viet Minh guerrillas surrounding a French force at Banme Thuet, French
Indo-China. Leaflets were dropped in advance to warn the Viet Minh of
this action.

13 December

The first Armee de l’Air fighter unit in French Indo-China, GCII/7, is
formed at Tan Son Nhut using ex-RAF Supermarine Spitfire VIII fighters.
The unit was subsequently re-equipped with Spitfire XIs in January 1946.
As more French units returned to Indo-China, British troops gradually
handed over control of Saigon.