Summary of the History of 576 Squadron, Royal Air Force
576 Squadron of 1 Group Bomber Command was formed at Elsham Wolds in Lincolnshire on the 25th November 1943 under the command of Wing Commander G T B Clayton DFC. 13 experienced crews together with 9 Avro Lancasters and their ground crews were transferred from the C Flight of 103 Squadron, also based at Elsham Wolds. These formed the nucleus of the new Squadron forming B Flight under the command of Squadron Leader M R Attwater. The squadron’s A Flight, under the command of Squadron Leader Dilworth, was made up of 4 experienced crews from 101 Squadron at Ludford Magna with additional new crews coming straight from Heavy Conversion Unit.
The Squadron commenced operations on the night of the 2/3rd December 1943 with a raid on Berlin. This was at the height of the Battle of Berlin. 7 Lancasters and crews were detailed for this attack and 1 failed to return. In its first month of operations the Squadron lost 7 Lancasters and crews which failed to return.
The Squadron continued that winter taking part in many long and hard raids until the Battle of Berlin came to a conclusion at the end of March 1944. One of particular note was the raid to the distant target of Friedrichshafen at the end of April 44.
In April 1944 the Squadron’s efforts were concentrated in bombing railway communications and military installations in preparation for the D Day landings on the 6th June 1944. Throughout the summer of 1944 most of its operations were in direct support of the land forces in the field and also against German V weapon facilities and oil and fuel production and storage facilities. Many of these operations were carried out in daylight.
In October 1944 576 Squadron moved to a new base at Fiskerton, also in Lincolnshire. During the winter of 1944/45 and participated in a series of heavy attacks against targets all over Germany and again many of these were in direct support of the land forces and also against industrial targets and synthetic oil and fuel manufacturing centres.
The last bombing operation in which 576 Squadron took part was the attack on Hitler’s mountain retreat at Berchtesgaden in which 25 Lancasters and crews from the Squadron took part. Towards the end of the war the Squadron became involved in the dropping of food supplies to the people of Holland and also flying back liberated prisoners of war to Britain.
576 Squadron was disbanded at Fiskerton on the 13th September 1945.
During its brief existence 576 Squadron operated only 1 type of aircraft, the Avro Lancaster. The Squadron had flown on numerous difficult operations with great success but had sustained heavy losses in aircraft and aircrew. 576 Squadron had participated in 189 bombing operations and 2 mine laying operations.
576 Squadron. - Bomber Command 1 Group.
December 1943 to VE Day.
Sorties detailed - 2972 (Including Manna). 46 Early
returns. 16 Did Not Take Off. 17 Aborted on orders.
Aircraft lost. 61 Failed to return. 4 Crashed on or
just after take off. 3 Abandoned on return. 2 Crashed
on return. 1 aircraft lost on non operational flight.
Aircrew casualties. Killed 289. Missing 68. Died in
captivity 2. POW 64. Evaders 12. Escapers 0.
Interned 11 and repatriated. DF
Item written by David Fell
A more comprehensive History of 576 Squadron is available by clicking on the book cover below.
I will include the 576 Squadron Roll of Honour in the near future.
I am experimenting with a different format at the moment. These were compiled and written up by me in 2005 and now need to be rewritten and a updated but they are still useful reference in the meantime.