576 Squadron RAF - Bomber Command WW2
December 1943 to September 1945 - RAF Elsham Wolds - RAF Fiskerton
Squadron Code UL - Carpe Diem
576 Squadron was formed at RAF Elsham Wolds at the end of November 1943 and flew Avro Lancaster bombers throughout the remainder of WW2. The Squadron was created as part of 1 Group Bomber Command from the detached C Flight of 103 Squadron also based at RAF Elsham Wolds plus several more experienced crews from 101 Squadron at RAF Ludford Magna. The remainder of the Squadron was made up of new crews posted in from Heavy Conversion Units.
Throughout the remainder of the winter of 43 and the spring of 44 576 Squadron was engaged in operations against mostly German targets by night. The emphasis changed in May 1944 when the Squadron was heavily involved in operations in support of the D Day landings and the Allied Armies in the field. Also V weapon sites in Northern France were priority targets later that summer.
Prominent amongst these attacks in April 1944, 576 Squadron contributed 18 Lancasters to the force of over 300 Bomber Command "heavies" which was sent to make the first ever raid on the German tank, V-weapons and aircraft factories at Friedrichshafen. This involved a very long flight over occupied Europe to a distant and well defended target.
Other interesting attacks in which 576 Squadron participated were :-
The most losses for Bomber Command in one night - Nuremberg - 30/31st March 1944
The breaching of the sea wall at Westkapelle - 3rd October 1944 ,
The massive daylight attack on Duisberg - Operation Hurricane - 14th October 1944
The regrettable raid on Royan - 4th January 1945
The controversial bombing of Dresden - 13/14th February 1945.
The tragic attack on Pforzheim - 23rd February 1945.
Another notable attack and the last in which 576 Sqn participated was on the 25th April 1945 against Hitler’s Mountain Retreat at Berchtesgaden. This was the last WW2 bomber operation undertaken by the Sqn.
At the establishment of the 576 Squadron in Nov 43 the OC and Flight Commanders were :-
OC 576 Squadron was W/C G T B Clayton KCB DFC and bar with
OC A Flight S/L J F Dilworth DFC and
OC B Flight S/L M Attwater DSO DFC
Distinguished members of the Squadron during WW2 who went on to have notable RAF careers included :-
Boyd D Sellick CBE DSO DFC and bar - OC
Stan Slater DSO OBE DFC - Flight Commander
Basil A Templeman-Rooke DSO DFC and bar AFC- Flight Commander
Prominent among the aircraft on the strength of the 576 Squadron at that time was Avro Lancaster ED888 - the top scoring heavy bomber that served with Bomber Command which enjoyed such a long and productive association with both 103 Squadron and 576 Squadron, all at RAF Elsham Wolds.
Other 576 Squadron Centurions were
Avro Lancaster ME801 N-Nan,
Avro Lancaster LM227 I-Item and
Avro Lancaster LM594 A-Able.
At the end of October 1944 the Squadron transferred to the airfield at RAF Fiskerton near Lincoln where it remained for the rest of the war.
576 Squadron played a significant roll in the 2 major Bomber Command Offensives during the later stages of WW2
The Battle of Berlin, 1943-44
France and Germany, 1944-45
At the end of WW2 576 Squadron was active in the Operation Manna food drops to Dutch civilians. 576 Squadron also took part in the repatriation of POWs from Europe and Operation Dodge - the repatriation of service personnel from Italy.
The Squadron was disbanded in September 1945 after a short and distinguished history.
Written by David Fell