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[RAF Elsham Wolds] [Coastal Command Lincolnshire] [254 Squadron RAF Coastal Command]

254 Squadron RAF Coastal Command

254 Squadron Crest

WW1

254 Squadron first formed in 1918 as a coastal reconnaissance squadron operating from Prawle Point, Devon. The squadron was divided into flights with 492 (Light Bomber) Flight operating the DH.9s and 515 and 516 (Special Duties) Flights the DH.6s. After the cessation of hostilities it was disbanded in February 1919.

Notable amongst the 254 personnel during this period was William Robinson Clarke from Jamaica who was the first pilot of African decent to fly with the British Forces. Prior to WW1 he had been a mechanic in Jamaica. He was badly wounded flying a reconnaissance mission with 4 Squadron in July 1917 sustaining a bullet wound in the back. Thereafter he was unable to fly  but continued to serve as a flight mechanic with 254 until being honourably discharged in 1919.

Clarke returned to Jamaica. He was granted a free passage and the cost of his journey to England was reimbursed. He was later involved in the building trade in his home country. He was also active in veterans affairs and was life president of the Jamaican branch of the Royal Air Forces Association. Clarke passed away in 1981 at the grand old age of 88.

William Robinson Clarke

William Robinson Clarke

WW2

254 was reformed shortly after the outbreak of WW2 in October 1939 as part of Coastal Command. Its duties consisted of patrolling the North Sea Fishing fleet, convoy escort work, and reconnaissance.

The unit operated Bristol Blenheims until 1942 until they re-equipping with the Bristol Beaufighter. In 1941 the unit introduced torpedoes and primarily operated in an anti-shipping role for the rest of the war as part of the North Coates Strike Wing with a focus on anti-U-boat work from early 1945. In October 1946 they were re-numbered as 42 Squadron RAF.

Bristol Blenheim IV WT

Bristol Blenheim IV

Bristol Beaufighter WT

Bristol Beaufighter

Cold War

The squadron was reformed again in 1959 as one of 20 Strategic Missile squadrons associated with Project Emily. The squadron was equipped with three Thor Intermediate range ballistic missiles and based at RAF Melton Mowbray.

In October 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the squadron was on full readiness with the missiles aimed at strategic targets in the USSR. The squadron was disbanded with the termination of the Thor Program in Britain, in 1963.

Thor Missile Preparing to Launch

Thor Missile

Compiled by David Fell. Photos courtesy of Wiki, WT and PI

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