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[RAF Elsham Wolds] [Coastal Command Lincolnshire]

Coastal Command - Lincolnshire - WW2

Beaufighter TF MkX NT950 MB-T 236_Squadron RAF 1944

Bristol Beaufighter TF Mk X NT950 MB-T 236 Squadron 1944. RAF North Coates 1942 to 1945

Although more known for its Bomber Command connections the county also had a very significant and formidable Coastal Command presence at RAF North Coates and, for 6 months in 1944, RAF Strubby. The Squadrons that made up the North Coates and Strubby Strike Wings proved highly effective.

Anti shipping attacks were carried out in daylight at low level against fierce flak defences manned by well trained and highly motivated German sailors. These attacks required considerable training, co-ordination and determination to be accomplished successfully and the outstanding results achieved are testament to the the bravery and expertise of the crews involved and also the excellent aircraft with which they were equipped.

RAF North Coates

At the outbreak of WW2 the training units at RAF North Coates were transferred elsewhere and in  February 1940 the station was transferred to 16 Group, Coastal Command. The airfield was first occupied by 235, 236 and 248 Squadrons flying the Bristol Blenheim in both bomber and long-range fighter variants until April 1940. North Coates was then occupied by a number of Coastal Command and Fleet Air Arm squadrons over the next two years. During this period an interesting variety of aircraft flew from the site, mainly the Bristol Beaufort and Lockheed Hudson for low level anti shipping strikes and anti submarine patrols.

North Coates Strike Wing

In September 1942 the airfield became the base for the famous North Coates Strike Wing formed from 143, 236 and 254 Squadrons and flying the magnificent Bristol Beaufighter heavy fighter, bomber, and "Torbeau" torpedo bomber variants. Their role was to attack enemy shipping along the coast of mainland Europe. The first operation of the Strike Wing took place in November 1942 when Beaufighters from 236 and 254 Squadrons took off to attack a convoy heading towards Rotterdam. This was not a success and incurred some losses. The Strike Wing was then withdrawn from service for intensive training and during the rest of the winter of 42/43 the east/west concrete runway was laid.

On the 18 April 1943 the Wing launched its second operation when nine "Torbeaus" of 254 Squadron, six Beaufighter bombers of 236 Squadron, and 6 Beaufighter heavy fighters of 143 Squadron plus Spitfires and Mustangs to provide air cover attacked a heavily escorted convoy off the Dutch coast.

While the Beaufighters attacked the escort vessels with bombs, machine gun and cannon fire the "Torbeaus" attacked the largest merchant vessel. In the attack two M-class minesweepers were set on fire and an armed trawler was also damaged. Two confirmed torpedo strikes were made on the merchant vessel which was left listing and on fire. The co-ordinated attack lasted only 15 minutes, and only slight damage was sustained by two or three aircraft.

In June 1943 the Strike Wing began to use the RP3 rocket projectile and by the middle of the year had, along with the minelayers of Bomber Command and the Royal Navy's Nore Flotilla, rendered the port of Rotterdam almost unusable.

By the end of 1943 the Strike Wing had sunk thirteen ships totalling 34,076 gross tons and by the end of WW2 had sunk over 150,000 tons of shipping including two U-boats

Main Coastal Command Squadrons that operated from RAF North Coates

February 1940 to April 1940 - No 248 Squadron RAF - Bristol Blenheim IVF.

February 1940 to April 1940 - No 235 Squadron RAF - Bristol Blenheim Mk IA & IVF.

February 1940 to April 1940 - No 236 Squadron RAF - Bristol Blenheim Mk IA & IVF.

April 1940 to June 1941 - No 22 Squadron RAF - Bristol Beaufort Mk I, Avro Anson Mk I and Martin Maryland.

May 1941 to December 1941 - No 86 Squadron RAF - Bristol Beaufort Mk I.

July 1941 to February 1942 - No 407 Squadron RCAF - Lockheed Hudson Mk V.

January 1942 to August 1942 - No 59 Squadron RAF - Lockheed Hudson Mk V and two Consolidated B-24 Liberator Mk III.

January 1942 to May 1942 - No 53 Squadron RAF - Lockheed Hudson Mk I & V.

April to May 1942 - No 42 Squadron RAF - Bristol Beaufort Mk I.

June to August 1942 - No 415 Squadron RCAF - Handley Page Hampden TB Mk I.

August 1942 to August 1943 - No 143 Squadron RAF - Bristol Blenheim Mk IV and Bristol Beaufighter Mk IIF.

September 1942 to October 1942 - No 608 Squadron RAF - Lockheed Hudson Mk V.

September 1942 to May 1945 - No 236 Squadron RAF - Bristol Beaufighter.

November 1942 to June 1945 - No 254 Squadron RAF - Bristol Beaufighter, De Havilland Mosquito Mk XVIII, a Bristol Beaufort and an Avro Anson.

January to March 1944 - No 415 Squadron RCAF - Vickers Wellington XIII.

February to May & September 1944 - No 143 Squadron RAF - Bristol Beaufighter, a Bristol Blenheim and a De Havilland Mosquito.

22 Squadron RAF Coastal Command

236 Squadron RAF Coastal Command

254 Squadron RAF Coastal Command

RAF Strubby

Built as a Bomber Command airfield mid war it was however Coastal Command who were the first occupants of the station on the 15 April 1944 and on the 1 May 1944 No 280 Squadron of 16 Group arrived with their Vickers Warwicks. This unit was used in the air sea rescue role dropping airborne lifeboats by parachute to downed airman.

On the 1 July No 144 and No 404 Squadrons arrived from RAF Davidstow Moor with their Bristol Beaufighters. They were referred to as the Strubby Strike Wing and flew very effective anti shipping and anti E Boat strikes over the North Sea. During September 280 Squadron moved to RAF Langham and 144 and 404 to RAF Banff and the airfield was handed over to Bomber Command.

Coastal Command Squadrons that operated from RAF Strubby

1 July 1944 to 3 September 1944 - No. 144 Squadron RAF - Bristol Beaufighter X

1 July 1944 to 3 September 1944 - No. 404 Squadron RCAF - Beaufighter X

1 May 1944 to 6 September 1944 - No. 280 Squadron RAF - Vickers Warwick I

Compiled by David Fell with photos courtesy of WWP

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