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Thread: RAF Mustang bomber escorts

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    Default RAF Mustang bomber escorts

    A question for the fighter jocks out there !

    I am trying to establish the RAF Mustang wings circa Oct 1944 - May 1945. I think from memory there was five, but I cannot be sure. I have No.133 (Polish) No.150 and the Hunsdon Wing. Is this correct and what are the remainder, if any!

    Also are the wing records available at the NA by down load and if they are has anyone got them. Interested in tactics, numbers of a/c involved, claims etc, will these files hold such information?

    Regards

    Steve
    No.218 (Gold Coast) Squadron Association Historian
    No.623 squadron Research

    ~~IN TIME ~~

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    Hello Steve

    You can add No. 122 Wing (which included, from memory, 122 and 19 Squadrons, but I can't remember the third Squadron), which was a long established Mustang Wing. But perhaps this wing lost its number, or swapped it with No. 150, before your research period.

    I'd add the Coltishall Wing, but I don't remember the number. It was led by Belgian "Mike" Donnet.

    Joss

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    Oooooh not much then Steve......;-)

    You are partially correct. Nos 133 and 150 Wing were formations originally established in 2TAF and based at Andrews Field. I am not sure about the Poles but "No 150 Wing" as a separate establishment was disbanded in March 1945. Based on the ADGB/FC structures there were six quadrons formed into two wings at Bentwaters known as 'A' Wing and 'B' Wing basically from Dec44/Jan45. The Hunsdon wing was very short-lived.

    As far as I know none of the ORBs in AIR 26 or AIR 28 are digitised. I am sure there will be a No 133 Wing ORB but I have never accessed it. I know there is an ORB at Kew for No 150 Wing and there is an ORB for "Bentwaters". I have never searched for anything re Hunsdon.

    If by tactics you are thinking along the lines of the 8AAF then I don't think you will find anything like that. As far as I know the fighter squadrons continued to operate with the tactics that had existed from early in the war with sqns ranged at three levels: close cover, cover and top cover. If the bombers were at 18,000ft that usually took top cover up to 26,000ft. It is fortunate that by this time the GAF was considerably reduced in numbers and seem to have concentrated their resources on the Americans. A key problem with the escorts was that the bombers continued to fly in a stream as at night so the stream was often 20+ miles long which made escort a tad difficult. I believe that if there was quite a large BC formation then the "tactic" was to try to position a wing(s) of fighters over the front and a wing(s) of fighters over the rear...that is if they could find the rear...

    You might be better to try to hunt up the ADGB/FC Daily OPSUM.

    Steve

    Joss

    When the Mustangs of 122 Wing reurned to Britain they joined 150 Wing; 122 Wing remained in Europe and was joined by the Tempest sqns from 150 Wing. The Poles moved into Coltishall after the War; Mike Donnet was one of the one of the Wing Leaders at Bentwaters.
    Last edited by SteveBrooking; 27th February 2014 at 11:05. Reason: additional info

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    Hello

    I remembered from memory there was a trick with 122 and 150 Wings, mostly from the Tempests point of view. I have parts of these Wings ORBs, but I can't tell from which period. My interest was mostly pointed towards the Tempest period, and sometimes the short period during which R.A.F. wings were based in my area in northern France.

    You're obviously totally right about Mike Donnet being at Bentwaters... Shouldn't have posted from memory. I was really unsure about Coltishall, but sure that Mike Donnet led a Mustang Wing, after having been the C.O. of No. 64 Squadron.

    Joss

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    Hi Steve,
    Very complicated but from numerous sources here s my take-

    Autumn 44 - 122 Wing (19, 65 and 122 Sqn) and 133 (Polish) Wing (306, 315, and 129 Sqn) moved from 2nd TAF to ADGB and took up residence at Andrews Field in Oct 1944. They were joined by 316 Sqn also in October but the next month 315 left for Peterhead until Jan 45.

    Peterhead does seem to complicate matters with a lot of rotation going on. 19 went there for a short time, 122 went permanently in May 45, 65 permanently in Jan 45 as replacement for 315.

    In December 44 129 moved to Bentwaters and formed a new wing with 234, 64 and 126. They were joined by 118 in Jan 45.

    In March 45, 154 and 611 formed the Hunsdon Wing although 154 didn't last long and passed its aircraft to 442. 441 joined after the War ended. 611 moved in May to, yes you've guessed it, Peterhead.

    Other later units were 303 Andrews Field and 309 Andrews Field after a spell at Peterhead

    So that gives us 4 Wings in the UK - Andrews, Bentwaters, Hunsdon and Peterhead.

    There were also though 112, 213, 249, 260, 3 RAAF and 5 SAAF in Italy and region although I don't believe they formed a Wing as such.

    regards
    Peter
    Last edited by PeterColwill; 27th February 2014 at 15:25.

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    Seems that the Italian squadrons may have all been part of 239 Wing

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    Basically with the Tempest V's of 150 Wing - they moved to the continent (the squadrons not the ground staff) and became the new look 122 Wing, and the Mustang squadrons of 122 Wing became the "new" 150 Wing and moved back to the UK for bomber escort duties - I have a (copy) document dated 26 September 1944, detailing the exchange of Squadrons – with the Spitfire IX’s of 132, 441, 453 and 602 Squadrons returning to the UK, and being replaced by the Spitfire XIV’s and Tempest V’s of 130, 402, 80 and 274 Squadrons. This document also lists the exchange of Mustang III’s with Tempest V’s for 122 Wing and also that 350 (Belgian) Squadron was originally listed to join 125 Wing but it was changed to 130 (Punjab) Squadron - 350 (Belgian) Squadron finally joined 125 Wing in December 1944.

    The (semi) official history of 122 Wing covers it off as:

    End of an Epoch

    On 28th September the three Mustang squadrons returned to England, amidst general lamentations, to carry out escort duties to day-raiding Lancasters. 122 Squadron had been with the Wing since May 1943, 19 and 65 just three months less. In that time they had become an integral part of 122 and had achieved some magnificent results. Since D-Day alone the three squadrons had destroyed 93 enemy aircraft, probably destroyed 5, and damaged 66. Their transport claims totalled 1185, locomotives and barges 272, while with their bombs they had accounted for innumerable assorted targets.

    Enter the Tempest

    The Mustangs place was taken by 3, 56 and 486 Tempest Squadrons, led by Wing Commander R P Beamont, D.S.O., D.F.C. These 3 squadrons had been engaged on "home guard" duties, chasing flying bombs, of which they had destroyed a phenomenal number. They came overseas thirsting to prove that the Tempest was worthy of better things, and proceeded to give an immediate taste of their quality by shooting down three enemy aircraft on their first full day's operations.

    125 Wing changed their Spitfire IX squadrons (as listed above) about the same time, and they went back for, basically, Big Ben operations involving the hunt for V2 targets. 2 Spitfire XIV squadrons and 2 Tempest V squadrons initially composed the new look 125 Wing - described in the 125 Wing ORB as follows:

    2/10/44

    Our memories of our last few days in Belgium are somewhat confused. Everything happened at once. We suffered unpleasant shelling, our Spitfires were exchanged with 126's Spitfires, our Squadrons were returned to A.D.G.B. and replaced by two Tempest Squadrons and two Spitfire XIV Squadrons and on top of it all we were ordered to GRAVE. Operations, meanwhile, continued. Indeed 441 Squadron, on patrol just a couple of hours before taking off for England, had the pleasure of damaging one of the Boche's new Me 262 Jet-propelled aircraft. "A" party travelled apprehensively but uneventfully up to the new strip and there sat down to await the arrival of the Squadrons and the "B" party - or the Hun. They were never sure who would come first. Meanwhile Dakota's did a Ferry Service between Deurne and Grave to remove the last of the bodies who were Blighty-bound. "B" party at half strength struggled manfully to cope with a difficult situation. The Messing Staffs with fewer hands than ever turned out more meals for more people and satisfied everyone. Ground crews who had lived with Spits ever since the Wing was formed had to learn about Tempests the hard way - by experience. And by some odd coincidence during those two or three days we had more visiting aircraft to cope with than ever before. Dakota's, Tempests, Typhoons and Mustangs, all added to the motley array we already had. Eventually, however, everything was accomplished. We said farewell at DEURNE to 132, 602, 453 and 441. We reassembled at GRAVE with 80 and 274 Tempest V Squadrons and 130 and 402 Spitfire XIV Squadrons. By ten o'clock on the 2nd October the Wing was operational. Patrols were taken on and were uneventfully carried through. The only out-of-the-ordinary being the sighting occasionally of Me 262's.

    The arrival of Tempest V’s had caused technical problems for the ground crews “Ground crews who had lived with Spits ever since the Wing was formed had to learn about Tempests the hard way - by experience.” However, the Tempests did not stop long with 125 Wing

    6/10/44 23:59

    “TEMPS LEAVE” After only a few days with 125 Wing, the two Tempest Squadrons, 80 and 274 left us to join the other three Tempest Squadrons at 122 Wing. We instead are to have three Spit XIV Squadrons.

    As further evidence of the close ties with 122 Wing, when Wing Commander Beamont was shot down, not long after joining 122 Wing, he was replaced by Wing Commander John Wray, the WingCo Flying of 125 Wing, (who had only just replaced Wing Commander Geoffrey Page after a hard landing on 5 October at Grave), and the Canadian George Keefer was appointed in his place, staying until the end of hostilities, and in to Denmark etc.

    My (late) father was part of the "A" party (that had) "travelled apprehensively but uneventfully up to the new strip and there sat down to await the arrival of the Squadrons and the "B" party - or the Hun. They were never sure who would come first." as the single road had been cut several times whilst they were at Grave waiting for their colleagues to join them.

    Sorry if this is more about the Tempests and Spitfire XIV's of 122 and 125 Wings, than the 3 Mustang III squadrons, but it gives some background to those days, and how they coped.

    Allan

    Allan Hillman
    Last edited by allan125; 27th February 2014 at 16:20. Reason: tidying up!
    Allan Hillman

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    Hi, from my scanty records I have the following Wing leaders:-

    Peterhead: W/Cdr. J.Falkowski Nov 1944 - Jan 1945; W/Cdr.P.R.Wickham Jan 1944 to Wars end

    Andrews Field: Lt.Col. W.Christie Feb 1945 - Mar 1945

    Bentwaters: W/Cdr. J.A.Plagis Dec 1944 - Mar 1945: W/Cdr K.Birksted Mar 1945 - to Wars end

    Bruce Lander

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    Dear all,

    Thank you for your help and advice on this, I have set about ordering all the ORBs for the Mustang squadrons mentioned above, apart from those operating in the Med. ( before the price goes up!!! )

    Next the Wing Records, can anyone point me in the right direction here please !

    Kind regards

    Steve
    No.218 (Gold Coast) Squadron Association Historian
    No.623 squadron Research

    ~~IN TIME ~~

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    Hi Steve

    122 Airfield/Wing is at AIR26/181 -which covers the period 1 April 1943 - 30 April 1945 - if you want to complete their active service you will also need AIR26/182 which covers May 1945, but the Mustang III period is covered off completely in AIR26/181.

    150 Airfield/Wing is at AIR26/215 which covers the period 1 March 1944 - 30 April 1945 - apparently 151 (Transport) Wing is also held under the same file number. See http://discovery.nationalarchives.go...q=AIR+26%2F215 - and you can use this link to search for the relevant squadrons as well.

    Squadrons are in the AIR27/ files - and for 19 Squadron you require AIR27/253 - which gives you the period 1941 - 1943 - so you can search around the AIR27/253 marker to fine-tune your requirements - this also applies to all the other squadrons you require. Be aware though that 19 Squadron SAAF appears in this number range as well.

    Hope this helps?

    cheers

    Allan
    Allan Hillman

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