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Thread: Operation Spartan March 43

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    Default Operation Spartan March 43

    Hi

    Can anyone tell me which Squadrons took part in Operation Spartan in March 1943. I have found some good photos at the IMW of the exercise. One of a Mustang at an airfield in Buckinghamshire with "Eastland Air force"
    16 Squadron was at RAF Ford
    How many squadrons were involved?
    Did 2 Squadron take part and if so which airfield did they fly from.

    David wrote...The Airfield system (in which 3 Squadrons were grouped together as a Wing) was to be tried out and also the working of a composite Army –RAF “Z group.”
    What was a Z group ?

    Any info would be great
    Cheers.
    Motherbird

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    Default

    hello,

    I can say that No. 181 Squadron took part. There's a famous picture of the pilots, walking away from their Typhoons with the white stripe. C/O was S/L Denis Crowley-Milling. One of the participating pilots, seen in the pictures, was Ted Haddock, who was later shot down in France in July 1943. He evaded capture for a while but was later caught by the Germans, and suffered a lot.

    This picture is in The Typhoon File, Air-Britain, with the reference IWM CH18115.

    There's another picture of No. 181 Squadron pilots, showing a briefing by the C/O, and the pilots with mock wooden Iron Crosses. No. 181 Squadron was playing the enemy ! This is "Typhoon and Tempest at War", by Arthur Reed & Roland Beamont, Ian Allan.

    Joss

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    Default Exercise Spartan - March 1943

    Hello Motherbird

    Firstly, it was Exercise Spartan not Operation Spartan - my father served at Z (Mobile) Group HQ, which evolved, via Blue Group, into 83 (Composite) Group on 1 April 1943.

    Here are the basics:-

    In March 1943 GHQ Home Forces conducted a large-scale exercise in southern and central England. In Exercise Spartan the total number of divisions involved was 10, of which 4 were armoured; but a very large number of Corps and Army troops were also involved. This was an offensive exercise, in which the British Second Army was assumed to be advancing from a bridgehead on the Continent of Europe, already established by another British Army, had captured a number of airfields, gained air superiority, and were now preparing a further advance.

    On the side of the British Second Army (in reality the First Canadian Army) was a new concept in the RAF - the Mobile Composite Group.

    -Z- Mobile Composite Group RAF - commanded by Air Vice-Marshal J Whitworth-Jones, CB - comprised of the following Units and Squadrons.

    1 MORU (Mobile Operations Room Unit)

    121, 122, 123, and 124 Airfield HQ

    16, 26, 170, 289, 400, 414 (Fighter Recce) Squadrons, RAF and RCAF

    19, 129, 132, 247, 412, 504, 616 (Fighter) Squadrons, RAF and RCAF

    174, 175, 182, 184 (Army Support) Squadrons, RAF

    88, 226 (Light Bomber) Squadrons, RAF

    On the side of the Germans (in reality Eastern Command) was a similar Air Component, but without the MORU and Airfield HQ’s.

    -X- Mobile Composite Group RAF - commanded by Air Vice-Marshal J O Andrews, CB, DSO, and MC - comprised of the following Squadrons.

    2, 4, 169, 268, 613 (Fighter Recce) Squadrons RAF

    124, 167, 303, 350, 411, 416, 421, 453 (Fighter) Squadrons, RAF and RCAF - including Polish, Australian and Belgian manned Squadrons.

    181, 183 (Army Support) Squadrons, RAF

    21, 98, 464, 487 (Light Bomber) Squadrons, RAF - including Australian and New Zealand manned Squadrons.

    On each side, the Army Commander and the RAF Group Commander worked on the same level of command in cooperation, neither being subject to the orders of the other.

    The basic idea of the exercise was that England (representing part of the Continent of Europe adjacent to the British Isles) was divided into three separate countries, Eastland (which was German), Westland (which was neutral) and Southland. The British Government had decided to attack the German Forces in Eastland by an Operation launched through Southland.

    16 Squadron was part of the RAF in Z (Mobile) Group and 2 Squadron were part of the Luftwaffe in X (Mobile) Group. 2 Squadron were based at Bottisham, with detachments at Westcott, Newmarket, Cranfield and Duxford.

    The BBC used Exercise Spartan to test the methods and equipment for the battlefield http://www.btinternet.com/~roger.beckwith/bh/repwar/wr_prep.htm - plenty of other articles are out there on the web if you put in Exercise Spartan+1943 (or similar).

    Hope this helps

    Allan
    Allan Hillman

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    Default

    Hi
    Could I recommend that you get a look at Vol 1 of 2nd Tactical Air Force by Chris Shores and Chris Thomas which does cover Spartan in some detail as to the formations involved as 2nd TAF was evolved out parts of Bomber, Fighter and Army Co-operation Commands? It should be available via a library and is certainly still on the shelves of many Bookshops.The Vol title is Spartan to Normandy
    Regards
    Dick

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    Default

    Thanks for info. I don't know how I managed to called it an Operation rather than Exercise.

    From 16 Squ ORB the finally exercise casualties for 16 Squadron was rather alarming..
    David GH landed "behind enemy lines" but returned to base after evading capture. He had also been shot down by Flak once and Tony Davies twice and McGilligan had had to belly land due to ground Flak. Kemp, Mackie and Martin had been reported missing. Sowerbutts was also reported missing after attack by hostile aircraft and had been wounded by shrapnel and Gibbons had suffered severe concussion after a Belly Landing.

    So the total loss for 16 Squadron was judged to be 7 pilots shot down or missing. 2 pilots wounded. 8 Mustangs lost, and 6 returned to base damaged by Flak. On the plus side 3 enemy Mustangs had been shot down.

    Motherbird

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    Default

    Hi

    You can find a report online courtesy of our Canadian friends at this site.
    http://www.forces.gc.ca/dhh/collections/reports/engraph/cmhq_e.asp?cat=7

    If you scroll down to report CMHQ Report No.94 there is a PDF file you can download about the exercise.

    Kind regards
    Pierre

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    Default Exercise Spartan - 16 squadron "losses"

    Quote Originally Posted by motherbird View Post
    Thanks for info. I don't know how I managed to called it an Operation rather than Exercise.

    From 16 Squ ORB the finally exercise casualties for 16 Squadron was rather alarming..
    David GH landed "behind enemy lines" but returned to base after evading capture. He had also been shot down by Flak once and Tony Davies twice and McGilligan had had to belly land due to ground Flak. Kemp, Mackie and Martin had been reported missing. Sowerbutts was also reported missing after attack by hostile aircraft and had been wounded by shrapnel and Gibbons had suffered severe concussion after a Belly Landing.

    So the total loss for 16 Squadron was judged to be 7 pilots shot down or missing. 2 pilots wounded. 8 Mustangs lost, and 6 returned to base damaged by Flak. On the plus side 3 enemy Mustangs had been shot down.

    Motherbird
    Hello Motherbird

    I would deem these "casualties" the assessments of the umpires - I don't expect we really shot them all down, or we wouldn't have had enough pilots left to give the Germans a fair chance!!

    When Davies "landed behind enemy lines" he probably climbed out the back of a lorry and made his way back evading "enemy" troops. In a similar manner 16 Squadron didn't actually shoot down 3 enemy Mustangs!!

    cheers

    Allan
    Allan Hillman

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    Default

    Thanks for all the info.

    I just wonder how accurate the judges decisions were, if this exercise had been for real at that point in the war would these numbers have portrayed a true picture of RAF casualties?

    David GH actually had real engine problems. He wrote in his diary...

    "I was flying in Towcester area when my aircraft developed engine trouble so I had to make a forced landing at Westcote, south of Stowe on the Wold. While waiting for repairs it was judged that I was able to “evade capture and return to my lines”. So not a POW thankfully! I flew back to Ford later in the day."

    At the end of the exercise he added....
    "The Serviceability of ‘B’ Flight has been most commendable. Six aircraft were serviceable out of seven, every working day, working on dawn to dusk readiness. My personal Mustang AM226 ‘K’ for King, shining sky blue and grey is the precious and jealously guarded treasure of A/C Jacques, my rigger."

    Cheers Motherbird

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