156 SQUADRON

(PathFinder Force)

Badge: A figure of Mercury holding a torch.
The figure of Mercury holding a torch in indicative of the function of the unit as pathfinders.
Motto: "We light the way".
Authority: King George VI, July, 1943.
Based at Upwood from: (March 1944 - June 1945)
Type of Aircraft:
Avro Lancaster (January 1943 - September 1945)

156 Squadron formed in October 1918 for day-bombing, but disbanded in November 1918 without having become operational.
Some 24 years later in February 1942, 156 Squadron reformed at Raf Alconbury in Huntingdonshire as a medium bomber squadron equipped with Wellingtons and operated under 3 Group. A few months later when the Pathfinder Force formed in August 1942, No 156 was one of the four squadrons selected to form the nucleus of the new force, with the object of securing more concentrated and effective bombing by marking targets with incendiary bombs and flares dropped from aircraft flown by experienced crew and using the latest navigational equipment. It remained with the Pathfinder Force for the rest of the European war and, still flying Wellingtons at first and then Lancasters, played a major part in Bomber Commandís Offensive. In over a span of 38 months of operations it dropped 16,017 tons of bombs and lost 45 Wellingtons and 117 Lancasters.
When it had finished operations against Germany, No 156 marked the dropping zone at Rotterdam and The Hague for the bombers engaged in dropping food supplies to the starving Dutch people, also repatriated British ex-P.O.W.ís to Great Britain and transported British troops from Italy to Great Britian, also dropped unwanted incendiary bombs into the sea.
The squadron disbanded in September, 1945 and at that time its awards list comprised:

22 D.S.O.ís 1 bar to the D.S.O.
296 D.F.C.ís 22 bars TO D.F.C.ís
5 C.G.M.ís (Flying)
132 D.F.M.ís 1 bar to the D.F.M.
1 B.E.M.

First Operational Mission
16/17th February, 1942
1 Wellington Nickelled Lille area.

First Bombing Attack
17/18 February, 1942
3 Wellingtons Bombed Essen

Last Operational Mission
25th April 1945
16 Lancasters bombed gun batteries on island of Wangerooge

Last Mission before V.E. Day
7th May, 1945
10 Lancasters ferried 240 ex-P.O.W.ís home to the U.K. form Belgium.

The Stations 156 Squadron were based at
ALCONBURY
14/2/42 TO 15/8/42
WARBOYS
15/8/42 TO 5/3/44
UPWOOD
5/3/44 TO 27/6/45
WYTON 27/6/45 TO 25/9/45
Disbanded on 25/9/


The aircraft 156 Squadron used

WELLINGTON IC 02/42 to 01/43
WELLINGTON III
03/42 to 01/43
LANCASTER I/III 01/43 to 09/45

The Commanding Officers of 156 Squadron

WING COMMANDER P G R HEATH 
14/2/42 to 30/5/42

WING COMMANDER H L PRICE  
30/5/42 to 29/7/42 

WING COMMANDER R N COOK
30/7/42 to 28/10/42

WING COMMANDER T S RIVETT-CARNAC DFC  
28/10/42 to 8/6/43

SQUADRON LEADER S G HOOKWAY (Temp) 
2/43 to 2/43

GROUP CAPTAIN R W P COLLINGS AFC
 8/6/43 to 15/1/44

WING COMMANDER E C EATON DFC  
15/1/44 to 27/4/44

SQUADRON LEADER T W G GODFREY (Temp) 
28/4/44 to 7/5/44

WING COMMANDER T L BINGHAM-HALL DFC 
7/5/44 to 21/11/44

WING COMMANDER D B FALCONER DFC AFC  
21/11/44 to 30/12/44

WING COMMANDER T E ISON DSO DFC
30/12/44 to 10/4/45

WING COMMANDER A J L CRAIG  
10/4/45 to 25/9/45

 

 

Ralph Edward paech diary

Ralph paech complete diary of 34 missions in 156 Squadron

 

156 Squadron pictures

Pictures of 156 at Upwood

 

Distinguished Flying Medal 156 Squadron

A full list of 156 Squadron Distinguished Flying Medal award.

 

156 Squadron Losses at Upwood

All 156 Squadron losses at Upwood including crew names and area of crashes


Information came from:
ROYAL AIR FORCE, BOMBER COMMAND LOSSES 1945
By W R CHORLEY
ISBN 0-904597-92-X
Midland Publishing
 
And also

The Supplement to
 THE ROYAL AIR FORCE IN CAMBRIDGESHIRE: PART 4
Prepared by John Hamlin

 

Books on 156 Squadron

THEY LED THE WAY
The story of Pathfinder Squadron 156

By Michael Philip Wadsworth

A great book covering 156 Squadron History

The book is Dedicated to his father (F/O Philip Wadsworth 156 Squadron) who failed to return on the night of April 27/28th 1944, and all those who made the one-way journey.

ISBN No. 0 948929 58 8
Highgate Publications (Beverley) Ltd. 1992

 

 

Links to other 156 Squadron websites

Robin Riley 156 squadron website covers everything you need to know
www.156squadron.co.uk

Chris Villiers is on the committee for the Pathfinder March at RAF Wyton
www.pathfindermarch.co.uk

 


SEAN EDWARDS