No. 35 Squadron

Badge: A horse's head winged.
The badge commemorates co-operation with the Calvary during the First World War.
Motto: "uno animo agimus" ("We act with one accord").
Authority: King Edward VIII, October, 1936
Unofficial W.W.2 name: "Shrewsbury's 'own' squadron".
Based at Upwood from: (February 1940 - April 1940)
Type of Aircraft:
Bristol Blenheim Mk. IV (November 1939 - April 1940)
Avro Anson (July 1939 - April 1940)
Canberra B.2.s (April 1954 - September 1961)

 

No. 35 Squadron R.F.C. was first formed in 1st February 1916 at Thetford Norfolk, from the nucleus flight of No.9 (Reserve) Squadron, R.F.C. In June it moved to Narboroughto complete training and at the end of January, 1917 the Squadron went to France equipped with Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8s for army co-operation duties. It remained attached to the Cavalry Corps until March, 1918. It returned to England in March 1919, and in June was disbanded at Netheravon.
35 Squadron reformed in March 1929 as a bomber squadron at Bircham Newton, Norfolk equipped with D.H.9A's, but soon replaced with Fairey IIIF's. Then in 1932 came Gordons. In October 1935 the squadron went to Sudan after the italians had invaded Abyssinia, to reinforce the Middle east command, they stayed for ten months. Once back in England their new base was Worthy Down and during the latter part of 1937 they exchanged there Gordons for Wellesleys. A move to Cottesmore in 1938 and re-equipped with Battles.
Following the outbreak of the Second World War, No. 35 Squadron was for some months employed as a training unit. In April, 1940 (by which time the squadron was equipped with Blenheims) it lost its identity on being absorbed into No. 17 Operational Training unit at RAF Upwood
In 1940 the Squadron reformed for the express purpose of introducting the new Handley Page Halifax into operational service. 11th/12th March 1941 saw its first Sorties in Halifaxes when the target was Le Havre. Six aircraft were dispatched.

During the rest of 1941 the squadron bombed a variety of targets in Germany and occupied France, some been in daylight. In July 1941 saw No 35 squadron bomb Berlin for the first time. Two Halifaxes were dispatched and the pilot of the only one known to have reached and bombed the target was none other than Flying Officer-as he then was G. L. Cheshire, now Group Captain G. L. Cheshire, V.C., D.S.O., D.F.C., R.A.F.
In February 1942 it was 35 squadron which attempted to stop the German warships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau during the escape dash from Brest to North German ports.
No 35 Squadron was one of the first five squadrons to join the Pathfinder Force in August 1942 with the object of securing more concentrated and effective bombing by marking targets with incendiary bombs and flares dropped by experienced crews using the latest navigational equipment.


Awards gained by squadron members:
19 D.S.O.'s six bars to D.S.O.'s
1 M.C.
295 D.F.C.'s 27 bars to the D.F.C.'s
4 C.G.M.'s
173 D.F.M.'S and 2 bars to D.F.M.'s

The squadron converted from Lancasters to Lincolns in 1949 but a few months later the squadron disbanded in February 1950. September 1951 it re-formed with Washington aircraft supplied to Britain by the United States Under the U.S. Military Aid Programme. In Spring 1954 its Washingtons gave place to the Canberras. Two and a half years later several of its aircraft were detached to Cyprus to reinforce other Canberra squadrons during the Middle East crisis. It disbanded again in September 1961 which would have made it one of the last flying squadrons to leave RAF Upwood.

35 Squadron Losses while stationed at Upwood

6th April 1940
Blenheim IV P6918
Training
Sgt J D Stein died
Written off in a take-off crash from Upwood aerodrome

 

 

Canberra Days by John Kirk

RAF UPWOOD 1957 – 58

I served at RAF Upwood from April 1957 to December 1958. I was posted to 35 Sqn equipped with Canberra B2 aircraft operating in the high level light bomber role as part of Bomber Command. The Canberrra had entered RAF service in 1951 and when the build up was completed there were 28 squadrons in the Command. The unit was an enlarged sqn formed from the amalgamation of 18 and 35 Sqns. Other units operating at Upwood at the time were 50 and 61 Sqns. Each sqn was commanded by a Wing Commander and divided into 2 flights commanded by a Squadron Leader.
A Canberra B2 carried a crew of 3; pilot, navigator/plotter and navigator/radar (observer). Apart from the 3 senior officers, crews were made up of junior officers. By this stage there were very few SNCO aircrew in the Canberra force. The life of a squadron Canberra crew was governed by two regimes: basic training requirements and the Bomber Command Aircrew Classification scheme. The former was designed to ensure that each crew member completed the minimum requirements needed to maintain the necessary level of competence during a given period. With regard to the latter, a new crew was initially categorised Unclassified, which meant that they were unqualified to fly on operations. Flying hours were therefore allocated to a crew to achieve Combat status as quickly as possible, which meant meeting minimum competence in the role i.e. achieving the necessary standards as a crew in navigation and bombing. As a crew became more experienced it progressed through the classification system to Select status.
A crew would fly approx. 300 hours a year. A sortie lasted about 2hrs 50 mins and was largely carried out at heights between 35000 – 45000 feet while cruising at about 460mph. On a typical training flight the aircraft would be loaded with up to 8 x 25lb practice bombs which would be released at one of several bombing ranges around the UK, mainly in the Wash area. Bombing was carried out using a radar system called GH or visually using the Mk XIV bombsight. There were also regular Station or Command exercises, involving all the squadrons, that were used to test fighter and ground radar defences as well as crews’ individual navigation and bombing skills.
High level visual bombing practice up to 45000ft was carried out abroad. A sqn would fly off on detachment to Malta and conduct bombing exercises against a sea target at Filfla off Malta or practice ranges in Libya. A crew could also be detailed to fly abroad on a Lone Ranger exercise to an RAF station in the Mediterranean or Middle East. This exercise tested a crew’s ability to operate away from base; crew members carried out their own basic servicing for which they had to pass a Bomber Command Basic Efficiency Examination. A crew would be allocated a Lone Ranger about once a year and was a very popular break from the normal routine.
When not flying, crews had to complete a programme of ground training. Requirements varied widely and included: dinghy and parachute drills; aircraft recognition; survival lectures; regular 12-mile walks to build up stamina; and escape and evasion exercises. Aircrews were also encouraged to participate in sport to maintain fitness.
I left Upwood on posting to RAF Shawbury but the Canberra sqns operated there for some time afterwards. Both 35 and 50 Sqns were eventually re-equipped with the Vulcan.

John Kirk
35 Squadron Upwood

 

 


35 and 61 Squadron Canberra taken at Upwood open day 1959
This Canberra was also used as the Upwood Gate Guardian
Also clearly seen on the tail is the Upwood imp, a Red Lion

 


35 Squadron Canberra's at Upwood
Thanks to Ken Delve for the use of this picture

 

35 Squadron Receiving the colours

35 squadron March Past

 


Preparation to receive the colours

 


Receiving the colours

Many thanks to Robert Chorley for sending me the pictures

Sean Edwards