No. 142 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

No. 142 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No. 142 Squadron (RAF) during the Second World War

Aircraft - Locations - Group and Duty - Books

No.142 Squadron began the Second World War as a day bomber squadron, equipped with the Fairey Battle. It was one of the squadrons that moved to France with the Advanced Air Striking Force, and like all of those squadrons suffered heavily during the German invasion of France in May-June 1940. On its return to Great Britain the squadron received more Battles, which it used to attack German invasion barges, before in November 1940 the first Vickers Wellingtons arrived.

Night bombing operations began on 15 April 1941, and continued for the next two years. In December 1942 thirteen of the squadrons aircraft were flown to Algeria, to take part in the campaign in North Africa. In the following month the aircraft remaining in the UK merged with No.150 Squadron to form No.166 Squadron, and the detachment in North Africa was brought up to squadron strength.

The squadron remained in the Mediterranean until October 1944, carrying out night attacks on Axis targets in North Africa, Sicily and Italy. The squadron moved to southern Italy in December 1943, and its range expanded to include the Balkans. This incarnation of the squadron was disbanded on 5 October 1944.

The squadron was reformed in Britain on 25 October 1944, this time as a night bomber squadron equipped with the De Havilland Mosquito. No.142 Squadron used the Canadian built Mosquito B Mk 25. For the rest of the war the squadron carried out a mix of bombing and pathfinders duties.

March 1938-January 1941: Fairey Battle I
November 1940-October 1941: Vickers Wellington II
October 1941-October 1942: Vickers Wellington IV
September 1942-October 1943: Vickers Wellington III
August 1943-October 1944: Vickers Wellington X
October 1944-September 1945: De Havilland Mosquito B Mk 25

9 May-2 September 1939: Bicester
2-12 September 1939: Berry-au-Bac (France)
12 September-16 May 1940: Plivot
16 May-6 June 1940: Faux-Villecerf
6-15 June 1940: Villiers-Faux
15 June-3 July 1940: Waddington (UK)
3 July-12 August 1940: Binbrook
12 August-6 September 1940: Eastchurch
6 September 1940-26 November 1941: Binbrook
26 November 1941-7 June 1942: Grimsby
7 June-7 July 1942: Thruxton
7 July-19 December 1942: Grimsby
19 December 1942: Detachment to Blida
19 December 1942-27 January 1943: Kirmington
27 January-5 May 1943: Entire squadron to Blida
5-26 May 1943: Fontaine Chaude
26 May-15 November 1943: Kairouan
15 November-16 December 1943: Oudna
16 December 1943-14 February 1944: Cerignola
14 February-3 July 1944: Amendola
3 July 1944-5 October 1944: Regine
25 October 1944-28 September 1945: Gransden Lodge (UK)

Squadron Codes: KB, QT, 4H

Group and Duty
September 1939-June 1940: Bomber squadron with No.1 Group, 76 Wing, Advanced Air Striking Force
June-November 1940: Day bomber squadron with Battle
November 1940-January 1943: Night bomber squadron
December 1942-December 1943: Night bomber, North Africa
December 1943-October 1944: Bomber squadron, Italy
October 1944-September 1945: Night bomber Mosquito squadron, UK


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For the purposes of the RSL Virtual War Memorial, No. 142 Squadron (RAF) is included as one of the RAF Squadrons to which Australians served fought and died during WW II.

During WW2 the Empire Air Training Scheme supplied tens of thousands of aircrew for the Royal Air Force (RAF) air war in Europe, and later in other theatres of war. While a number of so-called Article XV national squadrons were created in Fighter, Bomber and Coastal Commands of the RAF, the majority of Australian aircrew were posted, along with their Commonwealth colleagues, to RAF Squadrons (and also to RCAF and RNZAF units) as individual crew members,where they would 'crew up' often with a very multi-national aircrew comprised of men from all over the Commownwealth. Ground staff were similarly assigned.

This information drawn from the MoD UK squadron webpage

No. 142 Squadron had been formed in Egypt in WW1. It was re-formed in England as a bomber unit in 1934 and during 1935/36 again served in the Middle East. In the early months of the Second World War it served with the Advanced Air Striking Force in France and on 10th May 1940, the day the Germans invaded the Low Countries, it gained the distinction of being the first AASF unit to bomb the advancing enemy. Later that month No. 142 was one of the Fairey Battle squadrons which attacked the Meuse bridges in a further attempt to stem the German advance. The squadron was withdrawn to England in June 1940, and by the end of the year was converting to Wellingtons prior to engaging in the strategic night-bombing offensive.

In December 1942, No. 142 Squadron moved to North Africa and subsequently took part in the Tunisian, Sicilian and Italian campaigns.

It flew over southern cetnral Europe including raids against the Romanian oilfields at Ploesti.

The squadron was disbanded (in Italy) early in October 1944.

It re-formed and re-equipped with de Havilland Mosquito light bombers in England later in October 1944, and for the remainder of the war was part of No. 8 (PathFinder Force) Group's Light Night Striking Force.

During its service with No. 8 Group, the squadron flew 1,095 operational sorties (all but 23 of which were considered successful) gaining 64 DFC's and 52 DFM's among its awards.

Those known to have served with

No. 55 Squadron Royal Air Force

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

  • Finney Francis. A/Sqn.Ldr.
  • Holman Richard Woodman George.
  • Partington Edward Seabrook. F/Sgt.
  • Tofts Robert Arthur. Flt.Lt.

The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (421012) Flight Sergeant Leslie John Gilbert, No. 299 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Second World War

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Charis May, the story for this day was on (421012) Flight Sergeant Leslie John Gilbert, No. 299 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Second World War.

421012 Flight Sergeant Leslie John Gilbert, No. 299 Squadron, Royal Air Force
KIA 6 June 1944
Photograph: UK1369

Story delivered 2 April 2015

Today we pay tribute to Flight Sergeant Leslie John Gilbert, who was killed on active service with the Royal Air Force on D-Day, 6 June 1944.

D-Day has become an iconic event not only in the history of the Second World War but also in the history of the Western world. On this tumultuous day, a multi-national Allied force landed on the shores of Normandy. It was the first major step in the liberation of Western Europe from the tyranny of Nazism and fascism.

Leslie John Gilbert was born in Perth, Western Australia on 21 May 1914 to William and Mary Gilbert. Before his enlistment in the Royal Australian Air Force, Gilbert worked as foreman at Freezers Northern Meet Co-Operation in Casino, New South Wales. He and his wife, Heather Mary Gilbert, resided in Lismore.

After joining the Royal Australian Air Force Gilbert embarked for Britain. As part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, he was one of almost 16,000 RAAF pilots, navigators, wireless operators, gunners, and engineers who joined Royal Air Force squadrons throughout the course of the war.

In Britain he was promoted to Flight Sergeant, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal, and in April 1944 he was posted to No. 299 Squadron, Royal Air Force.

Gilbert was regarded as “one of the best pilots” in the squadron, showing great “skill, determination and calmness” while flying, and was very popular member of the squadron.

No. 299 Squadron was a special operations squadron that became operational in April 1944. It performed the specialist task of dropping agents and supplying these special operatives as well as resistance movements working behind enemy lines in occupied Europe. In the early hours of 6 June 1944 No. 299 Squadron carried the paratroopers and gliders of the British 6th Airborne Division to their landing zones in Normandy.

The Stirling bomber piloted by Gilbert was shot down over the Ranville drop zone near Caen. All six crew members were killed, as were nine of the 20 paratroopers still on board. The 11 surviving paratroopers dropped safely over the target. They later reported that there was heavy flak when they left the aircraft.

Gilbert was 30 years old, one of the first Australians killed in the invasion of Europe.

Gilbert’s body was not recovered and his name is listed and commemorated upon the Air Forces Memorial overlooking the River Thames in Runnymede. The memorial lists all British and Commonwealth aircrew who died in the war and who have no known grave.

The photograph displayed today in front of the pool of reflection was taken just two days before Gilbert’s death in Normandy.

Gilbert was one of thousands of Australians who served in the British and Commonwealth forces on D-Day and throughout the Normandy campaign. On this day of days, Leslie John Gilbert made the ultimate sacrifice.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with around 40,000 Australians killed in the Second World War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Flight-Sergeant Leslie John Gilbert, and all of those Australians – as well as our Allies and brothers in arms – who gave their lives in the hope for a better world.

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