No. 160 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.160 Squadron was a heavy bomber squadron that was formed for service in the Far East but that was detained in the Middle East during 1942 and only reached India in 1943.

The squadron reformed at Thurleigh on 16 January 1942 as a Liberator squadron. The ground personnel left for the Far East on 12 February 1942, but the aircrews remained in the UK for training. In early May they moved to Nutts Corner, and spent one month flying anti-submarine patrols over the Atlantic.

The move east finally began in early June when the Liberators flew out to Palestine. They were meant to fly on to India, but instead they were retained in the Mediterranean by Tedder, spending most of their time carrying out night raids on enemy targets in Libya and Crete. They were also used to support Operation Vigorous, an attempt to get a convoy from Alexandria to Malta in June 1942. Some of the squadron's aircraft were involved in an attack on the Italian fleet at sea during this operation, and a Liberator from an accompanying American formation even managed to score a hit on the Italian battleship Littorio. The Liberators were retained in the Middle East until after the battle of El Alamein.

They were then allowed to continue on to India one-by-one, before on 15 January 1943 the remaining aircraft in the Middle East merged into No.178 Squadron.

The squadron flew its first patrols over the Bay of Bengal on 6 February 1943. The squadron was the first British Liberator squadron to reach India, and at first was used as a general reconnaissance unit. A few weeks after beginning operations most of the squadron's aircraft moved to Ceylon, where they flew a mix of shipping protection and long range photo reconnaissance missions over Sumatra and the Nicobar Islands. It was also used for mine laying, dropping nearly 1,000 mines in the first four months of 1945. Some of these mine laying missions could be very lengthy - the longest, to Singapore, lasted for twenty one hours!

In June 1945 the squadron was transferred to Special Duties, dropping agents and supplies to resistance groups in Malaya and Sumatra. Some of these sorties were even longer, with some lasting for more than 24 hours, a remarkable tribute to the endurance of the Liberator.

After the Japanese surrender the squadron was used for transport duties in India, Ceylon and Malaya before in June 1946 beginning to fly back to the UK.

Aircraft
May 1942-January 1943: Consolidated Liberator II
November 1942-October 1945: Consolidated Liberator III
June 1943-November 1945: Consolidated Liberator V
January 1944-January 1945: Consolidated Liberator VI
October 1945-September 1946: Consolidated Liberator VIII
August-September 1946: Avro Lancaster GR.3

Location
January-February 1942: Thurleigh

May-June 1942: Nutts Corner

June-November 1942: Aqir
November 1942-January 1943: Shandur

November 1942-February 1943: Salbani
February-August 1943: Ratmalana
August 1943-August 1944: Sigiriya
August 1944-February 1945: Kankesanturai
February-October 1945: Minneriya
October 1945-June 1946: Kankesanturai

June-September 1946: Leuchars

Squadron Codes: C, R, K, A, X, BS

Duty
1942: Bomber Squadron, Middle East and North Africa
1943-1945: Bomber Squadron, Burma and Far East

Part of
27 October 1942: No 242 Wing; No.205 Group; , HQ RAF Middle East
1 July 1944: No.222 Group, Air Command South East Asia

Books

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (5 January 2010), No. 160 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/160_wwII.html

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