98 Squadron

ROYAL AIR FORCE: 2ND TACTICAL AIR FORCE, 1943-1945. (CH 12862) North American Mitchell Mark IIs of No. 98 Squadron RAF taxying along the perimeter track at Dunsfold, Surrey, for a morning raid on targets in northern France. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205210539

West Raynham, Norfolk 12 Sep 42
Foulsham, Norfolk 15 Oct 42
Dunsfold, Surrey 18 Aug 43
Swanton Morley, Norfolk 26 Mar 44
Dunsfold, Surrey 10 Apr 44
Melsbroek, Belgium 16 Oct 44
Achmer, Germany 30 Apr 45

The first bombing raid was on 22nd January 1943, when six Mitchells took off to bomb the oil installations at Terneuzen, Ghent. Five got through to the target one having to return after striking a seagull and being blinded when the perspex shattered. Only four returned, Plt. Officer Woods and his crew in FL 693 were hit by flak and crashed over the target, all presumed killed.

The next three months were occupied in training exercises and ASR whilst modifications were being carried out on the gun turrets, but 98 was back in business on 13th May 1943 when six aircraft successfully bombed the marshalling yards at Boulogne, but one aircraft failed to return. In the months to come, the Squadron was to be increasingly active carrying out raids on airfields and installations at Brest, Rotterdam, Flushing, Ghent, and many other targets in the north of France and the Low Countries.

In August 1943 the Squadron moved to Dunsfold, Surrey and continued operations from there. Operating usually in two boxes of six aircraft, bombing was carried out between 10,000′ and 14,000′ dropping mostly 500 lb bombs but also 1,000 lb and 250 lb.

On 23rd December 1943, attacks on “No-Ball” targets commenced. Although it was not known at the time, these were the V1 flying bomb sites and, located along the French and Belgium coasts, were to be bombed by the Squadron until May 1944. During this time the first Gee sets were installed in the Mitchells. At the end of March 1944 the Squadron detached to Swanton Morley, Norfolk, for two weeks for an army exercise and further training.

ROYAL AIR FORCE: 2ND TACTICAL AIR FORCE, 1943-1945. (CH 13734) Ground personnel of No. 98 Squadron RAF, who serviced North American Mitchell Mark III, HD372 ‘VO-B’ Grumpy, during its record operational career, gather at the aircraft’s nose at Dunsfold, Surrey, as Corporal V Feast paints the 102nd bomb symbol onto its tally of operations. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205210585

1st May 1944, the Squadron’s targets changed back to the marshalling yards and airfields in preparation for the Second Front. The marshalling yards at Cambrai were again attacked, just twenty-six years after the Squadron first bombed them in the First World War. The
Squadron seemed to have been sent to bomb targets up and down the French coast as part of the deception being practiced to make it impossible for the Germans to guess which sector of the coast was to be the invasion beach-head.

On 5th June 1944 a strict security clamp was imposed at Dunsfold and that evening eleven aircraft went off to bomb individually, a unique event, targets in the Caen area. The next morning it was announced that British and American airborne and seaborne divisions had landed at points between Le Havre and Cape Barfleur on the Cherbourg Peninsular. That evening fifteen aircraft took off to bomb the Caen area and the next night, D+2, seventeen Mitchells attacked rail targets at Vire and Flers. The next few weeks the Squadron carried out night raids on Second Front targets and on 20th June 1944 resumed daylight sorties on the “No-Ball” sites. The heavily defended steel-works at Caen were attacked on 22nd June 1944 when our forward troops were just 1,000 yds away, each of the eighteen aircraft carrying eight 500 lb bombs. Naturally extreme accuracy was essential and photographs showed the steel works enveloped in smoke.

During July 1944 more daylight raids were flown, mostly against fuel and ammunition dumps. On the 23rd July 1944 fifteen aircraft, led by Wg Cdr Paul took off to bomb the railway yard at Glos-Montfort. The target was bombed on Gee-H from 10,000′ over 10/10ths cloud with 500 lb bombs. There was no flak, but on releasing their bombs “S” FV 985 blew up, setting fire to and destroying “R” FW 122, killing all the crews. “G” FL 186 was so badly damaged that it had to crash land in the American sector of Normandy and “H” FV 931 had to force land at Tangmere. Apart from such disasters, losses were from flak, the occasional Fw 190 and at least one from a hang-up bomb which released
on landing back at Dunsfold.

North American Mitchell II of No.98 Squadron, http://www.historyofwar.org/Pictures/pictures_mitchell_II_98_sqn.html

In October 1944, the Squadron received orders to move to Europe, the advance ground party leaving on the 9th Oct 1944 and the air party going over on the 18th October 1944. The new base was Melsbroek airfield, Brussels, and the city was soon visited by all and sundry at the
first opportunity.

98 Squadron history text from http://www.rafjever.org/98squadhistory3.htm

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