Site 23. RAF Wick : January – May 1942

RAF Wick 1942 Squadrons
Air Operations – January to May

JANUARY – 220 Squadron departed for RAF Nutts Corner on the 9th and were replaced by the Lockheed Hudsons of 48 and 608 Squadrons on the 6th. The following day 48 Squadron despatched five aircraft to attack two merchant vessels off Bergen. Offensive maritime patrols continued throughout January, but severe snow and winter conditions hampered operations throughout the month. Between the two squadrons, however, they still managed to fly 62 anti-submarine patrols and 38 convoy escorts.

FEBRUARY – Poor weather conditions continued throughout February but both 48 and 608 Squadrons carried out a total of 124 offensive maritime patrols, with an attack on a merchant vessel by 48 Squadron on the 17th.

On the 24th, a joint operation of seven Hudsons from 48 Squadron and seven from 608 Squadron attacked ‘targets of opportunity’ along the Norwegian coast resulting in six merchant vessels being attacked and bombed. A further 37 convoy escorts were carried out by the squadrons based at Wick.

MARCH – Due to the losses suffered by 48 Squadron over the last two months, 608 Squadron took the lead this month flying 86 offensive maritime patrols compared to only 59 flown by 48 Squadron.

On the 1st, 608 Squadron bombed a merchant vessel in Haugesund Harbour. Bristol Beauforts of 86 Squadron arrived at Wick this month and carried out 41 anti-shipping patrols, with a successful torpedo attack on a merchant vessel on the 27th. This was followed by a torpedo attack against three merchant vessels the following day. A merchant vessel was also attacked by a Hudson of 608 Squadron on the 28th whilst on a routine patrol.

The two Hudson-equipped squadrons also carried out 61 convoy escorts during March.

APRIL – The month started with a torpedo attack against a merchant vessel by Beauforts of 86 Squadron and a bombing attack by 608 Squadron on the 6th.

On the 8th a Spitfire of 1 PRU Squadron found the battleship Tirpitz in a Norwegian fjord. Meanwhile 6 Squadron was temporarily grounded due to engine problems. Direct hits were scored against merchant vessels by 48 Squadron on the 15th and by 608 Squadron on the 24th. Both squadrons took part in a raid over Norway which resulted in four merchant vessels being attacked and oil storage tanks bombed. A total of 261 anti-submarine and anti-shipping patrols were carried out by the three squadrons at Wick during April as well as 69 convoy escort sorties.

MAY – Shipping strikes intensified this month with Hudsons of 48 Squadron flying 119 offensive maritime patrols. This resulted in attacks on five merchant vessels, three flak ships and two U-boats by the end of the month. The squadron also carried out 20 convoy escort sorties during May.

Beauforts of 86 Squadron were also busy this month flying 82 offensive shipping patrols, with fifteen Beauforts and four Beau fighters engaged in a major dogfight on the 17th in which five enemy aircraft were shot down.

The Hudsons of 608 Squadron were the busiest, however, flying 130 offensive shipping patrols with a total of 13 merchant vessels, an oil tanker, a battle cruiser, a light cruiser, six destroyers and a U-boat being attacked. This squadron also flew 30 convoy escort sorties during the month.

1942 Aircraft Losses at RAF Wick