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Strike Wings

ROYAL AIR FORCE COASTAL COMMAND, 1939-1945. ROYAL AIR FORCE COASTAL COMMAND, 1939-1945.© IWM (HU 93037)

 

During the Second World War, RAF Coastal Command anti-shipping operations were flown from airfields in north-east Scotland between September 1944 and May 1945. Several squadrons were based at RAF stations at Dallachy and Banff and made sorties to the Norwegian coastline on an almost daily basis in their Bristol Beaufighter and de Havilland Mosquito fighter-bomber aircraft. It was their task to seek out and destroy merchant ships carrying vital raw materials and supplies from Norway to Germany.

 

This feature presents a selection of aerial photographs of the base airfields in Scotland along with two frequently raided locations in Norway, showing evidence of the destruction caused there.

 

 

Banff, Scotland

 

Construction of RAF Banff, also known as Boyndie, began in 1942 and the airfield was operational by April 1943. With the Allies advancing into occupied Europe, much German shipping was transferred to Scandinavian waters and elements of RAF Coastal Command were moved north to counter this threat.

The Strike Wing at Banff stood up in September 1944 and comprised Mosquito aircraft of No’s 143, 144, 235 and 248 Squadrons Royal Air Force and No.333 Squadron Royal Norwegian Air Force. Until May 1945, these units carried out patrols and attacks on ships, submarines, lighthouses and cargo transported by road and rail.

 

 

Dallachy, Scotland

 

Dallachy opened in March 1943 and was occupied by Beaufighter aircraft of the Dallachy Strike Wing from September 1944 to June 1945. This Wing comprised No.144 Squadron Royal Air Force, No.404 Squadron Royal Canadian Air Force, No.455 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force and No.489 Squadron Royal New Zealand Air Force. These units carried out the same types of operation as the Banff Wing, often operating in tandem with Mosquitos from Banff.

 

 

Peterhead, Scotland

 

As the Norwegian coastline was protected by high-performance German fighters, aircraft from Banff and Dallachy were often escorted by long-range Mustang fighters of No.315 (Polish) Squadron from RAF Peterhead.

 

 

Porsgrunn, Norway

 

On Friday 30 March 1945, Mosquito fighter-bombers from Banff attacked merchant shipping moored along the quaysides at Porsgrunn, Norway. These photographs from sortie 106G/L/0104, flown by a photo-reconnaissance Mosquito of 544 Squadron on 6 May 1945, show the positions of those ships sunk or damaged during the attack.

 

One Mosquito of No.235 Squadron, ‘T-Tommy’ flown by Flt Lt W Knowles, struck high-tension power lines while attacking at very low-level and crashed among trees to the east of the quayside warehouses.

 

Visible in this image, on their sides or settled on the riverbed, are the wrecks of the Scharhorn (2642 tons, with a cargo of salt), Torafire (823 tons) and Svanefjell (1371 tons). The latter two ships were raised and repaired in the 1960’s.

 

 

Sandefjord, Norway

 

Three days after the Porsgrunn raid, Mosquito aircraft from Banff attacked merchant shipping anchored at Sandefjord, Norway, on Monday 2nd April 1945 (see the title image above). These photographs from sortie 106G/L/0104, flown by a Mosquito of 544 Squadron on 6 May 1945, show the positions of those ships sunk or damaged during the attack.

 

Visible in this image is the bow section of the William Blumer (3604 tons), sunk during the raid on 2 April 1945. On the peninsula at lower-right of the image are two batteries of anti-aircraft guns, placed to defend the anchorage from Allied aircraft.

Several ships are visible in this image, with the merchant ship Concordia (5154 tons) having rolled onto its port side. The Espana (7465 tons), Belpamela (3165 tons) and the tanker Irania (2249 tons) were also attacked on 2 April 1945 and are seen here, still at their moorings a month later.
An image of Sandefjord, with a gunboat, formerly of the Dutch navy but now in Kriegsmarine service, moored by the pier.