Unit History: RAF Chedburgh

RAF Chedburgh
The first operational squadron to be based at Chedburgh, No. 214, moved in October 1942 from Stradishall where it had converted from Wellingtons to Stirlings a few months earlier. During its fourteen months at Chedburgh, the squadron lost more than 50 Stirlings on operations and in crashes. Built up to a strength of 24 aircraft in the spring of 1943, its `C' Flight, and that from No. 149 Squadron at Lakenheath, became the nucleus of No. 620 Squadron, formed on June 17 and put immediately on operational status. No. 620 added another 25 Stirlings to Chedbrugh's crippling losses before the squadron was transferred to Transport Command and moved out to Leicester East on November 27, 1943. By this date No. 3 Group was going over to the Lancaster and the following month No. 214 Squadron moved to Downham Market, preparatory to joining No. 100 Group for bomber support operations flying Fortress IIIs. However, Chedburgh retained Stirlings and No. 1653 Heavy Conversion Unit formed here officially on November 21. Still linked to Stradishall, which under Bomber Command identification of main stations became No. 31 Base in the spring of 1943, Chedburgh provided `polish' for Stirling crews going to No. 3 Group's squadrons still operating the type. Nevertheless, the days of the Stirling as a bomber were over and in December 1944 No. 1653 HCU moved out to North Luffenham to serve Transport Command requirements. Lancasters of No. 218 Squadron moved in during the first week of December 1944 as No. 31 Base became operational again, eventually building up to a strength of 30 aircraft.
No. 218 Squadron stayed until the end of hostilities, participating in an increasing number of daylight raids, mostly to the Ruhr. Its Lancasters continued to occupy Chedburgh for a several weeks following VE-Day until the unit was disbanded on August 10. During hostilities 83 bombers were lost flying from Chedburgh, 71 being Stirlings and 12 Lancasters. The station was then transferred to Transport Command and in September 1945 two Polish-manned squadrons, Nos. 301 and 304, arrived. Flying a mixture of Wellingtons and Warwicks, replaced by Halifax VIIIs the following year, these units operated long-range transport flights on a diminishing scale until disbandment in December 1946.

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