Lasham Airfield 1943-1944
From 1943 to 1944 Lasham Airfield was host to Squadron, No. 412-R.C.A.E. with Spitfire’s Vb, No 226 Squadron flying Mitchells, No 181 Squadron flying Mitchells, No 182 Squadron flying Typhoons, No 183 Squadron flying Typhoons, No 613 Squadron flying Mustang-Mosquito, No 320 (Dutch) Squadron flying Mitchells, No 305 (Polish) Squadron flying Mosquitoes and No 107 Squadron flying Mosquitoes.
613 Squadron performed two of the Wars most audacious raids when, on the 11th April 1944, six Mosquitoes led by Wing Commander R.N. Bateson destroyed Gestapo archives in the Hague. On the 18th August that year fourteen Mosquito aircraft under the command of Air Vice-Marshal B.E. Embry, attacked and destroyed an SS barrack block 50 miles from Limoges. This raid was made in support of the Maquis, and both took place in daylight.
Special mention is made to those who served in the night fighter squadron training units, and to the aircrews testing Hamilcar gliders from Lasham Airfield.
613’s Raid on the Gestapo’s Dutch Population Registry Office, The Hague, 11th April 1944.
In March 1944 the Dutch Resistance movement learned that there was to be a German crack-down on the use of forged identity papers by shot-down Allied Airmen, Resistance fighters etc. Any papers on arrested people could easily be proved to be false, because there would not be a copy in the Central Registry. The task of destroying the Registry, but not any of the surrounding buildings was offered to Bomber Command and the US Army Air Force. Neither could guarantee destruction of the specified building, whilst avoiding deaths in the local population.
The 2nd Tactical Air Force felt that an ultra-low level razor sharp attack by half a dozen Mosquitoes would have the best chance of success. 613 Squadron was chosen and the raid was led by C/O Wing Commander Bob Bateson. After a round the houses route to cause German confusion, Bateson and F/t Cobley made the first run at 50ft dropping 30 seconds 500lb delayed action bombs, Cobley seeing his leaders “go in through the front door”. The second two Mossies circled to allow the D/A’s to explode, then dropped incendiary bombs to ensure that the records were burned out. The last pair, flown by Vic Hester and Dutchman F/O Cohen had to take great care in aiming their bombs as the target was now covered in smoke.
Only two bombs missed the target building, and they hit German Barracks immediately behind the Registry. W/C Bateson was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, his navigator F/O Standish and S/L Newman received DFC’s.
The raid on Egletons School, 18th August 1944
Information had been received from the French Resistance fighters that the school at Egletons was being used by the Germans as an SS barracks. The pin-point job of wiping out this unwanted “Hornet’s Nest” was given to 138 Wing and 613 Squadron was the chosen crack unit to carry it out. The daylight raid was led by 613 C/O Wing Commander Charles Newman, but such was the importance of the mission, that Air Vice marshal Basil Embrey and Group Captain Leslie Bower joined the 12 613 crews. F/Lt Hester and his cameraman F/O Moore flew their modified Mosquito B.1V to film the very successful strike.
The target was 50 miles south of Limoges, in SW France, a 4 hour round trip and each Mosquito therefore used long range tanks. 7 A/c carried 2 x 500 lb 11 seconds delay bombs, and 7 carried 2 x 500 lb instantaneous bombs. At least 20 direct hits were obtained and the target was almost completely destroyed. Watching Maquis, hidden nearby in the surrounding countryside, were of course unharmed. Unfortunately one Mosquito was hit in the starboard Merlin, and force-landed. F/L House and F/O Savill survived and made their way back to England.