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No. 298 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

No. 298 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

No. 298 Squadron (RAF) during the Second World War

Aircraft - Locations - Group and Duty - Books

No.298 Squadron was an airborne forces squadron which went through two incarnations during the Second World War. The first short lived incarnation was in 1942, but the active squadron history began in November 1943 when it was reformed from C Flight of No. 295 Squadron.

This second incarnation of the squadron took part in the D-Day landings, towing six Horsa gliders on the mission to capture the Orne bridges on the night of 5-6 June and then bringing fifteen more gliders during 6 June.

At Arnhem the squadron towed thirteen Horsas and seven Hamilcars on the first day, eight Horsas and eight Hamilcars on the second day and ten Horsas on the third day. The squadron also took part in the crossing of the Rhine in March 1945, and transported troops to Norway and Denmark to accept to German surrender.

Aircraft
August 1942-October 1942: Armstrong Whitworth Whitley V

November 1943-October 1944: Handley Page Halifax V
October 1944-August 1945: Handley Page Halifax III
May 1945-December 1946: Handley Page Halifax VII

Location
24 August-19 October 1942: Thruxton

4 November 1943-21 March 1945: Tarrant Rushton
21 March-24 March 1945: Woodbridge
24 March-15 July 1945: Tarrent Rushton
15 July 1945-9 December 1945: Raipur

Squadron Codes: 8A, 8T

Duty
1943-1945: Airborne Forces Squadron

Books

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What Happened To RAF 617 Squadron After The Dambusters Raid

After the success of the Ruhr dams raid in May 1943, 617 Squadron was retained by RAF Bomber Command for specialist precision bombing operations. It experimented with new bomb sights, target marking techniques and colossal new 'earthquake' bombs developed by Barnes Wallis, the inventor of the 'bouncing bomb'.

An unsuccessful attempt to bomb the Dortmund-Ems Canal from low level in September 1943 resulted in the loss of five aircraft and the death of the Squadron's new commanding officer. Such missions were not repeated, and henceforth 617 Squadron concentrated on high-altitude precision bombing.

In the run-up to D-Day, the Squadron attacked factories, V-weapon sites and communication targets in France. Its commander, Wing Commander Leonard Cheshire, pioneered a controversial new low-level target-marking technique. The improved accuracy minimised civilian casualties when attacking targets in occupied territory.

In the autumn of 1944, 617 Squadron joined 9 Squadron in attacks with 12,000 lb 'Tallboy' bombs on the German battleship Tirpitz, moored in Norwegian waters. The first two attempts were inconclusive owing to cloud and smokescreens, but on 12 November they found Tirpitz with no protection. Sustaining two direct hits, the ship was shattered by an internal explosion and capsized.


File:An air gunner of No. 264 Squadron RAF about to enter the gun turret of his Boulton Paul Defiant Mk I at Kirton-in-Lindsey, Lincolnshire, August 1940. CH874.jpg

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The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (422318) Pilot Officer Walter Vincent Thurston, No. 98 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Second World War

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Charis May, the story for this day was on (422318) Pilot Officer Walter Vincent Thurston, No. 98 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Second World War.

422318 Pilot Officer Walter Vincent Thurston, No. 98 Squadron, Royal Air Force
KIA 12 June 1944
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 8 July 2015

Today we pay tribute to Pilot Officer Walter Vincent Thurston, who was killed on active service with the Royal Air Force in 1944.

Born in Coonamble in the rural central-western plains region of New South Wales on 3 July 1917, Walter Vincent Thurston was the son of Matthew and Sara Thurston.

Before his enlistment in the Royal Air Force on 26 April 1942, Thurston worked as an accounts clerk for the Vacuum Oil Company in Sydney. He also served for two years in the 30th Battalion of the Militia.

Upon enlistment Thurston began training as a pilot, and in November 1942 he embarked from Melbourne for overseas service. As part of the Empire Air Training Scheme Thurston was one of almost 16,000 RAAF pilots, navigators, wireless operators, gunners, and engineers who joined Royal Air Force squadrons in Britain throughout the course of the war.

Before arriving in Britain Thurston spent several months undertaking further specialist training in Canada. Arriving in Britain in September 1943, Thurston completed his training, and in March 1944 he was posted to No. 98 Squadron, Royal Air Force. A bomber squadron within the 2nd Tactical Air Force, No. 98 Squadron flew the twin-engine North American B-25 Mitchell medium bomber.

Following the D-Day Normandy landings on 6 June 1944, Thurston’s squadron operated in close support of the Allied ground forces. It was during this mission, in the very early hours of 12 June, that Thurston was killed in action.

Tasked with the job of dropping flares to assist other squadrons flying operations over the city of Caen in Normandy, the B-25 Mitchell in which Thurston was a pilot was shot down. Along with Thurston, two of the other three British and Canadian crewmembers were killed.

Thurston was 26 years old. His remains were recovered and he was buried with his fellow crewmembers in a common grave in the British and Commonwealth Banneville-la-Campagne War Cemetery in Normandy, France.

In a letter to Thurston’s father, the commander of No. 98 Squadron wrote that Walter Thurston:

was an extremely popular member of his squadron, and had earned the deepest respect and admiration of us all as a brave and efficient pilot. Both he and the other members of his crew were deeply missed.

Thurston’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, among some 40,000 Australians who died serving in the Second World War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Pilot Officer Walter Vincent Thurston, and all of those Australians – as well as our Allies and brothers in arms – who gave their lives in the hope for a better world.


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