No. 342 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

No. 342 Squadron (RAF): Second World War


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No. 342 Squadron (RAF) during the Second World War

Aircraft - Locations - Group and Duty - Books

No.342 (French) Squadron G.B. I/20 'Lorraine' was a French bomber squadron that carried out daylight bombing raids from 1943-44, then day and night bombing raids to support the invasion of Europe.

The squadron was formed on 7 April 1943 at West Raynham, around French personnel who had been transferred from the Middle East. They had previously been operating in two units, Escadrilles 'Metz' and 'Nancy', and A and B Flights in the new squadron took over those titles.

The squadron was equipped with Boston medium bombers. Operations began on 12 June 1943, and the squadron flew daylight raids over Northern France. Early in 1944 V-1 sites were added to the target list. As D-Day came closer the squadron took part in the campaign against communications and transport targets in France, intended to cut Normandy off from the rest of France.

After D-Day the squadron flew day and night, still against the same targets. In October the squadron moved to bases in France, to get closer to its targets. The squadron remained operational until 31 March 1945, at which point it paused to complete conversion to the Mitchell. These aircraft were only used for a short period - operations began on 9 April and ended on 2 May. The squadron remained in the Netherlands until 2 December 1945, when it was passed to the Armée de l'Air.

Aircraft
April 1943-April 1945: Douglas Boston IIIA
August 1944-April 1945: Douglas Boston IV
March-December 1945: North American Mitchell II
May-December 1945: North American Mitchell III

Location
April-May 1943: West Raynham
May-July 1943: Sculthorpe
July-September 1943: Great Massingham
September 1943-October 1944: Hartfordbridge
October 1944-April 1945: B.50 Vitry-en-Artois
April-December 1945: B.77 Gilze-Rijen

Squadron Codes: OA

Duty
1943-1945: 2nd Tactical Air Force, day and night bombing

Part of
6 June 1944: No.137 Wing; No.2 Group; Second Tactical Air Force; Allied Expeditionary Air Force

Books

Links

Fondation de la France Libre: French language site of the Foundation for the Free French.

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History

No. 342 Squadron was formed on 7 April 1943 at RAF West Raynham with personnel from the Free French Air Forces (Forces aériennes françaises libres) transferred from the Middle East, in particular the personnel of the French Escadrilles "Metz" and "Nancy". The squadron was part of No. 2 Group RAF of RAF Bomber Command and equipped with Douglas Mk IIIA Bostons (aka Douglas A-20C Havocs). They later moved with their sister squadron No. 88 Squadron to RAF Hartford Bridge.

The squadron flew low-level bombing and strafing missions over France and the Netherlands, in particular against V-1 bases in Northern France and selected sites connected with the preparation for D-Day.

In October 1944 the squadron relocated to France from where it continued to support the Allied advance. In March/April 1945 the Bostons were replaced by Mitchells and the squadron relocated to Holland. The squadron was transferred from RAF control to the French Air Force ( Armée de l'Air ) on 2 December 1945.



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