158 Squadron Association

"Strength in Unity"

Squadron History

No. 158 Squadron Royal Air Force was formed on 4 September 1918 at Upper Heyford in the county of Oxfordshire. The Squadron was scheduled to receive Sopwith Salamander aircraft but may not have received any. The squadron did not see any action before the First World War came to an end and was disbanded in November 1918.

A detachment from 104 Squadron was sent to Malta in October of 1941. On February 14 1942 the remaining home contingent of 104 Squadron based at RAF Driffield in the East Riding of Yorkshire was renumbered and 158 squadron was reborn.

158 was attached to No 4 Bomber Group (RAF) and was initially equipped with Vickers Wellington Mk. II aircraft. The squadron flew its first operation of the war on 14 February 1942. On that date 7, 158 squadron Wellingtons along with 60 aircraft from other squadrons raided Mannheim. On 01 June 1942 the squadron flew its last operation with Wellingtons when 6, 158 Wellingtons joined with hundreds of aircraft from other squadrons for a raid on Essen. This was the second of the so called "thousand bomber raids" of the war.

In early June the squadron converted to the Handley Page Halifax Mk. II and was rebased at RAF East Moor in Yorkshire. 158 flew its first operation in Halifax aircraft on 25 June 1942 when 11 squadron Halifax aircraft joined in another thousand bomber raid, this time to Bremen. In November of 1942 the squadron was again moved, this time to RAF Rufforth. The squadron would call Rufforth home for a scant three months, moving again in February 1943 to RAF Lissett. Lissett would remain the squadrons home for the duration of the war.

In December of 1943 the squadron converted to the much improved Halifax MK III. 158 would fly the MK III for the rest of the war. Halifax Mk.VI. aircraft were brought on to the squadron in April 1945 and flew alongside the squadrons MK III aircraft on the last two operations that the squadron and the whole of No 4 Bomber group would fly during the war. After the cessation of hostilities in Europe, the Squadron was transferred to RAF Transport Command and rebased at RAF Stradishall in Suffolk. Here the squadron flew the Short Stirling in the air trooping role.

The end of the war against Japan led to the downsizing of the Royal Air Force and No.158 Squadron was disbanded on 1 January 1946.

158 squadron like most other RAF Bomber Command squadrons was composed of three flights, A, B and C of 8 aircraft each. The squadron was commanded by a Wing Commander and each flight was commanded by a Squadron Leader. Crews were posted to one of the three flights, A, B or C and usually spent their entire time with the squadron in the same flight.

On the 7th of January 1944 the men and aircraft (Halifax IIIs) of 'C' flight were detached from the squadron and used to form the nucleus of a new squadron, number 640 based at RAF Leconfield in East Yorkshire.

Although the majority of 158 crew were British there were men from many other nations who served with the squadron. Canadian and Australian crewmen were by far the most numerous of non-British personnel in the squadron numbering 384 (380 RCAF, 4 RAF) and 163 men respectively, many more came from New Zealand and there were also men from the U.S.A, Rhodesia, South Africa, Ceylon, The West Indies, Jamaica and Poland in the squadron.

Aircraft Types Flown By RAF 158 Squadron

Wellington MK II

Halifax MK II, MK III and MK VI




The Squadron Badge (above, top left) was granted under the Authority of His Majesty King George VI in October 1944. The seven chain links and the motto ‘Strength in Unity’ signify the combined strength and co-operation of the aircrew and support staff within the Squadron.

Numerous Honours and Awards were gained by members of the Squadron during its relatively short lifespan.

In 1989, at Bridlington, East Yorkshire, the Squadron itself was honoured when the Freedom of Entry into the town was granted to it the (then) East Yorkshire Borough Council.