Tuesday, January 29, 2008

RAF Squadron histories

No. 52 Squadron saw three incarnations during the Second World War, of which only the second saw any combat, flying convoy escorts over the Mediterranean in 1943
No. 58 Squadron spent two thirds of the Second World War serving with Coastal Command, carrying out anti-submarine patrols with the Handley Page Halifax
No. 61 Squadron spent the entire Second World War as part of RAF Bomber Command, starting the war with the Hampden before converting to the Avro Manchester and finally the Avro Lancaster
No. 63 Squadron began the Second World War as a bomber-training squadron before being reformed with fighter aircraft, performing reconnaissance duties
No. 75 Squadron was a bomber squadron formed from the New Zealand Flight in 1940 and which operated with RAF Bomber Command until the end of the war.
No. 76 Squadron spent most of the Second World War flying the Handley Page Halifax with RAF Bomber Command.
With the exception of a short time spent with Coastal Command in 1942, No. 77 Squadron spent the entire Second World War operating with Bomber Command, flying first the Whitley and then the Halifax
No. 78 Squadron began the Second World War as a reserve training squadron, before beginning bombing operations in July 1940. It remained with Bomber Command for the rest of the war.
No. 82 Squadron began the Second World War equipped with the Bristol Blenheim, taking part in the Battles of France and of Britain, before moving to the Far East in 1942, fighting over Burma from 1943 to 1945.
No. 83 Squadron spent the first half of the Second World War as a night bomber squadron and the second half serving with the Pathfinders.
No. 85 Squadron began the Second World War as a day fighter squadron, taking part in the Battle of Britain, but in October 1940 it began night fighter operations, performing that role 1944, at which point it joined No.100 Group and carried out bomber support missions.
28 January

Junot and Soult

Andoche Junot was a flamboyant but temperamental French general and was probably the most able of Napoleon’s generals not to be created a marshal.
Marshal Nicholas Jean de Dieu Soult was one of the most able of all Napoleon’s marshals, rising from the ranks to become the Grand Old Man of the French Army, and only the fourth man to be created Maréchal-général of the French army.

Rolica, Vimiero and the surprise attacks on the Spanish border fortifications

The battle of Rolica, 17 August 1808, was the first battle during the British involvement in the Peninsular War, and the first victory for Sir Arthur Wellesley (the future duke of Wellington)
The battle of Vimiero, 21 August 1808 was the decisive battle of the first British expedition to Portugal during the Peninsular War and saw Arthur Wellesley defeat a French attack on his position
The French invasion of Spain of 1808 began with a series of surprise attacks on the key Spanish border fortifications start at Pamplona on 16 February 1808 and then Barcelona on 29 February 1808, San Sebastian on 5 March 1808 and finally Figueras on 18 March 1808

Badr, Mount Uhud and the battle of the Ditch

The battle of Badr (17 March 624 AD) was an early victory for the prophet Muhammad over the Quraysh tribe of Mecca
The battle of Mount Uhud (23rd March 625 AD) was a minor Muslim defeat in the period after the battle of Badr
The battle of the Ditch (627 AD) was the largest and last attempt by the Qurayesh tribe to defeat the Muslim forces of Muhammad.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Second World War RAF squadron histories

Our series of Second World War squadron histories continues with a look at No. 35 Squadron, the first RAF Squadron to use the Handley Page Halifax.
No. 37 Squadron used the Vickers Wellington for most of the Second World War, fighting in North Africa (1940-43) and Italy (1943-45)
No. 38 Squadron spent most of the Second World War flying the Vickers Wellington on anti-shipping duties in the Mediterranean
No. 40 Squadron had a varied career during the Second World War, beginning as a Fairey Battle squadron, flying the Blenheim during the Battle of France, before converting to the Wellington, spending most of the rest of the war in the Mediterranean
No. 44 Squadron was the first RAF squadron to be equipped with the Avro Lancaster bomber
No. 49 Squadron was one of the small number of Bomber Command units to use the Avro Manchester, the under performing precursor to the Lancaster.
No. 50 Squadron was part of Bomber Command's main bomber force during the Second World War.
No. 51 Squadron spend most of the war serving with the main bomber force of Bomber Command, with the exception of six months in 1942 when the squadron was loaned to Coastal Command

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Medina del Rio Seco, Epila and first siege of Saragossa

The battle of Medina del Rio Seco, 14 July 1808, was a French victory early in the Peninsular War won by Marshal Bessiéres against a much larger Spanish army.
The first siege of Saragossa, 15 June-13 August 1808, saw the Spanish successfully defend the almost unfortified city against a strong French attack, and was an early demonstration of the determination with which the Spanish would defend some of their cities.
The action of Epila, 23-24 June 1808, was a night battle that saw the French defeat a Spanish force attempting to raise the first siege of Saragossa.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

General Antoine Lasalle

General Antoine Lasalle was a talented French cavalry commander of the Napoleonic Wars who was killed leading his men at the battle of Wagram

Battles of Cabezon, Tudela, Mallen and Alagan, 1808

The battle of Cabezon, 12 June 1808, was a crushing French victory won against an inexperienced Spanish army under the command of captain-general Don Gregorio de la Cuesta.
The action at Tudela of 8 June 1808 was the first of three attempts by the Spanish to defeat or delay a French army that was marching towards Saragossa.
The action at Mallen, 13 June 1808, was the second of three Spanish attempts to stop a French army under General Lefebvre-Desnouettes from reaching Saragossa.
The battle of Alagon, 14 June 1808, was the third of three attempts made by Joseph Palafox, the captain-general of Aragon, to stop a French column under General Lefebvre-Desnouettes from reaching Saragossa.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

River Cabriels, Cabrillas Defile and first battle of Valencia, 1808

The action at the River Cabriels, 21 June 1808, saw a French army under Marshal Moncey sweep aside part of a small Spanish force that had been left to watch the northern route between Madrid and Valencia.
The action at the Cabrillas Defile, 24 June 1808, saw the defeat of the last Spanish attempt to stop a French army under Marshal Moncey from reaching Valencia.
The first battle of Valencia (26-28 June 1808) was one of a series of Spanish victories early in the Peninsular War. A French force under Marshal Moncey launched two assaults against the defenders of Valencia and was repulsed twice.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Sahagun, Benavente and Mansilla, 1808

The battle of Sahagun (21 December 1808) was a British cavalry victory during Sir John Moore’s campaign in northern Spain in the winter of 1808.
The battle of Benavente, 29 December 1808, was a rear-guard action during Sir John Moore’s retreat to Corunna.
The battle of Mansilla (30 December 1808) was a French victory over the rearguard of a Spanish army under General La Romana, fought during Sir John Moore’s retreat to Corunna.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

B-24 Liberator (part one)

The Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer was the most radical modification of the B-24 Liberator to see service during the Second World War developed as a maritime patrol aircraft for the U.S. Navy
A small number of the Liberators ordered by France were delivered to the U.S. Army as the B-24A.
The B-24C Liberator was the final development version of the aircraft, introducing a number of important developments into American production that would become standard on most of the aircraft to follow.
The B-24D was the first version of the Liberator to be mass produced and the first version of the aircraft to enter combat in large numbers with the USAAF.
The B-24 Liberator was produced in larger numbers than any other American military aircraft. This was achieved through the creation of the Liberator Production Pool which saw the aircraft produced at five factories run by three different companies, amongst them the massive Ford plant at Willow Run.
The B-24E was the designation given to B-24Ds built by Ford at their Willow Run plant.
The B-24H was the first production version of the Liberator to be built with a nose turret.

Oliver Law

Oliver Law was born in Texas on 9th July 1899. He was a somewhat controversial officer in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade which fought against Fascism during the Spanish civil war.
13 December


The 23rd Fighter Group replaced the American Volunteer Group, operating from bases in China from the summer of 1942 until the end of the Second World War.

The Fourteenth Air Force (USAAF) operated from bases in China, supporting the Chinese army against the Japanese.

The 7th Bombardment Group had an unsettling start to the Second World War when some of its aircraft arrived at Pearl Harbor during the Japenese attack. It eventually settled down to operate as a B-24 unit over Burma.
The 22nd Bombardment Group began the war as a medium bomber group, supporting the campaign in New Guinea, before switching to the B-24 Liberator in 1944, supporting the invasion of the Philippines.
The 43rd Bombardment Group fought with the Fifth Air Force, first from Australia and then in the campaigns that saw the reconquest of New Guinea and the Philippines.
19 December
The 80th Fighter Group performed ground attack missions in India and Burma from September 1943 to the end of the Second World War.
18 December
The 311st Fighter Group was one of only three groups to use the A-36 dive bomber version of the P-51 Mustang, operating in Burma and China.
17 December
The 33rd Fighter Group was one of the more widely travelled American Fighter Groups of the Second World War, fighting in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, China and Burma
The 51st Fighter Group spent most of the Second World War defending the two ends of the "Hump", the air supply route between India and China.
The 81st Fighter Squadron took part in the North Africa and Italian campaigns of 1943 before moving to China to join the Fourteenth Air Force.
The 341st Bombardment Group operated B-25 Mitchell's from bases in China and India, attacking ground targets in Burma and ahipping from China
15 December
The 6th Bombardment Group had two separate existences spending 1919-1943 defending the Panama Canal, before being reformed as a B-29 unit in 1944-45, taking part in the bombardment of Japan.
The 11th Bombardment Group fought in the South Pacific with the B-17 and then in the central Pacific with the B-24.
The 28th Composite/ Bombardment Group spent the entire Second World War in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands.
The 30th Bombardment Group began the war patrolling off the west coast of the United States before joining the Seventh Air Force during the advance across the Central Pacific.
We also add a brief history of the 5th Bombardment Group during the Second World War, the first unit outside the continental United States to receive the B-17 Flying Fortress.

War of 1812

Major General Isaac Brock, 1769-1812 was a British general who captured Detroit in 1812 before being killed at Queenston Heights
The battle of Lundy’s Lane was one of the hardest fought battles of the War of 1812. Although neither side won a clear cut victory on the day, the British held their ground against American attacks, forcing the Americans to abandon their campaign on the Niagara front.

Peninsular War

The battle of Baylen (19 July 1808) was a crucial Spanish victory early in the Peninsular War that encouraged both Spanish resistance and Napoleon’s enemies across Europe.
Pierre Dupont de L’Etang was a French general who fought in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. He was an able subordinate and division commander, but his first truly independent command, in Spain in 1808, led to defeat at Baylen, and to disgrace and imprisonment.
10 January
The battle of Oporto of 12 May 1809 was Arthur Wellesley’s first victory after his return to Portugal in April 1809 (Peninsular War)
The battle of Alcolea, 7 June 1808, was a French victory early in the Peninsular War won over an army of Spanish volunteers outside Cordova