The Baedeker Raid on York

Air Defences for York

In 1942, Yorkshire had very few fighter stations.......the majority of airfields were used by Bomber Command.

Within the old county boundaries there were 41 RAF stations in Yorkshire........but, in April 1942, only one was occupied by Fighter Command in a combat role........RAF Catterick with its satellite, Scorton.

The fighter base at RAF Leconfield had reverted to Bomber Command Control, RAF Church Fenton and RAF Catfoss were occupied by Operational Training Units (OTUs) and a new station at RAF Hutton Cranswick was used for rest, re-equipping and additonal training.

On the night of the 28/29th April 1942 four RAF stations (shown in red) were tasked with intercepting the German bombers.

RAF Scorton (near Catterick) with 406Sqn was equipped with the Beaufighter VIF.
RAF Hibaldstow with 253Sqn was equipped with the Hurricane II.
RAF Hibaldstow with 1459 Flight equipped with Havoc IIs.
RAF Kirton in Lindsey with 133Sqn were equipped with the Spitfire VB.
RAF Coltishall with 68Sqn were equipped with the Beaufighter Mark IF.

406 (Lynx) Squadron

This was a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) unit based in Ayr but with a small detachment at RAF Scorton.
The "Most Secret" Fighter Command Order of Battle for April 1942 indicates that there were four Beaufighters based a RAF Scorton.
The full squadron didn't move to Scorton until 16th June 1942, approximately six weeks after the raid on York.

The squadron badge

This particular Beaufighter has the markings of 219Sqn which coincidentally was based at RAF Scorton........406Sqn used the letters "HV".
(photo credit: unknown)

The nightfighter version of the Bristol Beaufighter was equipped with Airborne Interception radar.
In conjunction with a GCI (Ground Controlled Interception) Controller it could locate an enemy aircraft at night.

253 (Hyderabad) Squadron

The squadron badge.

253 (Hyderabad) Sqn based at RAF Hibaldstow had a number of Free French Air Force pilots.
They were equipped with Hurricane IIs.

A Hurricane in nightfighter colours (this aircraft displaying LK is from 87 Squadron.
253Sqn used the letters SW).
(photo credit: unknown)

Hurricane night fighters lined up at RAF Hibaldstow (photo credit: Imperial War Museum)

1459 Flight

1459 Flight were also based at RAF Hibaldstow and flew as target illuminators for 253 Sqn's Hurricanes.

A Turbinlite Havoc based at RAF Hibaldstow (photo credit: Imperial war Museum)

The Douglas Havoc was equipped with Airborne Interception radar and an incredibly bright searchlight which, once located, would illuminate the target. The light was powered by a set of batteries with a life of less than three minutes. The Havoc was unarmed. 

133 (Eagle) Squadron.

The squadron badge

133 Sqn was an Eagle Squadron formed from American volunteers serving with the RAF.

At the time of the Baedeker Raids they operated from RAF Kirton in Lindsey in Lincolnshire.

This image shows the colour scheme for the night fighter version. The squadron shown here is 111Sqn. The 133 (Eagle) Squadron used the squadron code letters...."MD".
(photo credit: unknown)

68 Squadron

The squadron badge showing its strong Czech connection.

This squadron was based at RAF Coltishall in Norfolk.

68 Sqn always had a strong element of Czech pilots in exile with up to eight flying crews consisting entirely of Czech personnel. The motto translates as........"Always Ready".
They also flew the Bristol Beaufighter with the squadron letters......WM