No. 582 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

No. 582 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No. 582 Squadron (RAF) during the Second World War

Aircraft - Locations - Group and Duty - Books

No.582 Squadron was a Lancaster-equipped Pathfinder squadron that served with Bomber Command's main force from April 1944 until the end of the Second World War.

The squadron was formed on 1 April 1944 around detachments from Nos.7 and 156 Squadrons, both members of the Pathfinder Force since 1942. The squadron became operational on 9 April 1944 and took part in the last year of Bomber Command's campaign – the last heavy bomber raid was an attack on an oil refinery at Tonsberg (Norway) on the night of 25/26 April 1945. During this period No.582 Squadron took part in 165 raids, mixing target marking and normal bombing operations. The squadron flew 2,157 sorties and lost 28 aircraft in combat during this period.

On 11 July 1944 a Lancaster of No.582 Squadron became the first to use Oboe equipment to control a heavy bomber raid. One Lancaster was equipped with the Oboe equipment, and was flown by Wing Commander G.F. Grant of No.109 Squadron, a Mosquito squadron that was already using the equipment. On this occasion the target was a flying bomb site at Gapennes, and the successful use of Oboe allowed Bomber Command's heavy bombers to greatly increase their accuracy.

Members of the squadron won two posthumous Victoria Crosses. The first came on 23 December 1944 during a daylight attack on the railway yards at Gremberg, Cologne. This was a small-scale raid with 27 Lancasters and 3 Mosquitoes, split into three formations, each with eight bombers, one Lancaster pathfinder and one Mosquito pathfinder. As this small force approached Cologne the cloud cleared and it was decided to abandon the Oboe raid, which involved a long straight run-in and instead allow the bombers to bomb visually. Squadron Leader R.A.M. Palmer D.F.C., one of the Pathfinders, didn't receive this order and continued with his Oboe run despite heavy and accurate flak. He dropped his bombs but his aircraft was shot down with the loss of everyone but the tail gunner. Squadron Leader Palmer was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery in pressing on, the only one to be awarded to an Oboe crew.

The second V.C. came on the night of 23/24 February 1945 during a raid on Pforzheim and was awarded to Captain E. Swales, a South African. He was operating as the Master Bomber for the raid. His aircraft was attacked by a German night fighter and two engines were knocked out. Despite this Swales stayed over Pforzheim until the end of the raid and only then turned for home. After about an hour the aircraft approached turbulent clouds that it was in no condition to navigate. Swales ordered his crew to bail out and stayed at the controls until the last man was gone. The aircraft then plummeted to the ground, killing him.

April 1944-September 1945: Avro Lancaster I and III

April 1944-September 1945: Little Staughton

Squadron Codes: 6O

April 1944-September 1945: Pathfinder Squadron, Bomber Command

Part of
April 1944-September 1945: No.8 (Pathfinder) Group


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Fritz Klingenberg was born in Meckelenberg on 17 December 1912. In 1934 he joined the SS-VT, attend- ing the SS-Junkerschule at Bad Tölz. As a young SS officer he was posted to the Germania Regiment. Within a short while, he became an inspector of the SS-VT under Paul Hausser. Klingenberg commanded a battalion of assault motorcycles after the campaign in the West, and it was with this unit that he gained fame as the man who captured Belgrade. With a small group of Das Reich men he took the city, simply by raising a swastika over the German Embassy and declaring the capital captured. Two hours later the mayor of Belgrade surrendered to Klingenberg, not knowing that sizeable German forces were some miles away and Klingenberg was virtually alone! For this audacious action Klingenberg was awarded the Knight’s Cross,that particularly annoyed the Army because the SS beat its elite Grossdeutschland Regiment to the Yugoslav capital. He moved back to the SS-Junkerschule at Bad Tölz in 1942, training young men to become officers in the Waffen-SS. In 1945 he assumed command of the 17th SS-Panzergrenadier Division Götz von Berlichingen. It was while leading this division that he was killed in action near Herxheim on 22 March 1945.

The German Twelfth Army had broken through a strong defense line of bunkers and antitank batteries then driven northwest 213 miles through the Morava Valley in seven days toward Belgrade. Other Wehrmacht units were closing in from the southeast, through Serbia where resistance had been the stiffest, and from the west, but all were beaten to the prize by a tiny unit of the hated rival, the Waffen SS.

A motorcycle assault company of the SS Das Reich Division led by Captain Fritz Klingenberg and attached to the German Second Army reached the opposite, north bank of the Danube on the morning of April 12, 1941. Though the river was flooded, Klingenberg located a motorboat and with a lieutenant, a pair of sergeants, and five privates grandly set off to conquer a capital.

They were nearly swamped, but crossed successfully. On shore they surprised a score of Yugoslav soldiers who, at the sight of them, just dropped their weapons and threw up their hands. When Yugoslav military vehicles arrived shortly afterward, Klingenberg fired on them, boarded, and then headed into the ruined city.

With no one to stop him, he made his way to the wreck that had been the Ministry of War, then drove on, weaving through the rubble, to the German Legation. It was untouched. The Luftwaffe had spared the blocks around it.

The military attaché, Robert St. John noticed, had not left, and Klingenberg ran up the Swastika at 5 PM to proclaim Belgrade’s fall. The mayor appeared two hours later with what little authority he had left to make it official, and the next morning German armor crunched the debris to make it final.

The last major city left, Sarajevo, fell two days later. Cruelly fitting, the Yugoslav government official who surrendered the country had signed Yugoslavia’s first capitulation to Hitler in Vienna just a month before-Foreign Minister Aleksander Cincar-Markovich.

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