MESSAGE FROM AIR MARSHAL SIR CHRIS HARPER
– PRESIDENT, NO 41 SQUADRON ASSOCIATION
What a momentous year this has been. The RAF – as you undoubtedly all know – has been incredibly busy on active operations. Nearly 2500 people have been deployed to more than 20 countries in support of 15 operations over 5 continents. I am sure that we all recall the horrendous use of Chemical Weapons by agents from the Russian Federation in our country in March, and by the Syrian regime in Douma in April. This, of course, was followed by precision strikes on Syrian Chemical Weapons installations by the RAF and other allies on 14 April. And, throughout the year, RAF Tornado and Typhoon aircraft and Reaper remotely piloted air systems have continued to conduct strike missions against Daesh targets in Syria and Iraq. They have been supported by Voyager and Hercules for logistic support; Sentinel, Sentry and Rivet-Joint for Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance; and an incredible number of ground support personnel from all trades.
The RAF has also been pivotally involved in NATO air policing in Romania and the Baltic States; in the ongoing effort to bring stability to Afghanistan, and in defending the skies of the United Kingdom and its territories through the 24 hour, 7 day a week QRA missions mounted from Coningsby and Lossiemouth in the UK and Mount Pleasant in the Falklands. As a Service we also contributed significantly to Exercise Saif Sareea III in Oman, and to Exercise Trident Juncture in Norway.
In the United Kingdom, the Royal Air Force’s “RAF 100” celebration of our centenary successfully touched nearly every home in the United Kingdom. The themes of Celebrate, Commemorate and Inspire were, I believe sensitively and highly effectively delivered with just the right balance of formal ceremony and informal outreach. Who will ever forget the coverage of the spectacular gala in the Albert Hall on 31 March, the incredible display of every Royal Air Force Squadron Standard in the Royal Courts of Justice on 1 April, and the once-in-a-lifetime events in Westminster Abbey, on and above Horse Guards and at Buckingham Palace on 10 July.
Of particular interest to us, No 41 Squadron has been incredibly busy at home and in the USA in furthering the operational capability of the Typhoon Force. That the RAF has derived by far the most advanced overall capability from this aircraft is due in no small part to the efforts of ‘our’ Squadron and its people. They deserve huge congratulations for all that they have achieved.
I do hope that all members of the No 41 Squadron Association will be able to draw breath, relax a little and share some precious time with families, loved ones and friends during the coming festive season. In thanking you for your ongoing support for our Association, may I wish you all a happy, peaceful and enjoyable Christmas and New Year. I do hope to be able to see you at an Association gathering in 2019.
Sir Christopher Harper KBE
No 41 Squadron Association
Much hard work by industry and the Royal Air Force has resulted in this moment:
We are grateful to those deployed around the world on Operations this Christmas time. The Armed Forces are active every day of the year and we think especially of those who cannot be with their families on Christmas Day.
I’ve been asked by a few old Fin mates to remind you all about the TGRF wind down events taking place early next year as the graceful old beast ceases active service. My guess is that most of the 41 Squadron GR4 team will have served on other Squadrons prior to their time at Coningsby, but just in case here are a few contacts and dates you might want to note down.
1 Group Email:
Fin Fest (via Face Book):
First Friday in February – usual place
28th Feb 2018 – flypast around former Tornado Stations and Hangar Party at RAF Marham
14th Mar 2018 – Disbandment Parade and Gala Dinner at RAF Marham
'NOBALL' TARGETS, 1943-1944
Tangmere's Spitfire XII Wing participated in a single Ramrod on 5 December 1943, which constituted the first ever Noball target not only by the Wing but also by Allied forces in general. ‘Noball’ was a code-name for targets related to the V1 flying bomb.
Allied intelligence of German rocket-propelled technology had been building for some months and significant data had been gathered by agents in Germany, Denmark and France, including photographs and sketches.
By late October 1943, sufficient concern had been raised to justify a decision to have RAF Photographic Reconnaissance squadrons photograph all of northern France. During the following month, the first photographs were obtained of ‘ski ramps’ and of ‘midget aircraft’ on one such ramp. By the end of November, 72 ski ramps had been photographed and, as a result, the British-American Combined Chiefs of Staff gave the order to launch “Crossbow Operations against Ski Sites” on 2 December.
The first attacks were planned for 5 December at St. Josse-au-Bois in the Pas-de-Calais and at Ligescourt in Picardie, which were the targets that the Spitfire XII Wing supported today. The Wing would support another eight such attacks during December 1943 (totalling nine out of 13 operations by the Wing that month), twenty-one in January 1944 (constituting every operation by the Wing that month) and another eight attacks during February (80% of the Wing’s operations).
By early 1944, the damage wrought by Allied attacks on Noball sites had compelled the Germans to move to mobile launch ramps, the first of which was complete by 25 February. By this time, however, the Spitfire XII Wing had been split up and although 41 Squadron supported another eleven attacks on Noball targets during March and April 1944, the unit was withdrawn from Ramrod operations altogether from 28 April. They were then deployed instead on ground attack operations in preparation for the launch of Operation Overlord.
It should be emphasised that, all this time, not a single V1 was launched against the United Kingdom and all the attacks that 41 Squadron, and indeed the Spitfire XII Wing, were involved in during late 1943 and early 1944 were of a purely precautionary and preventative nature.
However, whilst 41 Squadron was relieved of operations against Noball sites at the end of April 1944, it would only be a brief respite; less than two months later the Squadron was called upon again against the V1 – this time, however, in a defensive role against aerial targets rather than stationary ground targets.
[Excerpt from my "Blood, Sweat and Valour" (Fonthill, 2012). Sharing permitted, but no reproduction without prior permission, please.]
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