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Episodes & Studies Volume 2

No. 113 Bomber Squadron

No. 113 Bomber Squadron

No. 113 Squadron also inflicted much damage on the enemy at this time. Six New Zealanders flew with the squadron—Squadron Leader P. Duggan-Smith45 and Flight Sergeant J. Keys46 (pilots) and Sergeants A. M. Dingle,47 J. Beard,48 E. Brooking,49 and J. B. J. McKenzie50 (navigators). On 7 January, the night of its arrival at Mingaladon from the Middle East, the squadron despatched ten Blenheims to carry out a raid on Bangkok in which 11,000 lb. of bombs were dropped on the dock area. This operation, undertaken so soon after arrival, was most creditable, particularly on the part of the navigators. Next day, because facilities at Mingaladon were poor, the Blenheims flew out to Lashio, near the Chinese border, to be serviced. They returned on 18 January and began operations at high pressure, both in support of the retreating army and in long-range bombing of enemy airfields and bases. Mesoht aerodrome was again attacked by shallow dive-bombing from 2700 feet, the runways being pitted and several fires started. In succeeding days the squadron's activities included strikes on the Thailand airfields at Tak and Messareing, whilst a transport convoy was attacked near Kawareik.

On 24 January another night raid was made on Bangkok, all serviceable aircraft participating. The Blenheims attacked singly at ten-minute intervals, bombing from 2000 feet with a war load of four 250 lb. bombs and four 25 lb. incendiaries. Large explosions and several fires resulted. An intense anti-aircraft barrage was again encountered over the target area, and two aircraft, including one navigated by Sergeant Dingle, failed to return. The Japanese retaliated with persistent bombing of Mingaladon, and No. 113 Squadron was withdrawn north to Taungoo in the Sittang Valley. A detached flight remained in the Rangoon area, being dispersed at Zayat Kwin and Johnny Walker satellite strips.

Operations now included attacks on enemy river traffic near Kado, north of Moulmein, as well as further raids on Bangkok. During the third week after its arrival No. 113 Squadron made 102 sorties and dropped 89,992 lb. of bombs on the enemy. Although, like the fighters, there were too few bombers to affect the final outcome materially, there can be no doubt that these operations did much to check the Japanese advance at a vital period.

Throughout February the squadron carried out a variety of attacks and hit the enemy wherever he could be found. River steamers, railways, barracks, troop concentrations and stores dumps all received attention, until on 18 February, after a month of continual flying, the land threat to Zayat Kwin made this airfield untenable and the detached flight was withdrawn to Magwe. The squadron continued to operate from Magwe until 7 March, when the fall of Rangoon and the advance of the enemy made it necessary to withdraw to India. From its new base the squadron continued to support the retreating army.

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