The weekend 3-4 March, marked the 70th Anniversary of the first operational flights by Lancasters.

No 44 Squadron, based at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire were the first squadron to receive the Lancaster, with the first aircraft arriving on Christmas Eve 1941.

The second squadron to begin converting to the new type was No 97, based at RAF Coningsby. The two squadrons began their work up, both keen to be the first squadron to become operational. The honour fell to No 44. On March 3rd they received the signal, “four aircraft, each with four vegetables, to garden at Yams and Rosemary” This signal was code for operations to drop mines at sea, Yams and Rosemary being off the German coast near Wilhelmshaven. The four crews all returned safely from the operation.

In all, 7,377 Lancasters were built and flew more than 150,000 operational sorties. The BBMF Lancaster, PA474, is the only one still flying in Europe today. Lest we forget!

Royal Air Force News Team
Royal Air Force