Welcome to the home of the No. 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron Association
Fulmina Regis Iusta

Stacks Image 440947
Stacks Image 440943
No 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron was based at Waddington from June 1937 to May 1943, equipped with the Handley Page Hampden and the Avro Lancaster, and again from August 1960 until December 1982 with Avro Vulcan Mks 1 and 2. The addition of the word (Rhodesia) on the Squadron badge reflected the contribution to the war effort by the citizens of Rhodesia during WW II.   The Squadron Motto translates as ‘The King’s Thunderbolts are Righteous’.   No 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron Association was formed at Waddington on 22nd May 1982 in the middle of the Falklands conflict. However, the two events were not directly connected.

At the beginning of 1982 the decision was made that the final event in the history of the V-Force would be the simultaneous disbanding of Nos 44, 50 and 101 Squadrons at a major ceremony at Waddington on 1st July 1982. From this decision the then membership of the Squadron decided to form an Association prior to the disbandment day. The date chosen was 22nd May.   In the event, by late April 1982, when it was clear that aircraft and crews from all three Squadrons were becoming involved in combat operations in the South Atlantic, the 1st July disbandment plans were quietly dropped and no further decisions were made until some time after hostilities ceased.

On 22
nd May 1982 over 700 current and past members of the Squadron and their guests gathered at Waddington for a grand opening ceremony.   The Association was formed with Air Chief Marshal Sir Ruthven Wade, a former Squadron Commander, as its President and included many former Squadron Commanders.   The Guest of Honour was Mrs Betty Nettleton, widow of Wing Commander John Nettleton, VC, leader of the Augsburg Raid in which, on 17th April 1942, a force of 12 Lancasters made a low level daylight attack on the MAN diesel engine factory in Bavaria.   His name is reflected in the Station history, the main Operations Room and the Station Commander’s house.
Membership of the Association, which was open to all air and ground crew who had served on the Squadron, included men and several women who were posted to the Squadron after it reformed in 1937, the majority representing Lancaster aircrew from WW II.   The membership settled down at around 450 and has gradually reduced to a healthy 350 over the last 25 years.  As the number of WW II members has reduced they have been replaced by ‘Associate Members’ who include the wives and family of former members.   The Association now has Air Commodore Simon Baldwin MBE, the last Squadron Commander, as its President and is run by a committee of seven.   Their main task is to organise an annual reunion, which is held at Waddington to coincide with the anniversary of the May formation date.   Members travel to the reunions from all over the world; our most travelled member made the round trip from Australia each consecutive year for 25 years.

Three 44 Squadron Lancasters led by Colin Watt

A memorial stone to all those who gave their lives while on the squadron at Waddington was placed in the Remembrance Garden on High Dyke in 1986.   Plaques were erected in the churches of St Chad’s at Dunholme and Great Steeping, near Spilsby, in 1989 to mark the Squadron’s location from 1943 to the end of WWII.

Wreaths are laid at the memorial service at each reunion and again at each location on Remembrance Day in November of each year.
A close association has been formed with the William Farr School at Welton. When the Squadron left Waddington in May 1943 it reformed at RAF Dunholme Lodge, near Scampton.   Today the School, which is built on the former administrative site of the airfield on the edge of Welton village, is a thriving Comprehensive supporting some 1300 pupils.   In 2003, in concert with the Aircrew Association, 44 and 619 Squadron Associations, the Headmaster initiated a project to recognise the sacrifice made by allied airmen flying from RAF Dunholme Lodge. This resulted in a memorial and a Book of Remembrance being placed in the school, which records every individual 44 Squadron aircrew who lost his life while flying from Dunholme Lodge between May 1943 and September 1944.   The number is huge, 498, as that period saw the Battle of Berlin and all the flying in support of the invasion of Normandy during the spring and summer of 1944.   The Association presents an annual prize to the pupil adjudged by the School Council to have made the most significant contribution to the social wellbeing of the William Farr community.   In 2005, the close association between RAF Waddington and the school resulted in the new Officers’ Mess extension being named ‘The Dunholme Lodge’.

In the recent past the Association was invited to join with members of the 619 Squadron Association in sharing a memorial at Dunholme Lodge Farm.
  The memorial has a number of crew plaques including one commemorating John Nettleton’s crew lost in July 1943.
The King’s Thunderbolts - An Operational Record and Roll of Honour

No 44 Squadron’s Operational History was compiled from accounts by air and ground crew who flew and worked on the Squadron during both World Wars. The annex contains many accounts of aircrew who survived bale outs and some who evaded capture while on the run in occupied territory. It recalls vividly the experiences of those unfortunate enough to spend much of the Second World War in prison camps.

The title of the book comes from the Squadron’s motto “Fulmina Regis Iusta” (The King’s Thunderbolts are Righteous). There are 255 A4 pages and it is in a laminated softback form. The recommended retail price is £24, plus postage and packing. However, the price has now been discounted to £12, (a total of £16 including postage and packing for UK residents and £22 for overseas customers). To order a copy of this excellent book please send your remittance to Henry Horscroft, 9 Church Lane, Eagle, Lincoln, LN6 9DJ. E-mail: henry.horscroft@btinternet.com

Stacks Image 2

Photo Courtesy of Charles Toop

Photo Courtesy of Charles Toop

Stacks Image 441011