THE Banff Strike Wing enjoyed a spectacular success during its brief life
on the exposed north-facing coast of the Moray Firth. Six squadrons joined
forces to create an effective multi-national unit which denied Germany
many thousands of tons of vital iron ore and other supplies during
operations from RAF Banff between September 1944 and May 1945.
Under the command of Group Captain The Hon. Max Aitken, son of the then
Lord Beaverbrook, the mixed Mosquito and Beaufighter Wing mounted
concentrated attacks on German surface vessels and U-boats in the North
Sea and along the Norwegian coastline. Often penetrating deep into heavily
defended fjords to reach their anchored supply ship targets, which only
dared venture to sea under cover of darkness; the Strike Wing crews ran
the gauntlet of formidable anti-aircraft fire to achieve their goal.
Although their reputation was built on the outstanding capabilities of
both the Beaufighter MK. 10 and the Mosquito FB.VI, it was undoubtedly the
latter which became synonymous with the Strike Wing and eventually
equipped the RAF Banff based squadrons. Armed with a deadly mixture of
cannon and rockets the Wingís aircraft inflicted heavy damage on shipping.
The unit was unique because of the presence of 333 Sqn Royal Norwegian Air
Force as part of the Strike Wing. Their skills in the air and ability to
locate targets concealed in mountain-fringed fjords became one of the RAF
Banff unitís great strengths and helped the joint RAF, Norwegian and
Commonwealth aircrews who made up the unit achieve outstanding success in
the destruction of supply ships, flak ships and U-boats. Flying alongside
333 Sqn were 143 Sqn, 248 Sqn, 404 Sqn, 144 Sqn and 235 Sqn whose
losses were heavy. More than 80 RAF Banff Strike Wing aircrew died on
Banff Strike Wing which operated from RAF Banff in the closing months of
World War II, often jointly with the nearby RAF Dallachy Strike Wing
Beaufighter force, made a significant contribution to the defeat of
Germany by denying them vital raw materials.