Lancaster RAF debut – Into action with 44 Sqn

In a 2022 special publication on the Avro Lancaster Andrew Thomas tells the story of the Lancaster’s introduction to RAF service with 44 Squadron at Waddington

Seventy-five years ago the Lancaster went to war for the first time. After the failure of the twin-engined Manchester, much was expected of the new Avro type by the recently appointed Bomber Command leader, AM Sir Arthur Harris. The Lancaster was not going to let him down.

It was on Christmas Eve 1941 that the men of 44 Squadron at Waddington, near Lincoln, received an early present when the first three Lancasters were delivered. Led by Wg Cdr Roderick Leoroyd VC, the unit had been selected as the first to receive Bomber Command’s latest weapon.

Previously equipped with twin-engined Handley Page Hampdens, training on the complex new type began immediately. Additional aircrew were posted in to 44 Sqn as the Lancaster carried seven while the Hampden only had four.

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