148 Squadron R.A.F., was formed on 10 February 1918 as a night bomber unit at Andover, Hampshire, England,
equipped with FE2b and 2d aircraft. These were taken to the Western Front in April 1918, where it began attacks against German
airfields, communications and other targets behind the lines. It continued to operate the out-dated FE2s until the end of the
war and it eventually returned to the UK in February 1919, disbanding at Tangmere on 30 June 1919.
The squadron reformed on 7 June 1937 at Scampton as a light bomber squadron equipped with Audaxes. However, within a month
these had been replaced by Wellesleys, but it soon became obvious that this aircraft possessed inadequate defences for a European
war and these were replaced by Heyfords in November 1938. Modern equipment arrived in March 1939 in the form of Wellingtons,
however, the following month it became a Group Pool Squadron. In this role it acted as an operational training unit for the other
units in its group, operating Ansons as well as the Wellingtons, moving to Harwell on the outbreak of war, where on 9 April 1940
it was disbanded by being redesignated No 15 Operational Training Unit.
Following the entry of Italy into the war on 10 June 1940, detachments of UK bomber squadrons had been sent to Malta to carry
out attacks against targets in North Africa. Three of these detachments (from No 38, 99 and 115 Squadrons) were amalgamated into
a new No 148 Squadron on 14 December 1940 at Luqa. It continued its attacks against targets in Libya, Sicily and also the Italian
mainland, from Malta, until March 1941 when it moved to a new home at Kabrit in Egypt. From here it supported the 8th Army during
its battles for control of the North African Desert, operating from a number of desert landing grounds. On 7 December 1942 a
detachment of 12 Wellingtons was sent to Malta, leaving six at LG167 in Libya, which were transferred to No’s 30 and 70 Squadrons.
A week after arriving in Malta, the squadron disbanded, with the crews being absorbed by other units on the island.
Three months later on 14 March 1943, No 148 Squadron reformed at Gambut in the ‘Special Duties’ role, equipped with Halifaxes
and Liberators. It was now responsible for supplying Partisan groups throughout the Balkans and as far a field as Poland as well
as undertaking normal bombing missions when not otherwise occupied.
This third and final incarnation of No.148 Squadron was as a special duties squadron, formed from the Special Liberator Flight
(X Flight) at Gambut (Libya). This incarnation of the squadron used a wide range of aircraft, starting with the Consolidated
Liberator but then adding the Handley Page Halifax…. This version of the squadron carried out supply drops to resistance groups
across the Balkans. After a move to Italy in January 1944 the squadron also began to carry out pick-up missions. The squadron
was also used in an unsuccessful attempt to fly supplies to the besieged Poles in Warsaw.
It was after the move to Brindisi that 148 Squadron supported, with aircraft and logistical supplies, one of the most unique units in R.A.F. history.
This was the largely autonomous 1586 Flight Special Duties R.A.F. The unit was 'officially' a seconded flight to 138 Squadron, who solely operated
out of the United Kingdom, and flew missions from there, but with their 'second unit deployment' move to Brindisi, they could not be supplied from 138, due to distance,
and 148 took on that role, furnishing, Fuel, Ammunition, & the loan of Aircraft.
The unit was unique due to its aircrew. They were all men of the Polish Air Force in Exile, and retained their ranks and titles,
and adopted R.A.F. ones also. They carried out identical duties as 148 Squadron. They continued in this guise until October 1944, when the Unit became
301 Squadron P.A.F.
In this “Special Duties” mode 148 Squadron flew many different types of aircraft, such as the Lysander, mainly used for inserting
and extracting agents. The Dakota, used for heavy supplies, and large groups, as well as the Halifax, and the Liberator.
They wanted, and took only the most experienced crews.
Many of these aircraft were lost due to enemy fire, and fighters, and some, when on really clandestine operations, were lost
to Allied fire, simply because the mission was ‘too Secret’, to even let our own forces expect an unidentified, or unidentifiable
and unmarked aircraft, passing overhead in any direction, in the darkened sky.
If we were able to add up their WWII tonnage, we would get an impressive figure indeed, unfortunately there isn’t a figure
available, only that the squadron flew ‘approximately 3500 sorties in its 18 month existence in the “Special Duties” guise.
Some of their operations were so sensitive there are still no details available today.
"The life expectancy in the 148 Squadron was one month. Most of them weren’t coming back.
You knew your odds were slim to none. It was a job. We just did our job!"
(This observation was made by a 148 Squadron Canadian Veteran.)
With the end of the war in sight, the squadron re-equipped with standard bomber Liberators, moving back to Egypt in November 1945,
where it disbanded on 15 January 1946.