The Royal Air Force During World War 2
80 to 89 Squadrons

No. 80 Squadron

Squadron Codes: GK, EY, YK, AP, W2

Motto: STRIKE TRUE

The squadron first formed at Montrose on 10 August 1917 and went to France in January 1918. Conducting ground attack missions, the unit remained operational and in constant demand for the remainder of the war. Following victory, the squadron stayed in Belgium until the end of May 1919, when it went to Egypt, disbanding here on 1 January 1920 by renumbering as 56 Squadron.

 

Reformed at Kenley on 8 March 1937, the unit took on Gloster Gauntlets and Gladiators. As before, the unit received orders to go to Egypt, but upon landing here did not disband, and instead joined a Gladiator Fighter Wing with 33 Squadron. Together, the destinies of these two famous squadrons would be linked for much of the Mediterranean campaign. Flying over the desert, scouting for flat stretches of the ground to serve as landing grounds, the squadron was completely prepared for the war that was closing in on it.

 

When Italy entered the war on 10 June 1940, No 80 made ready to meet the Regia Aeronautica over the western desert. Pilot Officer Wykham Barnes flamed two Fiat CR42 fighters nine days later, in what was the squadron’s first encounter with the enemy. Charged with the night defence of Alexandria, the squadron’s ‘B’ Flight went with the army to the frontline. Not merely adapting to these tasks, the squadron became seasoned within just a few weeks, destroying a record 15 enemy planes on one occasion for only two losses. Hurricanes arrived that month to bolster the squadron’s ‘A’ Flight, but this turned into a liability, when the Flight was broken off to form 274 Squadron.

 

Meantime, the air action had stiffened. The courage of the pilots seemed to magnify. On 10 September, defending Mersa Matruh, Pilot Officer ‘Heimar’ Stuckey, having run out of ammunition while fighting Italian SM79 bombers, took out his Very Light flare gun and fired a round into the cockpit of one, bringing it down.

 

In November, the squadron went to Greece with 33 Squadron to defend that country against Axis ambitions. On the very first day of operations, it shot down 11 Italian planes. Approaching winter virtually grounded both sides until February 1941 when the action broke out on a magnified scale. Flying both Hurricanes and Gladiators, the unit also took on Germans who had joined the fight in March, exacting a crippling cost on them even though its airfields were being bombed on a near-daily basis. The squadron’s ‘B’ Flight alone scored more than 100 aerial victories, but in April, like the rest of the squadron, it retired to Crete in the wake of amassing losses, followed by withdrawal to Palestine.

 

Greece fell. The squadron spent the next few months in relative peace in Palestine, aside from operations against the Vichy French in Syria. Flying chiefly ground attack operations, and so drained by the Greek campaign that it shared pilots and machines with 208 Squadron, the unit achieved some success against Vichy French forces in the old city of Damascus. Returning to the western desert in November, however, the unit supported Operation ‘Crusader,’ the Allied offensive to  breakthrough to the port city of Tobruk, under siege from Axis forces. When the operation ended successfully, No 80 went to the Canal Zone to rest, but later protected British 8th Army supply lines and moved to Italy in January 1944, when it received orders to return home to England in March.

 

Equipped with Spitfire Mk IXs in England, the squadron began to escort bombers and fly fighter sweeps over Western Europe to the limit of the Mk IXs range. Hawker Tempests replaced the Spitfires in August 1944, allowing the unit to begin intercepting V-1 Flying bombs that summer. On 17 September, during Operation ‘Market-Garden’, the failed airborne assault to take the bridge at Arnhem in Holland, the unit attacked flak guns to aid paratroop-carrying transports, losing three pilots in the process. On the 29th, the unit left England for continental bases to extend its reach. Now frequently marauding over enemy airspace, they shot up targets of all varieties. By the end of this war, its tally amounted to 170 vehicles, 13 locomotives, 11 trucks and 254 enemy aircraft (37 of these were achieved while flying Tempests). Part of the forces of occupation after the war, the squadron later moved to Hong Kong, disbanding there on 1 May 1944.

​Aircraft

Gladiator Mk I – Mar 1937 to 1940

Gladiator Mk II – Nov 1940 to Mar 1941

Hurricane Mk I – Jun 1940 to Jan 1942

Hurricane Mk II – Jan 1942 to Apr 1943

Spitfire Mk Vc – Apr 1943 to Apr 1944

Spitfire Mk IX – Apr to Aug 1944

Tempest Mk V – 9 Aug 1944 to 1948

Squadron Commanders

S/L RC Jonas – Nov 1938 to Jul 1940

S/L PW Dunn, DFC – 5 Jul to 19 Aug 1940

S/L EG Jones – Aug to Sept 1940

S/L WJ ‘Bill’ Hickey – Aug to 19 Dec 1940 (KIA)

S/L EG Jones, DSO, DFC – Dec 1940 to Sept 1941

S/L TM Morgan, DFC – Sept to Nov 1941

S/L MM Stephens, DSO, DFC – Nov 1941

F/L NL Levers – Nov 1941 to Jan 1942

S/L JR Urwin-Mann, DFC – Jan to Apr 1942

S/L CRA Forsyth – Apr 1942

S/L H West – Apr 1942

S/L Dennison – Apr to Sept 1942

S/L DM Jack – Sept 1942 to Jul 1943

S/L RE Bary, DFC – Jan to Jul 1943

S/L JH Curry, DFC – Jul 1943 to Mar 1944

Maj. DH Barlow – Mar to May 1944

Maj. B Bjornstad, DFC – May to Jul 1944

S/L RL Spurdle, DSO, DFC* (NZ) – Jul 1944 to Jan 1945

S/L ED Mackie, DFC* (NZ) – Jan to Apr 1945

Maj. RA Henwick, DFC – Apr to Nov 1945

Airfields

Amriya, Egypt – 21 Apr 1939

Sidi Haneish South – 31 Aug 1940

Trikkala – 19 Nov 1940

Larissa, Greece – 4 Dec 1940

Lannina – 17 Jan 1941

Eleusis – 6 Mar 1941

Argos – 21 Apr 1941

Left for Egypt – 25 Apr 1941

Aqir, Palestine – 1 May 1941

Nicosia, Crete – 3 Jun to 20 Jul 1941 (Det.)

Haifa, Palestine – 3 Jun to 19 Jul 1941 (Det.)

Nicosia, Crete – 20 Jul 1941

Aqir, Palestine – 14 Aug 1941

Rayak – 9 Sept 1941

Gaza – 15 Oct 1941

LG.103 – 22 Oct 1941

LG.111 – 6 Nov 1941

LG.128 – 19 Nov 1941

El Gubi, Libya– 12 Dec 1941

Gazala No. 2 – 18 Dec 1941

El Adem – 27 Dec 1941

LG.109 – 3 Feb 1942

LG.102 – 11 Feb 1942

Gambut – 4 Mar 1942

LG.121 – 30 May 1942

LG.18 Fuka Main, Egypt – 21 Jun 1942

LG.92 – 27 Jun 1942

El Bassa – 21 Sept 1942

LG.85 – 12 Oct 1942

LG.37 – 21 Oct 1942

LG.13 – 11 Nov 1942

Bu Amud – 18 Nov 1942

Idku – 15 May 1943

Savoia, Mediterranean – 5 Jul 1943

St. Jean, Palestine – 12 Aug 1943

Derna, Libya – 1 Sept 1943

Kabrit – 9 Nov 1943

Madna, Italy – 21 Jan 1944

Canae – 23 Feb 1944

Naples – Feb 1944

Trigno – 13 Mar 1944

Sailed for UK – 10 Apr 1944

Sawbridgeworth, UK – 24 Apr 1944

Hornchurch – 6 May 1944

Detling – 19 May 1944

Merston – 22 Jun 1944

Manston – 9 Aug 1944

Coltishall – 20 Sept 1944

Gatwick – 27 Jun 1944

West Malling – 5 Jul 1944

B.70 Deurne-Antwerp, Belgium – 29 Sept 1944

B.82 Grave, Holland – 1 Oct 1944

B.80 Volkel – 7 Oct 1944

B.112 Hopsten, Germany – 16 Apr 1945

Warmwell, UK – 18 Apr 1945

B.152 Fassberg, Germany – 7 May 1945

B.160 Kastrup – 24 Jun 1945

Lubeck – 6 Sept 1945 to 31 Jan 1946

World War II Aces

  1. F/O Richard A. ‘Acky’ Ackworth (7½ Victories total, 3 with this unit) 1940 to Mar 1941 →112Sq

  2. F/Sgt. Charles E. ‘Cas’ Casbolt, DFM (13.3 Victories, 11.3 with this unit) 1938 to Sept 1941 →250Sq

  3. P/O William L. ‘Red’ Chisholm – Canada (7 Victories; 1½ with this unit) Jul to Aug 1942 →92Sq

  4. F/L Richard Nigel ‘Ape’ Cullen, DFC – Aust. (15½ Victories†) Sept 1940 to 4 Mar 1941 (KIA)

  5. F/L Roald Dahl (5 Victories†) 1940 to Jun 1941 →NCD Washington, USA

  6. S/L Patrick W. ‘Paddy’ Dunn, DFC (8.6 Victories, 2 with this unit) 5 Jul to 19 Aug 1940 →274Sq

  7. F/L Russell G. Foskett, DFC – Aust. (6½ Victories; 5½ with this unit) Jul 1941 to Mar 1943 →94Sq

  8. P/O Donald S. ‘Don’ Gregory, DFM (8 Victories†) 1938 to Apr 1942 →N/A

  9. F/Sgt. Allan J. Hancock (6 Victories; 2 with this unit) Jun to Late 1941 (Attached to this unit) →213Sq

  10. P/O Edward W.F. Hewett, DFM (16 Victories†) Early 1938 to 1942 →N/A. Later AFC.

  11. S/L Edward G. ‘Tap’ Jones, DFC (5 Victories†) Mar 1937 to Sept 1941 →NCD. Later DSO.

  12. F/L George Victor W. ‘Jimmie’ Kettlewell, DFC (5 Victories†) Early 1938 to to 20 Apr 1941 (WIA) →213Sq, N/A

  13. F/L Michael P. ‘Slim’ Kilburn, DFC (6½ Victories; 1 with this unit) Mar to Apr 1945 →CO 56Sq

  14. F/O John H. Lapsley (11 Victories; 3 with this unit) Early 1938 to 19 Aug 1940 →Flight became 274Sq

  15. F/L Sidney ‘Sid’ Linnard (6½ Victories, 2 with this unit) Dec 1938 to 21 Dec 1940 (WIA) →274Sq

  16. P/O Albert Littolf – Fr. (15 Victories total, 7 with Armee de L’air, 5 with RAF, 2 with VVS)

  17. S/L Evan D. ‘Rosie’ MacKie, DFC* – NZ (21½ Victories, 4½ with this unit) Jan to Apr 1945 →122Wing (DSO), NZ

  18. F/O Frank Mason, DFC (5 Victories†) Jun 1941 to Mid 1943 →NCD

  19. F/L John M. Morgan (7½ Victories; 2 with this unit) Jul to Aug 1942 (attached from 92sq) →92Sq

  20. F/L Marmaduke T.S. ‘Tom/Pat’ Pattle, DFC* – SA (50.6 Victories, 24.3 with this unit) Mar 1937 to Mar 1941 →33Sq

  21. F/L John A. Sowrey (6 Victories; 2 with this unit) Jun to Jul 1942 →Kenya, CO 336Sq, 131Sq (DFC)

  22. S/L Robert L. Spurdle, DSO, DFC* – NZ (10 Victories) Mar 1944 to Jan 1945 →Air-Ground control duties, Br 6th AB and 11th Armd Divs

  23. S/L Maurice M. ‘Mike’ Stephens, DSO, DFC* (20½ Victories; 1 with this unit, 2 unofficially with the Turkish AF in 1941) Nov to 9 Dec 1941 (WIA) →249Sq

  24. F/O Vincent A.J. ‘Heimar’ Stuckey (5.3 Victories†) Dec 1938 to 20 Jan 1941 (KIA)

  25. F/O William ‘Cherry’ Vale, DFC* (31½ Victories; 30 with this unit) Jul 1940 to 5 Jul 1941 →RAF Haifa, CFI 59OTU, CGS, 11AFS

  26. S/L Jefferson H. ‘Jeff’ Wedgewood (11 Victories; 1 with this unit) Jul 1941(Attached) →92Sq

  27. F/L George H. Westlake (10 Victories; 2½ with this unit) May to Oct 1941 (Attached) →213Sq

  28. Sgt. Frederick A.W.J. Wilson – Can. (8½ Victories; 1 with this unit) Jun to Aug 1941 (Attached) →213Sq

  29. F/L William J. ‘Timber’ Woods, DFC – Ire. (6½ Victories; 1½ with this unit) Jan 1941 to 20 Apr 1941 (KIA)

  30. F/O Peter G. Wykeham-Barnes (15½ Victories, 5½ with this unit) 1937 to Aug 1940 →274Sq

Hawker Hurricane Mk I, Greece, Early 1941 Marmaduke St. John ‘Pat’ Pattle – the RAF’s highest scoring ace of the war with at least 50 victories, flew this aircraft. During the chaotic withdrawal of the RAF from Greece in Mid-1941, lost and poorly-kept records credited Pattle with 34 victories. However, he may have destroyed as many as 60 or 62 enemy aircraft before his untimely death on 20 April 1941. Pattle died in a period of hectic activity, when after transferred to another squadron (No 33), he and his pilots found themselves engaged in a desperate battle against superior numbers. Suffering from influenza and fatigue, ‘Pat’ insisted on leading a combined force of 15 surviving Hurricanes from Nos 33 and 80 Squadrons against a large German raid over the Eleusis Bay, in what was his third sortie of the day. In the ensuing dogfight, he shot a twin-enginned Messerschmitt Me110 which had been attacking another squadron pilot, Flight Lt William ‘Timber’ Woods. Second later, he himself was hit from behind by another Me110. Pattle was seen slumped over the control panel as his flaming Hurricane fell into the sea. Woods also died. Flight Lt George Kettlewell subsequently destroyed Pattle’s attacker. (Photo: The South African Military History Journal)

No. 81 Squadron

Squadron Codes: FV, FL

Motto: NON SOLUM NOBIS (Not only by us)

This squadron first formed on 7 January 1917 at Gosport from elements belonging to 1 (Reserve) Squadron. Unfortunately, never made operational, the unit effectively disbanded on 4 July 1918, by renumbering as 1 Squadron, Canadian Air Force. Reformed on 1 December 1939 at Mont Joie from the Air Component Communications Squadron, the unit took on the role of its precursor, flying communications sorties (i.e. carrying messages, dispatches and information) in France. The unit returned to England just five days before the German attack on 10 May 1940, disbanding here on 15 June.

 

The unit then had to wait for over a year to reform. This occurred on 29 July 1941 with Hawker Hurricanes at Debden from the ‘A’ Flight of 504 Squadron. Soon, the unit was headed to Russia aboard the old fleet carrier HMS Argus on 12 August as a part of the Wing Commander Irshwood-Botham’s 151 Wing. Based at Vaenga near the port of Murmansk, the squadron became operational on 12 September, claiming its first Eastern Front kills that day, shooting down three Messerschmitt Me109s escorting a Hs126, which was damaged. Combat operations continued, and by 20 November, they had destroyed 13 German planes. From now, however, the unit began to training Russian pilots on the Hurricane, and leaving their mounts behind when they sailed for England on the 29th.

 

Gathering at Turnhouse, they converted to Spitfires. Operational missions began in February 1942. Later in the year, orders came through transferring them to North Africa and on 30 October, the squadron moved to Gibraltar. Equipped with tropicalized Spitfires, the unit went to Algeria with the assaulting Anglo-Americans forces in November, landing at Maison Blanche on the 8th. In action on the next day, the squadron shot down 11 Ju88s near Algiers. But four days later, it was the squadron’s turn to take a beating, when it was attacked on the ground at Bone airbase by German raiders. Heavy losses were replaced with new pilots and aircraft and the squadron returned to the fray, later turning to attack German transport aircraft flying into North Africa from Sicily. On 22 April, its most memorable day, it shot down 21 Me323 Gigant powered gliders.

 

Deployed on Malta in June, the squadron saw action during the Sicilian campaign, later operating over Salerno on 25 September. With southern Italy secured, the unit transferred its area of action to the Adriatic and eventually left for India in November. Equipped with Spitfire Mk VIIIs before leaving Italy, the squadron arrived at Alipore, India, on 8 December and was attached to 221 Group where it was heavily committed in action while supporting the British-Indian army's IV Corps in east India. Flying with the Group’s 170 Wing from January 1944, the unit took part in the bloody Second Arakan campaign, with its primary focus being to protect transports dropping supplies on the famous ‘Admin’ Box. A new crop of squadron aces now appeared, as Japanese fighters attempted to intervene with the supply drops. In March, the unit left the Arakan peninsula to support the Chindit base ‘Broadway’, based behind enemy lines beyond the Chindwin River.

 

Operating a small detachment from the rudimentary airstrip at the Chindit landing site, ‘Broadway’, the unit came under attack by 30 Japanese fighters in the third week of that month. Getting airborne, the detachment managed to destroy four, but were in turn, virtually destroyed themselves by more Japanese raiders on the following day. The survivors pulled back to India. Scraps with Japanese fighters and anti-aircraft fire continued until August, when it left India for Ceylon. Remaining in this veritable ‘rear area’ until May 1945, the unit defended Calcutta afterwards, disbanding there on 20 June 1945.

 

Reformed that same day at Bobbili by renumbering 123 Squadron, it took over No 123’s Thunderbolts and joined the army in retaking the rest of Burma, before readying for the invasion of Malaya. The Japanese surrendered before the invasion could be launched and the unit moved to Malaya in October. Later deploying in the Dutch East Indies, the squadron disbanded on 30 June 1946 at Kemajoran in Malaya.    

​Aircraft

Cierva C40 – Dec 1939
Hurricane Mk IIB – Aug to Nov 1941
Spitfire Mk Va – Dec 1941 to Apr 1942
Spitfire Mk Vb – Apr to Oct 1942

Spitfire Mk Vc – Oct 1942 to Nov 1943
Spitfire Mk IX – Dcember 1942 to Nov 1943
Spitfire Mk VIII – Nov 1943 to Jun 1945

Thunderbolt Mk II – Jun 1945 to Jun 1946

Squadron Commanders

S/L GR Ashton, DFC – Sept 1939 to Mar 1940

S/L JH Hill – Mar to 15 Jun 1940

S/L AH Rook – 29 Jul 1941 to Jan 1942

S/L R Berry, DFC – Jan 1942 to Feb 1943

S/L CF Gray, DFC (NZ) – Jan to Jun 1943

S/L WM Whitamore, DFC – Jun 1943 to 17 Mar 1944 (KIA)

S/L JV Marshall, DFC – Mar to Oct 1944

S/L Tofield – Oct 1944

S/L CM Sylvester – Oct 19434 to Jun 1945

S/L AJ McGregor – Jun to Jul 1945

S/L PA Kennedy, DFC – Jul 1945 to Jun 1946

Airfields

Amiens-Mont Jois, France – 1 Dec 1939

Andover – 5 May to 15 Jun 1940

Leconfield – 29 Jul 1941

Vaenga, Russia – 7 Sept 1941

Turnhouse, UK – 6 Dec 1941

Ouston – 6 Jan 1942

Turnhouse – 14 Feb 1942

Ouston – 15 Mar 1942

Turnhouse – 29 Mar 1942 (Dets at Drem, Ouston & Ayr)

Ouston – 13 Apr 1942 (Det at Ayr)

Hornchurch – 14 May 1942

Fairlop – 17 Jul 1942

Wellingore – 1 Sept 1942

Maison Blanche, Algeria – 8 Nov 1942

Bone – 13 Nov 1942

Constantine – 5 Jan 1943

Tingley, Tunisia – 26 Jan 1943

Souk-el-Khemis (Paddington) – 17 Mar 1943

La Saebala I – 12 May 1943

Utique – 20 May 1943

Takali, Malta – 3 Jun 1943

Lentini, Sicily – 18 Jul 1943

Milazzo – 6 Sept 1943

Serretelle, Italy – 23 Sept 1943

Gioia del Colle – 10 Oct 1943

Alipore, India – 8 Dec 1943

Tulihal – 7 Jan 1944

Ramu (Reindeer I) – 9 Feb 1944

Tulihal – 19 Feb 1944

Kangla – 29 Feb 1944 (Det at Chindit base ‘Broadway’)

Tulihal – 2 Mar 1944 (Dets at Kangla, Palel & Kumbhirgram)

Kumbhirgram – 28 Apr 1944 (Dets at Kangla & Imphal)

Minneriya, Ceylon – 10 Aug 1944

Ratmalana – 15 Dec 1944

Amarda Road, India – 27 Apr 1945

Bobbili – 10 Jun 1945

Vizagapatnum – 30 Aug to 25 Sept 1945

World War II Aces

  1. S/L Roland ‘Ras’ Berry, DSO, DFC* (17 ¾ Victories, 4½ with this unit) Jan 1942 to 22 Jan 1943 →322Wing (two last kills with this unit, excluding six Me109s destroyed on the ground on 7 May 1943)

  2. Capt. Robert J.P. Collingwood – SA (5 Victories; 1 with this unit) Oct 1943 to May 1945 →1SAAF Sq

  3. F/O Lawrence F.M. ‘Larry’ Cronin, DFC – Aust. (5 Victories†) Nov 1942 to Late 1944 →Australia 2 OTU

  4. F/L Robert W.R. ‘Bob’ Day – Can. (5½ Victories; 3½ with this unit) Dec 1943 to Aug 1944 →67Sq 

  5. P/O Harry E. Fenwick, DFC – Can. (5½ Victories†) Feb 1942 to May 1943 →OTU, 401Sq (KIA 21 Jun 1944)

  6. S/L Colin F. Gray, DFC* – NZ (27.7 Victories, 5 with this unit) Jan 1942 to Jun 1943 →322Wing (last 5 kills with this unit), Training UK, FLS, Detling Wing. Later DSO, second * to DFC.

  7. F/O Ronald A. Hagger (7 Victories; 1 with this unit) Feb 1941 to Oct 1942 →81Sq

  8. F/O Douglas F. Husband (5.3 Victories; 1.3 with this unit) Feb 1942 to Jun 1943 →401Sq

  9. F/O William I.H. Maguire – Rhodeasia (14 Victories; 7 with this unit) Dec 1942 to Aug 1943 →154Sq

  10. F/L Alan M. Peart, DFC – NZ (6.3 Victories†) Nov 1942 to Late 1944 →NCD India

  11. F/L James E. Walker, DFC – Can. (9½ Victories; 4½ with this unit) Late 1941 to Feb 1943 →243Sq

  12. S/L William M. ‘Babe’ Whitamore, DFC (10½ Victories; 5 with this unit) Jul 1943 to 17 Mar 1944 (KIA)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vc, Lentini, Sicily, July 1943 No 81 Squadron arrived in North Africa in November 1942, taking possession of Spitfire Mk IX’s in December – making it the first Spitfire IX squadron in that theater. In addition to the Mk IXs, the unit also retained their earlier Mk V’s in operations until late 1943. On an interesting note, the squadron took painting some of its aircraft with the ‘Ace of Spades’ insignia. This insignia, originally adopted during the North African campaign is believed to have been copied from the emblems sported by German Messerschmitt Me109’s of Jagdgeschwader 53, which was based in Italy.

No. 82 (United Provinces) Squadron

Squadron Codes: OZ, ES, UX

Motto: SUPER OMNIA UBIQUE (Over all things everywhere)

Unofficially known as "Coventry’s own Squadron," No 82 first formed on 7 January 1917 at Doncaster in Yorkshire. Moving to France as a corps reconnaissance squadron in November, the unit disbanded after the war on 30 June 1919 in England.

 

Reformed on 14 June 1937 from ‘B’ Flight of 142 Squadron as a day bomber squadron, the unit took on Hawker Hinds. Bristol Blenheims arrived in March 1938, and the unit flew these at the onset of the Second World War in September 1939, operating within No 2 (Light Bomber) Group. Initial ops revolved around photographic reconnaissance missions over Germany, but then the action switched to attacks on German army troop columns during the Blitzkrieg of mid-1940. This was no light matter. On May 17, twelve of the squadron's Blenheims were ordered to attack German forces near Gembloux, France, but its fighter escorted failed to show up and the squadron found itself at the mercy of German Messerschmitt Me109 fighters. Eleven of the Blenheims were blasted from the sky, with 22 aircrew being killed and three being captured.

Aghast, its commander, the Earl of Bandon, ordered it to be reformed within 48 hours and the unit returned to the fray with new planes and new faces. When France fell, the unit began to scour the English Channel for invasion barges threatening England. It achieved some notable successes in these naval operations. On 1 March 1940, for instance, it sunk the German U-boat, U-31 off Borkum.The U-boat was later salvaged and returned to service, only to be depth-charged and sunk by destroyer HMS Antelope in the Atlantic on 2 November.

Meantime, as the squadron continued to pound German occupied airfields in western airfield and invasion barges, it found itself once again, un the danger of being wiped out. On August 13, during an attack on the German-held airfield at Aalborg, Denmark, the squadron again lost eleven Blenheims out of 12 sent on the raid. This time, the squadron's new commander, Wing Commander Edward Collis de Virac Lart was also killed. Once again, the squadron was reformed.

The following year, on 18 April, the entire squadron detached to Coastal Command, returning to 2 Group on 23 May 1941. A detachment went to Malta in June to attacking enemy shipping the area, but this detachment was absorbed by other squadrons on the island. FInally, in March 1942, the squadron was absolved of its England commitments and was transferred to India. In all, during its time with 2 Group in England, the unit had flown 200 bombing and 10 photo-reconnaissance missions, but in those 1,436 sorties, they lost 62 Blenhiems to enemy fire – a loss of 4.3 percent that represented the highest losses among any of Bomber Command’s Blenheim squadrons. Meantime, In India, the unit, without any aircraft, languished until August when American-made Vultee Vengeance arrived. The Vengeances, dive-bombers built in the wake of German successes with the Junker Ju87 Stuka, proved largely useless against submarines, and the unit began to dive bomb land0targets in Burma instead from June 1943.

Equipped with De Havilland Mosquitos from July 1944, the unit began to support the army by targeting enemy positions and strongholds. Operations ceased on 12 May 1945, when the unit withdrew from frontline duty in readiness for the allied invasion of Malaya. The Japanese surrender circumvented this plan and the squadron remained in India, disbanding on 15 March 1946.

​Aircraft

Blenheim Mk IV – Mar 1938 to Aug 1942

Vengeance – Aug 1942 to Jul 1944

Mosquito FB Mk VI – Jul 1944 to Mar 1946

Squadron Commanders

W/C SH Ware – Jul 1939

W/C The Earl of Bandon – Dec 1939

W/C EC de Virac Lart – Jul 1940

W/C JC MacDonald – Aug 1940

W/C SC Elworthy- Dec 1940

W/C LVE Atkinson – May 1941 to N/A 1942

Airfields

Watton, UK – 25 Aug 1939

Bodney – 1 Oct 1940

Lossiemouth – 18 Apr 1941

Bodney – 3 May 1941

Luqa, Malta – 1 Jun 1941 (Det)

Left for India – 21 Mar 1942

Karachi, India – 24 May 1942

Quetta – 11 Jun 1942

Cholavarum – 6 Jul 1942

Karachi – 2 Jul to 28 Oct 1942 (Det)

Madhaiganj – 26 Feb 1943 to 5 Mar (Det)

Madhaiganj – 5 Mar 1943

Asanol – 12 Apr 1943

Salbani – 23 May 1943

Chittagong – 31 May to 29 Jun 1943 (Det)

Feni (Air ech) – 8 Aug 1943

        (Grnd ech) – 13 Aug 1943

Dohazari – 21 Nov 1943

Jumchar – 22 Janaury 1944

Kumbhirigam, Burma – 20 Mar to 9 Apr 1944 (Det)

Kolar, India (Air ech) – 25 May 1944

                     (Grnd ech) – 8 Jun 1944

Kolar (Air ech) – 25 May 1944

          (Grnd ech) – 8 Jun 1944

Ranchi – 5 Oct 1944

Chharra – 13 Dec 1944

Kumbhirigam – 19 Dec 1944

Joari – 26 Apr 1944

Cholavarum – 4 Jun to 13 Oct 1945

No. 83 Squadron

Squadron Codes: QQ, OL, C8

Motto: STRIKE TO DEFEND

The squadron first formed on 7 January 1917 at Montrose in Scotland, and went to France in February 1918. Bombing by night and conducting reconnaissance during the war, the squadron returned to Britain as a cadre in February 1919, disbanding on the last day of the year.

Reformed on 4 August 1936 at Turnhouse, the squadron was initially equipped with light Hawker Hind biplanes for bombing but was outfitted with Handley-Page Hampden bombers in November 1938. It was designated as a heavy bomber unit within 5 Group – a formation that it began the war with in September 1939. On the first day of the war, six Hampdens flew a sweep over the North Sea, but successes, both in bombing efficiency and mission completion did not come easily. It was not until April 1940, following a short transfer to Coastal Command in February/March, that the unit found its footing, being granted greater freedom in the range of missions. Although much of April was spent ‘Gardening’, the RAF’s innocuous name for mine-laying, the squadron, in August, took part in an attack on an aqueduct on the Dortmund-Elsm Canal, during which Flight Lt Learoyd of 49 Squadron won the Victoria Cross (VC). In September, the squadron earned its own VC when an18-year old Wireless Operator by the name of John Hannah single-handedly put out the flames eating his Hampden, allowing the pilot to return the shattered wreck of a bomber home safely.

Meantime, in August, the unit had also attacked Berlin for the first time in the war, destroying German Reichsmarchall Hermann Göring’s boasts that the capital would never be touched by allied bombs. It also attacked the German capital ships, Scharnhorst, Tirpitz and von Scheer, but with little result.

Equipped with Avro Manchester’s in December 1941, the unit found the aircraft superior to the Hampden, but still not good enough. When improved Avro Lancasters were delivered in May, the squadron was glad to get them. The arrival of the Lancasters coincided with the squadron’s deployment to Wyton airfield in mid-August to join the newly-formed Pathfinder Force, a rare honor considering that only one highly-regarded squadron from five Bomber Groups were transferred.

Its first pathfinding opertion occurred on the night of the 18th, on Flensburg, which proved a complete disaster. Mistaking a Danish settlement for Flensburg, sixteen pathfinders dropped their flares, marking the target for the following main force. Bombs from the seventy-eight following bombers hit the Danish towns of Sønderborg and Abenra, destroying 26 houses and wounding four civilians. Uncowed by their initial failures, pathfinder efforts continued. Later in the year, the unit participated in ten raids aimed at Genoa and Turnin in northern Italy – raids that involved flights of 1,400 miles.

 

The following year, the squadron returned to Berlin, dropping new 250lb TI (Target Indicator) flares. It played a major role in the following Battle for the Ruhr, starting in March, which cost many crews their lives. Hamburg was torched in devastating fire raids in July and August and 17/18 August, fifteen 83 Squadron Lancasters, led by the CO, Group Captain JH Searby, marked the German research station at Peenemunde.

 

In April 1944, the unit left the pathfinders and returned to 5 Group, to pathfind for the group on independent raids. Attacking rail targets in France, Belgium and Germany before the allied invasion at Normandy, the squadron bombed gun batteries at La Pernelle on the Normandy coast on the night of 5 June, just hours before allied divisions assaulted the beaches the following morning. Three days later on the night of 8 June, four squadron Lancasters carrying bombs instead of flares, blocked in the Saumur tunnel, a vital transit point for an SS Motorized Division, which delayed the division's deployment on the Normandy battlefield.

The squadron carried out its last raids in April, ending the European war in May. During nearly five and half years of war, the squadron had earned 429 military decoratons and honors, including Hannah’s VC, one OBE, one MBE, 29 DSOs, 209 DFCs with 36 bars, one CGM, 147 DFMS with 3 bars and one DCM. The unit survived for a time in the post-war RAF, but disbanded on 14 June 1954, when it was turned into a radar aids squadron.

​Aircraft

Hampden Mk I – Nov 1938 to Jan 1942

Manchester Mk I – Dec 1941 to Jun 1942

Lancaster Mk I & III – May 1942 to Jul 1946

Squadron Commanders

W/C RB Jordan – Aug 1939

W/C LS Snaith – Oct 1939

W/C JC Sisson – N/A

W/C DA Boyle – Dec 1940

W/C WW Stainthorpe – Feb 1941

W/C RAB Learoyd – Feb 1941

W/C HV Satterly – Jun 1941

W/C SO Tudor – Sept 1941

W/C MD Crichton-Biggie – Apr 1942

W/C JR Gillman – Feb 1943

G/C JH Searby – May 1943

W/C R Hilton – Nov 1943

W/C W Abercomby – Dec 1943

G/C LC Deane – Jan 1944

G/C JA Ingham – Aug 1944 to N/A 1945

Airfields

Scampton, UK – 14 Mar 1938

Lossiemouth – Feb to Mar 1940 (Coastal Command)

Wyton – 15 Aug 1942

Conningsby – 18 Apr 1944 to 5 Oct 1946

Operational Performance

 

Raids Flown

5 Group Hampdens – 205 bombing, 72 minelaying, 6 ‘night-fighter’ over English cities.
5 Group Manchesters – 21 bombing, 10 minelaying, 2 leaflet
5 Group Lancasters – 26 bombing, 8 minelaying, 1 leaflet – (May to Aug 1942)
8 Group Lancasters – 167 bombing
5 Group Lancasters – 105 bombing – (Apr 1944 to May 1945)

Totals: 524 bombing, 90 minelaying, 6 ‘night-fighter’, 3 leaflet = 623 raids

 

Sorties and Losses

5 Group Hampdens – 1,987 sorties, 43 aircraft lost (2.2 percent)
5 Group Manchesters – 152 sorties, 9 aircraft lost (5.9 percent)
5 Group Lancasters – 262 sorties, 4 aircraft lost (1.5 percent) – (May to Aug 1942)
8 Group Lancasters – 1,740 sorties, 56 aircraft lost (3.2 percent)
5 Group Lancasters– 1,380 sorties, 31 aircraft lost (2.2 percent) – (Apr 1944 to May 1945)

Totals: 5,521 sorties, 143 aircraft lost (2.6 percent)

An additional 25 Lancasters were destroyed in crashes.

The Victoria Cross
Sergeant John Hannah, Scotland, Survived, Age 18

On the night of 15 September 1940 over Antwerp, Belgium, after a successful attack on German barges, the Hampden bomber in which John Hannah was a wireless operator and air gunner, came under intense anti-aircraft fire.

 

An incendiary shell plunged into the aircraft scoring a direct hit. A quick fire spread over the aircraft. Thinking it hopeless, the tail gunner and the navigator bailed out. Instead of going with them Hannah decided to stay behind to combat the flames. The pilot, Pilot Officer Connor, decided to also stay behind and fly the aircraft while Hannah dealt with the flames.

Using up two extinguishers, Hannah went at the fire with his bare hands. An intense heat swept the inside of the Hampden, which began cooking off machinegun ammunition. Almost blinded by the intense conflagration which threatened to overcome him, Hannah pulled back slightly. By now, the fire had eaten away at the aluminium sheet metal covering the floor, leaving only the structural spars intact. With nothing to spread on, the fire began to mitigate slightly, and Hannah seized his chance. Although badly burned, he managed to smother the remaining flames and Connor was able to return the wrecked bomber to England, landing safely.

Hannah remains the youngest airman to be awarded the Victoria Cross. However, his injuries prompted a deterioration in his health and he was discharged from service with a full pension in 1942. He died in 1947. His pilot, Connor was awarded the DFC for the same mission, while Hayhurst, the navigator, received the DFM in absentia.

Avro Lancaster Mk I (Early), RAF Wyton, 1942 This Lancaster formerly served with 207 Squadron as evidenced by the painted-out unit codes EM-R. This is an early production version of the Lancaster and incorporates four Rolls-Royce Merlin X engines

No. 84 Squadron

Squadron Codes: UR, PY

Motto: SCORPIONES PUNGUNT (Scorpions sting)

The squadron first formed in January 1917 at Beaulieu in Hampshire, moving to France in September 1917 as a fighter squadron, seeing action over Cambrai, Somme and the Hindenburg Line. After victory, the unit returned to England as a cadre in August 1919, disbanding on 30 January 1920.

 

Reformed on 13 August 1920 at Baghdad as a light bomber squadron, the unit policed the area until the outbreak of war in the Mediterranean. Soon, it was in Egypt but then it received order to go to Greece with an RAF contingent in November. That campaign was a fiasco. By when the unit returned to the Middle East in April 1941, it had suffered heavy losses after having being drummed out by the Germans. Going to Iraq for a short rest, the unit went back to the western Desert in November. It operated there until January 1942, the Japanese invasions in the Far East prompted British High Command to considering bolstering it Asian forces with units from North Africa.

 

No 84 was among those squadron cut orders to go east. Joining battered RAF remnants in Sumatra at the end of January, the unit hurriedly evacuated following the Japanese landings in February. Most of the ground crews and non-essentials got away by ship to India, but rest dispersed on 1 March, falling into captivity. Only a few air crews made it to friendly territory.

Meantime, In India, the escaped echelon formed the core for a new 84 Squadron. Equipped once again with Bristol Blenheims, the unit was told that it would be equipped with Vultee Vengeance dive bombers and consequently relinquished their Blenheims in June. But the Vengeances took until December to arrive. It was 16 february 1944 before the unit finally went into action on the Burma front, after spending nearly a year training on their new-bombing trade.

Capable DeHavilland Mosquitos arrived on 16 July to replace the Vengeance's, but when these early Mosquitos proved largely unreliable in the humid environment of India-Burma and the unit fell into inaction once again. Virtually out of the war by now, the unit heard about the Japanese surrender in September 1945 while it was on training grounds. Subsequently deployed to Singapore, the squadron equipped with reliable Bristol Beaufighters. It later went back to Iraq but returned to the Far East, disbanding on 20 February 1953 in British Malaya.

​Aircraft

Blenheim Mks I and IV – Feb 1939 to Feb 1942

Vengeance – Dec 1942 to Jan 1945

Mosquito FB Mk VI – Feb 1945 to Dec 1946

Beaufighter – 1945

Squadron Commanders

 

Unknown

Airfields

Shaibah, Iraq – 20 Sept 1920 (Det at Sharjah)

Heliopolis, Egypt – 24 Sept 1940 (Dets at Fuka, Qotafiyah & Tatoi)

Menidi, Greece – 16 Nov 1940 (Det at Paramythia)

Heraklion – Apr 1941

Helipolis, Egypt – Apr 1941

Aqir, Palestine – 26 Apr 1941 (Dets at Habbaniyah, H4 Landing Ground)

Habbaniya, Iraq – 24 May 1941

Mosul, Syria – 7 Jun 1941 (Dets at Aqir, Shaibah & Amiriya)

Habbaniya, Iraq – 27 Sept 1941 (Dets at Aqir & Amiriya)

Amiriya, Egypt – 9 Nov 1941

LG.116, North Africa – 25 Nov 1941

LG.75, North Africa – 26 Nov 1941

Gambut, Libya – 18 Dec 1941

Helipolis, Egypt – 2 Jan 1942 (En route to the Far East from 14 Jan 1942)

P1, Sumatra – 23 Jan 1942

P2, Sumatra – 26 Jan 1942

Kalidjati, Java – 16 Feb 1942

Drigh Road, India – 18 Mar 1942

Quetta, India – 3 Jun 1942

Vizagapatnam, India – 17 Nov 1942

Cholavaram, India – 13 Jan 1943

Ratmalana, Ceylon – 8 Apr 1943 (Det at Yelahanka)

Ranchi, India – 28 Aug 1943 (Det at Drigh Road)

Maharajpur, India – 7 Dec 1943

Kumbhirgram, India – 10 Feb 1944

Samungli, India – 22 Jul 1944

Yelahanka, India – 31 Oct 1944

Charra, India – 23 Apr 1945 (Det at St. Thomas Mount) 

St. Thomas Mount, India – 26 Jun 1945

Baigachi, India – 1 Sept 1945 (Det at Guindy)

Seletar, Singapore – 12 Sept to 1 Nov 1945

No. 85 Squadron

Squadron Code: VY

Motto: NOCTO DIUQUE VENAMUR (We hunt by day and night)

No 85 Squadron first formed at Upavon on 1 August 1917, going to France in May 1918 under the command of the famed Canadian ace Billy Bishop VC. Thrown into heavy action almost immediately, the squadron's next commander would be another VC holder, Major ‘Mick’ Mannock, officially the greatest RAF ace of the World War I with 73 confirmed victories. For the remainder of the war, the squadron flew fighter patrols and ground attack sorties over the Western Front until the Armistice, returning to Britain in February and disbanding on 3 July.

Reformed at Debden on 1 June 1938 from the ‘A’ Flight of 87 Squadron, the unit equipped with biplane Gloster Gladiator fighters. When the Second World War broke out in September 1939, the unit (with its sister unit, 87 Squadron) went to France to continue the great fighter tradition that had been set for it in the last war. Flying with 60 Wing, the squadron patrolled its sector, occasionally scrambling to deal with the isolated German reconnaissance aircraft marauding across their border. The squadron’s first kill of the war was one such marauder, a Heinkel He111 shot down into the sea off Boulogne on 21 November. The victor Flight, Lt Richard "Dickie" Lee, won the DFC for his feat.

The ante rose dramatically with the beginning of the German invasion on 10 May 1940. The squadron was hurled int the fray. It shot down four enemy aircraft that day, with another eight on the following day and seven the day after. By the 19th, however, its airbases were all but overuun and with only four operational Hurricanes remaining, it retired from the battle.

Returning to England three days later, No 85 began to rearm and reequip, adding nightfighting as another one of its skills. Committed heavily in the daylight battles over Kent and the Thames Estuary in July and August, it lost eight Hurricanes in August with the deaths of two pilots. One of these was "Dicky" Lee, who vanished without a trace during a combat engagement on 18 August. He was 23 years old. He had been awarded the DSO in May 1940 for his achievements, including breaking out of captivity in France.

 

The squadron, in return, claimed 44 enemy airplanes shot down. In September, things grew worse, with the unit losing eight pilots in just five days. This prompted the unit withdrew to Yorkshire. At this time, the often-ignored dynamics of men’s motives that the success of military formations frequently depend on came into play. When 85 Squadron's primary ace, Flight Lt Sammy Allard (nine kills during the battle, plus three shared) bested his squadron rival, Pilot Officer Albert Lewis (who had seven kills in France and two during the battle), Lewis sought an immediate transfer to another squadron where he thought he could improve his kill rate. He was transferred to 249 Squadron on 15 September, and began to score prolifically.

In October, No 85 began to to fly night sweeps to counter increasing Luftwaffe night raids, returning to 11 Group in the south in November. Initial operations were frustrating; achieving little by night, the unit lost several aircraft to bad weather conditions. Nevertheless, the unit flew more night sorties than any other nightfighting squadron within 11 Group. In all between July and November, the unit was credited with the destruction of 59 enemy aircraft.

At this time, the squadron insignia underwent a permanent change. Originally composed of a white hexagon dating from World War One, the unit added the backdrop of a black ogress to denote the squadron’s nightfighting activities. At the same time, it switched permanently from day fighting to nightfighting at this time, and in due course the authorities planned to outfit the squadron with twin-engined fighters to replace the Hurricanes. On 25 February 1941, Squadron Leader Peter Townsend achieved the unit’s first night kill – a Dornier Do17Z bomber. In March, the odds seemed set to improve when Douglas A-20 Havocs joined the unit, replacing the last of the Hurricanes (an aircraft never properly suited for nightfighting).

 

Becoming operational with the Havocs on 7 April, the unit shot down another night-flying German on the 9th, damaging another and probably shooting down another. By May, its night contacts had increased significantly, numbering often four each night.

As successful as the squadron was at this time, the Havoc’s slow speed was problematic and the unit welcomed the arrival of fast DeHavilland Mosquito in 1942. Equipped with radar-fitted Mosquitos Mk XIIIs in 1943, the squadron shot down four dangerous Focke-Wulf Fw190s single-engined fighters on the night of May 16 – these were first Fw190s destroyed at night over England. Operations continued and October was a particularly good month with ten enemy aircraft destroyed. The first Messerschmitt Me410 bomber to fall on English soil comprised one of these kills. By January 1944, the squadron scoreboard had reached 200 confirmed kills.

On 1 May, the squadron transferred to the specialist 100 (Bomber Support) Group, for bomber-support work. Much of this involved intruding over German nightfighter airfields, catching the Germans as they took off and landed. On 11 June, Wing Commander Miller, intruding over Melun airfield, shot down the squadron's first enemy German nightfighter (a Me110) over its base. In June, the unit detached to West Malling to combat the V-1 Flying bombs, but returned to 100 Group soon enough, now accompanying bomber streams to occupied Europe, mingling with the bombers, and attacking raiding German nightfighters. On November 4, Squadron Leader Burbridge and his observer, Squadron Leader F.S. Skelton destroyed four enemy aircraft while escorting one such RAF bomber stream. Among the victims were two Ju88 nightfighters, an Me110 and another Ju88 that was preparing to land.

At the close of the European war in May 1945, the squadron returned to Fighter Command, operating as a nightfighting unit under its old command, 11 Group. Its wartime record had been impressive. For the loss of 28 men dead or missing, the unit had shot down 278 enemy planes. For 100 Group, it had flown 170 bomber support raids, 48 ‘Diver’ patrols and two counter-intruder operations. Seventy-one German planes had been shot down (including 30 Me110s, 27 Ju88s, eight Ju188s, four Hs129s and two Fw190s), and damaged six other. Thirty flying bombs had also been destroyed. These claims made it the top Mosquito nightifghter squadron within 100 Group. Incredibly, during those 864 bomber-support and 326 anti-flying bomb sorties, they lost only seven aircraft to enemy fire. The squadron disbanded on 30 November 1958.

​Aircraft

Hurricane Mk I – Sept 1938 to Apr 1941

Defiant Mk I – Jan to Feb 1941

Havoc Mk I – Feb 1941 to 1941

Havoc Mk II – Jul 1941 to Sept 1942

Mosquito NF Mk II – Aug 1942 to May 1943

Mosquito Mk XV – Mar 1943 to 1943

Mosquito Mk XII – Mar 1943 to 1944

Mosquito Mk XVII – Nov 1943 to 1944

Mosquito Mk XIX – May 1944 to 1945

Mosquito NF Mk XXX – Nov 1944 to 1947

Squadron Commanders

 

S/L DFW Atcherley – Nov 1938 to Jan 1940

S/L JOW Oliver – Jan to 18 May 1940

S/L M Peacock – May 1940

S/L PW Townsend, DFC*, DSO – May 1940 to Jun 1941

W/C ATD Saunders – Jun to Oct 1941

W/C RK Hamblin – Nov 1941 to May 1942

W/C GL Raphael, DFC* – May 1942 to Jan 1943

W/C J Cunningham, DSO**, DFC* – Jan 1943 to Mar 1944

W/C CM Miller, DFC – Mar to Oct 1944

W/C FS Gonsalves, DFC – Oct 1944 to Jan 1945

W/C WK Davison – Jan to Oct 1945

Airfields

Debden, UK – 1 Jun 1938

Rouen-Boos, France – 9 Sept 1939

Merville – 29 Sept 1939

Lille-Seclin – 5 Nov 1939

Mons-en-Chausee – 10 Apr 1940

Lille-Seclin – 26 Apr 1940

Debden, UK – 22 May 1940
Croydon – 19 Aug 1940
Castle Camps – 3 Sept 1940
Church Fenton – 5 Sept 1940
Kirton-in-Lindsey – 23 Oct 1940

Gravesend – 23 Nov 1940

Debden – 1 Jan 1941

Hunsdon – 3 May 1941

West Malling – 13 May 1943

Swannington – 1 May 1944

West Malling – 21 Jul 1944

Swannington – 29 Aug 1944

Castle Camps – 27 Jun 1945

Bradwell Bay – 13 Aug 1945

Castle Camps – 13 Aug to 9 Oct 1945

World War II Aces

  1. F/O Allen B. Angus, DFC – Can. (5 Victories†) Jul 1938 to 16 May 1940 (KIA)

  2. F/L Geoffrey ‘Sammy’ Allard, DFC, DFM* (24 Victories†) 1936 to 13 Mar 1941 (KIFA)

  3. F/O Kenneth H. Blair, DFC (6.83 Victories total, 2 with this unit) Jun 1938 to May 1940 →151Sq

  4. F/L Edward N. Bunting (9 Victories; 4 with this unit) Dec 1939 to Dec 1943 →488Sq

  5. S/L Branse A. Burbridge, DSO*, DFC* (21 Victories & 3 V-1 kills†) Oct 1941 to Mar 1945 →NCD

  6. S/L Edward D. Crew, DFC* (12½ Victories; 1 with this unit) Mar to Jun 1943 →96Sq

  7. W/C John ‘Cats Eyes’ Cunningham, DSO**, DFC* (20 Victories; 4 with this unit) Jan 1943 to Mar 1944→GQ 11 Gp, Burma

  8. P/O Count Manfred B. Czernin – Austria (15 Victories; 5 with this unit) May to 8 Jun 1940 →17Sq

  9. F/L Richard T. Goucher, DFC (5 Victories & 2 V-1 kills†) Apr 1944 to Jan 1945 →151Sq, HQ Fighter Command

  10. S/L Wilfrith P. Green, DFC (14 Victories; 3 with this unit) 18 Aug 1942 toAug 1943 →410Sq

  11. S/L Edward R. Hedgecoe, DFC* (9 Victories) 1943 to Sept 1944 (5 kills) →FIU & Dec 1944 (3 kills) →151Sq (KIFA 1 Jan 1945)

  12. Capt. Svein Heglund, DFC* –Norway (14.3 Victories; 3 with this unit) Late 1944 to May 1945 →NCD Norway. Later DSO.

  13. P/O William ‘Ace’ H. Hodgson, DFC – NZ (5.6 Victories†) 25 May 1940 to 13 Mar 1941 (KIFA)

  14. Sgt. Harold N. ‘Harry’ Howes (11.3 Victories, 7.3 with this unit) 1939 to 12 Sept 1940 →605Sq

  15. S/L Geoffrey L. Howitt, DFC* (6 Victories†) Nov 1940 to Aug 1941 & Apr to Dec 1942 & Mar to Oct 1943 →456Sq (2 V-1 kills here)

  16. F/L Brian R. Keele, DFC (6 Victories; 1 with this unit) Early to Nov 1944 (KIFA)

  17. F/L Philip S. Kendall, DFC* (8 Victories; 2 with this unit) 1944 →N/A

  18. F/O Jerrard Jeffries/Latimer (8 Victories; 2½ with this unit) May to 12 Jul 1940 →310Sq

  19. F/L Richard H.A. ‘Dickie’ Lee, DSO, DFC (9 Victories†) 1938 to 11 May 1940 (POW, Escaped) →Returned to Sqdn: N/A to 19 May 1940 →56Sq →85Sq: Jun to 18 Aug 1940 (KIA)

  20. P/O Albert G. Lewis, DFC – SA (18 Victories, 10 with this unit) Apr 1940 to 14 Sept 1940→249Sq

  21. F/L William H. ‘Bill’ Maguire, DFC (6 Victories; 5 with this unit) 1943 to Jul 1944 →FIU

  22. S/L John O.W. ‘Doggie’ Oliver (7 Victories†) Jan to 18 May 1940 →HQ 60Wing (DSO, DFC), RAF Valley (CB), HQ FC, HQ 84Gp

  23. S/L Alan J. ‘Ginger’ Owen, DFC, DFM (15 Victories; 9 aircraft and 1 V-1 kill with this unit) Aug 1944 to Jun 1946

  24. W/C Gordon L. Raphael, DFC* – Can. (7 Victories†) May 1941 to Jan 1943 →RAF Castle Camps, RAF Manston (2 V-1s, KIC 10 Apr 1945)

  25. F/L Hugh B. Thomas, DFC (5 Victories†) Late 1943 to Early 1944 & April to Late 1945 →N/A

  26. S/L Bernard J. ‘Almost an Ace’ Thwaites, DFC (6 Victories†) Feb 1943 to 1944 →N/A

  27. W/C Peter W. Townsend, DSO, DFC* (9.6 Victories; 7 with this unit) 23 May 1940 to Jun 1941 →Night Ops HQ 12Gp, CO 605Sq, RAF West Malling, NCD UK, Equerry to HM King George VI

  28. S/L Ronald G. ‘Tim’ Woodman, DFC (7 Victories; 1 with this unit) Jan 1944 (Attached) →BSDU/FIU

  29. F/O Patrick P. Woods-Scawen, DFC (10.8 Victories†) Aug 1938 to 1 Sept 1940 (KIA)

Hawker Hurricane Mk I, RAF Debden, 1940 This Hurricane wears the standard Battle of Britain finish, with the unit badge painted under the cockpit. Its pilot, Squadron Leader Peter Townsend later became a Wing Commander with the expansion of the squadron to heavier aircraft in 1941. He shot down five aircraft during the Battle of Britain, claiming five more before the end of the war, later leading 85 Squadron into the nightfighter role for which it would become famous. Much later, in 1944, he was appointed as an equerry of the Royal Household, which would set him down the path of forlorn love. Holding the post for eight years, he became romantically entangled with Princess Margaret. As his wartime marriage broke up owing to his wife's infidelity, Townsend’s status as a divorcee became a contentious issue to the crown and the church. The couple canceled their engagement. Retiring from the RAF in 1956 and seeking to get away, Townsend left England and settled in Paris, starting a career as a writer.

No. 86 Squadron

Squadron Code: BX

Motto: AD LIBERTATEM VOLAMUS (We fly for liberty)

The squadron first formed on 1 September 1917 at Wye, but disbanded on 4 July 1918 without ever becoming later operational. It started to reform again on 30 October 1918 at Brockworth, but the process stopped when the Armistice took place of 11 November.

For its next formation, the squadron had to wait until 6 December 1940, when it came together at Gosport, equipped with Bristol Blenheim Mk IVs, and assigned to operate with Coastal Command. Initially escorting convoys, the squadron began ASR searches in June, added with armed reconnaissance and mining sorties later in the year. It bombed its first ship in November, but took to using torpedo in the following years.  The year 1942 was a difficult, but enthusiastic year for the squadron. Operating a detachment at St. Eval, flying anti-shipping sorties, the force sank two ships in February with torpedoes. Similar detachments were sent to to the Mediterranean, but these merely reduced to cadres in August, and the valuable crews absorbed by other squadrons.

Depleted by these steps, the squadron withdrew from active operations, instead training on B-24 Liberators for the rest of the year. Returning to operations in February 1943 with Liberators, and patrolled the Atlantic. Its primary targets became German U-Boats sent to attack Atlantic convoys. On 4 May, Pilot Officer J.C. Green destroyed the squadron’s second u-boat, setting a trend that culminated in further attacks during the following months. A few scattered brushes were made with the squadron’s opposite numbers in the Luftwaffe, the Focke-Wulf Fw200 Condors and Junker  Ju88s but two more U-Boats went to the bottom in October.

In 1944, contacts dropped off, but the squadron’s fortunes changed in June and July, during which a large number of sorties flown. By now operating out of Iceland from March, the squadron returned to England in July, running into enemy submarines occasionally. Following the end of the European War, the squadron transferred to Transport Command’s 301 Wing in June 1945 and moved to Oakington, from where it began to ferry troops to India. The Japanese surrender halted any large-scale invasion plans in that theater, and the squadron disbanded on 16 April 1946. In doing so, it left behind an enviable record, including a claim to have been the most successful anti-submarine squadron within the Royal Air Force during the war. Thirteen u-boats had been sunk, plus three shared in cooperation with other units.

​Aircraft

Blenheim Mk IV – Dec 1940 to Jun 1941

Beaufort Mk I – Jun 1941 to Feb 1942

Beaufort Mk II – Jan to Aug 1942

Liberator Mk IIIA – Feb 1943 to Aug 1944

Liberator Mk V – Apr to Dec 1943 & Dec 1943 to Mar 1945

Liberator Mk VIII – Mar 1945 to Apr 1946

Squadron Commanders

 

W/C CJP Flood – Dec 1940 to Apr 1942

W/C RC Gaskell – Apr to Jul 1942

W/C VC Darling – Jul to Sept 1942

W/C RD Williams – Sept 1942 to Nov 1943

W/C CE Drapper – Nov 1943 to Aug 1944

W/C JJK Fleetwood – Aug 1944 to Aug 1945

S/L JG Wilkinson – Aug 1945 to Apr 1946

Airfields

Gosport, UK – 6 Dec 1940

Leuchars – 2 Feb 1941

Wattisham – 3 Mar 1941 (Dets at Ipswich & North Coates)

North Coates – 1 Jun 1941 (Dets at Leuchars & St. Eval)

St. Eval – 10 Jan 1942 (Det at Thorney Island)

North Coates – 21 Feb 1942

Leuchars – 22 Feb 1942

Wick – 9 Mar 1942 (Dets at Skitten & Aldergrove)

Thorney Island – 31 Jul 1942

Aldergrove, North Ireland – 18 Mar 1943

Ballykely – 4 Sept 1943

Reykjavik, Iceland – 24 Mar 1944 (Det at Tain)

Tain, UK – 28 Jun 1944

Oakington – 1 Aug 1945 to 25 Apr 1946

U-Boats Sunk by Squadron

 

1942

  1. 6 April: U-632. Coordinates: 58-02 N, 28-42 W

 

1943

  1. 4 May: U-109. Coordinates: 47-22 N, 22-40 W (no survivors)

  2. 14 May: U-266. Coordinates: 47-45 N, 26-57 W (no survivors)

  3. 8 October: U-643. Coordinates: 56-14 N, 26-55 W (shared with 120 Squadron)

  4. 8 October: U-419. Coordinates: 56-31 N, 27-05 W

  5. 16 October: U-844. Coordinates: 58-30 N, 27-16 W (no survivors)(shared with 59 Squadron)

  6. 16 October: U-964. Coordinates: 57-27 N, 28-17 W (no survivors)

  7. 6 November: U-280. Coordinates: 49-11 N, 27-32 W (no survivors)

1944

  1. 26 June: U-317. Coordinates: 62-03 N, 01-45 E (no survivors)

  2. 30 June: U-478. Coordinates: 63-27 N, 00-50 W (no survivors) (shared with RCAF 162 Squadron)

  3. 17 July: U-361. Coordinates: 68-36 N, 08-33 E (no survivors)

1945

  1. 20 March: U-905. Coordinates: 59-42 N, 04-55 W (no survivors)

  2. 23 April: U-396. Coordinates: 59-29 N, 05-22 W (no survivors)

  3. 5 May: U-3503. Coordinates: 56-45 N, 10-49 E (Scuttled off Göteborg on May 8)

  4. 6 May: U-1008. Coordinates: 57-52 N, 10-49 E

  5. 6 May: U-2534. Coordinates: 57-08 N, 11-52 E (no survivors)

No. 87 (United Provinces) Squadron

Squadron Code: LK

Motto: MAXIMUS ME METUIT (The most powerful fear me)

First formed on 1 September 1917 from the ‘D’ Flight of the Central Flying School at Upavon, this squadron was classified as a fighter formation and soon equipped with Sopwith Dolphins. Going to France in March 1918, just as the German offensive on the western front reached its apex, the unit gave up its aircraft to other hard-pressed units and returned to England to re-equip. Returning to France in April, the unit soon found itself in the thick of air combat. By the time of the armistice on 11 November 1918, that ended World War I, the squadron had destroyed 89 aircraft. It returned to England thereafter in February, disbanding at Ternhill on 24 June 1919.

Reformed on 15 March 1937 at Tangmere with personnel from 54 Squadron. Equipping with Gladiators three months later, it formed an aerobatic team, but these light pleasantries aside, and with worsening relations with Germany, took on Hurricanes in July 1938. At the outbreak of war, the squadron went to France with 60 Wing, to patrol the frontline. In November, it brought down its first aircraft when Flight Lt Voase-Jeff shot down a Heinkel He111 near Hazebrouk. When the German invasion came on 10 May 1940, the squadron gave vital air cover on the Northern Front, most often escorting lumbering and highly-vulnerable Westland Lysanders of 2 Squadron performing reconnaissance. Both 87 Squadron Hurricanes and 2 Squadron Lysanders suffered heavily under Luftwaffe attack. More heavy fighting dogged them over their own airfields and in the retreat southwestwards, the squadron lost its operational records. What is known, however, is that in just twelve days of heavy fighting, and with its airfields overrun by German motorized troops and armor, the squadron withdrew from France.

Soon made operational again by June 21 in Yorkshire, No 87 went into combat again on 11 July, shooting down a Messerschmitt Me110 over England, a day after the official start of the Battle of Britain. The squadron’s ‘B’ Flight went south meantime to join 11 Group as a nightfighting detachment, shooting down a He111 (or a Ju88) on 7 August (credited to Pilot Officer Peter Comely). The 19-year old Comely died later on 15 August. After shooting down a Me110, his Hurricane was seen to crash into the waters off Portland. In all, No 87 ended the Battle of Britain with 54 aerial victories.

On 28 November, the unit moved to Colerne and became a dedicated nightfighting unit, intruding over enemy airfields in France during the following year. Having posted a detachment to the Scilly Isles, this flight began to take a killing toll of enemy Dornier Do22 and Do18 flying boats, in addition to Ju88s based in western France. In August 1942, the squadron attacked ground targets during the bloody Dieppe operation. Moving to North Africa aboard a Polish troopship in December, the unit flew fighter sweeps here, occasionally attacking enemy shipping in the area. Its first aerial North African kill occurred on 22 January 1943, but then followed a long lapse which ended with two He111s shot down on 27 March. Equipping with Spitfires in April, the squadron escorted other bomb-carrying Spitfirs on raids in the Adriatic. Equipped with bombs itself in August 1944, the unit began to fly regularly in the Adriatic zone.

Later in the year, it escorted allied C-47 Dakotas transporting supplies and began ‘Cab-Rank’ sorties in support of the US 5th Army. Remaining in Italy after the end of the European war, the squadron moved to Austra in September 1946, disbanding here on 30 December.

​Aircraft

Hurricane Mk I – Jul 1938 to Sept 1942

Hurricane Mk IIC – Jun 1941 to Mar 1944

Spitfire Mk Vb – Apr 1943 to Aug 1944

Spitfire Mk Vc – Apr 1943 to Aug 1944

Spitfire Mk VIII – Oct 1943 to 1944

Spitfire Mk IX – Jun 1943 to Jun 1944 & Aug 1944 to 1947

Squadron Commanders

 

S/L WE Coope – Apr to Nov 1939

S/L Hill – Nov to Dec 1939

S/L JS Dewar, DSO, DFC – Dec 1939 to 13 Jul 1940

S/L Lovatt-Gregg – Jul to Aug 1940

S/L RS Mills, DFC – Aug to Dec 1940

S/L IR Gleed, DFC – Dec 1940 to Nov 1941

S/L DG Smallwood – Nov 1941 to Sept 1942

S/L WEG Measures – Sept 1942 to Jun 1943

S/L AH Thom, DFC – Jun to Sept 1943

S/L C Stevens – Sept 1943 to Jul 1944

S/L AWG Le Hardy – Jul to Aug 1944

S/L GW Garton, DFC – Aug 1944 to Apr 1945

S/L GRS McKay – Apr to Late 1945

Airfields

Debden, UK – 7 Jun 1937

Rouen, France – 9 Sept 1939

Merville – 29 Sept 1939

Lille/Seclin – 5 Nov 1939

Le Touquet – 4 Apr 1940

Amiens – 15 Apr 1940

Senon – 2 May 1940

Lille – 10 May 1940

Merville – 20 May 1940

Debden, UK – 22 May 1940

Church Fenton – 26 May 1940

Exeter – 5 Jul 1940

Colerne – 28 Nov 1940

Charmy Down – 11 Dec 1940

Colerne – 6 Aug 1941

Charmy Down – 27 Jan 1942

Left for Algeria – 2 Nov 1942

Phillipeville, Algeria (Grnd ech) – 7 Dec 1942

                                  (Air ech) – 19 Dec 1942

Djidjelli – 22 Dec 1942

Setif and Taher – 15 Feb 1943

Taher – 4 Apr 1943

Tingley, North Africa – 22 May 1943

Monastir – 1 Jul 1943

Tingley – 21 Jul 1943

Le Sebala I – 13 Aug 1943

Palermo, Sicily – 30 Sept 1943

Bo Rizzo – 3 Oct 1943

Palermo – 6 Dec 1943

Catania – 3 Apr 1944

Foggia, Italy – 11 Jun 1944

Perugia – 23 Jul 1944

Loreto – 25 Aug 1944

Fano – 4 Sept 1944

Perestola – 17 Nov 1944

Pontedera – 1 Jan 1945

Bologna – 25 Apr 1945

Verona – 1 May 1945

Campoformido – 16 May 1945

Treviso – 22 Aug 1945 to 23 Sept 1946

World War II Aces

  1. P/O Roland P. ‘Bee’ Beaumont, DFC (10 Victories, 7 with this unit) Nov 1939 to Jun 1941 →609Sq, 150Wing (rest of his kills with this wing, POW 12 Oct 1944)

  2. F/L Arthur C. ‘Cocky’ Cochrane, DFC – Can. (4¾ or 5¾ Victories; 1 with this unit) Aug 1942 to 31 Mar 1943 (MIA)

  3. F/O John R. Cock – Aust. (10¼ Victories†) Dec 1938 to 1 Dec 1940 →CFS, Australia, 3Sq

  4. P/O Peter W. Comely (5 Victories†) May to 15 Aug 1940 (KIA)

  5. F/O William D. David, DFC* (15.83 Victories, 14.83 with this unit) Early 1939 to 16 Oct 1940 →213Sq

  6. S/L John S. ‘Johnie’ Dewar, DSO, DFC (5 Victories†) Nov 1939 to 12 Jul 1940 →W/C Attached to this unit. Missing on routine flight on 12 Sept 1940

  7. S/L Ian R. ‘Widge’ Gleed, DFC (14½ Victories, 10½ with this unit) 17 May 1940 to Nov 1941 →Ibsley Wing (2 kills), 244Wing (2 kills) (KIA 16 Apr 1943) Later DSO, Belgian CDG.

  8. P/O Dudley T. Jay, DFC (7.8 Victories; 4½ with this unit) 11 May to 24 Oct 1940 (KIC)

  9. F/O Harry T. Mitchell, DFC – Can. (6½ Victories†) Early 1940 to 1941 →N/A

  10. Sgt. Gareth L. ‘Garry’ Nowell, DFM* (10½ Victories; 7½ with this unit) 1939 to May 1940 →32Sq

  11. F/L Roderick M.S. ‘Roddie’ Rayner, DFC (9 Victories†) Sept 1938 to Mid-1941 →52OTU, NCD

  12. F/O Kenneth W. Tait, DFC – NZ (5½ Victories†) 20 Aug 1938 to Dec 1940 →56OTU, 257Sq (KIA 4 Aug 1941)

  13. F/L Robert Voase-Jeff, DFC*, Fr CDG (4 or 5 Victories†) Aug 1937 to 11 Aug 1940 (KIA)

  14. F/L Derek H. Ward, DFC – NZ (6¼ Victories; 3¼ with this unit) 16 May 1940 to Sept 1941 (Unofficial posting) →73Sq

Hawker Hurricane Mk I, RAF Exeter, Mid-1940 This aircraft belonged to the diminutive ace pilot, Flight Lt Ian R. "Widge" Gleed, born in Finchley, London in 1916. The son of a doctor, Gleed was commissioned into the RAF in 1936. Posted to 46 Squadron, he moved to 87 Squadron on 17 May 1940 as a flight commander. Soon, Gleed had accumulated a reputation as a man with "courage beyond compare." Within days of taking over as a flight leader, he shot down five planes, followed by two more on 15 August. By the time the Battle of Britain ended in November, Gleed had racked up four more kills and was awarded the DFC in September. He died in combat during a fighter sweep over Cape Bon, Tunisia on 16 April 1943, a victim of the Luftwaffe ace Ernst-Wilhelm Reinert. Gleed had been a Wing Commander in the 244 Wing at the time. Years after the war, it was discovered that Gleed was  gay. Gleed’s personal insignia (as displayed above) was of Disney’s Figaro breaking on a swastika.

No. 88 (Hong Kong) Squadron

Squadron Codes: RH, RI

Motto: EN GARDE (Be on your guard)

The squadron first formed on 24 July 1917 at Gosport in Hampshire, moving to France in April 1918 as a fighter-reconnaissance squadron. During the few months that it was active, it destroyed 164 enemy aircraft, while it own casualties amounted to just two men killed, five wounded and 10 missing. Following victory, the squadron stayed in Belgium, disbanding here on 10 August 1919.

Reformed on 7 June 1937 at Waddington, the unit was tasked as a light bombing squadron. Equipped with Hawker Hinds, these were replaced by Fairy Battles in due course. It was with these machines that the squadron entered the Second World War in September 1939. Returning to the continent a day before war was declared on 3 September, the unit joined No 75 Wing of the Advanced Air Striking Force (AASF) in France. Here, the crew of a squadron Battle scored Britain’s first WWII “kill” over continental Europe. Flown by Flying officer L.H. Baker, the Battle encountered German Messserschmitt Me109s. The rear gunner, Sergeant F. Letchford, who had been trained as an observer, brought his gun to bear on one of the attacking Germans, bringing it down after a smattering of gunfire. Later, following the opening of the German Blitzkrieg in May 1940, the squadron’s experiences would fail to be so advantageous and they instead took heavy losses in the face of the attacking Luftwaffe.

 

Continuously besieged by the enemy, the unit retreated until June, when it finally left France and withdrew to England on 14 June, joining Bomber Command. Flying out of Northern Ireland for next few months, the unit went to southeast England in July 1941, joining 2 Group. In October, the squadron introduced the American-made Douglas Boston medium bomber into RAF service and ended up flying more Boston sorties than any other RAF squadron. Attacking coastal and naval targets for the next two years, the unit participated in the abortive Dieppe raid on 19 August 1942, bombing coastal batteries in the area. It later transferred to the 2nd Tactical Air Force (along with the whole of 2 Group) in September 1943, its record with Bomber Command amounting to 655 sorties comprising 62 bombing missions. Despite the vulnerability of light bombers, the squadron had lost only five Blenheims and six Bostons to enemy fire.

With the 2nd TAF, the squadron flew ‘Noball’ (anti-flying bomb site) missions in 1943 and in early 1944. On D-Day (6 Jun 1944) it laid a smoke screen (one of only two RAF squadrons doing so), for some of the landing troops, and in October, accompanied the troops to France – for the third time in its history. Flying in tactical support of the army for the rest of the war, the squadron disbanded even before the conflict ended, on 4 April 1945. 

​Aircraft

Battle Mk I – Dec 1937 to Jul 1941

Blenheim Mk I – Jan 1941

Boston Mk I & II – Feb 1941 to Dec 1941

Blenheim Mk IV – Jul to Nov 1941

Boston Mk III – Jul 1941 to Apr 1945

Squadron Commanders

 

W/C KH Riversdale-Elliott – Mar 1939 to Feb 1940

W/C GS Ellison – Feb 1940 to Nov 1941

W/C CE Harris – Nov 1941 to Jun 1942

W/C JF Pelly-Fry – Jun 1942 to N/A

Airfields

Boscombe Down, UK – 17 Jul 1937

Auberive-sur-Suippes, France – 2 Sept 1939

Mourmelon, France – 12 Sept 1939 (Dets at Perpignan-La Salanque)

Mourmelon – 12 Sept 1939

Les Grandes Chappelles – 16 May 1940

Moisy – 3 Jun 1940

Driffield, UK – 14 Jun 1940

Belfast-Sydenham, North Ireland – 23 Jun 1940

Swanton Morely, Britain – 8 Jul 1941

Attlebridge – 1 Aug 1941 (Det at Manston, Long Kesh, Abbotsnich & Ford)

Oulton – 29 Sept 1942 (Det at Charmey Down)

Swanton Morley – 30 Mar 1943

Hartfordbridge – 19 Aug 1943

B.50 Vitry-en-Artois, France – 17 Oct 1944 to 4 Apr 1945

Douglas A-20C Boston Mk IIIA, B.50 Vitry-en-Artois, France, Mid-1944 The Squadron introduced the US-made Boston to RAF service in 1942 and flew the type through out the war. The squadron badge was of a snake. The snake was the original unit badge of France’s 88 Squadron (Escadrille SPA.88) during the First World War. In November 1939, when the time came for this unit to take on a squadron badge, the squadron commanders put forward the above insignia, which associated the squadron with SPA.88.

No. 89 Squadron

Squadron Code: WP

Motto: DEF AUXILO TELIS MEIS (By the help of God, with my own weapons)

The squadron first formed at Netheravon or at Catterick (according to conflicting reports) on 1 September 1917, disbanding on 4 July 1918, without ever having become operational.

Reformed on 25 September 1941, at Colerne, the unit was tasked as a nightfighter squadron and earmarked for service in the Mediterranean. Equipped with Bristol Beaufighters, the squadron was scheduled to join its new command when cracks were found on the engine bearings of some aircraft. The delay in getting this sorted out prompted the unit to deploy to Egypt in four flights in November. Becoming operational in January 1942, the unit flew its first scramble on 3 January. In March, the unit opened its account when Squadron Leader Derek Pain (previously of 68 Squadron), shot down a night-flying Heinkel He111. Suddenly beset by other nocturnal Heinkels over the next few days, the squadron shot down three in April, with another probably destroyed and two damaged.

Meantime, a detachment operated under difficult conditions on the besieged island of Malta, during a critical moment of the siege in June. This ‘C’ Flight shot down seven raiders in just eight days, followed by another 12 in July. Another detachment, operating in Algiers in 1943, experienced similar success, but with the close of the North African campaign in May, contacts dropped off. By this time, the squadron, reunited with its many detachments, practiced bombing, but instead of employing this operationally, flew intruder flights over Sicily, and then against enemy-held Crete from October.

Deploying to Ceylon in November, the squadron was in action again, against enemy aircraft. Two Japanese Navy 02 flying boats fell to its guns that month, but in 1944, saw little action, even despite a transfer to the Burma front.

The night flights over the quiet jungles were largely uneventful, but when the unit began its classic Intruder operations over Japanese-held airfields, it began to see action. Equipping with Mosquitos in February 1945, the unit became non-operational owing to the general unsuitability of these early Mosquitos for Far Eastern operations. Following the Japanese surrender on 2 September, the squadron moved to Singapore and later dropped leaflets in the Dutch East Indies, but its days were numbered. It disbanded on 1 May 1946.

​Aircraft

 

Beaufighter Mk IF – Oct 1941 to 1943

Beaufighter Mk VIF – May 1943 to Jul 1945

Mosquito FB Mk VI – Feb 1945 to Apr 1946

Squadron Commanders

 

W/C GH Stainforth, AFC – Oct 1941 to Sept 1942

W/C JA Leathart, DSO – Sept 1942 to Jun 1943

W/C WD David, DFC, AFC – Jun 1943 to Mar 1944

W/C AF McGhie – Mar to Nov 1944

W/C F Collingridge – Nov 1944 to Jul 1945

S/L AE Browne, DFC – Jul to Sept 1945

Airfields

Colerne, UK – 25 Sept 1941

Abu Sueir, Egypt – 24 Nov 1941

Kilo 17 – 30 Nov 1941

Abu Sueir – 10 Dec 1941

Luqa, Malta – Jun to Nov 1942 (Det)

Bersis, Mediterranean – 19 Jan 1943

Castel Benito – 8 Mar 1943

Bu Amud – 9 Aug 1943

Idku – 16 Sept 1943

Left for Ceylon – 15 Oct 1943

Vavuniya, Ceylon – 25 Oct 1943

Minneriya – 29 Mar 1944

Vavuniya – 25 Jun 1944

Baigachi, India – 13 Aug 1944 to 2 Sept 1945

World War II Aces

  1. P/O Charles A. Crombie – Aust. (11 Victories; 9 with this unit) Early 1942 to Jan 1943 →176Sq

  2. F/O Edward G. Daniel (7 Victories) Detached to 1435 Flt. See 1435 Squadron.

  3. F/L Henry G. Edwards, DFC (7 Victories†) 1941 to Mar 1943 →108Sq (KIFA 6 May 1943)

  4. F/O John H. Etherton, DFC (6 Victories†) Late 1941 to Late 1942 →9Gp, OTU, 151Sq, FE

  5. F/L Robert C. ‘Moose’ Fumerton, DFC« – Can. (14 Victories, 12 with this unit) Sept 1941 to 23 Sept 1942 →406Sq

  6. F/O Michael W. Kinmonth, DFC (7 Victories†) 1941 to 1943 →51OTU (KIFA 11 Nov 1943)

  7. W/C James A. ‘The Prof’ Leathart, DSO (7.3 Victories; 1 with this unit) Sept 1942 to Jun 1943→HQ 84Gp, AEAF, D-Day light radar unit, 85Gp, 148Wing

  8. S/L Derek S. Pain, AFC (5 Victories; 4 with this unit) Early 1942 to 7/8 Nov 1942 (POW, Escaped 1944), NCD. DFC in Apr 1945 (Pain’s radar operator was JV ‘Jackie’ Briggs, DFM)

  9. F/Sgt. Arthur M.O. Pring (6 Victories; 3 with this unit) Early 1942 to Jan 1943 →det. became 176Sq

  10. S/L James A.V. ‘Jasper’ Read (10 Victories; 2 with this unit) Mar to May 1942 →46Sq

  11. F/L Nevil E. Reeves, DFC« (14 Victories; 9 with this unit) Summer 1942 to Mar 1943 →239Sq

  12. F/Sgt. Paul C.W. Sage (5 Victories, 1 with this unit) Nov 1941 to May 1942 →46Sq

  13. P/O Harold F.W. ‘Harry’ Shead (5 Victories†) Jul 1942 to 8 Jun 1943 (W, H, DFC) →551Sq, Training

  14. F/O Mervyn C. Shipard, DFC« – Aust. (13 Victories; 12 with this unit) Early 1942 to Jun 1943 →54OTU, NCD, Australia Nov 1943 (here he became furious after being given only two weeks leave in two and a half years of active service and obtained a discharge), Australian National Airways

  15. F/O Arthur L.S.M. Spurgin, DFC – Aust. (5 Victories†) Apr 1942 to Aug 1943 →63OTU, 5OTU Australia, NCD Australia, 87 RAAF Sq

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