The Royal Air Force During World War 2
1 to 9 Squadrons

No. 1 Squadron

 Squadron Codes: NA, JX

Motto: IN OMNIBUS PRINCEPS (Foremost in Everything)

This was one of the first four squadrons raised in the fledgling Royal Flying Corps (RFC) when it was formed on 13 May 1912.

At the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, the squadron was handed orders to deploy to France as one of the two fighter squadrons in the Advanced Air Striking Force (AASF). After claiming its first kill on October 30, a Dornier Do17, a series of skirmishes kept it occupied until the Western Front blew up in the conflagration of the Blitzkrieg in May 1940. Soon in a heady retreat westwards, it found itself covering the the evacuation of British forces from the Biscay ports. After this, the unit returned to Britain to requip, its introduction to modern warfare having been less than favorable. Still, one of its pilots had managed to garner glory. Flying Officer Mark "Hilly" Brown, a Canadian, had shot down five enemy aircraft during the campaign. He was Canada's first ace of the war.

With the end of the Battle of France, the squadron fought it out during the first half of the Battle for Britain, shooting down 32 planes. With losses in turn, No 1 withdrew to Wittering, remaining here until December. In May, the following year, the squadron’s ‘A’ Flight was declared Czechoslovakian, and the squadron Czechs, numbering nearly half of the unit, were mustered into that flight. Meantime, night intruder missions began from the first of April, lasting until 2 July. On the night of May 30/31, the squadron even escorted RAF bombers headed for Cologne in the first of the RAF’s famed 1,000-bomber raids. By when the night missions ended, the squadron had flown 180 missions, shot down 22 enemy aircraft, and damaged 13. In addition, they had also laid waste to 67 trains, 5 boats and one vehicle.

By 1942, the unit re-equipped with Typhoons and then Spitfire Mk IXs in 1944, operating as a fighter-bomber unit. In mid-1944, when the V-1 flying bomb campaign opened up, it reverted to the fighter role, staying in this capacity until the end of the war. The squadron survived the immediate postwar cutbacks but disbanded on 23 June 1958.

1 Sqdn Badge RAF.jpg

​Aircraft

Hurricane Mk I – Oct 1938 to Apr 1941

Hurricane Mk IIA – Feb to Jun 1941

Hurricane Mk IIB – Apr 1941 to Jan 1942

Hurricane MK IIC- Jul 1941 to Sept 1942

Hurricane NF Mk IIC – Jan 1942

Hurricane Mk I – Apr to Jul 1942

​Hurricane Mk IIB – Jun to Sept 1942

​Typhoon Mk IB – 21 Jul 1942 to Apr 1944

Spitfire Mk LF.IXb – Apr 1944 to May 1945

Spitfire Mk XXI – May 1945 to Oct 1946

Squadron Commanders

S/L PJH Halahan – Apr 1939 to May 1940

S/L DA Pemberton – May to Nov 1940

S/L MH Brown, DFC* (Can.) – 3 Nov 1940 to Jan 1941

S/L REP Brooker, DFC – Jan to Nov 1941

S/L JAF MacLachlan, DSO, DFC« – Nov 1941 to Aug 1942

S/L RC Wilkinson, DFM* – Aug 1942 to May 1943

S/L A Zweighburgh – May 1943 to Apr 1944

S/L J Checketts, DSO, DFC – Apr 1944

S/L HP Lardner Burke, DFC –Apr 1944 to Jan 1945

S/L DGSR Cox – Jan to Apr 1945

S/L RS Nash – Apr 1945 to Jan 1946

Airfields

Tangmere, UK – 1 Feb 1927

Octeville, France – 9 Sept 1939

Norrent-Fontes – 29 Sept 1939

Vassincourt – 9 Oct 1939 (Det at Rouvres)

Verry-au-Bac – 11 Apr 1940

Vassincourt – 19 Apr 1940

Berry-au-bac – 10 May 1940

Conde/Vraux – 17 May 1940

Anglure – 18 May 1940

Chateaudun – 3 Jun 1940

Boos – 14 Jun 1940

Angers – 16 Jun 1940

Nantes – 17 Jun 1940

Northolt, UK – 18 Jun 1940 (Det at Hawkinge)

Tangmere – 23 Jun 1940

Northolt – 1 Aug 1940 (Dets at Tangmere, Manston, North Weald & Heathrow)

Wittering – 9 Sept 1940

Northolt – 15 Dec 1940

Ayr – 22 Apr 1944

Predannack – 29 Apr 1944
Harrowbeer – 20 Jul 1944
Detling – 22 Jun 1944
Kenley – 5 Jan 1941
Corydon – 7 Apr 1941
Redhill – 1 May 1941
Kenley – 1 Jun 1941
Redhill – 14 Jun 1941
Tangmere – 1 Jul 1941
Acklington – 8 Jul 1942
Biggin Hill – 9 Feb 1943
Lympne – 15 Mar 1943
Martlesham Heath – 15 Feb 1944
North Weald – 3 Apr 1944

Manston – 18 Dec 1944
Coltishall – 8 Apr 1945
Ludham – 14 May 1945
Hutton Cranswick – 23 Jul to 24 Sept 1945

World War II Aces

  1. F/Sgt. Frederick G. Berry, DFM (5 Victories†) 1938 to 1 Sept 1940 (KIA)

  2. P/O Peter V. Boot, DFC (6 Victories†) Early 1940 to 18 Oct 1940 →N/A

  3. S/L Richard E.P. Brooker, DFC (8 Victories; 2 with this unit) Apr 1941 to Jan 1942 →232Sq

  4. S/L Mark H. ‘Hilly’ Brown DFC*– Can. (15½ Victories†) Feb 1937 to May 1941 →W/C (KIA 12 Nov 1942, Sicily)

  5. F/L Leslie R. ‘Leo the Lion’ Clisby, DFC – Aust. (10.3 Victories†) 1939 to 14 May 1940 (KIA)

  6. F/L Arthur V. ‘Taffy’ Clowes, DFC, DFM (9½ Victories†) 1939 to Apr 1941 →NCD, 601, 94Sqs

  7. P/O Basil G. Collyns – NZ (5.8 Victories; 1 with this unit) May to Nov 1941 →65Sq

  8. P/O Jean-Francois Demozay, DFC – Fr. (18 Victories, 3 with this unit) Oct 1940 to Jun 1941 →242Sq

  9. P/O Billy Drake (21 Victories; 3 with this unit) 1937 to 13 May 1940 (WIA) →128Sq

  10. P/O George E. ‘Randy’ Goodman (12.6 Victories; 7.6 with this unit) Mar to Nov 1940 →73Sq

  11. F/O Colin F. Gray, DFC – NZ (27.7 Victories, ½ with this unit) Jun to Aug 1941 →41Sq 

  12. F/O Peter P. Hanks (13 Victories; 7 with this unit) Sept 1936 to 30 May 1940 →5OTU (1 kill with this unit), 257Sq

  13. F/O John I. ‘Killy/Iggie’ Kilmartin – Ire. (10½ Victories, 8½ with this unit) Nov 1939 to Jun 1940 →43Sq

  14. S/L James A.F. Maclachlan, DSO, DFC* (16½ Victories, 5 with this unit) Nov 1941 to Aug 1942 →59OTU, US Lecture Tour, AFDU (Jun 1943, last 3½ kills here, Second * to DFC, WIA 18 Jul 1943/DOW 31 Jul)

  15. F/L Gerald P.H. Matthews (7.3 Victories; 3½ with this unit) Aug 1939 to Apr 1941 →145Sq

  16. P/O Peter W.O. ‘Boy’ Mould, DFC (8.3 Victories; 7.3 with this unit) 1939 to 18 Jun 1940 →185Sq

  17. P/O George H.F. Plinston (7.3 Victories; 0.3 with this unit) Sept 1939 to Mar 1940 →607Sq

  18. F/O Paul H.M. Richey (10.3 Victories; 8.3 with this unit) 1938 to 15 May 1940 (WIA) →609Sq

  19. F/Sgt. Francis J. ‘Marshal Budenny’ Soper, DFM (11½ Victories; 9½ with this unit) 1938 to May 1940 →257Sq

 

‘A’ (Czechoslovakian) Flight Aces

CO: Flight Lt. Antonin Velebnovsky 1941 (KIA), Flight Lt. Karel Kuttelwascher 17 Feb 1942

  1. Evzen Cizek (5 Victories) Mid 1940 to 26 Nov 1940 (KIA)

  2. W/O Josef D. Dygryn-Ligoticky, DFM (5 Victories†) Oct 1940 to Sept 1941 & May to 4 Jun 1942 (KIA)

  3. P/O Vaclav Jicha (5.1 Victories; .83 with this unit, 3.3 prior kills with ADA) Sept to 17 Nov 1940 →313Sq

  4. Bedrich Krátkoruký (6 Victories, 2 with this unit) 1942 to 15 Jan 1943 (KIA)

  5. F/L Karel M. ‘Old Kut’ Kuttelwascher, DFC* (18.4 Victories; 18 with this unit, 0.4 with the ADA) Oct 1940 to 8 Jul 1942 →23Gp, MU, NCD

 

V-1 Flying Bomb ‘Diver’ Ace

  1. F/L D.H. Davy (6½ Kills†) N/A to May 1945 →N/A

Hawker Hurricane Mk IIC (Intruder) ‘Night Reaper’, RAF Tangmere, early 1942 This machine belonged to Karel Kuttelwascher, one of the top-scoring single-engine intruder pilots. He shot down fifteen planes while on fifteen night missions (another five enemy aircraft were damaged). This intruder version of the Hurricane carries two 200 litres fuel tanks under the wings, in addition to the 300 litres in the main internal fuel tank, increasing the range of the aircraft and allowing it fly for three to five hours at 270 k/mph. The pilot’s personal insignia, under the engine exhausts, consists of a scyth behind a red banner that reads ‘Night Reaper.’

No. 2 Squadron

Squadron Codes: KA, KO, XV, OI

Motto: HEREWARD

The squadron first formed on 13 May 1912 at Farnborough. Created from the Air Battalion of the Royal Engineers, the unit equipped with early B.E. planes.

Disbanded and reformed after World War I, the squadron embarked on the carrier HMS Hermes and went to China on 20 April 1927. Occupying the Shanghai Racecourse from 31 May 1927 until 13 Sept, it returned to England with the HMS Hermes, where it adopted the role of low-level reconnaissance squadron with the Army cooperation Command.

 

At the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, the unit followed the British Army to France. Its Westland Lysanders, however, were no match for roving German Messerschmitt Me109 fighters. Although battered, it mounted supply drops to the retreating troops when not on reconnaissance duties. By the end of May 1940, with France virtually out of the fight, and the squadron retreated to England. Here, in a period of great alarm, it began to patrol the southern coast, watching for a German invasion fleet. By November 1940, with the Battle of Britain having been fought and won, and with no invasion in sight, the squadron switched to radar calibration flights.

In 1941, however, the squadron began to retrain for offensive operations into Fortress Europe. Its Lysanders were augmented by American-made P-40 Tomahawks, which was no match for the Messerschmitts. Finally, in April 1942, the squadron received North American Mustang Mark Is. With these Allison-engine-powered fighters, the unit began to mount armed recce flights over Western France and the coastline. In the spring of 1943, its area activity expanded to the Dutch coastline with special two-craft "Lagoon" flights, operating at random. "Poplars," (or armed photographic-reconnaissance operations) were flown in May 1943, along with "Ranger" flights. With the disbandment of Army Cooperation Command in 1943, the squadron transferred to the newly formed Second Tactical Air Force. In the weeks leading up to Normandy invasion in June 1944, the squadron attacked German V-1 sites in May, then moved to France with the troops. When the Mustangs were withdrawn in December 1944 in favor of Supermarine Spitfires, the unit maintained operations with 300 sorties per month until victory in Europe in May 1945. On of its many specialties in this last stage of the conflict was flak spotting, in which squadron aircraft would fly over the Rhine area, baiting enemy AA teams into revealing their positions for destruction.

With the end of the war, the squadron stayed in Germany, continuing its photo-recon role, surviving well into the cold war, until disbandment on 30 September 1976.

​Aircraft

Lysander Mk I – Jul 1938 to Feb 1940

Lysander Mk II – Feb to Sept 1940

Lysander Mk III – Sept 1940 to Jul 1942

Tomahawk Mk I & II – Aug 1941 to Apr 1942

Mustang Mk I – Apr 1942 to Feb 1944

Mustang Mk IA – Feb to Jun 1944

Mustang Mk II – Jun 1944 to Jan 1945

Spitfire Mk XIVe – Nov 1944 to Jan 1951

Squadron Commanders

W/C AJW Geddes, OBE – Apr 1939 to Oct 1941

S/L DIC Eyres – Oct 1941 to Jan 1942

W/C PJA Riddell – Jan 1942 to Feb 1943

W/C PW Stansfield – Feb to Jun 1943

S/L BOC Egan-Wyer – Jun to Aug 1943

S/L M Gray, DFC – Aug 1943 to Sept 1944

S/L CE Maitland, DFC – Sept 1944 to Mar 1945

S/L RFJ Mitchell, DFC – Apr 1945

S/L DW Barlow, DFC – Apr to Dec 1945

Airfields

Hawkinge, UK – 30 Nov 1935

Addeville-Drucat, France – 29 Sept 1939

Senon, Ronchin & Lubuissiere – Feb 1940 (Dets)

Lubuissiere – 17 May 1940 (Det at Wevelghem)

Boulogne – 19 May 1940

Lympne, UK – 20 May 1940

Bekesbourne – 20 May 1940

Hatfield – 8 Jun 1940

Cambridge – 1 Aug 1940 (Det at Sawbridgeworth)

Sawbridgeworth – 24 Oct 1940

Martlesham Heath – 5 Dec 1941

Sawbridgeworth – 7 Dec 1941 (Detachment at Gatwick)

Bottisham – 31 Jan 1943 (Detachments at Westcott, Newmarket, Cranfield & Duxford)

Fowlmere – 19 Mar 1943

Sawbridgeworth – 27 Apr 1943

Gravesend – 16 Jul 1943

Odiham – 7 Aug 1943

Hutton Cranswick – 2 Sept 1943

Odiham – 6 Oct 1943

North Weald – 14 Nov 1943

Sawbridgeworth – 30 Nov 1943
North Weald – 22 Jan 1944 (Det at Benson)

Sawbridgeworth – 29 Feb 1944
Dundonald – 11 Mar 1944
Sawbridgeworth – 24 Mar 1944
Gatwick – 4 Apr 1944
Odiham – 27 Jun 1944
B.10 Plumetot, Fr. – 29 Jul 1944
B.4 Beny-sur-Mer – 14 Aug 1944
B.27 Boisney – 1 Sept 1944
B.31 Fresnoy-Folny – 6 Sept 1944
B.43 Fort Rouge – 11 Sept 1944
B.61 St Denis-Westren, Belgium – 27 Sept 1944
B.70 Deurne – 10 Oct 1944
B.77 Gilze-Rijen, Holland – 23 Oct 1944
B.89 Mill, Germany – 9 Mar 1945
B.106 Twente – 18 Apr 1945
B.118 Celle– 30 May 1945
B.150 Hustedt – 17 Jun to 19 Sept 1945

Supermarine Spitfire Mk XIVe, B.77 Gilze-Rijen, Netherlands, 1945 No. 2 Squadron began using the new Spitfire XIV from 1944. Note the F.24 oblique camera in the fuselage, this was used for low level Photographic reconnaissance missions The Mk XIVe version had a completely redesigned airframe from the Mk XIVc, by having a cut down rear fuselage, teardrop canopy, clipped wings, reconnaissance camera and larger fuel tanks. The squadron badge, displayed on the top left, has a wake knot over a roundel sporting the RAF colors of blue, white and red. 

No. 3 Squadron

Squadron Codes: OP, QO, JF (from 5 Jun 44), J5

Motto: TERTIUS PRIMUS ERIT (The third shall be first)

No 3 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, first formed at Larkhill on 13 May 1912 from No 2 (Aeroplane) Company. It was the first British squadron to form, a pride reflected by its later motto ‘Third but First.’

 

With the outbreak of the Second World War, the squadron had Hurricanes, flying its first scramble on September 4. Later it mounted defensive patrols over southern England, but when the German army attacked through the Low Countries in May 1940, No 3 went to France to reinforce the fighter squadrons covering the British Expeditionary Force. Soon, however, the British were in retreat. Joining 63 Wing, squadron retired to British bases when the fast-closing enemy occupied most of the airfields in northern France.

Once back in England, and with no effective role to play, the squadron went to northern Scotland to re-equip and train new pilots, having lost almost their air assets in France. ‘B’ Flight was detached on 21 July to form 232 Squadron and No 3 remained in the area for the defence of Scapa Flow until April 1941, largely missing the Battle of Britain. In 1942, the squadron returned to the offensive, operating over France. On one of these missions, Pilot Officer Robert Inwood was shot down over occupied France, but gave the Germans the slip and returned to England – becoming the only squadron pilot to do so during the war.

Later, during the 30/31 May 1942, the squadron acted as an intruder unit, escorting RAF bombers on the first thousand-bomber raid on Cologne. The Dieppe landings on August 19 proved a black mark in squadron records, however, when the unit far from achieving much during the battle, lost its squadron commander in action. The Hurricane, completely ineffective for European operations by this stage prompted RAF authorities to call for its withdrawal. Soon taking its place was the unproved Hawker Typhoon, a big, brutish fighter touted as an interceptor but destined to see service as a fighter-bomber. No 3 took the Typhoon into action in May 1943, which proved a telling encounter. Five out of six planes were shot down by German Focke-Wulf Fw190s during the second day of Typhoon operations, during a raid on Poix. Ashen, the squadron switched to night operations, carrying out nocturnal ‘Intruder’ sorties. Casualties, however, continued, not least of all by flaws in the Typhoon’s own design.

It was Mid-1944, before the squadron reequipped with the fast Hawker Tempest fighter,. On October 13, Pilot Officer Robert Cole claimed the unit’s first Me262 jet kill – a feat considering that the Me262 was 62 mph faster than the Tempest. Meantime, the squadron had been tasked a V-1 interceptor in July, and in this role, from July to March 1945, it claimed the destruction of 288 to 305½ V-1s, the greatest net among the eight RAF squadrons tasked with the role. The first kill was made by Flight Sgt Morris Rose on 16 June.

In 1945, the squadron went to Germany, tasked with maintaining air superiority until the end of the war. As a Tempest squadron from April 1944 to VE-Day in May 1945, the squadron destroyed 27 enemy aircraft. Later, after a stint with the British Forces of occupation, it disbanded on 15 June 1957.

​Aircraft

Hurricane Mk I – Mar 1938 to Apr 1941

Hurricane Mk IIB – Apr to Oct 1941

Hurricane NF Mk IIC – Apr 1941 to Feb 1943

Typhoon Mk IB – 1 Feb 1943 to Apr 1944

Tempest Mk V – Apr 1944 to Feb 1948

Squadron Commanders

S/L HH Chapman – Jul 1938 to Dec 1939

S/L P Gifford, DFC – Dec 1939 to May 1940 (KIA)

S/L WM Churchill, DSO, DFC – May to Jun 1940

S/L SF Godden, DFC – Jun to Sept 1940

S/L GF Chater, DFC – Sept to Nov 1940

S/L AN Cole – Nov 1940 to Jan 1941

S/L EPP Gibbs – Jan to Apr 1941

S/L RF Aitken – Apr 1941 to Apr 1942

S/L AE Berry, DFC* (NZ) – Apr to Aug 1942 (KIA)

S/L F deSoomer – Sept 1942 to Aug 1943

S/L SR Thomas, DFC, AFC – Aug to Sept 1943

S/L R Hawkins, MC, AFC – Sept to Oct 1943

S/L Dredge, AFC – Oct 1943 to Aug 1944

S/L KA Wigglesworth, DFC – Aug to Sept 1944

S/L HN Sweetman, DFC – Sept 1944 to Jan 1945

S/L KF Thiele, DSO, DFC8 – Jan to Feb 1945

S/L RB Cole, DFC8 – Feb 1945 to Apr 1947

Airfields

Biggin Hill, UK – 1 May 1939

Croydon – 2 Sept 1939

Manston – 10 Sept 1939

Croydon – 17 Sept 1939

Manston – 12 Oct 1939

Croydon – 13 Nov 1940 (Detachment at Hawkinge)

Kenley – 28 Jan 1940

Merville, France – 10 May 1940

Kenley, UK – 20 May 1940

Wick – 30 May 1940

Castletown – 3 Sept 1940

Turnhouse – 14 Sept 1940 (Detachments at Montrose and Dyce)

Castletown – 13 Oct 1940

Skaebrae – 7 Jan 1941 (Detachment at Submurgh)

Castletown – 10 Feb 1941 (Detachment at Submurgh)

Martlesham Heath – 3 Apr 1941

Stapleford Tawney – 23 Jun 1941

Hunsdon – 9 Aug 1941 (Detachment at Manston and Shoreham)

West Malling – 14 May 1943

Manston – 11 Jun 1943

Swanton Morley – 28 Dec 1943

Manston – 14 Feb 1944

Bradwell Bay – Mar 1944

Ayr – 6 Apr 1944

Bradwell Bay – 14 Apr 1944
Newchurch – 28 Apr 1944

Matlask – 21 Sept 1944
B.60 Grimbergen, Belgium – 28 Sept 1944
B.80 Volkel, Holland – 1 Oct 1944
Warmwell, UK – 1 Apr 1945
B.112 Hopsten, Germany – 17 Apr 1945
B.152 Fassberg – 27 Apr 1945
B.160 Kastrup – 21 Jun 1945
B.156 Luneburg – 18 Jul 1945
B.158 Lubeck – 8 Aug to 1945
B.155 Dedelsdorf – 5 Sept to 6 Oct 1945

World War II Aces

  1. P/O Frank H.R. Carey, DFM, DFC« (27½ Victories; 12 with this unit) May to Jul 1940 →43Sq

  2. F/L Pierre H. Clostermann, DFC«– Fr. (11 Victories; 2 with this unit) 9 Apr to May 1945→NCD

  3. S/L Walter M. Churchill, DSO, DFC (4.6 or 6.6 Victories†) Aug 1939 to Jun 1940 →605, 71Sqs, RAF Valley, RAF Takali (KIA 26 Aug 1942)

  4. F/L David C. ‘Foob’ Fairbanks, DFC – US (12½ Victories; 3½ with this unit) Jan to 8 Feb 1945 →274Sq

  5. P/O Alfred H.B. Friendship, DFM« (7.4 Victories†) Dec 1939 to Dec 1940 →605Sq, OTU, 126, 1435, 65, 604Sqs, CGS

  6. P/O Peter M. Gardner (8.33 Victories, 3 with this unit) May 1940 (attached to this squadron) →32Sq

  7. S/L Stanley F. Godden (7 Victories) 1940 to early 1941

  8. P/O Robert ‘Bob’ Inwood, DFC (6 Victories) 1942 to 1943 (KIA) – Intruder ace

  9. F/L Desmond J. Scott, DFC« – NZ (6½ Victories; 3½ with this unit) Jan 1941 to Sept 1942 →486Sq

  10. F/L John T. Shaw, DFC (6¼ Victories; 4¼ with this unit) Early 1941 to Sept 1942 →32Sq

  11. F/L Maurice M. ‘Mike’ Stephens, DFC« (18½ Victories; 8 with this unit, 2 unofficially with the Turkish AF in 1941) Dec 1939 to Jul 1940 →Flt became 232Sq

  12. P/O Cedric A.C. ‘Bunny’ Stone, DFC (5.3 Victories, 3.3 with this unit) Feb 1938 to 10 Jun 1940 →17Sq

  13. F/O Basilios M. Vassilades – Greece (8.8 Victories; 3 with this unit) Dec 1944 to 25 Mar 1945 (KIA)

  14. F/L Royce C. ‘Wilkie’ Wilkinson, DFM« (7.4 Victories†) May 1937 to May 1941 →121Sq, CO 174Sq (ShD 3 May 1942, Evaded, Returned Mid-1942), CO 1Sq, RAF Gravesend, 149Airfield/Wing, Australia, Darwin Wing

 

V-1 Flying Bomb ‘Diver’ Aces (No 3 was the top V-1 killing squadron in the RAF)

  1. P/O H.G. Bailey – Aust. (13 Kills†) Summer 1944 to 22 Feb 1945 (POW)

  2. F/O Robert E. Barckley, DFC (12½ Kills†) –N/A-

  3. P/O Ray H. Clapperton, DFC (24 Kills†) N/A to 29 Sept 1944 (POW)

  4. F/O Robert W. ‘Bob’ Cole, DFC (21½ Kills, 1.3 aircraft†) N/A to 1 Dec 1944 (KIA)

  5. S/L Alan S. Dredge, DFC (5 Kills†, 4 aircraft previously with 253Sq) Oct 1943 to Aug 1944 →W/C (DSO, KIFA 18 May 1945)

  6. P/O Rodney Dryland, DFC (17.6 Kills, 1 aircraft†) N/A to 1945 →N/A

  7. F/L M.F. Edwards (9.2 Kills†) N/A to 29 Dec 1944 (KIA)

  8. P/O L.G. Everson (6½ Kills†) –N/A-

  9. P/O Seymour B. ‘Buck’ Feldman, DFC – US (10¼ Kills†) N/A to Dec 1944 →274Sq, 101 IAF Sq (1 aircraft, 5 Jan 1949)

  10. P/O J.K. Foster (5½ Kills†) –N/A-

  11. F/Sgt. D.V. MacKerras (8¾ Kills†) –N/A-

  12. F/L Andrew R. Moore, DFC (23½ Kills†) -N/A- →56Sq (4 aircraft, « to DFC)

  13. F/Sgt. R.W. Pottinger (5½ Kills, ½ aircraft†) Early 1944 to 1 Jan 1945 (POW)

  14. F/Sgt. Morris J.A. Rose, DFC (11½ Kills, 2 aircraft†) –N/A-

  15. P/O Kenneth G. Slade-Betts, DFC (19½ Kills†) N/A to 29 Dec 1944 (KIA)

  16. F/L Arthur E. ‘Spike’ Umbers, DFC* - NZ (28 V-1 Kills) Early 1944 to Dec 1944 →486Sq (4½ aircraft, KIA 14 Feb 1945)

  17. F/L Remi ‘Mony’ van Lierde, DFC* – Belg. (39.4 V-1 kills; 6 previous aircraft victories with 609Sq) 20 Apr to 20 Aug 1944 →164Sq (second « to DFC), 84GSU, CO 350Sq, Belgium

  18. F/L G.A. ‘Lefty’ Whitman – US (7¼ Kills, 1 aircraft†) 1943 to N/A

  19. P/O H.R. Wingate (20½ Kills†) -N/A-

Hawker Tempest Mk V ‘Le Grand Charles’, B152 Fassberg, Germany, May 1945 This was ace Pierre Clostermann’s Tempest Mark V. Clostermann, a Frenchman joined the RAF in 1941 and flew four different Tempests (all coded JF-E) while with 3 Squadron. NV724 was his last Tempest. On the nose is the Free French cross of Lorraine with the squadron insigina on the tail fin. The victory tally under the cockpit shows thirty-three victories; of these eleven were confirmed in air combat, two were probables, nine damaged in the air, and finally six destroyed and six damaged on the ground.

No. 4 Squadron

Squadron Codes: FY, TV, NC, UP

Motto: ‘IN FUTURUM VIDERE’ (To see into the future)

The squadron first formed in September 1912 at Farnborough in Hampshire from a flight provided by No 2 Squadron. Much of the interwar years were a tedium and the opening of the Second World War in September 1939 was almost a welcome relief.

 

However, when the unit went to France with 50 Wing on 22 September, it did little but combat the winter that year. On 10 May, the following year, with the German Blitzkrieg opening in full force, the squadron finally went into action. Three days later, the squadron discovered that its main complement of Lysanders were next to useless against the better-equipped Luftwaffe. By the 24th, preceded by several brave attempts at tactical reconnaissance, the unit returned to England, shattered in two weeks of operations, having lost nine aircraft and their trained crews.

 

Now rendered non operational, the squadron did what little it could. It patrolled the coastline, vigilant for invasion fleets, and formed a detachment at Manston to take part in air-sea rescue operations. Even later, it took upon the task of training glider pilots.

Finally in April 1942, American-made P-40 Tomhawks and Mustang Mk Is arrived to replace the Lysanders. The squadron switched to offensive tactical reconnaissance that October, beginning low-level armed recce and photo-recce operations over occupied France, primarily to retrain itself for heavier combat. In 1943, the unit underwent a radical change. Its ‘A’ Flight equipped with Spitfire Mk XIs and XIIIs for high-altitude reconnaissance work, while ‘B’ Flight adopted Mosquito Mk XVIs for high and low-level work. Much effort was made to photograph the German V-1 sites in 1944, but the Mosquitoes vanished later into the year as the unit consolidated on Spitfires. By now, serving the 2nd TAF, the squadron moved to France with the attacking armies, flying Photo-Reconnaissance missions for the rest of the war. It disbanded in Germany on 31 August 1945.

​Aircraft

Lysander Mk II – Dec 1938 to Sept 1940
Lysander Mk III – Sept 1940 to Jul 1941
Tomahawk Mk IIA – May 1941
Mustang Mk I – May 1942 to Mar 1944

Mosquito PR Mk XVI – Dec 1943 to May 1944
Spitfire Mk XI – Jan 1944 to Aug 1945
Typhoon FR Mk IB – Oct 1944 to Feb 1945

Squadron Commanders

S/L GP Charles, OBE – Aug 1939 to Sept 1940

S/L PL Donkin – Sept 1940

S/L Maffet – Oct to Dec 1940

W/C GP Charles, OBE – Feb to Jun 1941

W/C PHR Saunders – Jun 1941 to Oct 1942

W/C GE MacDonald – Oct 1942 to Mar 1943

S/L RHD Rigall – Mar to Dec 1943

F/L AS Baker – Dec 1943

S/L RJ Hardiman, DFC – Dec 1943 to May 1944

S/L W Shepherd – May 1944 to May 1945

S/L CD Harris St. John, DFC – May to Sept 1945

Airfields

Odiham, UK – 16 Feb 1937

Mons-en-Chaussee, France – 24 Sept 1939

Monchy-Lagache – 3 Oct 1939 (Det at Ronchin)

Ronchin – 16 May 1940 (Dets at Aspelacre & Clairmarais)

Clairmarais – 21 May 1940 (Det at Ronchin)

Dunkirk – 22 May 1940 (Det at Detling)

Ringway, UK – 24 May 1940

Linton-on-Ouse – 9 Jun 1940

Clifton – 27 Aug 1940

Barford St John – 1 Mar 1943

Cranfield – 5 Mar 1943

Duxford – 8 Mar 1943

Clifton – 12 Mar 1943

Bottisham – 20 Mar 1943

Gravesend – 16 Jul 1943

Odiham – 7 Aug 1943

Funtington – 15 Sept 1943

Odiham – 6 Oct 1943
North Weald – 14 Nov 1943
Sawbridgeworth – 30 Nov 1943
Aston Down – 3 Jan 1944
Sawbridgeworth – 3 Mar 1944
Gatwick – 4 Apr 1944
Odiham – 27 Jun 1944 (Det at B.10 Plumetot)
B.4 Beny-sur-Mer, France – 16 Aug 1944
B.27 Boisnoy – 1 Sept 1944
B.31 Fresnoy-Folny – 6 Sept 1944
B.43 Fort Rouge – 11 Sept 1944
B.61 St Denis-Westren, Belgium – 27 Sept 1944
B.70 Deurnel– 16 Oct 1944
B.77 Gilze-Rijen, Holland – 23 Oct 1944
B.89 Mill, Germany – 8 Mar 1945
B.106 Twente – 17 Apr 1945
B.118 Celle – 30 May to 31 Aug 1945

No. 5 Squadron

Squadron Codes: MR, OQ, 7B

Motto: ‘FRANGAS NON FLECTAS’ (Thou mayest break but shall not bend me)

The squadron formed at Farnborough on 26 July 1913 from a nucleus provided by No 3 Squadron for express purpose of serving with the army. It disbanded after World War I but later reformed in India on 1 April 1920 by renumbering No 48 Squadron.

 

Here, it served in the country’s harsh Northwest frontier until 1941. Meanwhile, it had undergone something of a role transformation. By June 1940, it had become a dedicated bomber squadron but the arrival of obsolete Hawker Audaxes in February 1941 saw it convert to the fighter role. In April, ‘A’ Flight went to Dum Dum to defend Calcutta from attack, which followed the wholesale squadron deployment there in December. In 1942, American-built Curtiss P-38 Mohawks arrived, and with these, the squadron deployed to Assam in Eastern India, tasked with the difficult role of escorting RAF Blenheims on raids into Japanese-held Burma. Compounded with this, it also went into ground attack, carrying out these sorties under difficult conditions.

In May, a detachment posted to Dinjan on the Burmese frontier to join 146 Squadron in operations, but at this point something unique happened when the Dinjan detachment became 5 Squadron, while the rest of the squadron at Dum Dum renumbered as 146 Squadron. Going into action from June 17, this new transformed 5 Squadron began to escort light bombers and mount patrols over the frontier. Soon encountering Japanese fighters over the line, the squadron claimed its first kill on August 20.

In January 1943, it began ‘Rhubarbs’ flights primarily over the Chindwin River in Japanese-held Burma, but in June, became non-operational in order to convert to Hurricane Mark IIDs. It was January 1944 by when it finally became operational, returning to frontline operations the 8th - a feat it celebrated by shooting up 27 trucks and 14 bullock carts. Changing its Mark IID for IICs that same month, the squadron undertook bomber-escort missions but in June, again dropped off the active roster. Sent to Ceylon where it experimented in some anti-malarial spraying flights in August, the squadron equipped with the beefy American-made Republic P-47 Thunderbolt in October.

Back in operation that December, the squadron mounted a series of ‘Rhubarbs’, interdiction missions with 500 lb bombs and escort sorties in favor of supply-dropping Dakotas. This carried on into 1945 with the squadron’s last war operation constituting bombing attacks on Japanese positions during the recapture of Rangoon. When the war ended in August, the squadron returned to the northwest frontier. But the partition of India in 1947 brought forth disbandment and it moved to Mauripur to give up its equipment on 1 August 1947.

​Aircraft

Wapiti Mk IIA – 31 May 1931 to Jun 1940

Hawker Hart – Jun 1940 to Feb 1941

Audax Mk I – Feb 1941 to May 1942

Mohawk Mk IV – Dec 1941 to Jun 1943

Hurricane Mk IID – Jul to Dec 1943

Hurricane Mk IIC – Aug 1943 to Oct 1944

Thunderbolt Mk I – Oct 1944 to Feb 1946

Thunderbolt Mk II – Oct 1944 to Jan 1945

Squadron Commanders

S/L WTN Nichols – Nov 1938 to Jan 1940

S/L NF Simpson – Jan to Aug 1940

S/L ETT Nelson – Aug to Nov 1940

S/L AJ Young – Nov 1940 to Feb 1941

S/L JR Maling – Feb 1941 to Mar 1942

S/L JH Giles – Mar to May 1942

S/L Bill Pitt-Brown – May to Nov 1942

S/L PM Bond – Nov 1942 to Mar 1943

S/L GJC Hogan – Mar 1943 to Jun 1944

S/L JM Cranstone, DFC – Jun 1944 to Feb 1945

S/L LH Dawes, DFC – Feb 1946 to May 1946

Airfields

Risalpur, India – 2 Apr 1938 (Dets at Arawali, Kohat, Miranshah, Fort Sandeman, Hakimpet & Sialkot)

Ford Sandeman – 10 Oct 1939 (Dets at Queeta, Kohat and Miranshah)

Lahore – 10 Jun 1940 (Det at Miranshah)

Risalpur – 26 Feb 1941 (Det at Dum Dum)

Dum Dum – 15 Dec 1941 (Det at Dinjan)

Dinjan – 5 May 1942 (Det at Tezpur)

Agartala – 2 Oct 1942 (Dets at Chittagong & Reindeer)

Khangpur – 1 Jun 1943

Armada Road – 22 Nov 1943

Sapam – 7 Dec 1943

Wangjing – 24 Mar 1944 (Det at Patharkandi)

Lanka – 30 Mar 1944

Dergaon – 6 Jun 1944

Vizagapatam – 25 Jun 1944

Yelahanka – 16 Sept 1944

Cholavarum – 24 Oct 1944

Trichinopoly – 29 Oct 1944 (Det at St. Thomas Mount)

Nazir – 14 Dec 1944 (Dets at Cox’s Bazaar, Sadaung & Sinthe)

Cox’s Bazaar – 19 Apr 1945

Kyaukpyu, Burma – 8 Apr 1945

Cox's Bazaar, India – 6 Jun 1945

Vizagapatam – 10 Jun 1945

Bobbili – 24 Jun 1945

Vizagapatam – 30 Aug 1945

Baigachi – 12 to 25 Sept 1945

Curtiss P-36 Mohawk Mk IV, Dinjan, Northeastern India, August 1942 The P-36 (model 75) Mohawk was obsolete by the war’s beginning but was still used in quantity by the RAF in the Far East, which had little hope of replacements. The RAF received 229 Hawks, mostly France-bound machines diverted to Britain after France’s fall, or those that escaped captivity after France was overrun. To this total were a few fighters built by the Central Aircraft factory (later renamed Hindustan Aircraft) after the factory was moved from China to India. In any case, the RAF decided that the aircraft was unsuitable for the European theater, and most were shipped to India where they served with Nos 5 and 155 squadrons.

No. 6 Squadron

Squadron Code: JV

Motto: ‘OCULI EXERCITUS’ (The eyes of the army)

Although the squadron formed at Farnborough on 31 January 1914, it spent much of its early days giving up its aircraft and men to other squadrons – a malady that was to hinder its own deployment until the autumn of that year.

 

In 1929, it moved to Egypt but dispatched a detachment to Palestine, staying nearly as a whole in the Middle East until the beginning of the Second World War, immersing itself in the conflicts of the Arab-Jewish settlers, until the advent of war in September 1939.

By summer 1940, with Italian armed forces poised over the border in Libya, No 6 joined other British forces in the Western Desert that September. By a feat of logistics, this was accomplished with little debacle despite the squadron headquarters being located in far-off Palestine. Soon engaged in combat, the squadron slowly learned the lessons of war. Hurricanes joined the antiquated Lysanders on the line. When the Germans entered the theater of operations, the Lysanders were all but withdrawn.

The unit participated in heavy fighting for the port city of Tobruk, contending with artillery fire falling on its base when not dealing with the Luftwaffe in the air. On 10 May 1941 when the Germans closing in, the bulk of squadron withdrew with the retreating 8th Army, leaving just ‘B’ Flight behind at Tobruk.

Now sent for some well-earned rear-echelon rest in the Canal Zone, with ancient Gladiators and Lysanders temporarily replacing the Hurricanes – to the horror of many a pilot, the squadron took part in some refresher training. Soon operating out of the remote oasis at Koufra with these machines, it thankfully saw little action in 1941. In January 1942, the situation took a sharper downturn when the squadron relinquished all of its aircraft and became a maintenance unit. In April, however, it began to receive Hurricane Mk IIDs armed with 40mm cannons, becoming one of only two RAF frontline squadrons to be equipped with this weapon during the war.  Effective against armor, the 40mm was used by the unit in a tankbusting role with enthusiasm, a pride reflected by a new nickname it adopted for utself: ‘The flying tin-openers’. Indeed, No 6’s unofficial insignia of a red tinopener on a blue background, adorned a later generation of squadron Hurricanes and Tempests and later still, Jaguars and Tornados.

Taking the ‘Tankbusters’ into action in June, the squadron took a heady toll on German trucks, tanks and motorized transport, starting first on June 8. Their best day came on October 24, when around they knocked out 16 enemy tanks around the El Alamein battlefield.

In November, the squadron retired from the front to concentrate on coastal patrols around Alexandria and taking on Hurricane Mk IICs, attempted to train other squadrons on the Mark IID. Then, at long-last in March 1943, they finally returned to combat when they flew in support of the Free French Expeditionary Force under Maj-General Jacques Leclerc for a month. Casualties continued to linger, with an average of two to three Hurricanes being lost in each mission to deadly ground fire, but the worst day came on the 25th, when the squadron lost six planes out of 10. In part due to these losses, the squadron became non-operational in April and took this opportunity to convert to Hurricane Mk IVs.

Adding rockets to their new mounts in July, the squadron spent some training before moving to Italy in February 1944. Declared operational in March, it opened its Italian career by hitting a German headquarters at Durazzo. Confined to the Adriatic coast, No 6 transferred to the Balkan Air Force in August and soon began operating over Yugoslavia. For these cross-Adriatic flights, squadron Hurricanes carried four rockets under one wing while hauling an extra fuel tank under the other. At the dawn of 1945, the squadron detached to several Balkan airfields and flew its last operation in late-April, against 16 enemy troopships which when attacked, immediately put up white flags. Following the cessation of hostilities in Europe, the squadron moved to Palestine in July. By December 1946, No 6 was the last RAF squadron still with Hurricanes, but this honor did not last long and equipped soon enough with more modern types such as tempests and early post-war jets, the squadron remained flying until its disbandment on 13 January 1969.

​Aircraft

Gauntlet Mk II – Aug 1939 to Apr 1940

Lysander Mk I & II – Sept to Dec 1939

Lysander Mk I & II – Feb 1940 to Jun 1941

Hurricane Mk I – Mar to Jun 1941

Lysander Mk I & II – Aug 1941 to Jan 1942

Hurricane Mk I – Sept 1941 to Jan 1942

Gladiator Mk II – Aug 1941 to Jan 1942

Blenheim Mk IV – Nov 1941 to Jan 1942

Hurricane Mk IIC – Dec 1942 to Feb 1943

Hurricane Mk IID – Apr to Dec 1942

Hurricane Mk IID – Feb to Jul 1943

Hurricane Mk IV – Jul 1943 to Dec 1946

Squadron Commanders

S/L WN McKechnie – Feb to Sept 1940

S/L ER Weld – Sept 1940 to Apr 1941

S/L P Legge – Apr 1941 to Feb 1942

W/C RC Porteous, DSO – Feb 1942 to Jan 1943

S/L D Weston-Burt, DSO – Jan to May 1943

W/C AE Morrison-Bell, DFC – May 1943 to May 1944

S/L JH Brown, DSO, DFC – May to Aug 1944

S/L RH Langdon-Davies, DFC – Aug to Nov 1944

S/L R Slade-Betts, DFC – Nov 1944 to Jul 1946

Airfields

Ramleh, Palestine – 22 Nov 1937
Qasaba, Egypt – 19 Sept 1940
Tobruk, Libya – 1 Feb 1941
Aqir, Palestine – 17 Feb 1941
Barce, Libya – 24 Feb 1941
Maraua – 4 Apr 1941
El Adem – 6 Apr 1941
Bir el Gubi – 8 Apr 1941
Tobruk West – 9 Apr 1941
Qasaba, Egypt – 23 Apr 1941
Tel Aviv, Palestine – 1 Jul 1941
Wadi Halfa, Egypt – 18 Aug 1941
Koufra – 28 Aug 1941
Helwan – 12 Feb 1942
Kilo 26 – 22 Feb 1942
Shandur – 28 Apr 1942
Gambut, Libya – 4 Jun 1942
Sidi Haneish – 17 Jun 1942
LG.106 – 28 Jun 1942

LG.91 – 29 Jun 1942

LG.89, Egypt – 29 Jul 1942

LG.172 – 6 Nov 1942

ldku – 9 Dec 1942
Bu Amud – 2 Feb 1942
Castel Benito, Tunisia – 2 Mar 1943
Sorman – 7 Mar 1943
Senom – 14 Mar 1943
Gabes – 4 Apr 1943
Sfax/El Maou – 31 Apr 1943
Bou Goubrine – 16 Apr 1943
Ben Gardane – 2 Jun 1943
Heliopolis, Egypt – 8 Sept 1943
Fayid – 22 Sept 1943
Grottaglie, Italy – 24 Feb 1944
Fogala – 4 Jul 1944
Canne – 14 Aug 1944
Prkos, Greece – 9 Apr 1945 (Det from 8 Feb 1945)
Canne, Italy – 18 May 1945
Megiddo, Palestine – 13 Jul 1945
Petah Tiqva – 3 Sept 1945 to 4 Jun 1946

Hawker Hurricane Mk IID, Shandur, Egypt, May 1942 The Hurricane Mk IID was powered like all Mark IIs, by a single Rolls-Royce Merlin XX engine with a two-speed supercharger. The tropical version of this variant had a maximum speed in excess of 320 mph at 18,000 ft and a service ceiling of 35,000 ft. The squadron insignia consisted of an eagle attacking a serpent. The ‘Tinopener’ insignia was an unofficial badge which later became official after the war.

No. 7 Squadron

Squadron Codes: LT, XU, MG

Motto: “PER DIEM PER NOCTEM” (By day and by night)

This squadron formed on 1 May 1914 at Farnborough but disbanded four months later in August. Reformed again on 24 September 1914, the squadron saw prolonged service in France during the First World War as a corps squadron. A period of disbandment followed after the war.

Reformed on 1 June 1923 at RAF Bircham Newton, the squadron became a bomber unit with No 4 Group. Here, it merged with 76 Squadron to form 16 Operational Training Unit (OTU) on 4 April 1940, and although became a squadron again that same month on the 30th, it again disbanded three weeks later on 20 May.

Reformed for the fourth time on 1 August 1940 at Leeming with the intention of being the first to equip with the Shorts Stirling heavy bomber, No 7 flew its first operational mission on the night of 10/11 Feb 1941, when three of its Stirlings attacked oil depots at Rotterdam. Incidentally, this raid was the RAF’s first four-engined heavy bomber raid of the war.

Posted to No 8 Group, the squadron became a pathfinder squadron and in 1942, along with 35 Squadron was the first to use H2S, the revolutionary and wartime ground-mapping radar system. On the night of 30/31 May 1942, the squadron participated in the thousand-bomber raid on Cologne. By the end of the 1945, the squadron had suffered the third highest losses in the whole of Bomber Command, and had suffered the highest overall and percentage losses in 8 Group. Incidentally, it had also suffered the highest percentage losses of all the Stirling squadrons. Regardless, the squadron had also carried out the most raids of any other Lancaster squadron in 8 Group. The squadron disbanded on 1 January 1956.

​Aircraft

 

Whitley Mk III – Nov 1938 to May 1939
Anson Mk I – Mar 1939 to Apr 1940
Hampden – Apr 1939 to Apr 1940
Stirling Mk I – Aug 1940 to Aug 1943
Stirling Mk III – Mar to Aug 1943
Lancaster Mk I & III – May 1943 to Aug 1945

Doncaster, UK – 1 Sept 1939
Finningley – 15 Sept 1939
Upper Heyford – 23 Sept 1939
Finningley – 30 Apr 1940
Leeming – 1 Aug 1940
Oakington – 29 Oct 1940
Mepal – 25 Jul 1945 to 29 Jul 1946

Airfields

Doncaster, UK – 1 Sept 1939
Finningley – 15 Sept 1939
Upper Heyford – 23 Sept 1939
Finningley – 30 Apr 1940
Leeming – 1 Aug 1940
Oakington – 29 Oct 1940
Mepal – 25 Jul 1945 to 29 Jul 1946

Squadron Commanders

W/C P Harris – Aug 1940 to Apr 1941

W/C HR Graham – Apr 1941 to Apr 1942

W/C BD Sellick – Apr to Oct 1942

W/C OR Donaldson – Oct 1942 to May 1943

W/C HH Burnell – May to Sept 1943

G/C KR Rampling – Sept 1943 to Mar 1944

W/C WG Lockhart – Mar to Apr 1944

W/C JF Barron – Apr to May 1944

W/C RW Cox – May 1944 to Aug 1945

Operational Performance

 

Raids Flown

3 Group Stirlings – 167 bombing, 11 minelaying

8 Group Stirlings – 82 bombing, 7 minelaying
8 Group Lancasters – 279 bombing

Totals: 528 bombing, 18 minelaying = 546 raids

 

Sorties and Losses

3 Group Stirlings – 918 sorties, 41 aircraft lost (4.5 percent)
8 Group Stirlings – 826 sorties, 37 aircraft lost (4.5 percent)
8 Group Lancasters – 3316 sorties, 87 aircraft lost (2.6 percent)

Totals: 5060 sorties, 165 aircraft lost (3.3 percent)

An additional 27 Stirlings were destroyed in crashes

Shorts Stirling Mk III, RAF Oakington, Mid-1943 The Stirling Mark III was finest bomber variant of the series and incorporated four 1,650 hp Bristol Hercules XVI engines. The aircraft had a maximum speed of 434 km/h (270 mph), a range of 3,235 kilometers (2,010 miles) and an internal bomb-load of 6,350 kgs (14,000 lbs). The above pathfinder aircraft is equipped with an H2S navigation pod, as indicated by the bulge in the lower fuselage. The squadron insignia consisted of seven points representing the constellation of Ursula Major.

No. 8 Squadron

Squadron Codes: HV, RT

Motto: USPIAM ET PASSIM (Everywhere unbounded)

The squadron formed at Brooklands on 1 January 1915 in response to the RFC’s (Royal Flying Corps) growing need for increased air support on the western front. 

 

In 1927, the squadron moved to Aden, which would be its home until 1967, except for short periods elsewhere in the Mediterranean. The main equipment for the squadron at this time were Fairy Mark IIIFs and Vincents but in 1939 some relatively modern Blenheims appeared on charge. By 1942 the war with Italy in East and North Africa had intensified, and No 8 carried out attacks against targets in Italian East Africa. After the routing of the Italian army, the squadron switched to anti-submarine and internal security missions. American-made Lockheed Hudsons, the unit’s most capable wartime craft, arrived in March 1943 and Wellingtons in December – completely equipping the unit by January 1944. Radar was another vital piece of equipment to arrive in 1943, allowing No 8 to become an effective anti-submarine force. As if on cue, the first U-boat sightings were made on 8, 10 and 14 July 1943. Although concentrated depth-charges were used on all the sightings, only on the last one instance did any sign of a hit become apparent. Debris and oil was spotted on the surface of the water. Still, there is no record of any u-boats being lost in 8 Squadron’s area of operation on these dates appearing in the official logs.

After that began a dry spell in which no submarines were encountered. Then in May 1944, U-852 became the victim of a squadron attack. Hit and disabled by unit Wellingtons, No 621 Squadron arrived to finish off the stricken vessel. Operations continued around Aden for the remainder of the war, but with little action, the unit disbanded on 1 May 1945.

Reformed two weeks later in India by renumbering No 200 squadron, No 8 operated at Jessore, until moving to Ceylon a few days later. Here it flew  Liberators on special duty missions, including the aerial resupply of irregular allied forces in Malaya. Following the Japanese surrender, No 8 disbanded again on 15 November 1945.

​Aircraft

Vincent – Feb 1935 to Nov 1940

Blenheim Mk I – Apr 1939 to Oct 1941

Swordfish Mk I – Aug to Dec 1940 (Floatplanes)

Blenheim Mk IV – Jan 1941 to Aug 1942

Vincent – May 1941 to Apr 1942

Blenheim Mk VA – Sept 1942 to Jan 1944

Hudson Mk IIIA – Feb to Dec 1943

Wellington Mk XIII – Dec 1943 to May 1945

Liberator GR Mk VI – May to Nov 1945

Squadron Commanders

W/C RH Humphries – May to Aug 1942

W/C DW Reid, DFC – Aug 1942 to Jul 1944

W/C MGL Foster, DFC – Jul 1944 to May 1945

W/C JM Milburn – May to 15 Nov 1945

Airfields

Khormaksar, Middle East – 27 Feb 1927
Burao, Middle East – Oct 1935 (Det)
Riyan, Berbera, Sheikh Othman, Middle East – Apr 1939 (Dets)
Bandar Kassim, Riyan, Salala, Scusuiban, Middle East – Sept 1942 to 1 May 1945 (Detachments)
Jessore, India – 15 May 1945
Minneriya, Ceylon – 21 May to 15 Nov 1945 (Detachment at Sigiriya)

No. 9 Squadron

Squadron Codes: WS, A

Motto: PER NOCTUM VOLAMUS (Throughout the night we fly)

Unofficially known as ‘Ipswich’s Own’ Squadron at one point in its service, No 9 Squadron is one of the most famous units of the RAF. The squadron originally formed St Omer, France on 8 December 1912, when the HQ of the Wireless unit at St Omer was raised to squadron status. But its initial life was short-lived. When it was decided that all RFC squadron possesses wireless facilities, No 9 was broken up and its veritable horde of equipment redistributed to other corps squadrons. The unit then disbanded on 22 March 1915.

 

Reformed at few days later on 1 April 1915, its Great War years were busy and the interwar years long and lean with relative calm and drudgery. Just before the outbreak of the Second World War, the unit moved to No 3 Group as a heavy bomber squadron, equipped with first examples of the Vickers Wellington heavy bomber

.

The first wartime operation began on 2 September 1939, a day after the war began. It was a mission that would cost the unit its first casualties. More followed on 18 December 1939, when the unit took part in a disastrous daylight raid on Wilhelshaven – losing five aircraft to enemy fighters. This raid brought an abrupt halt to daylight-bombing raids against German-held strategic targets. During the Norwegian campaign of early-1940, No 9 sent a detachment of Wellingtons to Lossiemouth in Scotland, but apart from these and a detachment to Coastal Command in April 1940, the squadron settled into an uneventful period of rest, building up for the main bomber offensive yet to come. In July 1942, the last Wellington operations were flown before the squadron converted to Lancasters before moving from No 3 to 5 Group the following month.

On May 30/31, 1942, the squadron took part in the thousand bomber raid on Cologne, being equipped with the GEE navigational system. On 12 November 1944, together with the Lancasters of No 617 Squadron, the unit dropped several 12,000 lb ‘Tallboy’ bombs on the German battleship Tirpitz in Tromso Fiord, Norway. This sank the ship. The Tallboy, at the time, remained one of the most destructive bombs in history before the advent of the atomic bombs. After this, to add to its unique laurels, No 9 was the only main force squadron (aside from 617 Squadron) to carry out precision bombing – a task made markedly devastating by the use of the Tallboys.

As the war in Europe ended, plans were made to transfer No 9 to the Far East as part of ‘Tiger Force’ (Under Air Marshal Hugh Lloyd, who had commanded the squadron at the beginning of the war). The Japanese capitulated before the unit could transfer. Nevertheless the squadron moved to India to undertake aerial survey work until Aprill1946. It then disbanded on 13 July 1961.

​Aircraft

 

Wellington Mk I – Jan to Dec 1939
Wellington Mk IA – Sept 1939 to Sept 1940
Wellington Mk IC – Feb 1940 to Oct 1941
Wellington Mk II – Mar to Aug 1941
Wellington Mk III – Jul 1941 to Aug 1942
Wellington Mk IC – May to Jun 1942
Lancaster Mk I & III – Sept 1942 to Dec 1945
Lancaster Mk VIII – Nov 1945 to Apr 1946

Squadron Commanders

W/C HP Lloyd – Jan to Sept 1939

W/C RAA Cole – Sept 1939 to Jan 1940

W/C A McKee – Jan to Jul 1940

W/C AE Healy – Jul 1940 to Jan 1941

W/C RGC Arnold – Jan to Jun 1941

W/C KMM Wasse – Jun 1941 to Jan 1942

W/C WIC Innes – Jan to May 1942

W/C LV James – May to Jun 1942

W/C JM Southwell – Jun 1942 to Mar 1943

W/C KBF Smith – Mar to Apr 1943

W/C P Burnett – Apr to Nov 1943

W/C EI Porter – Nov 1943 to Jun 1944

W/C JM Bazin – Jun 1944 to 19 Jul 1946

Airfields

Honnington, UK – 15 Jul 1939

Lossiemouth – Sept 1939 (Det)

Waddington – 7 Aug 1942

Bardney – 14 Apr 1943 (Dets at Lossiemouth and Yagodnik in Russia)

Waddington – 6 Jul 1945

Salbani, India – 19 Jan to 19 Apr 1946

Operational Performance

 

Raids Flown

3 Group Wellingtons – 272 bombing, 7 minelaying, 8 leaflets
5 Group Lancasters – 289 bombing, 12 minelaying
Totals: 561 bombing, 19 minelaying, 8 leaflet = 588 raids

 

Sorties and Losses

3 Group Wellingtons – 2,333 sorties, 66 aircraft lost (2.8 percent)
5 Group Lancasters – 3,496 sorties, 111 aircraft lost (3.2 percent)

Totals: 5,828 sorties, 177 aircraft lost (3.0 percent)

An additional 22 Lancasters were destroyed in crashes

The Victoria Cross
Flight Sergeant George Thompson, Scotland. Died of Wounds, Age 24

A wireless operator aboard a Lancaster during a fateful day-raid on the Dortmund-Ems Canal in Germany on 1 January 1945, George Thompson had left school at the age of 15 to start a four apprenticeship in Kinross to become a grocer. When war came, he quickly abandoned this profession and like so many others joined the RAF in the summer of 1940. Given differed service, Thompson then joined the Local Defence Volunteers (LDV), his desire to get into the air force not to become reality until 1941 when he was assigned to ground crew training. Far from discouraged, he pursued his boyhood interest in wireless transmitting and finally placed as the wireless operator aboard a Lancaster in April 1944, with sergeant’s stripes on his arms.

Invited to join a crew by the lead pilot, Flying Officer Harry Denton, a New Zealander, while at 14 Operational Training Unit, Thompson quickly took up the offer and together both men joined 9 Squadron on 29 September 1944. Eager to get into action, the crew unfortunately found little of it. In October they managed three sorties, in November none and in December just one. The January 1 raid was intended to be their show opener but already there were signs that the operation carried bad luck.

Just before takeoff, as they taxied on the airfield towards the main runway, Denton and his crew had just taken off and were turning slowly at 500 feet when they saw another Lancaster trying to take-off, speed off the runway and explode in gigantic jumble of flames, the bright light cutting through grim, early morning darkness. To make matters worse, a second Lancaster following did not do any better and slid across the grass at the far end of the runway before slithering to a halt.

Denton and his crew joined another 100 crews over Northern France and headed for their objective. Soon the canal came into view and the bombardier, Sergeant Ron Goebel, dropped the Lancaster’s entire compliment of twelve 1,000lb bombs. Just as the last bomb fell away, an 88mm shell plunged into the mid-upper turret as a second destroyed the nose, blowing up the bombardier position and shattering the cockpit canopy. Although knocked unconscious by the blast, Denton came too moments later and punched the fire extinguisher button to smother flames creeping up near the engines. But the aircraft's controls had been hit.

Denton fought with the stricken Lancaster to keep it from drifting to the left. Fresh air bellowing in from the blasted Perspex canopy raged through the plane fanning flames near mid-upper turret. A blazing fire erupted, fed by severed hydraulic fluid lines. At this point, Goebels miraculously appeared, his face blackened and carrying a parachute, having somehow survived the disintegration of the bombardier’s position.

Meanwhile Sergeant Ernie Potts, the mid-upper gunner, was in a precarious position. Knocked out and surrounded by flames around the stricken turret, he had no inkling of the efforts of George Thompson, who without gloves was attempting to extricate him from the blaze. Just as Pott’s clothes caught on fire, Thompson managed to reach in and pulled the unconscious man to safety.

At the aircraft's tail, a similar fate was overtaking the rear turret gunner, Sergeant Hayden Price who being aware of his situation, was waiting to die. Just as he lost all hope he heard banging on the turret bay door and George Thompson appeared. His clothes were ragged and burned away with fire-induced blisters and large tracts of blackened skin appearing on his legs, hands and face, Thompson behaved as though he was oblivious of his injuries. Quickly freeing the rear gunner, he quickly put out the fires on Price’s clothes with his bare hands before helping him along the fuselage to Potts. By now in near collapse due to the sheer weight of his injuries and exhaustion, Thompson carried on up the fuselage in the freezing wind racing through the broken fuselage, towards the cockpit to inform Denton that the wounded gunners were incapable of bailing out.

His pilot barely recognized him. As they soared over the Rhine, the enemy ack-ack began to pound the aircraft again, knocking out the inner starboard engine. With just two engines remaining, the Lancaster began to lose altitude. Denton managed to crash-land the aircraft upon a field in friendly territory. As the Lancaster slid across the earth, it broke into two. All of the crew escaped the wreckage. However, Potts died the next day and Price needed extensive plastic surgery before he was declared fit again. As for Thompson, with penicillin and treatment for his burns, he began to make a rapid recovery until he was laid low by pneumonia. He died on January 23, 1945. A posthumous Victoria Cross announced on February 20 in the London Gazette.

© 2020 by AKHIL KADIDAL

Find my other work here. The art displayed on this site can be downloaded from my blog.

The obligatory Instagram profile