The Royal Air Force During World War 2
10 to 19 Squadrons

No. 10 Squadron

Squadron Codes: PB, ZA

Motto: REM ACU TANGERE (To hit the mark)

The squadron formed on 1 January 1915 at Farnborough, serving initially as a training squadron.

Disbanded after World War I and reformed on 1 January 1928 at Upper Heyford as a night bomber unit, the squadron equipped with the first examples of the Armstrong-Whitworth Whitley bomber – taking delivery of the second production example on 9 March 1937.

Completely operational in 4 Group with Whitleys by the outbreak of war in September 1939, the ‘Blackburn’s Own’ Squadron as the unit was unofficially known, flew its first operational bombing mission in the first week of the war. On the night of 1/2 October 1939, it switched to ‘Nickel’ Raids, the dropping of leaflets over Berlin. On a nighttime raid on industrial targets in the Ruhr valley, a Whitley piloted by Squadron Leader Hanafin became the first bomber to shoot down and destroy a German nightfighter during the war when the Whitley’s tail gunner, Aircraftsman Oldridge, smashed the German fighter with a barrage of fire.

In 1941, the unit began to prioneer the use of target-marking techniques, later to be used with deadly efficiency by the Pathfinders. Throughout the war, the unit served with 4 Group, barring several small detachments sent to Coastal Command in the Middle East. Finally in 7 May 1945, after victory in Europe, the unit transferred to transport command, to bolster supply-dropping mission to refugees and the transfer of servicemen and prisoners of war from various parts of Europe and the Far East.

Its wartime record was impressive. By end of the European war in May 1945, the squadron had carried out the most bombing raids in 4 Group and the flown second-highest number sorties in the Group, the highest being 78 squadron, leading by only four sorties. The unit transferred to India on 8 August 1945, eventually disbanding on 15 December 1947 at Mauripur in India.

Operational Performance

 

Raids Flown

4 Group Whitleys – 208 bombing, 15 leaflet
4 Group Halifaxes – 325 bombing, 61 minelaying
Totals: 533 bombing, 61 minelaying, 15 leaflet = 609 raids

 

Sorties and Losses

4 Group Whitleys – 1,430 sorties, 47 aircraft lost (3.3 percent)
4 Group Halifaxes – 4,803 sorties, 109 aircraft lost (2.3 percent)

Totals: 6,233 sorties, 156 aircraft lost (2.5 percent)

​Aircraft

Whitley Mk IV – May 1939 to May 1940
Whitley Mk V – May 1940 to Dec 1941
Halifax Mk I – Dec 1941 to Aug 1942
Halifax Mk II – Deember 1941 to Mar 1944
Halifax Mk III – Mar 1944 to May 1945
Dakota – May 1945 to Dec 1947

Squadron Commanders

W/C W Staton – Jun 1938 to Apr 1940

W/C NC Singer – Apr to Jul 1940

W/C SO Bufton – Jul 1940 to Apr 1941

W/C VB Bennett – Apr to Sept 1941

W/C J Tuck – Sept 1941 to May 1942

W/C JB Tait – May to Jun 1942

W/C DCT Bennett – Jun to Jul 1942

W/C RK Wildey – Jul to Oct 1942

W/C W Carter – Oct 1942 to Feb 1943

W/C DW Edmonds – Feb 1943

W/C JF Sutton – Oct 1943 to Apr 1944

W/C DS Radford – Apr to Oct 1944

W/C UY Shannon – Oct 1944 to Jan 1945

W/C AC Dowden – Jan to 5 Oct 1945

Airfields

Dishforth, UK – 25 Jan 1937

Villeneuve in France & Kinloss – May 1939 (Dets)

Leeming – 8 Jul 1940

Lossiemouth – Dec 1941 (Det)

Aqir, Palestine – 5 Jul 1942 (Det)

Melbourne, UK – 19 Aug 1942

Broadwell – 9 Aug 1945

Bisalpur, India – 10 Sept to 5 Oct 1945

Handley-Page Halifax Mk II Series 2, RAF Leeming, 1942 Powered by four Rolls-Royce Merlin 22 inline engines, the Halifax M II was a great improvement over the earlier Mk I. The Series 2 of this variant had a ‘Z’ frontal fairing, pending the arrival of a redesigned forward gun turret.

No. 11 Squadron

Squadron Codes: AD (Bomber), EX

Motto: OCIORES ACRIORESQUE AQUILIS (Swifter and keener than eagles)

Formed on 14 February 1915 at Netheravon from a nucleus supplied by 7 Squadron, the squadron adopted the then-novel idea of equipping with only one type, in its case the Vickers FB5 two-seat pusher scout plane. After an illustrious career as a fighter squadron during World War I the squadron was disbanded in 1919, like so many other British squadrons.

 

Reformed on 13 January 1923 at Andover as a bomber squadron, No 11 instead acted as a communications squadron until it left for India on 11 November 1928. Here, in the exotic Far East, it became an army cooperation squadron on the harsh northwest frontier. Bristol Blenheims arrived in July 1939 to replace an earlier generation of Hawker Harts and the squadron deployed to Singapore a month later.

The outbreak of war in Europe alarmed many squadron personnel and they naturally expected to return home, but it would take until May 1940 before the squadron received orders to travel westwards - but not to Britain. Instead, the unit found itself in Egypt. By June, the unit was in Aden from where it carried out attacks against the Italians in Eritrea, but later that month moved to Egypt. In January 1941 it joined British Forces in Greece for operations there, but the Allied debacle there prompted its hasty withdrawal to Palestine from where it supported the support of the allied invasion of French Vichy-held Syria. Sideshow actions continued into August it moved to Iraq to quell the Axis sponsored rebellion, before returning to Egypt in September.

Following this, the squadron again received orders in March 1942 to travel east, this time to Ceylon. Remaining there January 1943, No 11 deployed to India, becoming a fighter squadron once again in August.

 

Equipped with Hurricanes, the squadron spent the next four months working up in their new mounts and after that joined 243 Wing at Lamlai on December 1 for combat operations. Its first mission, on the 31st, involved the strafing of advanced Japanese positions in Burma. Aside from this, it also escorted supply Dakotas and dive-bombing Vultee Vengeances. By April 1944, as heavy combat pockmarked the Imphal-Kohima area, the squadron operated over the battlefield on "Cab-Rank" duties, flying in close support of the Allied 14th Army. As Japanese fortunes reversed, in November, the squadron found itself the first British squadron to take up station in Burma since 1942.

In 1945, the squadron went deeper into Burma, accompanying g the 14th Army in its relentless drive south towards Rangoon. Although 602 sorties were flown in March, April and May saw relatively minuscule operations, with all operations shelved from May 16. In June, No 11 moved back to India to equip with Spitfire Mk XIVs for the invasion of Malaya. However, the Japanese surrender circumvented this plan. The squadron then deployed aboard HMS Trumpeter on September 1 for a move to British Malaya, flying off the carrier’s decks for Kallang, Singapore on the 9th. Remaining there until May 1946, No 11 then went to Japan as part of the British Commonwealth Air Forces of occupation, disbanding at Miho, Iwakuni on 23 February 1948.

​Aircraft

Blenheim Mk I – Jul 1939 to Jan 1941
Blenheim Mk IV – Jan 1941 to Sept 1943

Hurricane Mk IIC – Sept 1943 to May 1945
Spitfire Mk XIV – 6 May 1945 to Feb 1948

Squadron Commanders

Unknown - 1939 to Aug 1943

S/L SG Proudfoot – Aug to Sept 1943

S/L SC Norris, DFC – Sept 1943 to Mar 1944

S/L DJT Sharp, DFC – Mar to Dec 1944

S/L GA Butler – Dec 1944 to Apr 1945

S/L BT Shannon – Apr to Nov 1945

Airfields

Tengah, Malaya – 7 Aug 1939

Kallang – 9 Sept 1939

Lahore, India – 20 Apr 1940

Karachi – 5 May 1940

Ismailia, Egypt – 9 May 1940 (Det at Heliopolis)

Sheikh Othman, Aden – 16 Jun 1940

Helwan, Egypt – 1 Dec 1940 (Det at Fuka)

Larissa, Greece – 28 Jan 1941 (Det at Paramythia)

Almyros – 1 Mar 1941

Menidi – 17 Apr 1941

Argos – 23 Apr 1941

Ramleh, Palestine – 1 May 1941

Aqir – 25 May 1941

Habbaniyah, Iraq – 9 Aug 1941

LG.09, Egypt – 27 Sept 1941

LG.104, North Africa – 9 Oct 1941

LG.116, Libya – 25 Oct 1941 (Dets at LG.76 & Bu Amud)

Bu Amud, Libya – 26 Dec 1941

LG.116 – 27 Jan 1942 (Dets at Bu Amud & Gambut)

Helwan, Egypt – 22 Feb 1942

Colombo, Ceylon – 17 Mar 1942

Baigachi, India – 12 Jan 1943

Feni – 13 Feb 1943 (Det at Ranchi)

St Thomas Mount – 15 Sept 1943

Cholavaram – 15 Oct 1943 (Det at Lalmai)

Lalmai – 2 Dec 1943

Airbase ‘Lyons’ – 25 Jan 1944

Sapam – 2 Mar 1944

Tulihal – 5 Mar 1944

Lanka, Ceylon – 14 Apr 1944 (Det at Imphal & Kangla)

Dimapur – 1 Jul 1944 (Det at Imphal)

Imphal – 1 Oct 1944

Tamu – 9 Nov 1944

Kan, Burma – 26 Jan 1945

Sinthe – 11 Feb 1945

Magwe – 1 May 1945

Feni, India – 19 May 1945

Chettinad – 29 May 1945

Tanjore – 1 Jun 1945
Chettinad – 7 Jun 1945
Madura – 17 Aug to 1 Sept 1945

No. 12 Squadron

Squadron Codes: PH, GZ (‘C’ Flight and from Nov 1942)

Motto: LEADS THE FIELD

The squadron was first formed on 14 February 1915 at Netheravon as light bomber and scouting squadron with a flight from 1 Squadron. Heavily engaged in combat during World War I, the unit racked up 45 kills before the armistice.

After the declaration of war in September 1939, the squadron went to France with the Advanced Air Striking Force (AASF) in France. It was soon embroiled in action during the Blitzkrieg in early 1940. However, the squadron's Lumbering Fairy Battles were easy targets for the enemy and predictably casualties were heavy. On 12 May, in what was a disastrous day, the the "Dirty Dozen" as the squadron unofficially called itself, lost fix of six Battles in an attempt to bomb bridges over the Albert Canal in Holland (the last escaped only because it had turned back for home due to mechanical issues).

With the loss of France, the squadron returned to England in July 1940 and was assigned to 1 Group where it remained for the rest of the war. At the conclusion of the war in 1945, the squadron had suffered the highest percentage losses of all Bomber Command squadrons, and the highest percentage losses of all No 1 Group’s Wellingtons. The squadron disbanded on 13 July 1961.

​Aircraft

Battle – Feb 1938 to Nov 1940
Wellington Mk II – Nov 1940 to Nov 1942
Wellington Mk III – Aug to Nov 1942
Lancaster Mk I & III – Nov 1942 to Jul 1946

Squadron Commanders

W/C RWG Laywood – May 1938 to Sept 1939

W/C AG Thackray – Sept 1939 to Jun 1940

W/C VQ Blackden – Jun 1940 to Apr 1941

W/C RH Maw – Apr to Oct 1941

W/C BJR Roberts – Oct 1941to Jan 1942

W/C A Golding – Jan to Apr 1942

W/CRC Collard – Apr to Jul 1942

W/C HI Dabinett – Jul 1942 to Feb 1943

W/C RSC Wood – Feb to Aug 1943

W/C JG Towle – Aug to Sept 1943

W/C DMH Craven – Sept 1943

W/C JD Nelson – Mar to Aug 1944

W/C M Stockdale – Aug 1944 to Jul 1946

Airfields

Bicester, UK – 9 May 1939

Berry-au-Bac, France – 2 Sept 1939

Amifontaine – 8 Dec 1939 (Dets at Perpignan-La Salanque)

Echemines – 16 May 1940

Souge – 28 May 1940

Finningley, UK – 1 Jun 1940

Binbrook – 3 Jul 1940

Eastchurch – 13 Aug 1940

Thruxton – Nov 1940 (Det)
Wickenby – 5 Sept 1942 to 24 Sept 1945

Operational Performance

 

Raids Flown

1 Group Battles – 8 bombing
1 Group Wellingtons – 137 bombing, 24 minelaying, 6 leaflet
1 Group Lancasters – 282 bombing, 27 minelaying

Totals: 427 bombing, 51 minelaying, 6 leaflet – 484 raids.

 

Sorties and Losses

1 Group Battles –36 sorties, 1 aircraft lost (2.8 percent)
1 Group Wellingtons – 1,242 sorties, 59 aircraft lost (4.8 percent)
1 Group Lancasters – 3,882 sorties, 111 aircraft lost (2.9 percent)

Totals: 5,160 sorties, 171 aircraft lost (3.3 percent)

An additional 18 Lancasters were destroyed in crashes.

Fairy Battle Mk I, Amifontaine, France, May 1940 Donald Garland and Thomas Gray were the first two members of the RAF to win the Victoria Cross in World War Two. Flying this machine, PH-K (P2204), they led a flight of five against the German-held Albert Canal bridges in Holland on the fateful 12th May mission that would seal their destinies.

The Victoria Cross
Flying Officer Donald Garland, Ireland. Killed in Action, Age 21
Flight Sergeant Thomas Gray, England, Killed in Action, Age 25

On 12 May 1940, six battles from No 12 Squadron, the "Dirty Dozen," were detailed to attack bridges used by the invading German army in the Maastricht area; still standing after a previous day’s failed attempt to destroy them. At the last minute, one Battle went unserviceable just, but the remaining five under the 21-year old Flying Officer Garland took to the air. Their mission: destroy the bridges at Veldswezelt and Vroenhoven, Holland.

Ahead were eight Hurricanes from 1 Squadron in escort. The raiders had just reached the attack area when nearly 120 German Me109s filled the air. Overwhelmed, the Hurricanes put up a short but fruitless defense, shooting down three, but losing six of their own.

By now, the Battles began attacking the Vroenhoven Bridge. The first aircraft swept over the bridge and dropped its load, hitting one end of the superstructure. But as the aircraft crossed the structure at less than 100 ft, it was hit by a barrage of flak. It crash-landed. The three crewmembers were captured. The bombs of the second aircraft fell short, and it too was hit too by flak which tore apart the port wing. The pilot ordered the crew to bail out and managed to nurse the crippled aircraft back to allied lines, where it crash-landed.

Five minutes later, the remaining three battles, led in by Garland, attacked the Veldswezelt bridge at low-level. Ground fire hit and set ablaze one aircraft while running in, but the pilot dropped his bombs before crash-landing on the banks of the Albert canal. The second aircraft was hit even before it could attack, and went into an uncontrollable vertical climb, engulfed in flames.

 

Eventually stalling, it dived into the ground, killing all three crewmembers. The last aircraft – that of Garland – was also hit, but Garland refused to go down without a fight. He pointed the nose of his Battle at the metal bridge, and the aircraft, still carrying its bombs, smashed into the western end of the structure. All three crewmembers died instantly, but their sacrifice had destroyed one end of the bridge. For their actions, Garland and his observer, Sergeant Tom Gray were both awarded posthumous Victoria Crosses. But there was no reward for their rear gunner, Leading Aircraftsman Lawrence Reynolds who was just as brave and just as dead.

No. 13 Squadron

Squadron Codes: AN, OO

Motto: ADJUVAMUS TUENDO (We assist by watching)

The squadron first formed on 10 January 1915 at Gosport, and moved to France in October as a corps reconnaissance squadron. After the First World War, where it had artillery spotted and conducted photo-recon flights.

 

The squadron went to France at the outbreak of the Second World War as part of the Air Component of the BEF. But experience during the German ‘Blitzkrieg’ showed that the Lysander was obsolete and the unit was withdrawn to England by the end of May 1940. Coastal patrols in northwest England training with the army became the squadron’s principle occupation until mid-1941 when it was reequipped with Blenheim Mk IVs, then becoming a light bomber unit. Army cooperation duties continued in the form of low altitude bombing, smokescreen laying and training in gas deployment. The smokescreen-laying part of the training went into effect by No 13 during the Dieppe landings on 19 August 1942. Interestingly, the means by which this smokescreen laying went into effect did not involve smokescreening at at all – instead, squadron bombers dropped 100 lb phosphorous bombs on AA positions to the blind the gunners! In May, the unit also took part in the first thousand-bomber raid on Cologne, although most of its work during this time was of a training nature.

Reequipped with Blenheim Mk Vs, a dedicated ground attack variant, No 13 went into action in Algeria on 15 November 1942, flying both day and night based raids. The opposition was tough and following several hard fights, daylight raids ceased because of heavy losses. Moving to coastal patrols, the squadron claimed two attacks on submarines, with one probably destroyed and the other damaged.

By October 1943, the first US-made Lockheed Venturas arrived, and No 13 resumed its coastal patrols, adding convoy escort duties to that list. In December, however, it moved to Egypt and reequipped with Marin Baltimores, another American-made light bomber. These, classified as dedicated bombers, caused a shift in the squadron’s identity to that of an attack unit. In Feb 1944, with it Baltimores, the squadron moved to Italy, becoming operational with the 3rd (SAAF) Wing in April. Here it used its Baltimores in the interdicting role from May, converted to the more-capable US-made Boston medium bombers in October. At the conclusion of the war, No 13 moved to Greece in September 1945, disbanding there at Hassani airfield on 19 April 1946.

​Aircraft

Lysander Mk II – Jan 1939 to Jan 1941
Lysander Mk III – Nov 1940 to Jul 1941
Blenheim Mk IV – Jul 1941 to Sept 1942
Blenheim Mk V – Sept 1942 to Dec 1943
Ventura Mk V – Oct to Dec 1943
Baltimore Mk IV – Jan to Jun 1944
Baltimore Mk V – Jan to Oct 1944
Boston Mk IV – Oct 1944 to Feb 1946
Boston Mk V – Nov 1944 to Apr 1946

Squadron Commanders

S/L SHC Gray – Apr 1937 to Aug 1940

S/L WJ Crisham – Aug 1940 to Apr 1941

W/C RJ Cooper – Apr to Sept 1941

W/C WG Tailyour – Sept 1941 to Jul 1942

W/C JW Deacon – Jul to Oct 1942

W/C WL Drummond – Oct 1942 to Feb 1943

W/C WL Thomas – Feb to May 1943

W/C JR Thompson, DFC – May 1943 to May 1944

Airfields

Odiham, UK – 16 Feb 1937

Mons-en-Chaussee, France – 24 Sept 1939

Flamicourt – Apr 1940

Douai – 11 May 1940

Abbeville – 22 May 1940 (Det at Clairmarais & Manston)

Chateaubriant – 26 May 1940

Bekesbourne, UK – 29 May 1940

Hooton Park – 14 Jul 1940

Odiham – 17 Jul 1941 (Dets at Detling, Wattisham & Thruxton)

Macmerry – 1 Aug 1942

Odiham – 10 Aug 1942

Blida, Algeria – 18 Nov 1942 (Dets at Canrobert & Setif)

Canrobert – 5 Dec 1942

Bo Rizzo, Sicily – Oct 1943 (Det)

Kabrit, Mediterranean – 19 Dec 1943

Oulmene, Algeria – 8 Feb 1943 (Dets at Monastir & La Sebala)

Protville II, Tunisia – 4 Sept 1943

Sidi Ahmen – 12 Oct 1943

Sidi Amor – 26 Oct 1943

Biferno, Italy – 22 Mar 1944

Regina – 2 May 1944

Tarquinia – 22 Jun 1944

Cecina – 18 Jul 1944 (Det at Perugia)

Iesi – 27 Oct 1944

Perugia & Marcianese – Nov 1944 (Dets)

Falconara – 30 Dec 1944

Forli – 7 Mar 1945

Aviano – 13 May to 14 Sept 1945

Westland Lysander Mk II, Mons-en-Chaussee, France, December 1940 Some 442 Lysander Mk II’s were produced and delivered to the RAF and the aircraft was powered by a 905 hp Bristol Perseus XII radial engine. The Lysander had a top speed of 341 km/h (212 mph) at 5000 ft, a maximum ceiling of 21 500 ft and a stall speed of just 90.1 km/h (56 mph). The aircraft took eight minuites to climb to 10 000 ft; range was 966 kilometers (600 miles) on internal fuel. The unit badge was of a Lynx in front of a dagger.

No. 14 Squadron

Squadron Codes: LY, CX, BF

Motto: I SPREAD MY WINGS AND KEEP MY PROMISE

No 14 squadron formed on 3 February 1915 at Shoreham in Sussex as an army cooperation squadron, but unlike many of its fellow squadrons at the time, it did not join the British Army in France, but instead went to the Middle East in November 1915.

 

The onset of the Second World War saw it being based there still. After Italy entered the war in June 1940, the squadron (by now a  bomber unit) move to Egypt and thence to Sudan, where it carried out strikes against Italian targets in Eritrea. The squadron reequipped with Blenheim Mk IVs in Sept 1940, and with these, relocated to Egypt and then Palestine. It would later take part in the actions against the axis-sponsored rebellion in Iraq in 1941, before returning to the western desert to reequip with Marauders in August 1942. With these aircraft, it carried out coastal patrols, minelaying and maritime recon operations as well conventional bombing raids against axis targets in Libya and Algeria. It also became the only RAF medium bomber squadron employed on anti-shipping in the Mediterranean. In March 1943, the unit moved to Algeria, and disbanded on 21 September 1943 in Italy.

Reformed on 24 October 1944 at Chivenor, England as an anti-submarine unit, the squadron equipped with Wellington Mk XIVs, and resumed operations in February 1945, serving until its disbandment on 1 June at Banff.

​Aircraft

Wellesley – Mar 1938 to Dec 1940
Gladiator Mk I – Jun 1940 to Mar 1941
Blenheim Mk IV – Sept 1940 to Aug 1942
Baltimore Mk II – Jul 1942 to Aug 1942
Marauder Mk I – Aug 1942 to Sept 1944
Mustang Mk I – May to Jun 1943
Marauder Mk II – Jun to Aug 1944
Maurauder Mk III – Jun to Sept 1944

Wellington Mk XIV – Nov 1944 to May 1945 (Leigh Light Equipped)

Squadron Commanders

Unknown - 1939 to October 1944

W/C E Donovan – Oct 1944 to Apr 1945

W/C GI Rawson – Apr to Jun 1945

W/C CN Foxley-Norris, DSO – Jun 1945 to Mar 1946

Airfields

Ismailia, Egypt – 24 Aug 1939 (Det at Qasaba)

Amman, Trans Jordan – 19 Dec 1939 (Det at Port Sudan)

Port Sudan, East Africa – 24 May 1940

Heliopolis, Egypt – 12 Apr 1941

LG.21, North Africa – 1 May 1941

Petah Tiqva, Palestine – 7 Jul 1941

Habbaniyah, Iraq – 10 Aug 1941

Qaiyarh, Egypt – 24 Aug 1941

Habbaniyah, Iraq – 8 Nov 1941

Lydda, Egypt – 26 Sept 1941

LG.15 – 4 Nov 1941

LG.75 – 18 Nov 1941

Gambut, Libya – 18 Dec 1941

Bu Amud – 27 Jan 1942

LG.76 – 6 Feb 1942

LG.11 – 8 Feb 1942 (Dets at Gambut & Bir el Baheria)

El Firdan – 1 May 1942 (Det at Kabrit)

LG.116 – 4 Jun 1942

Qassassin, Palestine – 28 Jun 1942 (Det at LG.97, LG.98 & LG.88)

LG.224, Egypt – 10 Aug 1942

Fayid, Egypt – 25 Aug 1942 (Dets at Berka III & Gambut No.3)

Gambut No.3, Libya – Dec 1943 (Dets at Berka & Shallufa)

Telergma, Tunisia – 1 Mar 1943 (Dets at Berka III, Gambut No 3 & Shallufa)

Blida, Tunusia – 10 Mar 1943 (Dets at Gambut No.3, Shallufa, Bone & Kasfareet)

Protville I, Tunisia – 2 Jun 1943 (Det at Bone & Grottaglie)

Sidi Amor, Tunisa – 27 Oct 1943 (Dets at Bone, Ghisonaccia & Grottaglie)

Ghisonaccia – 5 Dec 1943 (Dets at Blida & Grottaglie)

Blida, Tunisa – 13 Jan 1944 (Dets at Grottaglie, Ghisonacci & Telergma)

Alghero, Italy – 11 Apr 1944 (Dets at Grottaglie, Ghisonaccia, Telergma & Foggia)

Grottaglie – 23 Sept 1944

Gragnano – 3 Oct 1944

Chivenor, UK – 24 Oct 1944 to 25 May 1945

Martin B-26B Marauder Mk IA ‘Dominion Revenge’, Fayid, Egypt, Late-1942 This example, like all of No 14’s Marauders, was used as a torpedo-carrying, anti-shipping aircraft. The RAF employed the B-26B in two marks, the Mark IA and the Mark II (B-26B-10).Powered by two 2,000 hp Pratt & Whitley R-2800-43 engines, the aircraft was armed (in RAF versions) with one 0.50 cal machine gun in the nose, two machine guns in a Martin dorsal turret and one in the tail. The aircraft could carry a maximum of 4,000 lbs of bombs; 2,000 lbs in special carriers in the front bomb bay. The unit contains the squadron motto written in Arabic. The squadron motto (I spread my wings and keep my promise) is said to be an extract from the Koran.

No. 15 Squadron

Squadron Codes: EF, ZA, LS, DJ (C-Flight), QR

Motto: AIM SURE

Formed on 1 March 1915 at South Farnborough, Hampshire from a nucleus provided by 1 (Reserve) Squadron, No 15 moved to France in December and took up the usual corps corps recon activities – artillery spotting and battlefield photography.

Unofficially known as ‘Oxfords Own,’ the squadron became a complete day bomber unit on 1 June 1934 and when war did come in September 1939, it moved to France as part of the Advanced Air Striking Force (AASF). Here, the unit did not stay long, returning to Britain in December to be equipped with the Blenheim. Based at Alconbury and later Wyton, No 15 began combat flights over France as the German Blitzkrieg opened up in May. Although operating Blenheims, it was also flying five different types of bombers during the period of the by the Battle of Britain (July to November 1940). Because of the supply problem of spares imposed by operating such a diverse range of aircraft, the squadron standardized on Wellingtons in November, transferring to No 3 Group, Bomber Command.

In April 1941, however, the squadron received Stirlings, becoming the second RAF squadron to be equipped with the type. For the remainder of the war, No 15 served as a main force bomber squadron, equipping with Lancasters in December 1943. In 1942, the unit carried out the most bombing raids of all the Stirling squadrons, but in turn (along with 218 Squadron) suffered the heaviest losses of all Stirling squadrons. The unit disbanded on 15 April 1957 at Honington.

​Aircraft

Battle – Jun 1938 to Dec 1939
Blenheim Mk IV – Dec 1939 to Oct 1940
Wellington Mk IC – Nov 1940 to May 1941
Stirling Mk I – Apr 1941 to Apr 1943
Stirling Mk III – Jan to Apr 1943
Lancaster Mk I & III – Dec 1943 to Mar 1947

Squadron Commanders

W/C JL Wingate – Mar to Dec 1939

W/C RGL Lywood – Dec 1939 to Jun 1940

W/C J Cox – Jun to Dec 1940

W/C HR Dale – Dec 1940 to May 1941

W/C PBB Ogilvie – May 1941 to jan 1942

W/C J MacDonald – Jan to Jun 1942

W/C DJH Lay – Jun to Dec 1942

W/C SWB Menaul – Dec 1942 to May 1943

W/C JD Stephens – May to Sept 1943

W/C AJ Elliot – Sept 1943 to Apr 1944

W/C NDG Watkins – Apr to Nov 1944

W/C MG MacFarlane – Nov 1944 to 1946

Airfields

Abingdon, UK – 1 Jun 1934
Betheniville, France – 2 Sept 1939
Conde-Vraux – 11 Sept 1939
Wyton, UK – 10 Dec 1939
Alconbury – 14 Apr 1940
Wyton – 15 May 1940 (Det at Lossiemouth)
Bourn – 13 Aug 1942
Mildenhall – 14 Apr 1943 to 19 Aug 1946

Operational Performance

 

Raids Flown

2 Group Blenheims – 97 bombing and reconnaissance
3 Group Wellingtons – 38 bombing
3 Group Stirlings – 263 bombing, 85 minelaying, 5 leaflet
3 Group Lancasters – 208 bombing, 18 minelaying

Totals: 606 bombing, 103 minelaying, 5 leaflet = 714 raids

 

Sorties and Losses

2 Group Blenheims – 543 sorties, 27 aircraft lost (5.0 percent)
3 Group Wellingtons – 73 sorties, 3 aircraft lost (1.7 percent)
3 Group Stirlings – 2,231 sorties, 91 aircraft lost (4.1 percent)
3 Group Lancasters – 2,840 sorties, 45 aircraft lost (1.6 percent)

Totals: 5,785 sorties, 166 aircraft lost (2.9 percent)

An additional 5 Blenheims, 38 Stirlings and 11 Lancasters were destroyed in crashes.

Shorts Stirling Mk I, RAF Wyton, Early 1942 The Shorts Stirling was the first British bomber capable of carrying large amount of munitions at longer ranges. But because standard RAF hangers at the time could no accommodate aircraft with over a 100 feet wingspan, the original large wing of the Stirling was abandoned. Consequently, when the aircraft entered service in early 1941 it had poor high-altitude performance and a restricted operating ceiling when fully loaded. Typically, the Mk I variants did not have a mid-upper turret, but this aircraft is seen to be custom-fit with a two-gun Fraser-Nash turret. The squadron insignia is at the top left-hand corner.

No. 16 Squadron

Squadron Codes: EE, KJ, UG, EG

Motto: OPERTA APERTA (Hidden things are revealed)

The unit formed on 10 February 1915 at St.Omer in France from detached flights originating from Nos 2, 5 and 6 Squadrons. With the combined expertise of these units behind it, the squadron became immediately operational. Interestingly, during the First World War, a few of the squadron’s commanders were men who later hold important positions in the RAF during the Second World War. One was Hugh Dowding of Fighter Command; another was Charles "Peter" Portal, the wartime Chief of Air Staff.

In the 1938, the unit became the first RAF squadron to operate the Westland Lysander. The outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 found No 16 in England, but in April 1940, it moved to France. While attempting to conduct recce operations in the Le Chateau and St Quinten areas, the unit itself found itself drawn into heavy combat. The slaughter that followed resulted in its swift withdrawal to England a few weeks, after claiming a measly two or three German aircraft as a return for its heavy casualties. The kills, primarily responsible due to the efforts of Pilot Officer Peter Dexter and his gunner, Aircraftsman Webb were achieved on May 21 in the Arras-Cambrai-Amiens area, when beset by a sudden flight of Me109s, Dexter was able to shoot down one with his frontal guns, while Webb dispatched a second. Notwithstanding their feat, the Lysander had been confirmed as completely obsolete but continued to remain on the roster in lieu of improved types.

Training in army cooperation continued, and in April 1942 the Lysanders went in favor of Allison-engined Mustang Mk Is. The Mustangs, used in shipping reconnaissance and on low-altitude interceptions, proved a giant improvement over the Lysanders. German fighter-bombers (usually twin-engined or single engined fighters) conducting nuisance patrols over English coastal towns and military bases, found themselves being best by the Mustangs whose Allison engines rated for optimum performance at low-level. However, no aces were produced during this period.

Spitfires replaced the Mustangs in September 1943, and these were used on high-altitude photographic-recce missions in the months leading up to Operation "Overlord." The squadron then moved to the 2nd TAF in 1944, continuing its tactical-recce flights (both high and low-altitude) until the end of the war. With the cessation of hostilities in Europe in May 1945, the unit operated a high-speed mail service between Germany and Britain, but in September 1945, its three flights were transferred to Nos 2, 26 and 268 Squadrons and the ground staff transferred to Dunsfold. The squadron officially disbanded on 20 October 1945 at Northolt.

​Aircraft

Lysander Mk I – Jun 1938 to Sept 1940
Lysander Mk II – Apr 1939 to Nov 1940
Gladiator Mk II – May to Sept 1940
Blenheim Mk IV – 1940
Tiger Moth Mk II – 1940-1941
Lysander Mk III – Oct 1940 to Jun 1941
Lysander Mk IIIA – May 1941 to Jul 1942
Mustang Mk I – Apr 1942 to Oct 1943
Spitfire PR Mk XI – Nov 1943 to Oct 1945

Squadron Commanders

S/L RES Skelton – Sept 1939 to May 1940

W/C T Humble – Mar to Jun 1940

S/L RES Skelton – Jun 1940 to Jun 1941

W/C PW Stansfield – Jun 1941 to Jul 1942

W/C JR Davenport – Jul 1942 to 1943

W/C RIM Bowen – N/A 1943 to Jun 1943

S/L KF Mackie, DFC – Jun to Sept 1943

S/L EM Goodale, DSO – Sept 1943 to Aug 1944

S/L AN Davis, DFC – Aug 1944 to Sept 1945

World War II Ace

P/O Peter G. Dexter, DFC – SA (5 Victories; 2 with this unit) Jan to Mid 1940 →603Sq 

Airfields

Old Sarum, UK – 1 Apr 1924

Hawkinge – 17 Feb 1940

Amiens, France – 13 Apr 1940

Bertangles – 14 Apr 1940

Lympne, UK – 19 May 1940

Redhill – 3 Jun 1940

Cambridge – 29 Jul 1940

Okehampton – 3 Aug 1940 (Det at Cambridge)

Weston Zoyland – 15 Aug 1940 (Dets at Okehampton, Roborough, Tilshead & Bolt head)

Okehampton – 4 Sept 1941

Weston Zoyland – 6 Sept 1941 (Dets at Lee-on-Solent and Tilshead)

Okehampton – 9 Sept 1941

Weston Zoyland – 11 Sept 1941

Thurxton – 25 Sept 1941

Weston Zoyland – 3 Oct 1941 (Det at Farnborough)

Lympne – 23 Nov 1941

Weston Zoyland – 27 Nov 1941 (Det at Okehampton)

Andover – 1 Jan 1942

Ford – 26 Feb 1943
Andover – 13 Mar 1941
Weston Zoyland – 6 Apr 1943
Andover – 9 Apr 1943
Weston Zoyland – 16 May 1943
Andover – 22 May 1943
Middle Wallop – 1 Jun 1943
Hartford Bridge – 29 Jun 1943
Northolt – 16 Apr 1944
A.12 Balleroy, France – 4 Sept 1944
B.48 Amiens/Gilsy – 9 Sept 1944
B.58 Melsbroek, Belgium – 27 Sept 1944
B.78 Eindhoven, Holland – 10 Apr to 19 Sept 1945

Supermarine Spitfire PR Mk. XIX, B.78 Eindhoven, Holland, 1945 This PR Blue Spitfire from the squadron carries nine kill markings under the cockpit and a curious motif of a boy playing a flute under the engine exhausts. (Artist unknown)

No. 17 Squadron

Squadron Codes: UV, YB, UT

Motto: EXCELLERE CONTENDE (Excellent contender)

The squadron formed at Gosport on 1 February, 1915 and after completing its training, embarked for the Middle East in November.

 

Later, the squadron formed a crucial component of the fighter defence of England until the advent of Second World War, although during the Abyssinian crisis of 1935, the unit lost most of its Bristol Bulldogs as reinforcements for other squadrons moving to Africa, forcing it to fly older Hawker Harts for a period. In June 1939, Hurricanes arrived and with these, the unit began defensive patrols until the German attack on France in May 1940.

 

Fighter sweeps began over Holland, Belgium and France and soon enough, the squadron began to encounter the Luftwaffe. Its very first combat, over Holland, three Me109s and two Henschel Hs126 were shot down. However, the squadron also lost five of its own, including the commander Squadron leader G.C. Tomlinson who was killed. Later using airfields in rapidly-faltering France, the squadron attempted to cover the retreat of allied troops westwards. By June the squadron had moved to Brittany as the remnants of BEF (British Expeditionary Force) and the RAF in France withdrew, eventually retiring to the Channel Islands two days before returning to England. 

With France gone, the squadron began to operate with No 11 Group over southern England. Rebuilt and reinforced, the squadron was heavily engaged during the Battle of Britain, claiming the destruction of 67½ enemy aircraft. Still in action by November, after the battle had been officially concluded, the squadron had its heaviest day on the 8th, when they encountered 25 to 30 Ju87 Stuka dive-bombers escorted by Me109 attacking two British destroyers in the Channel. Sweeping in, the squadron began a prolonged dogfight after which they claimed 13 Stukas destroyed, with another seven planes probably destroyed and one damaged.

Retired to northern Scotland in April 1941, the squadron received orders to transfer to India in November – even before the advent of Japanese opening blows. Sent to the Far East with the intention of reinforcing British forces in Malaya, the squadron diverted to Burma as most of Malaya had already fallen in Japanese hands by December. Once in Burma, it was handed the difficult assignment of stemming the Japanese tide against Rangoon. Stationed at Mingaladon, outside Rangoon by January 1942, the squadron’s score began to soar again as numerous Japanese Ki-27 Nates fell to their guns, but these came at the cost of grievous losses of own. Finally, by March, cut-off and badly bruised at Lashio, No 17 withdrew to India and made it to Calcutta, where it regrouped.

It now took on the air defense of India, with the remnants of other RAF fighter squadrons and the Royal Indian Air Force. In December 1942 when the Japanese attempted night raids against Calcutta, the squadron shot down its first Japanese plane over Indian soil on the night of the 23rd. More air defense sorties continued for the rest of the month and into January 1943, but from February, No 17 began ground attack sorties. Moving to Ceylon in August, they received Spitfire Mk VIIIs in March 1944 to replace their aging fleet of Hurricanes. Returning to the Burmese front in November, the unit participated in the allied recapture of the country, escorting supply-carrying Dakotas and averaging several ‘Cab-Rank’ missions over the battlefield. As an Allied victory in Burma appeared on the horizon, the squadron withdrew to India in June 1945 to prepare for the invasion of Malaya.

 

When the war ended before the planned invasion, No 17 simply moved to Malay onboard the Royal Navy carrier HMS Trumpeter on September 1, arriving at the landings beaches at Penang on the 9th. It later joined the Commonwealth Air Forces of Occupation in Japan in April 1946, disbanding there on 23 February 1948, its victory tally for World War II standing at 111 enemy planes destroyed with another 51 probably destroyed and 32 damaged.

​Aircraft

Hurricane Mk I – Jun 1939
Hurricane Mk IIA – Feb 1941
Hurricane Mk I – Apr 1941
Hurricane Mk IIB – Jul 1941
Hurricane Mk IIA – Jan 1942

Hurricane Mk IIB – Jun 1942
Hurricane Mk IIC – Aug 1942 to Jun 1944
Spitfire Mk VIII – Mar 1944 to Jun 1945
Spitfire Mk XIVe – Jun 1945 to Feb 1948

Squadron Commanders

S/L C Walter – Jan 1937 to Nov 1939

S/L GC Tomlinson – Nov 1939 to May 1940 (KIA)

S/L JH Edwards-Jones – May 1940

S/L GD Emms – May to Jun 1940

S/L RIG MacDougall – Jun to Jul 1940

S/L CW Williams – Jul to Aug 1940

S/L AG Miller – Aug 1940 to Jul 1941

S/L CAC Stone, DFC*– Jul 1941 to Jun 1942

S/L JH Iremonger – Jun to Dec 1942

S/L MCC Cotton, DFC – Dec 1942 to Jul 1944

S/L EA Pevreal – Jul to Nov 1944

S/L JH ‘Ginger’ Lacey, DFC, DFM*, AFM – Nov 1944 to May 1946

Airfields

North Weald, UK – 23 May 1939
Croydon – 2 Sept 1939
Debden – 9 Sept 1939
Martlesham – Dec 1939 to Apr 1940 (Dets)
Hawkinge – 17 May 1940
Debden – 21 May 1940
Kenley – 24 May 1940
Le Mans, France – 8 Jun 1940
Dinard – Jun 1940
Jersey, Channel Is – 17 Jun 1940 (Det at Guernsey)

Debden, UK – 19 Jun 1940
Tangmere – 19 Aug 1940
Debden – 2 Sept 1940
Martlesham Heath – 8 Oct 1940

Croydon – 28 Feb 1941

Martlesham – 31 Mar 1941

Castletown – 4 Apr 1941 (Dets at Sumburgh & Elgin)

Elgin – 29 Jul (Det at Sumburgh)
Dyce – Aug 1941 (Det at Montrose)
Tain – 16 Sept 1941
Catterick – 31 Oct 1941

Mingaladon, Burma – 16 Jan 1942 (Det at Akyab)

Magwe – Feb 1942
Lashio – Mar 1942
Pankham Fort, India – Mar to Apr 1942
Jessore – May 1942
Alipore – 23 Aug 1942
Kalyanpur – 6 Mar 1943
Alipore – 16 Apr 1943
Agartala – 29 May 1943
China Bay, Ceylon – 17 Aug 1943
Minneriya – 13 Jan 1944
Vavuyina – 30 Jun 1944
Sapam, India – 20 Nov 1944
Palel – 30 Nov 1944
Taukkyana, Burma – 17 Dec 1944
Tabingaung – 19 Jan 1945
Ywadon – 2 Feb 1945
Meiktela – 9 Apr 1945
Thedaw – 10 Apr 1945
Tennant – 26 Apr 1945
Thedaw – 10 May  1945
Madura, India – 17 Jun to 1 Sept 1945

World War II Aces

  1. F/L John F. ‘Tex’ Barrick, DFM – US (5 Victories†) Sept 1941 to Dec 1943 →NCD, Canada

  2. F/L Alfred W.A. ‘Alfie’ Bayne, DFC (9 Victories; 8 with this unit) 7 Jun 1940 to Jul 1941 →136Sq

  3. F/O Harold A.C. Bird-Wilson, DFC (5.2 Victories; 4.2 with this unit) Oct 1939 to 24 Sept 1940 (WIA) →234Sq, Harrowbeer Wing (1 last kill with this wing on 1 Aug 1944, DSO, DFC*)

  4. F/L Howard ‘Cowboy’ Blatchford – Can. (6 Victories; ½ with this unit) Sept 1940 →257Sq

  5. F/L Count Manfred B. Czernin, DFC – Austria (15 Victories; 10 with this unit) 8 Jun 1940 to May 1941→OTU, 65, 146Sqs, 242Gp, SOE, Fighter Command. Later DSO, MC.

  6. F/O Hedley J. Everhard – Can. (5½ Victories; 1 with this unit) 15 Jan 1942 to May 1943 →417Sq

  7. Sgt. Glyn Griffiths, DFM (7 Victories) Early 1940 to Jan 1941 →Instructor Canada, 4Sq (WIC 16 Oct 1943)

  8. S/L James H. ‘Ginger’ Lacey, DFC, DFM*, Fr CDG (28 Victories, 1 with this unit) Nov 1944 to May 1946

  9. F/O Jerrard Jeffries/Latimer (8 Victories; 1 with this unit) Aug 1937 to May 1940 →85Sq

  10. P/O David C. Leary, DFC (6 Victories†) Summer 1940 to 28 Dec 1940 (KIFA)

  11. P/O Kenneth Manger (7 Victories†) Oct 1938 to 11 Aug 1940 (KIA)

  12. S/L Cedric A.C. ‘Bunny’ Stone, DFC* (5.3 Victories, 2 with this unit) Jul 1941 to Jun 1942 →CO 135Sq, 222Gp

  13. P/O Richard C. Whittaker, DFC (7 Victories†) 1938 to 7 Jun 1940 (KIA)

Supermarine Spitfire Mk XIVc, Seletar, Singapore, Late-1945 This was the aircraft of the ace, James "Ginger" Lacey. Born on 1 February 1917, Lacey joined the RAF voluntary Reserve (RAFVR) in 1937, and was classified as "above average" by his instructors. At the outbreak of war, he went to France as part of 501 Squadron, where he downed five enemy aircraft and won the French Croix De Guerre. He stayed with this unit for the remainder of 1940, increasing his score to 24 confirmed by the end of the year – the third highest scoring RAF pilot of the Battle of Britain. After 1940, Lacey spent time with training units and a few operational fighter squadrons, adding three kills to his score until he transferred to India in March 1943. He took command of 17 Squadron in 1944 Here, Lacey got his final victory, a Japanese Oscar on 19 February 1945 over Burma. (Photo: Imperial War Museum)

No. 18 (BURMA) Squadron

Squadron Codes: GU, WV

Motto: ANIMO ET FIDE (With courage and faith)

Unofficially known as "Gloucester’s own," the squadron formed on 11 May 1915 at Northolt in Middlesex from a nucleus supplied by No 4 Reserve Squadron.

 

During World War II, the unit first saw operations in France in May 1940 after being attached to the Advanced Air Striking Force (AASF). Within ten days of being committed, the squadron withdrew to England, following crippling losses. At home, it flew operations against German barges and targets used for the planned invasion of England. In 1941, the unit began taking to part in the ‘Circus’ operations (as part of No 2 Group) – designed to put the RAF back on the offensive after the Battle of Britain. During these ‘Circuses’, No 18 acted as the bait, hoping to lure the Luftwaffe into the skies, where it could be destroyed by escorting RAF fighters.

In October 1941, however, the unit left England for Malta, staying there until January 1942, when the squadron’s five surviving aircraft flew on to Egypt, where they were distributed to other units. With neither aircraft nor resources, No 18 disbanded on 21 March.

At the same times, its ground element which was still in Britain was used as the basis for a new 18 Squadron. The new unit was assigned to No 2 (Light Bomber) Group. This new squadron flew its first operation on 26 April, taking part in the historic thousand-bomber raid on Cologne during the following month. In November, the unit once again transferred to the Mediterranean, moving to Algeria in the wake of the Anglo-American ‘Torch’ landings. Altogether, while in No 2 Group, the squadron had flown 1,242 sorties, involving 170 bombing raids and six other raids, and losing 40 of its Blenheims in action, with another seven destroyed in crashes. Meantime, in North Africa, the squadron faced another ordeal against determined elements of the Luftwaffe. During this time, the squadron won its first and only Victoria Cross to date. Accompanying the ground armies in their campaigns through Algeria, Tunisia, Sicily and Italy, the squadron spent the rest of the war in the Mediterranean, with an interlude in the South of France. When the war ended, it carried on for a brief time, until disbandment on 31 March 1946 at Hassani, Greece.

​Aircraft

Blenheim Mk I – May 1939 to May 1940
Blenheim Mk IV – Mar 1940 to Sept 1942
Blenheim Mk V – Sept 1942 to Apr 1943
Boston Mk III – Feb 1943 to Oct 1944
Boston Mk IV – Jul 1944 to Mar 1946
Boston Mk V – Jan 1945 to Mar 1946

Squadron Commanders

W/C WA Opie – May 1939 to May 1940

W/C G Bartholomew – May to oct 1940

W/C ACH Sharp – Oct 1940 to Mar 1941

W/C CA Hill – Mar to Apr 1941

W/C GCO key – Apr to Jun 1941

W/C TN Partridge – Jun to Jul 1941

W/C DC Smythe – Jul 1941 to Mar 1942

W/C JR Cree – Mar to Apr 1942

W/C JH Newberry – Apr to Jul 1942

W/C HG Malcolm, VC – Jul to Nov 1942 (KIA)

Unknown - Dec 1942 onwards

Airfields

Bircham Newton, UK – 7 Jan 1936

Upper Heyford – 7 Sept 1939

Roye/Amy, France – 24 Sept 1939

Rosieres-en-Santerre – 18 Oct 1939

Guyencourt – 17 May 1940

Crecy – 18 May 1940

Lympne, UK – 19 May 1940

Watton – 21 May 1940

Gatwick – 26 May 1940

West Raynham – 12 Jun 1940

Great Massingham – 9 Sept 1940

Oulton – 3 Apr 1941

Horsham St Faith – 13 Jul 1941 (Det at Manston)

Oulton – 5 Nov 1941

Hosham St Faith – 5 Dec 1941

Wattisham – 9 Dec 1941 (Dets at Dundonald & Heathfield)

Helwan, Egypt – 10 Jan 1942

LG.05 – 5 Feb 1942

Fuka – 14 to 24 Mar 1942

Dundonald, UK – 13 May 1942

Ayr – 15 May 1942
Wattisham – 20 May 1942

West Raynham – 24 Aug 1942

Blida, Algeria – 11 Nov 1942
Canrobert – 30 Nov 1942 ((Det at Setif)

Oulmene – 7 Mar 1943

Souk el Khemis (‘King’s Cross’) – 17 Apr 1943
Grombalia, Sicily – 1 Jun 1943
Monte Lungro – 1 Aug 1943 (Dets at Ponte Olivo)
Comiso – 9 Aug 1943
Gerbini – 24 Aug 1943
Brindisi, Italy – 8 Oct 1943
Celone – 31 Oct 1943
Marcianese –16 Feb 1944
La Banca – 15 Jun 1944
Tarquinia – 27 Jun 1944
Cecina – 18 Jul 1944
Falconara – 15 Sept 1944
Forli – 8 Mar 1945
Aviano – 10 May to 14 Sept 1945

The Victoria Cross
Wing Commander Hugh Gordon Malcolm, Scotland, Killed in Action, Age 25

On 17 November 1942, Malcolm received orders to conduct a low-level attack on the German-held airfield at Bizerte, Tunisia. The Blenheims to be used for the attack were notoriously vulnerable to enemy fire. All that Malcolm and his men could count on were the ineffectual-guns in their turrets and the promise of overcast skies to the target. However, twenty miles from Bizerte, the sky became clear.

 

A hail of ack-ack rose up the greet the attackers. Soaring the gunfire, the raiders dropped their bombs within  the airfield perimeter, while raking parked aircraft with machinegun fire. A Junkers Ju52 transport which was attempting to take off, took a smattering of fire and crashed. A German Me109 fighter which attempted to attack was also shot down. The RAF, however, lost one Bleheim to enemy fighters and another two in collisions on the way home when the weather took a turn for the worst.

Success appeared to only embolden the RAF high command to try again. On 28 November, Malcom  received hit Bizerta again. By this time, however, the airfield had been reinforced by flak guns. As the Allied raiders appeared, intense and accurate anti-aircraft fire rose up to meet them. Jinking through the maelstrom, the Blenheims managed to drop their bombs on the target. Preparing to lead his men out, Malcolm looped in again to strafe the airfield one last time. He got through unscathed and the force withdrew.

 

Then on December 4, an urgent message arrived from the British 1st Army headquarters, asking for a airstrike on Choughi airfield where other enemy aircraft were operating from. Because fighter cover could not be arranged in time, the squadron went to it alone. Over the airfield, they were intercepted by an overwhelming force of enemy fighters and one by one, Malcolm’s men were shot down until he himself fatally crashed in flames. (Photo: RAF Museum London PC 76-23-24)

No. 19 Squadron

Squadron Codes: QV, WZ

Motto: POSSUNT QUIA POSSE VIDENTUR (They can because they think they can)

The squadron first formed at Castle Bromwich on 1 September 1915, from a nucleus supplied by 5 (Reserve) Squadron.

In August 1938, the squadron became the first to get the new Supermarine Spitfire fighter aircraft when the first Mark Is (serial number K9789) was delivered on the 4th. Becoming a service test squadron because of this, the squadron nevertheless placed on ‘two-hour’ alert during the Munich Crisis that year.

With the start of the Second World War in September 1939, No 19 mounted a series of defensive operations from Duxford during the opening months of the war. At the end of May 1940, however, it gathered frequently over the Channel to cover the evacuation of the BEF (British Expeditionbary Force) from Dunkirk. Action, however, had been slim. That changed on May 11when a flight of three "Spits" led by Flight Lt Wilfred Clouston stumbled upon a solitary Junkers Ju88 high-speed bomber. The German was shot down into sea near Dudgeon Lightship, and as all three had squirted their guns at the bandit, all three received one-third credit over the kill. Heavy fighting next broke out while covering the Dunkirk evacuations on the 26th, when the squadron claimed an impressive 13 kills for the loss of four Spitfires. The New Zealand Clouston had once again been at the fore during this dogfight, shooting down two Stukas into the waters off Dunkirk.

In June, with the fall of France, the squadron became dedicated to England’s defense and often operated at night in a bid to catch the early night raiders making forays over Southern England. They were especially successful on the 19th , shooting down two Heinkel He111s.

 

Soon armed with cannon-fitted Spitfire Mk Ibs in July, the squadron entered the Battle of Britain, but constant jams with the cannons resulted in a reversion to the machine-gun variety in September. At about this time, the squadron also became a part of the famed Duxford Wing for operations. All together, by when the battle ended later that month, the squadron had claimed the destruction of 68 planes. By now, latest Mark II model of the Spitfire had arrived but these saw little action when used from October.

After the Battle of Britain, No 19 saw extensive service with Fighter Command until June 1943, when it joined the 2nd Tactical Air Force. Merlin-engined Mustang Mk IIIs arrived in February 1944, and with these, 19 Squadron flew daylight escort missions for for allied bombers in the run-up to D-Day and then used the Mustangs on army support duties thereafter. From September, long rang daylight escort missions began again – this time with the squadron based in East Anglia. Escort missions continued until February 1945 when the squadron moved to Scotland, only returning to the south after the conclusion of the war in Europe. Active in the post-war period, the squadron disbanded on 31 December 1976 at RAF Gutersloh in Germany.

​Aircraft

Spitfire Mk I – Aug 1938 to Dec 1940

Spitfire Mk Ib – Jun to Sept 1940

Spitfire Mk IIa – Sept 1940 to Nov 1941

Spitfire Mk Vb – Oct 1941 to Aug 1942

Spitfire Mk Vc – Sept 1942 to Mar 1943

Spitfire Mk IX – Aug 1943 to Jan 1944

Mustang Mk III – Jan 1944 to Apr 1945

Mustang Mk IV – Apr 1945 to Mar 1946

Squadron Commanders

S/L HI Cozens – Dec 1937 to Jan 1940

S/L GD Stephenson – Jan to 25 May 1940 (KIA)

F/L BJE Lane – 25 May to Jun 1940 (Acting)

S/L Pinkham – Jun to 5 Sept 1940 (KIA)

S/L BJE Lane, DFC – 5 Sept 1940 to Jun 1941

S/L RG Dutton, DFC* – Jun to Jul 1941

S/L Lawson, DFC – Jul to 28 Aug 1941 (MIA)

S/L PRG Davies – Aug 1941 to Sept 1942

S/L MCB Boddington – Sept to Dec 1942

S/L VH Ekins – Dec 1942 to Nov 1943

S/L NJ Durrant – Dec 1943 to May 1944

S/L W McM Gilmour, DFC, DFM – May to Aug 1944

S/L WW J Lord, DFC – Aug to Oct 1944

S/L MJ Wright – Oct to Dec 1944

S/L PJ Hearne – Dec 1944 to Oct 1945

Airfields

Duxford, UK – 1 Apr 1923
Fowlmere – 25 Jan 1940

Horsham St Faith – 17 Apr 1940
Duxford – 16 May 1940
Hornchurch – 25 May 1940
Duxford – 5 Jun 1940
Fowlmere – 25 Jun 1940
Duxford – 3 Jul 1940
Fowlmere – 24 Jul 1940 (Det at Eastchurch)
Duxford – 30 Oct 1940
Fowlmere – 6 Feb 1941 (Det at West Malling)
Matlask – 16 Aug 1941
Ludham – 1 Dec 1941
Hutton Cranswick – 4 Apr 1942
Perranporth – 6 May 1942
Warmwell – 1 Jun 1942
Perranporth – 14 Jun 1942
Biggin Hill – 1 Jul 1942
Perranporth – 7 Jul 1942
Colerne – 23 Jul 1942
Perranporth – 31 Jul 1942

Southend-on-Sea – 16 Aug 1942

Perranporth – 20 Aug 1942 (Dets at Exeter, Fairwood Common & Harrowbeer)

Middle Wallop – 1 Jan 1943

Membury – 10 Mar 1943

Middle Wallop – 13 Mar 1943

Fairlop – 5 Apr 1943
Digby – 17 May 1943
Matlask – 4 Jun 1943
Gravesend – 20 Jun 1943
Bognor – 6 Jun 1943
Newchurch – 2 Jul 1943
Kingsnorth – 18 Jul 1943
Weston Zoyland – 29 Sept 1943
Gatwick – 15 Oct 1943
Gravesend – 24 Oct 1943
Ford – 15 Apr 1944
Southend-on-Sea – 12 May 1944
Funtington – 20 May 1944
Ford – 15 Jun 1944
B.7 Martragny, France – 25 Jun 1944
B.12 Ellon – 15 Jul 1944
B.24 St-Andre-de-l'eure – 2 Sept 1944
B.40 Beauvais/Nivillers – 3 Sept 1944
B.60 Grimbergen, Belgium – 9 Sept 1944
Matlask, UK – 28 Sept 1944
Andrews Field (Great Saling) – 14 Oct 1944
Peterhead – 13 Feb

Acklington – 23 May 1945

Bradwell Bay – 13 Aug 1945

Molesworth – 7 Sept 1945 to 22 Jun 1946

World War II Aces

  1. P/O Henry C. Baker (5 Victories; 1 with this unit) Nov 1939 to Jun 1940 (Wounded in car crash) →41Sq

  2. P/O George E. Ball (6½ Victories; 2 with this unit) Feb 1938 to Jun 1940 →242Sq

  3. Sub Lt. AG Blake, Royal Navy (5 Victories†) Jul to 29 Oct 1940 (KIA)

  4. F/Sgt. Harry W. Charnock, DFM (8 Victories; 3 with this unit) Oct 1940 to Aug 1942 →72Sq

  5. F/L Wilfred G. Clouston, DFC – NZ (10.3 Victories†) Jun 1937 to Nov 1940 →258, 488Sqs (POW Feb 1942, Singapore)

  6. P/O David G.S. Richardson Cox (7.3 Victories, 3.3 with this unit) 23 May 1940 to Sept 1941 →72Sq

  7. F/L Wallace ‘Jock’ Cunningham (5 Victories†) Jun 1940 to 28 Aug 1941 (POW)

  8. S/L William M. ‘Mac’ Gilmour, DFC, DFM (9 Victories; 2 with this unit) May to Aug 1944→N/A

  9. F/O Leonard A. Haines, DFC (9.6 Victories†) 1938 to Late 1940 →OTU (KIFA 8 Oct 1940)

  10. S/L Peter J. Hearne, DFC (5 Victories; 3 with this unit) 12 Dec 1944 to Oct 1945 →HQ 12Gp

  11. F/L Deryck P. Lamb (6¾ Victories; 2¼ with this unit) May to Jul 1944 →65Sq

  12. S/L Brian J.E. ‘Sandy’ Lane, DFC (6.33 Victories†) Sept 1939 to Jun 1941 →12Gp, Air HQs ME, 61OTU, 167Sq (MIA Dec 1942)

  13. S/L Walter J. Lawson, DFC (6¼ Victories†) Apr 1940 to 28 Aug 1941 (MIA)

  14. F/O Gordon L. Sinclair, DFC (10 Victories; 6 with this unit) Nov 1937 to Jun 1940 →310Sq

  15. F/Sgt. Harry Steere, DFM (8 Victories†) 1938 to Dec 1940 →8FTS, 627Sq (DFC, KIA 9 Jul 1944)

  16. W/O George C. ‘Grumpy’ Unwin, DFM« (13.6 Victories†) 1936 to Dec 1941 →NCD, 60OTU, 613Sq, CGS

  17. F/Sgt. Basilios M. Vassilades – Greece (8.8 Victories; 5.8 with this unit) 23 Jan 1943 to 11 Aug 1944 (ShD, Evaded, Returned 28 Aug, DFM) →3Sq

Supermarine Spitfire Mk IIa ‘Milene of Duxford’, RAF Duxford, 1940 This Spitfire is adorned with a flight leader's red and white pennant, three swastika victory markings and a strange theatrical type mask motif painted on the nose. The squadron badge in displayed on top left corner. Its pilot, Flight Lt. Wallace "Jock" Cunningham was later shot down and captured on 28 August 1941. The same mission cost the unit its commander, Walter Lawson, who was killed.

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