The Royal Air Force During World War 2
20 to 29 Squadrons

No. 20 (East India) Squadron

Squadron Codes: TH, PN, HN

Motto: FACTA NON VERBA (Deeds not words)

On the 28 August 1915, No 7 (Reserve) Aeroplane Squadron, based at Netheravon, was informed that from 1 September it would henceforth be known as 20 Squadron. This innocuous reshuffling would give rise to the RAF’s most successful fighter squadron, possibly in the entirety of British history.

 

Bu the end of World War I in November 1918, it had shot down a staggering 613 planes. It was possibly due to this feat that the squadron avoided the fate of many other squadrons after the war by not being disbanded. Instead, it moved to India in June 1919, where it spent the mid-war years soldiering in the rough Northwest province.

By 1942, however, the squadron's fortunes had reached low depths. It was being used as a repository of men and machines for 151 Operational Training Unit at Peshewar. Although restrengthened with Lysanders weeks later, the squadron began combat operations against the Japanese starting in July. Much of its operations of the reconnaissance and liaison types in support of retreating Chinese ground forces in North Burma. When these support operations came to a halt in October, the the unit turned its attention to the Arkan peninsula, on Burma’s west coast, where a major-British-Indian thrust had developed.

 

Hawker Hurricanes arrived in February 1943 and by May, the whole unit was equipped with the 40 mm cannon-armed Hurricane Mk IID. But lack of ammunition and suitable vehicle or armored targets for the 40 mm cannon restricted No 20’s activities to tactical reconnaissance missions. Nevertheless, the squadron optimistically posted a detachment at Imphal in May 1944 to deal with Japanese tanks in the wide open river plains of central Burma. This detachment operated until August while the rest of the squadron was reduced to non-operationality a month before. Assigned rear-echelon duties, including the spraying of anti-malarial gas in select parts of India, it was in November that squadron equipped with a new aircraft for its intended return to the frontline. These, Hurricane Mk IVs, equipped with rockets, joined ‘A’ Flight first and in December, with a move to Sapam, No 20 became operational on these craft.

In action almost immediately over Burma, the squadron was in the thick of combat. ‘Cab-Rank’ missions became standard in February 1945 during the Irrawaddy River crossings and but a later action against Fort Dufferin in Mandalay which it blasted open with rockets, allowing Anglo-Indian troops to storm through the fissure. In May 1945, missions again ceased as the unit converted to Spitfires, but this withdrawal from the front heralded the end of the squadron's participation in the Second World War. By when it returned to operational flying in September, the war was over, and No 20 moved to recently-liberated Thailand. Returning to India a few months later, the squadron  disbanded in 31 July 1947 at Agra.

​Aircraft

Audax Mk I – Dec 1935 to Dec 1941

Lysander Mk II – May 1939 to Mar 1943

Blenheim Mk I – Jun to Dec 1941

Hurricane Mk IIB – Feb to May 1943

Hurricane Mk IID – Mar 1943 to Sept 1945

Hurricane Mk IIC – Aug to Oct 1944

Hurricane RP Mk IV – Nov 1944 to Sept 1945

Squadron Commanders

S/L RC Mead – Oct 1938 to 1939

S/L OHD Blomfield – 1939 to 1941

S/L W Surplice, DFC – N/A 1941 to Oct 1941

S/L Trail, DFC – Oct 1941 to Mar 1942

S/L FF Lambert, DFC – Apr to Jun 1942

S/L HG Fletcher, DFC – Jun 1942 to Mar 1943

S/L PC Joel – Mar 1943 to Mar 1944

S/L AP Millar, DFC – Mar 1944 to Nov 1945

Airfields

Miramshah, India – 29 Aug 1939

Peshawar – 30 Oct 1939

Kohat – 8 Apr 1940

Secunderbad-Begumpet – 10 Jun 1941

Peshawar – 2 Mar 1942

Jamsehdpur – 1 May 1942

Chharra – 11 Dec 1942

Kalyanpur – 16 May 1943

Nidania, Burma – 30 Nov 1943

Madhaibunia – 25 Feb 1944

Chiringa, India – 25 May 1944

Imphal Main – May to Aug 1944 (Det)

Kajmalai – 23 Jul 1944

St. Thomas Mount – 20 Sept 1944

Sapam (Air echelon) – 20 Dec 1944

            (Grnd Echelon) – 28 Dec 1944

Thazi, Burma – 16 Jan 1945

Monywa – 13 Feb 1945

Thedaw – 13 Apr 1945

Tungoo-Tennant – 28 Apr 1945

Thedaw – 8 May 1945

Chettinad, India – 5 Jun 1945

St. Thomas Mount – 7 Jun 1945

Armada Road – 27 Aug to 30 Sept 1945

No. 21 Squadron

Squadron Codes: QN, JP, UP, UX, YH

Motto: VIRIBUS VINCIMUS (By strength we conquer)

Formed on 23 July 1915 at Netheravon, Wiltshire, the squadron went to France in January 1916 as a general-duties squadron.

 

During World War II, the squadron’s first wartime mission began on 27 September 1939 when its Blenheims flew reconnaissance sorties over the Ruhr valley. Unofficially known as "Norwich’s Own," a nickname adopted owing to its local ties, the unit transferred from No 2 Group to Malta in December 1941. Here, it the midst of the great air battles over and around the island, the squadron flew anti-shipping missions until being disbanded there on 14 March 1942. Reformed that same day in England, No 21 was again assigned to No 2 Group. With its reformation, it introduced the American-made Lockheed Ventura into RAF service, and by the time these aircraft were replaced by Mosquitoes in 1943, the unit had flown more operational Ventura sorties than any other squadron in the Royal Air Force. With the Venturas, the unit participated in the famous raid on Ameins, in which several French resistance workers were freed. It also took part the daring raid against the Phillips radio and valve factory at Eindhoven, Holland on 6 December 1943.

In 1944, the unit transferred to the 2nd Tactical Air Force with the whole of 2 Group, and flew night raids although it continued its role as a daylight precision bomber unit. Some of its most famous raids during this time were the raids against the Gestapo Headquarters at Aarhus in Denmark on 31 October 1944 and against the Gestapo Headquarters at Copenhagen on 21 March 1945.

One of the squadron's Mosquitos, LR385 ‘D’ for ‘Dog’, made 104 operational sorties (91 during which bombs were dropped). Its first ‘op’ was on 6 February 1944, when it bombed a V-weapon site at Bois Coquerie, and its 104th ‘op’ constituted the bombing of a railway line, including a train on the night of 29/30 November 1944. The crew also strafed a factory during a patrol immediately behind the battle line. Later moving to France in February 1945, to continue intruder work from continental bases, the squadron disbanded on 7 November 1947 at Gutersloh, Germany.

​Aircraft

Blenheim Mk I & IV – Aug 1938 to Jul 1942

Ventura Mk I & II – May 1942 to Sept 1943

Mosquito FB Mk VI – Jun 1943 to Nov 1947

Squadron Commanders

S/L NT Keens – Jul 1938 to Apr 1940

W/C LC Bennett – Apr to Jul 1940

W/C MV Delap – Jul 1940 to Mar 1941

W/C GA Bartlett – Mar to May 1941

W/C PF Webster – May to Jul 1941

W/C JOC Kercher – Jul to Sept 1941

W/C WK Selkirk – Sept 1941 to Apr 1942

W/C PF Webster – Apr to Aug 1942

W/C RJ Pritchard – Aug 1942 to Feb 1943

W/C RHS King – Feb 1943 to N/A

W/C RHD Braham, DFC**, DSO** – Early to Jun 1944 (POW)

Airfields

Watton, UK – 2 Mar 1939

Lossiemouth – 24 Jun 1940 (attached to Coastal Command)

Watton and Bodney – 29 Oct 1940

Lossiemouth – 27 May 1941

Watton – 14 Jun 1941

Manston – Jul 17 1941

Watton – 25 Jul 1941

Lossiemouth – 7 Sept 1941

Watton – 21 Sept 1941

Luqa, Malta – 26 Sept 1941

Bodney, UK – 14 Mar 1942

Methwold – 30 Oct 1942

Exter – 21 Mar 1943

Methwold – 24 Mar 1943

Oulton – 1 Apr 1943

Sculthrope – 1 Jun 1943

Hunsdon – Sept 1943

Gravesend – Dec 1943

Thorney Island – 17 Apr 1944

B.87 Rosieres-en-Santerre, France – 6 Feb 1945

B.58 Melsbroek, Belgium – 17 Apr to 3 Nov 1945

Operational Performance

 

Raids Flown

2 Group Blenheims – 155 bombing
2 Group Venturas – 10 bombing

Totals: 165 bombing

 

Sorties and Losses

2 Group Blenheims – 1050 sorties, 29 aircraft lost (2.8 percent)
2 Group Venturas – 369 sorties, 10 aircraft lost (2.7 percent)

Totals: 1,419 sorties, 39 aircraft lost (2.7 percent)

An additional 10 Blenheims were destroyed in crashes

World War II Aces

  1. W/C John R.D. Braham, DFC**, DSO** (29 Victories, 19 at night; 1 with this unit) Early to 25 Jun 1944 (POW). Note: Braham’s observer by this time was F/L Don Walsh, RAAF. They were shot down while engaging two Me109s over France.

No. 22 Squadron

Squadron Codes: VR, OA, MW

Motto: PREUX ET AUDACIEUX (Valiant and brave)

The squadron formed on 1 September 1915 at Fort Rowner in Gosport.

 

Assigned to Coastal Command much after World War I, the squadron operated as a torpedo-bomber unit, equipped with Vildebeests which it took to Malta in October 1935 to counter possible Italian ambitions against British assets during the Abyssinian Crisis in Ethiopia. When the Italians crushed the Ethiopians, ending the crisis, No 22 returned to England in August 1936 and moved to Thorney Island in 1938. By now, a unit insignia had been authorized for the squadron, consisting of a ‘Pi’ symbol superimposed on a Maltese Cross, indicative of its time on Malta. The use of ‘Pi’, meantime, has its roots during the First World War.  At that time, No 22 had been part of 7 Wing, RFC, and whenever it took off, heading for the front, its flight path would take it over 7 Wing’s headquarters. This led to the use of ‘Pi’ as a rudimentary squadron badge at the time because ‘Pi’ can be mathematically represented as 22 over 7.

 

In November 1939, Bristol Beauforts replaced antiquated squadron Vildebeests. With these, the squadron carried out its first wartime mission on 15 April 1940. Flying a Beaufort, Flying Officer Keith Campbell was shot down and killed while attacking the German battlecruiser Gneisenau – winning a posthumous Victoria Cross for his courage in 1941.

 

In addition to its anti-shipping attacks, the squadron at one point even trained Maryland crews in its ‘C’ Flight, and these crews later joined 431 Flight in Malta. In June 1940, however, the squadron withdrew from operations to sort out problems with the Beauforts and to test the ‘Toraplane’ (an ultimately unsuccessful winged Torpedo). Returning to operations that same month, 22 Squadron carried out its first torpedo strike against a German convoy in September. Anti-shipping missions continued into 1941 with aircraft frequently operating over the North Sea. In Match, in just eight sorties, No 22 sank 16,500 tons of shippins for the loss of two Beauforts.

Operations against coastal and maritime targets continued until January 1942 when the squadron moved overseas, arriving at Ceylon on 28 April 1942. It had left England with an impressive record – 100,000 tonnage of axis shipping sunk over a period of 27 months. Meantime, the squadron’s arrival on Ceylon was meant to bolster the island’s defenses in the wake of a devastating Japanese attack just days before.

 

The squadron braced itself for further attacks but further Japanese attacks but none came and the unit found itself carrying out lonely escort and anti-submarine patrols. By June 1944, with virtually no action present in the waters around Ceylon, the unit re-equipped with Beaufighters and moved to Burma in December to fly ground attack and Air-Sea rescue missions for the rest of the war. It also carried out anti-shipping strikes around the marshy Irrawaddy delta. By March 1945, it had carried out 680 sorties with two ships sunk and another 8 damaged. It participated in Operation Dracula, the ultimately peaceful assault and recapture of Rangoon, but then combat operations virtually ceased. Returning to India, No 22 disbanded on 30 September 1945 at Gannavarum.

​Aircraft

Vildebeest Mk I & II May 1934 to 1936

Vildebeest Mk III – 1936 to Feb 1940

Blenheim Mk I – Nov 1939 to 1942

Beaufort Mk I – Nov 1939 to Jun 1944

Maryland Mk I – Aug 1940 to N/A

Beaufort Mk II – Nov 1941 to Jun 1944

Beaufort Mk IIA – Mar 1942 to Jun 1944

Beaufighter Mk X – Jun 1944 to Sept 1945

Squadron Commanders

S/L MV Ridgeway – Mar 1938 to Nov 1939

W/C HM Mellor – Nov 1939 to May 1940

W/C FJ St. G Braithwaite – Jun 1940 to Aug 1941

W/C JC Mayhew – Aug to Dec 1941

W/C WAL Davis – Dec 1941 to Jan 1942

S/L JA Bateson – Jan 1942 to Oct 1943

W/C JM Lander, DFC – Oct 1943 to Jan 1945

W/C CR Gee, DFC – Feb to Sept 1945

Airfields

Thorney Island, UK – 2 Sept 1939 (Det at Detling)

North Coates – 8 Apr 1940 (Dets at Carew Cheriton, Lossiemouth, Bircham Newton, Wick, Gosport, Thorney Island & St. Eval)

Thorney Island, St. Eval, Skitten & Kaldadarnes – Mar to May 1941 (Detachments)

Thorney Island – 10 Jun 1941 (Det at St. Eval, Manston, Leuchars, Ratmalana & Vavuyina)

St. Eval – 28 Oct 1941

Portreath – 14 Mar 1942

​Ratmalana, Ceylon – 1 May 1942

Minneriya – 1 Sept 1942

Vavuyina – Feb 1943 (Det at Santa Cruz)

Ratmalana – Apr 1944

Vavuyina – Jul 1944

Kumbhirgram, India – Dec 1944

Dohazari – Jan 1945

Joari – 30 Jan 1945

Chiringa, Burma – Apr 1945

Gannavarum, India – Jun to 30 Sept 1945

The Victoria Cross
Flying Officer Kenneth Campbell, Scotland. Killed in Action, Age 23

At first light on 6 April 1941, Campbell, flying Beaufort OA-T (N1016), took part in a small squadron attack against the German battlecruiser Gneisenau lying at Brest harbour in enemy-occupied France.

 

Initially, no one could tell how the raid had gone. Casualties had been heavy. Campbell and his crew had been one of those not to return. Only a year later, when accounts began to filter back from survivors in POW camps did the magnitude of the allied achievements become known. The odds, already stacked against the British, had been worsened by the actual location of Gneisenau, secured as she was along a wall on the harbor’s north shore, protected by a stone jetty bending around it from the west. Furthermore, a high ground rising behind the ship had been stacked with protective batteries of Flak guns.

Other batteries surrounded the harbor and three heavily-armed Anti-aircraft ships lay moored at the outer part of the jetty. Raid planners had been aware that even if an aircraft penetrated the AA defenses, it would likely crash into the high ground beyond after launching its arms (in this case, torpedoes, which could only be released at low-level). Running the gauntlet of concentrated anti-aircraft fire, Campbell, coming in alone at almost sea level, passed the AA ships at less than mast height, then skimmed over the jetty and launched a torpedo at nearly  point-blank range against Gneisenau.

 

As he climbed to clear the battlecruiser, heavy anti-aircraft fire raked the Beaufort and it crashed into the sea almost immediately with such force that everybody onboard was killed. Gneisenau, meantime, hit below the waterline by Campbell’s torpedo, was obliged to return to the dock from whence she had come only the day before. Subsequent RAF post-action photos showed only a damaged Gneisenau, but she had been knocked out for nine months. Campbell’s posthumous Victoria Cross was gazetted on 13 March 1942.

No. 23 Squadron

Squadron Codes: MS, YP

Motto: SEMPER AGGRESSUS (Always on the attack)

No 23 Squadron formed at Gosport on 1 September 1915 with a nucleus offered by 14 Squadron.

 

In December 1938, the unit gave up its small fighters in favour of conversion to Blenheims, these being used as night fighters when war broke out in 1939. Although initially tasked with escorting convoys, the squadron became more and more used as a night-fighter unit and opened its account on the night of 18 June 1940 by downing three enemy planes for the loss of one Blenheim. In later weeks, the squadron became a calibration tool for radr stations, but the squadron once again turned to nightfighter after equipping with Bostons in October.

By December, ‘Intruder’ missions over enemy airfields had begun – a type of operation aided greatly by the arrival of Havoc Mk Is in March. Night operations continued for the rest of 1941 and 1942, with the Havocs escorting the thousand-bomber raid on Colgne on the night of 30/31 May 1942.

In July, the Squadron converted to Mosquito IIs and moved to Luqa, Malta, flying long-range intruder sorties over enemy airfields in Sicily, Italy, Tunisia and southern France. By moving to Malta, the squadron had also become the first Mosquito intruder squadron posted overseas. But in March 1943, the squadron returned to England to come under the operational control of the special 100 (Bomber Support) Group for ‘Serrate’ and intruder operations. Here it pioneered tactics enabling the Mosquito to escort the bomber stream deep into enemy territory to intercept attacking German nightfighters. In all during its time with 100 Group, the squadron flew 70 Serrate, 125 Intruder and 8 daylight fighter escort missions (in 1,067 sorties) and claimed the destruction of three enemy aircraft in the air. Fifteen other enemy aircraft were also destroyed on the ground; all accomplished for the loss of eight Mosquitos in action – a loss rate of 0.7 percent. The squadron disbanded on 25 September 1945 at Wittering.

​Aircraft

Blenheim Mk IF – Dec 1938 to Apr 1941

Havoc NF Mk I – Mar 1941 to Aug 1942

Boston Mk III – Feb to Aug 1942

Mosquito Mk II – Jul 1942 to Sept 1943

Mosquito Mk VI – May 1943 to Sept 1945

Squadron Commanders

S/L VBJ Jackson – Apr to Oct 1939

S/L CE Beamish – Oct 1939 to Jan 1940

S/L LC Bicknell – Jan to Aug 1940

S/L GFW Heycock – Aug to Nov 1940

S/L GHA Coleman – Nov 1940 to Jan 1941

W/C GFW Heycock – Jan to Mar 1941

S/L Gracie – Mar to May 1941

W/C RHA Leigh – May to Dec 1941

W/C WJ Crisham – Dec 1941 to Apr 1942

W/C BR O’B, Hoare, DFC* – Apr to Sept 1942

W/C PG Wykeham-Barnes, DSO, DFC* – Sept 1942 to Apr 1943

W/C JB Selby, DSO, DFC – Apr to Sept 1943

W/C PR Burton-Giles, DSO, DFC* – Sept to Dec 1943

W/C AM Murphy, DSO, DFC, CDG – Dec 1943 to Dec 1944

W/C SP Russell, DFC – Dec 1944 to Sept 1946

Airfields

Wittering, UK – 3 Sept 1939

Collyweston – 31 May 1940

Wittering – 16 Aug 1940
Ford – 12 Sept 1940

Manston – 6 Aug 1942

Bradwell Bay – 14 Aug 1942

Manston – 21 Aug 1942

Bradwell Bay – 13 Oct 1942

Manska – 11 Dec 1942

Portreath – 21 Dec 1942

Gibralter – 23 Dec 1942

Luqa, Malta – 27 Dec 1942

Sigonella, Sicily – 3 Sept 1943

Gerbini Main – 5 Oct 1943

Pomigliano, Italy – 1 Nov 1943

Alghero – 7 Dec 1943

Blida, Algeria – 8 May 1944

Little Snoring, UK – 2 Jun 1944 to 25 Sept 1945

World War II Aces

  1. F/L Raymond B. Duke-Wooley (5.3 Victories; 1 with this unit) Dec 1936 to Sept 1940 →253Sq

  2. F/O Phillip S.B. Ensor, DFC (5 Victories†) Jun to Dec 1939 & May 1940 to 8 Sept 1941 (KIFA) 

  3. W/C Bertie R.O’B. ‘Sammy’ Hoare, DFC* (9 Victories; 6 with this unit) Early 1941 to 23 Sept 1942 →605Sq & May to Late 1944 →NCD

  4. F/L Arthur J. ‘Hodge’ Hodgekinson, DSO, DFC« (12 Victories; 3 with this unit) Feb to 10 Jul 1943 (KIA)

  5. S/L Paul W. Rabone, DFC (9 Victories, 3 with this unit) Jun to Nov 1943 →515Sq & Mid-Jul to 23 Jul 1944 (KIA)

  6. W/C John B. Selby, DFC (5 Victories; 1 with this unit) Apr to Sept 1943 →N/A

  7. F/L Norman J. ‘Jack/Nicky’ Starr, DFC (5 Victories; 1 with this unit) 1942 to 1943 →605Sq

  8. P/O Ernest L. Williams – Rhod. (7 Victories, 6 with this unit) Summer 1942 to Mar 1943 →FIU

  9. W/C Peter G. Wykeham-Barnes, DSO, DFC* (15½ Victories, 2 with this unit) Nov 1942 to 28 Apr 1943 (tore cartilage in knee while exercising) →CO Kenley Sector, Air Ministry, CO 140Wing (* to DSO), 2Gp

De Havilland Mosquito NF Mk II (Special), Luqa, Malta, April 1943 A veteran fighter pilot with 12 and three shared victories during his North African days of 1940-41, Wing Commander Peter Wykeham-Barnes took command of 23 Squadron in November 1942, leading the unit to Malta in December to commence intruder operations over enemy-held Sicily. While flying YP-A, Wykeham-Barnes and his navigator Flying Officer Geoffrey Palmer shot down two German Ju88s over Catania in 7/8 March and 9/10 April 1943. These were his last victories and an exercising injury soon after saw him transferred to England for hospitalization. In 1944, with 140 Wing, he led an attack on the Gestapo HQ at Bonncuil Matours on 14 July 1944, followed by a similar attack on the Gestapo HQ at Aarhus in Denmark on 31 October, for which he was awarded the Danish Order of Dannebrog. He retired from the RAF in 1969 with the rank of Air Commodore. (Photo: Getty)

No. 24 Squadron

Squadron Codes: OAA (Anson), ZK, NQ

Motto: IN OMNIA PARATI (Prepared for all things)

No 24 Squadron formed on 1 September 1915 at Hounslow with a nucleus provided by 17 Squadron. It started World War I as a fighter squadron.

However, by the time of the Second World War, the unit was a communications and training squadron, carrying government and senior RAF personnel all over the world. The squadron also ran a refresher flying course for staff officer returning to operational flying as well as providing services to regular staff officers who had a desire to maintain their flying skills and retain their flying pay. 

 

The outbreak of the war found the squadron concentrating in England-based duties. One of its first actions involved the hasty evacuations of as many people as possible from France just before the fall in mid-1940. Losses were heavy during this phase, and the following Battle of Britain was not any kinder. In October, its ‘A’ Flight hanger was bombed by German bombers and fifteen aircraft were destroyed. In April 1942, the squadron began flying to Gibraltar and later to Malta. American-made Dakotas arrived in April 1943 and in May, the squadron received its first Avro York, a dedicated transport version of the highly-capable Avro Lancaster bomber, for carrying VIPs. One of the first two production variants of the Avro York nicknamed Ascalon ferried British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to North Africa for the Casablanca conference. 

 

As the unit’s overseas commitments grew, the RAF decided to transfer No 24’s short-range types to 512 Squadron in August 1943. In October 1944, the Yorks were withdrawn, leaving just the able Dakotas and some Ansons to carry on. It participated in some minor casualty evacuation during the Normandy campaign as its primary role was long-range transport. Following the liberation of Europe, it began the happy task of ferrying VIPs and royalty to their respective countries. It even flew the British Royal family to the newly liberated Channel Islands. In October 1945, it transported prosecutors, witnesses and and other personnel to the Nuremberg trails. That same month, on a less ominous excursion, the squadron set up a detachment at Blackbushe to carry out all-weather mail and freight service trials. This successful venture would set the standard for the following post-war operations of this type.  The squadron disbanded in 1968.

Airfields

Hendon – 10 Jul 1933 to 25 Feb 1946 (Dets at Gibraltar & Blackbushe)
Reims & Echemines, France – May 1940 (Det)

 

​Squadron Commanders

W/C DF Anderson, DFC, AFC – Jun to oct 1939

W/C HK Goode, DSO, DFC, AFC – Oct 1939 to Feb 1941

W/C HG Lee, DFC, AFC – Feb to Jun 1941

W/C PWM Wright, DFC – Jun 1941 to Jul 1942

W/C HB Collings, DFC – Jul 1942 to Aug 1944

W/C TH Archbell, DFC – Aug 1944 to Sept 1945

W/C ELA Walter – Sept 1945 to Sept 1946

Aircraft

(Not all aircraft listed were available in strength, most numbered in the ones or twos, except Dakotas and Yorks)

Dragon Rapide/Dominie – Mar 1935 to Oct 1944
Nighthawk – Jul 1937 to Sept 1938
DH86 Express – Oct 1937 to Mar 1943
Magister Mk I – Jun 1938 to 1940
Anson Mk I – Jun 1938
Mentor – Oct 1938 to Aug 1944
Vega Gull – Nov 1938 to Oct 1942
Leopard Moth – Sept 1939 to Apr 1940
Fox Moth – Sept 1939 to Jul 1940
Dragon – Sept 1939 to Jul 1941
Electra – Sept 1939 to May 1942
Percival Q.6 – Sept 1939 to Oct 1942
Puss Moth – Oct 1939 to Apr 1940
Flamingo – Dec 1939 to Nov 1944
Envoy – Mar to Oct 1940
Whitney Straight – Mar 1940 to Apr 1942
Phoenix – Apr to Dec 1940

SM 73P – May 1940
DC 3 – May to Jun 1940
Anson Mk I – May to Jul 1940
Ensign – May to Nov 1940
Hornet Moth – Jun 1940 to Oct 1942
Oxford – Jul 1940 to Oct 1944
Reliant – Feb 1941 to Sept 1943

Cygnet – May 1941 to Jan 1942
Botha – May 1941 to Oct 1942

Beech 17 Traveller – May 1941 to 1945
Heck Mk III – Jun to Aug 1941
Leopard Moth – Jun 1941 to Apr 1942
Hudson Mk I – Aug 1941 to Apr 1943
Hudson Mk II – Sept 1941 to Feb 1942
Messerschmitt Me108 – Sept 1941 to Aug 1942
Hudson Mk V – Sept 1941 to Nov 1943
Fokker XXII – Jan 1942 to Apr 1943
Hudson Mk IV – Feb to Jun 1942
Hudson Mk III – Feb 1942 to Sept 1945
Wicko – Jun to Dec 1942
Phoenix – Jul to Dec 1942
Hudson Mk VI – Jul 1942 to Jun 1943
Lockheed 12 – Jul 1942 to Aug 1944
Proctor – Aug 1942 to 1943
Goose – Jan 1943 to Jan 1944
Wellington Mk XVI – Feb 1943 to Jan 1944
York Mk I – Mar 1943 to Oct 1944
Dakota Mks I, III & IV – Apr 1943 to Nov 1952
Anson Mk X – Aug 1944 to N/A
Skymaster Mk I – Nov 1944 to Feb 1945

Douglas C-47 Dakota Mk III, Late 1943 The Dakota was the workhorse of the allied air force and served in every theater. The RAF was supplied with 950 Mk III’s and twenty-five RAF squadrons flew the aircraft during the war.

No. 25 Squadron

Squadron Codes: RX, ZK

Motto: FERIENS TEGO (striking I defend)

No 25 Squadron formed on 25 September 1915 at Montrose from a nucleus supplied by 6 Reserve Squadron.

 

On 3 September 1939, the unit became the world’s first night fighter squadron and in early-1940, recorded its first wartime interception, a Dornier Do17 using airborne-interception radar. Air combat proved fleeting. However, on the night of Spetmern 4, 1940, Pilot Officer Michael Herrick, a New Zealander, blasted a He111 and Do17 while flying a Blenheim. This was followed by a third Heinkel on the night of the 13th – which constituted the squadron’s first kills. Still, despite Herrick’s example, by the end of the Battle of Britain in November, the squadron’s scoreboard amounted to a paltry four victories.

 

Thankfully, more capable Bristol Beaufighters were starting to arrive at the squadron dispersal starting from September 2. Completely ready for operations by the end of the month, the Beaufighters flew their first patrol on October 10, with their first kill coming on November 15.  By January 1941, the Beaufighter had completely displaced the Blenheim. In May, the unit destroyed six enemy planes and in June, seven, with one Ju88 falling to Herrick. This was to prove his last victory with 25 Squadron. Later transferred to the Royal New Zealand Air Force, he would claim three Japanese planes before returning to Europe in January 1944. Here, while flying a ‘Ranger’ in company with Wing Commander John Braham, an Fw190 piloted by Lt Robert Spreckles intercepted his Mosquito and shot it down into the sea. Herrick and his navigator Flying Officer Turski baled out but neither survived the descent into the water.

In October 1942, new De Havilland Mosquitos replaced the Beaufighter, and drew first blood on the night of 15 January 1943 when Flight Lt Joe Singleton damaged a Do217 German night fighter. In June, a ‘C’ Flight was raised, consisting of radar-less Mosquito Mk VIs. These, used over occupied-Europe, assuaging High Command fears of a radar-equipped machine being shot down over axis territory to betray British radar secrets to the enemy. By September, the squadron’s ‘A’ Flight equipped its Mosquitos with the new Mk X Airborne radar and later, the unit began flying ‘Mahmoud’ and ‘Flower’ missions – flying along RAF bomber streams and attacking German night fighters. Joe Singleton once again featured prominently in squadron operations at this time, when on 19 March 1944, he destroyed three Ju188s pathfinders which were pioneering a raid on Hull. The losses, all claimed within the span of a mere 13 minutes, caused the collapse of the attack. Singleton won the DSO for the feat, followed by a DFC for his radar operator, Flying Officer W.G. Haslam.

Squadron morale throughout the war, never low, began to climb to meteoric heights as confidence grew in their new Mosquito Mk XVIIs. In February, despite the difficulty of night-fighting, the squadron shot down three planes on three nights, followed by nine planes in March. As summer came, the squadron found itself assigned on ‘anti-diver’ patrols. It snagged the destruction of 25 V-1s shot down before operations ended in November. After this, No 25 began interceptor operations over Continental Europe – a role that occupied it until the end of the war.

Following victory, the squadron reverted to the peacetime routine of home defense, operating Moquitos until 1951. Later it got Vampire and Meteor jets and used these until its disbandment on 1 July 1958 at North Coates.

​Aircraft

Blenheim Mk IF – Dec 1938 to Jan 1941

Beaufighter Mk IF – Sept 1940 to Jan 1943

Havoc Mk I – Jul to Aug 1941

Mosquito Mk II – Oct 1942 to Jan 1944 (equipped Mk IV/V AI Radars)

Mosquito Mk VI – Aug to Sept 1943

Mosquito Mk XVII – Dec 1943 to Oct 1944

Mosquito Mk XXX – Sept 1944 to Sept 1946

Mosquito Mk VI – Jan to Feb 1945

Squadron Commanders

S/L DM Fleming – Sept 1937 to Jan 1939

S/L JR Hallings-Pott, DSO – Jan 1939 to May 1940

S/L KAK McEwan – May to Jun 1940

S/L WW Loxton – Jun to Sept 1940

S/L Mitchell – Sept 1940 to Jan 1941

S/L HP Pleasance, DFC* – Jan 1941 to Sept 1942

S/L EG Watkins, AFC – Sept 1942 to Mar 1943

S/L JL Shaw – Mar to Apr 1943

W/C SNL Maude, DFC – Apr to Sept 1943

W/C CM Wright-Boycott, DSO* – Sept 1943 to Sept 1944

W/C LJC Mitchell – Sept 1944 to Apr 1945

W/C W. Hoy, DFC – Apr to Dec 1945

Airfields

Northolt, UK – 26 Sept 1938

Hawkinge – 12 Oct 1938

Northolt – 22 Aug 1939

Filton – 15 Sept 1939 (Acted as night cover for the BEF sailing from Cardiff to France)

Northolt – 4 Oct 1939 (Det at Martlesham Heath)

North Weald – 1 Jan 1940 (Det Martlesham Heath

Hawkinge – 10 May 1940

North Weald – 12 May 1940

Martlesham Heath – 19 Jun 1940

North Weald – 2 Sept 1940

Debden – 8 Oct 1940
Wittering – 7 Dec 1940
Ballyhalbert, North Ireland – 16 Jan 1942
Church Fenton – 16 May 1942 (Det at Predannack)
Acklington – 19 Dec 1943
Coltishall – 5 Feb 1944
Castle Camps – 27 Oct 1944
Bradwell Bay – 14 Jul 1945
Castle Camps – 10 Aug to 11 Oct 1946

World War II Aces

  1. F/L Douglas H. Greaves, DFC* (9 Victories; 4 with this unit) Jan 1944 to Nov 1945 →Retired

  2. F/O Michael J. Herrick, DFC – NZ (7 Victories; 4 with this unit) Sept 1940 to Oct 1941 →Attached to 15 RNZAF Sq Guadalcanal (last two kills here, S/L, * to DFC), 305Sq UK (KIA 16 Jun 1944)

  3. S/L Alfred E. Marshall, DFC, DFM (17 Victories; 1 aircraft and 1 V-1 kill with this unit) Jul to 27 Nov 1944 (KIFA, while performing low-altitude ‘beat-up’ of his airfield)

  4. W/C Harold P. ‘Flash’ Pleasance, DFC* (5 Victories†) Jan 1941 to Sept 1942 →HQ 12 Gp, HQ FC, NCD

  5. F/L Joseph S. Singleton, DSO, DFC (7 Victories†) Nov 1941 to Jun 1943 →TRE & Dec 1943 to Apr 1944 →HQ, FC, ADGB/605Sq (1 V-1 kill), Mosquito demononstration in US, NCD UK

  6. W/C Cathcart M. ‘Mike’ Wight-Boycott, DSO* (7 Victories; 3 aircraft and 2 V-1 kills with this unit) Sept 1943 to Sept 1944 →HQ 12Gp, RAF Church Fenton, RAF Staff College

A portrait of Michael J Herrick by war artist Eric Kennington, 1941. (NZ Government)

Bristol Blenheim Mk IF, RAF Northolt, 1939 The Blenheim was the RAF’s first all metal skinned monoplane. The undersides were painted in two schemes, the port side was painted matt black and the starboard side was painted sky, the idea being that the aircraft would mix among sky and cloud cover. Displayed on the left, the squadron badge consists of a Hawk on a gauntlet. The Hawk represents RAF Hawkinge, where the squadron was reformed in 1920.

No. 26 (South African) Squadron

Squadron Codes: HL, RM, XC

Motto: N WAGTER IN DIE LUG (The watcher in the sky)

Created on 8 October 1915 at Netheravon, Blandford, 26 Squadron left England for Africa in December. Arriving at Mombasa, Kenya, at the end of January 1916, the unit equipped with light bombers to provide support for Imperial Forces engaged against the German East African colonies. Here, manned chiefly with personnel from the South African Flying Unit, it would eventually take on the designation ‘The South Africa Squadron’ in the 1920s, adopting head of a Springbok as its badge.

When the Second World War broke out in Sept 1939, No 26 joined the RAF’s Air Component in France, on army support duties. Here, its outdated Lysanders suffered in the face of the German Luftwaffe, and just twelve days into the ‘Blitzkreig’ of May 1940, the squadron withdrew to England, after heavy losses. However, tentative flights continued over France whenever possible. Flying out of Lympne, for instance, it attempted to support the British evacuation from Calais until the port’s capture. By 18 June, with France virtually lost, the unit began dawn and dusk anti-invasion patrols of the English coastline. By winter, these patrols dropped off to nil, and the unit served the following year in the unglamorous role of radar calibration.

In October 1941, the squadron, now operating recently-arrived Curtiss Tomahawks, began ‘Rhubarbs’ over France and trained with the army. But the Tomahawks, having arrived in February 1941 to supplant the Lysanders, were found to be lacking when it came to ground attack and they were partially replaced by Allison-engined North American Mustang Mark Is in January 1942. In March, the Mustangs completely replaced the other two types. The Allison engine, superior at low-altitude to German engines, ensured the RAF a valuable low-altitude fighter-reconnaissance aircraft.

By August that year, 26 Squadron was heavily committed in operations. A low spot occurred while operating as tactical-recce over the abortive allied landing at Dieppe that month, when the unit lost five pilots. Afterwards, No 26 began dawn and dusk coastal patrols, intent on intercepting low-level German fighters conducting hit-and-run raids on coastal towns. Operations continued, rising in crescendo in November 1943, by when the unit flew 62 ‘Rangers’, ‘Intruders’ and ‘Jim Crows’, but following this, moved north to requip with Spitfires.

In March 1944, it moved to Scotland where it trained to spot for German coastal guns for the benefit of the Royal Navy when the cross-channel invasion was mounted in June 1944. For this role, the squadron was equipped with outdated Spitfire Mk Vs, as these were in ready supply and as it was believed that the unit, while carrying out its primary role of gun spotting, would not be involved air combat. Later in the year, however, the squadron reverted to Mustangs, and began photo-reconaissance of V-2 sites and continuing tactical recce operations over Holland. In addition, it kept alive its naval artillery role, this time in cooperation with the Free French Navy. In August 1945, the squadron moved to Germany and eventually disbanded there at Lübeck on 1 April 1946. At the time, it was the last Allison-powered Mustang squadron in the RAF.

​Aircraft

Lysander Mk II – Feb 1939 to Jan 1941
Lysander Mk III – Nov 1940 to Jun 1942
Tomahawk Mk II – Feb 1941 to Mar 1942
Mustang Mk I – Jan 1942 to Mar 1944
Spitfire Mk Va – Mar to Nov 1944
Hurricane Mk IIC – Aug to Dec 1944
Mustang Mk I – Nov 1944 to Jun 1945
Spitfire Mk XIV – Jun 1945 to Apr 1946

Squadron Commanders

S/L TJ Arbuthnot – Oct 1937 to Jan 1940 
S/L RCM Ferrers – Jan to Jun 1940 
W/C RWK Stevens – Jun to Oct 1940 
W/C WD Butler – Oct 1940 to Jul 1942

W/C TWC Fazan – Jul 1942 to Apr 1943 
W/C JR Wilson, DFC – Apr 1943 
W/C P. Hadfield – May 1943 
S/L AH Baird, DFC – May 1943 to Mar 1944
S/L BJA Fleming – Mar 1944 to Jan 1945 
S/L JF Roberts, DFC – Jan 1945 to Apr 1946 

Airfields

Catterick, UK – 11 Oct 1927

Abbeville/Drucat, France – 3 Oct 1939 (Det at Ronchin)

Dieppe – Apr 1940 (Det at Arras)

Laon/Athies – 15 May 1940

Lympne, UK – 22 May 1940

West Malling – 8 Jun 1940 (Dets at Cambridge & Odiham)

Gatwick – 3 Sept 1940

Weston Zoyland – 14 Jul 1941

Leconfield – 18 Jul 1941

Gatwick – 22 Jul 1941

Detling – 4 Aug 1941

Gatwick – 8 Aug 1941

Warmwell – 29 Aug 1941

Gatwick – 1 Sept 1941

Barton Bendish – 27 Sept 1941

Twinwood Farm – 30 Sept 1941

Upwood – 1 Oct 1941

Snailwell – 2 Oct 1941

Honington – 2 Oct 1941

Gatwick – 3 Oct 1941

Manston – 12 Oct 1941

Gatwick – 15 Oct 1941 (Det. at Manston)

Manston – 22 Jan 1941

Gatwick – 30 Jan 1941

Weston Zoyland – 8 Feb 1942

Gatwick – 23 Feb 1942 (Det. at Madley)

West Malling – 19 May 1942

Gatwick – 31 May 1942

West Malling – 26 Jul 1942

Gatwick – 31 May 1942

West Malling – 26 Jul 1942

Gatwick – 31 Jul 1942

Detling – 13 Jan 1943

Stoney Cross – 1 Mar 1943

Eastmanton Down – 10 Mar 1943

Red Barn – 11 Mar 1943

Stoney Cross – 13 Mar 1943 (Det at Weston Zoyland)

Gatwick – 7 Apr 1943

Detling – 22 Jun 1943

Martlesham Heath – 11 Jul 1943

Detling – 16 Jul 1943

Ballyhalbert, North Ireland –19 Jul 1943

Church Fenton, UK – 21 Jul 1943 (Det at Ballyhalbert)

Hutton Cranswick – 28 Dec 1943 (Det at Ballyhalbert)

Scorton – 12 Feb 1944

Hutton Cranswick – 28 Feb 1944

Peterhead – 31 Mar 1944

Dundonald – 10 Apr 1944

Ayr – 21 Apr 1944

Hutton Cranswick – 26 Apr 1944

Lee-on-Solent – 29 Apr 1944

Hawkinge – 6 Oct 1944

Tangmere – 11 Oct 1944

Manston – 1 Nov 1944

Tangmere – 4 Nov 1944

Exeter – 8 Dec 1944

Harrowbeer – 4 Jan 1945

North Weald – 21 Jan 1945 (Det at Coltishall)

Harrowbeer – 3 Apr 1945

Cognac-Chateau Bernard, France – 13 Apr 1945

Harrowbeer, UK – 1 May 1945

Chilbolton – 23 May 1945

Brussels, Belgium – 18 Aug 1945

B.164 Schleswig, Germany – 20 Aug 945

B.158 Lubeck – 7 Sept to 8 Dec 1945

North American Mustang Mk I, RAF Gatwick, Surrey, June 1942 No 26 Squadron was the first RAF squadron to equip with Mustangs. It was also the last RAF squadron to operate the type – phasing the aircraft out only in June 1945. The above aircraft is painted in regulation fighter colors of Dark Green and Mixed Grey (which was a composite color created from medium sea grey and one part of night black); the aircraft’s undersides were painted in Medium Sea Grey. This color scheme lasted from August 1941 to Late-1943, after which the mixed grey was replaced by the proper Ocean Grey colors.

No. 27 Squadron

Squadron Codes: EG, PT, US, MY

Motto: QUAM CELERRIME AD ASTRA (With all speed to the stars)

No 27 formed on 1 November 1915 at Hounslow, and equipped with the Martinsyde G100 ‘Elephant’ fighter – prompting the squadron to literally take an elephant as its unit insignia when RAF badges were formed in the 1930s.

 

Later in the 1930s, the squadron was found operating in the northwest frontier until October 1939, at which point, it became a training squadron until 1940. Equipped as a heavy fighter squadron with Blenheim Mk If’s, it went to Singapore in February 1941, and took up station at a multitude of bases from where it reconnoitered the country. At the moment of the Japanese attack in December 1941, the unit was at Sungei Patani, and was immediately dispatched to deal with the Japanese landings at Kota Bahru on the 8th. Flying over the area, the squadron found no Japanese and returned home, only to find Japanese aircraft bombing their airbase. Bombed and strafed, No 27 lost all but four of their Blenheims, and these withdrew to Butterworth, where a few days later, the surviving Blenheims were shot down or rendered inoperable by a lack of spares or battle damage. My some miracle, the squadron managed to get two running and immediately flew them on to Singapore. The weeks passed and by when the Japanese attacked Singapore on 8 February 1942, the squadron, by a miracle of engineering, possessed five serviceable Blenheims.

Here Japanese aggressiveness began to affect operations as before and the squadron acted quickly by retreating to Sumatra with three shot-up Blenheims constituting its last hurrah. With the enemy not far behind them, however, the squadron found itself wiped out as a fighting unit, with most of the men falling into enemy hands.

With the unit destroyed, a new No 27 Squadron formed in India on 19 September, and became the first squadron get Beaufighters in Far East, which it proceeded to take into action first on Christmas Day 1942, strafing the Japanese airfield at Taungoo. Initially operating from Agartala in Bengal, the Beaufighter crews strafed Japanese supply lines and flew night patrols. From August the following year, the squadron operated with the Feni wing, which also consisted of 177 and 211 Squadrons. The end of 1943 saw Mosquitoes arrive for trials, with the intention of replacing the Beaufighters. The Mosquito trails ended in June, but no further Mosquito’s were received until December, and even then only constituted one flight. However, the wooden aircraft was unsuitable. Its glue began to ‘delaminate’ due to the severe humidity. The Mosquitos were withdrawn in March 1944, to be replaced by rocket-firing Beaufighter Mk Xs . At this period, Wing Commander James B. Nicholson, the only fighter pilot to win the Victoria Cross during the war, took command of the unit, leading it until June. By now, the unit had also formed a strike wing with No 47 squadron, but lack of coastal targets ensured that it reverted to ground attack from November 1944.

During the reconquest of Burma in late-1944 and 1945, the squadron progressed from Miektila through Magwa and Monywa and on to Rangoon, splitting into detachments as it went, operating from each of the hitherto mentioned airfields. The squadron’s role by this time (April 1945) had changed to that of Air Jungle Search and Rescue. At the end of the war, the squadron switched to the Air-Sea Rescue Service, but disbanded on 1 February 1946 at Mingaladon in Burma.

​Aircraft

Wapiti – Apr 1930 to Nov 1940

Tiger Moth – Oct 1939 to Oct 1940

Hart – Oct 1939 to Oct 1940

Blenheim Mk IF – Oct 1940 to Feb 1942

Beaufighter Mk VF – Nov 1942 to Jul 1944

Mosquito Mk II – Apr to Jun 1943

Beaufighter TF Mk X – Oct 1943 to Feb 1945

Mosquito FB MK VI – Dec 1943 to May 1944

Sentinel – Apr 1945 to Jan 1946

Squadron Commanders

S/L CD Hackett – Feb to Apr 1941

S/L FRC Fowle – May 1941

W/C HC Daish – Dec 1942 to Jul 1943

W/C JB Nicholson, VC – Aug 1943 to Jun 1944

W/C JH McMichael – Jun 1944 to Mar 1945

W/C TPA Bradley – Mar to Apr 1945

Lt-Col. ET Strever, DFC – Apr to Sept 1945

Airfields

Kohat, India – 17 Dec 1928 (Dets at Manzai, Miranshah, Juhu, Arawali, Gilgit & St Thomas Mount)

Risalpur – 25 Sept 1939

Kohat and Miranshsha – Oct 1939 (Dets)

Kallang, Singapore – 3 Feb 1941

Butterworth, Malaya – 14 May 1941

Sungei Patani – 21 Aug 1941

Butterworth – 9 Dec 1941

Kallang, Singapore – 12 Dec 1941

P2, Sumatra – 24 Jan to 18 Feb 1942

Amarda Road, India – 19 Sept 1942

Kanchrapara – 8 Jan 1943

Agartala – 8 Feb 1943

Parashuram – 8 Januray 1944

Cholavaram – 7 Mar 1944

Ranchi – 14 Sept 1944

Agartala – 18 Oct 1944

Dohazari – 29 Oct 1944

Chiringa – 9 Nov 1944 (Dets at Akyab, Monywa, Meiktila & Mingaladon)

Akyab, Burma – 19 Jun to 12 Oct 1945 (Dets at Mingaladon)

No. 28 Squadron

Squadron Code: BF

Motto: QUICQUID AGAS AGE (Whatsoever you may do, do)

The squadron formed on 7 November 1915 at Fort Grange in Gosport as a training squadron.

By the 1930s, the squadron was operating in the harsh northwest frontier with the British army attempting to quell warring tribes, and taking more casualties from sniper fire than any sustained in flying losses. Aside from this, the unit began a mail run from Quetta to the hill station of Simla in 1925, and then in 1933 conducted a cross-country formation flight to Singapore and back. By 1937, the unit was again heavily committed in the northwest frontier, bombing and strafing bandit camps. It was only in February 1942, after the Japanese attack in December 1941, that the squadron left Waziristan and moved to Burma.

Flying Lysanders, the unit bombed Japanese positions across the Salween River and supported the army, suffering heavy casualties all along. In the wake of the ultimate British retreat, the squadron regrouped at Lahore, where it attempted to put the catastrophe of Burma behind it by drilling further in army cooperation. Indeed, it would see no action until 1943, when it returned to conduct its side war in Waziristan.

Reasonably-modern Hawker Hurricanes arrived in December 1942, and with these, No 28 returned to the Burmese front in January 1943, flying tactical recce in the Rathedaung area. Meantime, a detachment operating from Imphal in Assam, began high-altitude photo recce of the Burmese interior. The tempo of operations can be illustrated by the fact that the squadron flew at least 100 sorties each month, regardless of sunshine or rain. By 1944, this bar had been raised to 12 sorties daily. However, as squadron losses mounted, and with the 1944 monsoon approaching, the squadron left the line in July.

Returning to the frontline in December, the squadron went to Tamu to resume tactical recce flights, conducting as many as 20 sorties a day. March 1945 was the peak with a total of 584 flights. At the waning stages of the Burma campaign, the squadron moved to Rangoon, but the dismal monsoon of that year brought an end to operations, and following the end of the war, the unit moved to Malaya in November and then to Hong Kong in May 1949. It disbanded at Hong Kong at Kai Tai airfield on 2 January 1967.

​Aircraft

Audax Mk I – Jun 1936 to Dec 1941
Lysander Mk II – Sept 1941 to Dec 1942
Hurricane Mk IIB – Dec 1942 to Apr 1944

Hurricane Mk IIC – Mar 1944 to Oct 1945
Hurricane Mk IV – May to Jun 1945
Spitfire Mk XI – Jul to Sept 1945

Squadron Commanders

S/L PN Jennings – Jan to Mar 1942

S/L ORW Hammerbeck – Mar to May 1942

S/L AS Mann – Jan to Mar 1943

S/L TR Pierce – Mar to Aug 1943

S/L HGF Larsen – Aug 1943 to Jul 1944

F/L AE Guymer – Jul to Oct 1944

S/L HGF Larsen – Oct 1944 to Feb 1945

S/L EG Parnell – Februrary to Apr 1945

S/L AE Guymer – Apr to Jun 1945

S/L J Rhind – Jun to Jul 1945

Airfields

Kohat, India – 3 Mar 1939 (Dets at Miranshah, Peshawar, Arawali, Manazi, Risalpur, Quetta, Drigh Road, Dum Dum, Fort Sandeman, Sialkot, Jullundur & Jhelum)

Lashio, Burma – 31 Jan 1942 (Dets at Zayatkwin & Port Blair)

Magwe – 8 Feb 1942 (Det at Mingaladon)

Asansol, India – 6 Mar 1942

Lahore – 7 Mar 1942

Ranchi – 7 Apr 1942 (Det at Dum Dum & Jamshedpur)

Kohat – 18 Jul 1942

Ranchia – 31 Aug 1942

Maungdaw, Imphal, Cox’s Bazaar & Ramu – Dec 1942 (Dets)

Alipore – 4 Jun 1943 (Dets at Agartala, Imphal & Cox’s Bazaar)

Imphal – 1 Nov 1943 (Dets at Ratnap & Cox’s Bazaar)

Jorhat – 5 Apr 1944 (Dets at Imphal & Dalbumharh)

Dalbumhargh – Jul 1944

Ranchi – 2 Aug 1944

Dalbumgarh – 2 Oct 1944

Tamu – 10 Dec 1944

Kalemyo, Burma – 11 Jan 1945

Ye-U – 30 Jan 1945

Sadaung – 13 Feb 1945

Meiktila – 5 Apr 1945

Mingaladon – 22 May to 7 Oct 1945 (Det at Meiktila)

No. 29 Squadron

Squadron Codes: YB, RO

Motto: IMPEGER ET ACER (Energetic and keen)

The squadron formed at Gosport on 7 November 1915 from a nucleus supplied by 23 Squadron .

 

In December 1938, the unit converted to Blenheim Mk If’s, and upon the outbreak of war the following year, used these for shipping patrols, while also carrying out highly-secretive trials with airborne radar. When night-flying German bombers began operating in strength from June 1940, the squadron found itself transformed into a nightfighting squadron. Its first aerial victory materialized on the night of the 18th, when the squadron shot down two enemy planes but paid for these when one Blenheim crashed and another simply failed to return from a sortie over the North Sea. In August, the Blenheims claimed two Heinkel He111s with another probably destroyed, but its meager successes had shed light on the handicaps of the Blenheim of which its greatest weakness was its speed which often prevented interceptions.

Thankfully in September, the squadron began to receive faster Britstol Beaufighter IF’s, and on the 17th, Squadron Leader Widdows mounted the squadron's first operational flight with the ‘Beaus.' In October, the Beaufighters were mated with the Mk IV AI radar sets and the resulting product began to be used by the squadron in numbers from October. By now, however, German ‘trade’ had become diminished and the squadron had to contend with  isolated targets until February 1941, when its scoring opened rapidly. Initially attached to the Digby wing (Based at Digby and its satellite airfield Wellingore), with 25 Squadron, the squadron served most of the war with Fighter Command, concerned with maintaining the purely-defensive nightfighter screen over Britain.

From May 1943, the unit took charge of Mosquitoes, began operations with these in August. Their first Mosquito kill was less than steller with the unfortunate victim being a Hurricane from 137 Squadron, although eight days a Ju88 fell to their guns, heralding another long string of successful interceptions. By November, the squadron victory score had reached 60 planes.

At the dawn of 1944, the unit equipped with Mosquito Mk XIII and with these, began ‘Intruder’ operations over enemy territory from May. This halted in February 1945 with the arrival of Mosquito Mk XXXs, a special nightfighter packed with sensitive radar equipment – and consequently made it too precious to fall into enemy hands. Nevertheless, in the last waning stage of the war, on 24 April 1945, Warrant officer Dallinson shot down a Messerschmitt Me262 jet fighter and damaged another before returning home. This operations was the squadron’s last combat engagement of the war. When the war ended, the squadron remained with Fighter Command, serving for decades into the new Cold-War Europe until its eventual disbandment on 31 December 1974.

​Aircraft

Blenheim Mk IF – Dec 1938 to Mar 1943

Beaufighter Mk IF – 2 Sept 1940 to May 1943

Beaufighter Mk VIF – Mar to May 1943

Mosquito Mk XII – May 1943 to Apr 1944

Mosquito Mk XIII – Oct 1943 to Feb 1945

Mosquito NF Mk XXX – Feb 1945 to 1946

Squadron Commanders

S/L PS Gomez – Feb 1939 to Apr 1940

S/L JS McClean – Apr to Jul 1940

S/L ER Bitmead – Jul 1940

W/C SC Widdows – Jul 1940 to Jul 1941

W/C Colbeck-Welch, DFC – Jul 1941 to Jul 1942

W/C R Cleland – Jul to Sept 1942

W/C CM Wright-Boycott, DSO – Sept 1942 to Feb 1943

W/C CM Miller, DFC* – Feb to Jun 1943

W/C REX Mack, DFC – Jun 1943 to Feb 1944

W/C Powell-Sheddan, DFC – Mar to Apr 1944

W/C PW Arbon, DFC – Apr to Jul 1944

W/C Powell-Sheddan, DFC – Jul to Dec 1944

W/C JW Allan, DSO, DFC – Dec 1944 to Dec 1945

Airfields

Debden, UK – 1937

Drem – 4 Apr 1940

Debden – 10 May 1940

Digby – 27 Jun 1940
Wellingore – 8 Jul 1940

West Malling – 27 Apr 1941

Bradwell Bay – 13 May 1943

Ford – 3 Sept 1943

Drem – 1 Mar 1944

West Malling – 1 May 1944

Hunsdon – 19 Jun 1944

Colerne – 22 Feb 1945

Manston – 11 Apr 1945 to 29 Oct 1945

World War II Aces

  1. S/L John R.D. Braham, DSO, DFC (29 Victories of which 19 were at night; 9 with this unit) May 1938 to 22 Dec 1942 →141Sq

  2. S/L Geoffrey H. Goodman (9 Victories; 1 with this unit) Mar 1942 to Mar 1943 →151Sq

  3. S/L Reginald C. ‘Reg’ Pargeter, DFC (5 Victories†) Jul 1942 to 1944 →N/A

  4. F/L George Pepper, DFC* – Can. (6 Victories†) Dec 1941 to 17 Nov 1942 (KIFA)

  5. F/L William W. ‘Bill’ Provan, DFC (5 Victories†) 1943 to Jan 1945 →51OTU

  6. W/C Cathcart M. ‘Mike’ Wight-Boycott, DSO (7 Victories; 3 with this unit, all on 17/18 Jan) Sept 1942 to Feb 1943 →25Sq

  7. S/L Allan R. Wright, DFC* (12¼ Victories; 1 with this unit) Mar to May 1943 →HQ 92Gp, CO AFDU, Army Staff College (AFC), HQ 12Gp, ME Advanced Bombing and Gunnery School, RAF El Ballah

HAVE YOUR SAY

© 2020 by AKHIL KADIDAL

  • WordPress-logo
  • To Instagram

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

The obligatory Instagram profile