The Royal Air Force During World War 2
60 to 69 Squadrons

No. 60 Squadron

Squadron Code: MU

Motto: PER ARDUA AD AETHERA TENDO (I strive through difficulties to the sky)

The squadron first came into being on 30 April 1916 at Gosport. It subsequently moved to France on 28 May.

 

Years later, just before the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, the unit had become operational with Bristol Blenheim light bombers in Western India (now Pakistan), operating flights from Karachi, Bombay, Madras and Calcutta. In February 1941, they moved to Burma, receiving Brewster Buffalos in July. The Buffalos, an ungainly fighter made in the United States, was hopelessly obsolete by contemporary war standards, and as events transpired, they did not last long in the squadron, being passed on to 67 Squadron in October.

 

When the Japanese began their offensive to create a new world order in the Far East and the Pacific, most of No 60 was in Singapore. When British-held Malaya was invaded, the squadron, under the command of Wing Commander R.L. Vivian, fought a desperate but futile battle against enemy ships and airfields in Thailand, suffering crippling losses. Virtually destroyed by February 1942, the squadron evacuated to India.

Rebuilt as an operational training unit at Lahore on 1 March 1942, the squadron retook its number-plate and equipped with Blenheim Mk IVs, returned to East India to attack Japanese forces in Burma. Earmarked to convert to single-seat Hawker Hurricanes, the squadron flew its last Blenheim operation on 13 May, and went to south India to requip. With Hurricane Mk IIC’s, the squadron returned to the east and from 10 November, began escorting attack and bomber aircraft over the frontier into Japanese-held Burma.

In December, ‘B’ Flight began to strafe Akyab and in January 1944 deployed to Ramu very near the Burmese frontier to continue rapid ground-attack sorties. Aside from this, a second detachment went to Chittagong many miles away to the south to begin nocturnal ‘Rhubarbs’ against Japanese road and river transportation. By mid-March with the situation in the Imphal-Kohima region grim owing to a raging battle between the Japanese 15th and the Allied 14th Armies, No 60 began to carry bombs which it then used against enemy forces in the Imphal sector. Most of its activities revolved around the ‘Cab-Rank’ style, in which it would loiter over the battlefield until called down by an RAF liaison officer embedded with the troops to destroy a specific target. By December, the action had slackened off. The Japanese had been head-long retreat since autumn and in May 1945, the squadron retired from the front to re-equip with Thunderbolts. These failed to arrive until July and as the squadron began to engage in the usual work with new equipment, the Japanese surrendered.

Immediately following, the squadron moved to Surabaya to cover the Allied landings there and then deployed to Siam. Remaining in the Far East during the post-war years, the squadron later disbanded in 30 April 1968.

​Aircraft

Wapiti – Apr 1930 to 1939

Blenheim Mk I – 1939 to Feb 1942

Buffalo – Jul to Oct 1941

Blenheim Mk IV – Feb 1942 to Aug 1943

Hurricane Mk IIC & IV– Jul 1943 to Jun 1945

Thunderbolt Mk II – Jul 1945 to 1946

Squadron Commanders

W/C RL Vivan – Dec 1941 to Feb 1942

S/L RC Lindsell – Jul 1943 to Sept 1944

S/L MSJ Wilton – Sept to Dec 1944

S/L JS Humphreys – Dec 1944 to May 1945

S/L JB Wales, DFC – May to Late 1945

Airfields

Ambala, India – 2 Mar 1939

Dum Dum – 28 Aug 1939 (‘Z’ FLt)

St. Thomas Mount – 3 Sept 1939 (‘Y’ Flt)

Juhu – 24 Oct 1939 (‘D’ Flt)

Drigh Road – 9 Nov 19349 (‘H’, later ‘W’ Flt)

Lahore – 19 Sept 1940

Mingaladon, Burma – 14 Feb 1941

Magwe – 9 Feb 1942

Lahore, India – 1 Mar 1942

Asanol – 12 May 1942

Jessore – 20 Dec 1942

Dohazari – 22 Jan 1943

Yelehanka – 14 May 1943

St. Thomas Mount – 7 Jul 1943

Yelahanka – 31 Jul 1943

St. Thomas Mount – 1 Sept 1943

Cholavarum – 2 Oct 1943

Agartala – 6 Nov 1943

Silchar West – 20 Mar 1944

Deragon – 4 May 1944

Kumbrigram – 2 Jul 1944

Kangala – 20 Sept 1944

Taukkyan, Burma – 5 Jan 1945

Monywa – 10 Feb 1945

Thedaw – 11 Apr 1945

Kalewa – 28 Apr 1945

Mingaladon – 18 May 1945

Thedaw – 26 May 1945

Tanjore – 30 Jun to 2 Oct 1945

Hawker Hurricane Mk IV, India, 1944 The Mk IV version of the Hurricane was built from the outset as a fighter-bomber. For its ground attack role, the Mark IV had 350 lbs of armor, and was equipped to carry various ground munitions, although its normal armament consisted of just two 0.303-in machine guns. The aircraft had a top speed of 502 km/h (314 mph) and maximum range of 790 kilometers (495 miles).

No. 61 Squadron

Squadron Codes: LS, QR

Motto: PER PURAM TONANTES (Thundering through the clear air)

The squadron formed on 2 August 1917 at Rochford in Essex as one of the first single-seat fighter squadron with the London Air Defence Area. Its role was to combat daylight bomber raids, and equipped with the Sopwith Pup, it attempted to do so, in the first major combat engagement on 12 August.

 

Two decades later, the squadron entered World War Ii with 5 Group. It took part in all of the RAF’s early, noteworthy raids, including the attack on Hornum (19/20 March 1940), the first bombing raid on the German mainland (Monchegladbach, 11/12 May), the first attack on Berlin (24/25 August), the low-level strike on le Creusot (17 October 1942) and the bombing of German rocket research facility on the Baltic Island of Peenemunde on 17/18 August 1943.

 

Temporarily transferring to Coastal Command on two occasions, November to December 1941 and 14 July to August 1942, the unit gained success here too. On 17 July 1942, a Lancaster piloted by Flight Lt P.R. Casemate became the first Bomber Command crew to destroy a U-Boat. Photographic evidence of the attack showed the submarine crew swimming away from their surfaced, sinking vessel. After return to Bomber Command, the squadron’s later operations included the draining of the Dortmund-Ems and Mitteland Canals in 1944 and the bombing of Wesel on the Rhine in March 1945.

 

By the end of the war, the squadron had the honor of having flown more raids than any other Lancaster squadron on the RAF. Four of its Lancasters - ED860 N-Nan, EE176, JB138 and LL483 had each finished more than 100 operational sorties. RAF records point an association showing that three of aircraft participated on a 3/4 November 1943 raid, in which squadron Flight Lt William Reid won the Victoria Cross. In addition to their impressive record, the squadron had the honor of ending the war with having flown the second highest number of bombing raids of all the heavy bomber squadrons in the RAF. After the war, No 61 remained with Bomber Command, disbanding well into the cold-war period, on 31 March 1958.

​Aircraft

Hampden Mk I – Feb 1939 to Oct 1941

Manchester Mk I – Octopber 1941 to Jun 1942

Lancaster Mk I & III – Apr 1942 to May 1946

Lancaster Mk II – Jan 1943 to Jun 1946

Squadron Commanders

S/L CH Brill – Mar 1937 to Sept 1939

W/C CM De Crespigny – Sept 1939 to Feb 1940

W/C FM Denny – Feb to May 1940

W/C GH Sheen – May to Nov 1940

W/C GE Valentine – Nov 1940 to Sept 1941

W/C CT Weir – Sept 1941 to Jun 1942

W/C CM Coad – Jun 1942 to Feb 1943

W/C WM Penman – Feb to Oct 1943

W/C RN Stidolph – Oct 1943 to Apr 1944

W/C AW Doubleday – Apr to Sept 1944

W/C WD Paxton – Sept 1944 to Feb 1945

W/C CW Scott – Feb 1945 to N/A 1946

Airfields

Hemswell, UK – 8 Mar 1937

North Luffenham – 17 Jul 1941

Woolfox Lodge – Nov 1941

Syerston – 5 May 1942

St. Eval – 14 Jul 1942

Skellingthorpe – 16 Nov 1943

Coningsby – 1 Feb 1944

Skellingthorpe – 15 Apr 1944

Sturgate – 16 Jun 1945 to 25 Jan 1946

Operational Performance

 

Raids Flown

5 Group Hampdens – 229 bombing, 49 minelaying, 3 ‘night-fighter’ over English cities, 2 leaflet
5 Group Manchesters – 33 bombing, 11 minelaying
5 Group Lancasters – 351 bombing, 25 minelaying, 1 leaflet

Totals: 613 bombing, 85 minelaying, 3 ‘night-fighter over English Cities, 3 leaflet = 704 raids

 

Sorties and Losses

5 Group Hampdens – 1,339 sorties, 28 aircraft lost (2.1 percent)
5 Group Manchesters – 197 sorties, 12 aircraft lost (6.1 percent)
5 Group Lancasters – 4,546 sorties, 116 aircraft lost (2.6 percent)

Totals: 6,082 sorties, 156 aircraft lost (2.6 percent)

An additional 25 Lancasters destroyed in crashes.

The Victoria Cross
Acting Flight Lieutenant William Reid, Scotland, Survived, Age 21

On the night of 3 November 1943, while on a raid on Dusseldorf, Germany, the windscreen of Reid’s Lancaster bomber was shattered by fire from a Messerschmitt Me110 night fighter shortly after crossing the Dutch coast, the fire damaging the gun turrets and the cockpit. The gunner managed to get a bead on the Me110 and drove it away, but not before Reid was wounded in the head, shoulders and hands. The fire had also damaged the elevator trim tabs and the aircraft became difficult to control. Reid, after checking with his crew and saying nothing of his multiple injuries elected to continue the mission, but they were soon under attack again, this time by a single-engined Focke-Wulf Fw190, which raked the Lancaster from beam to stern

This second attack killed the navigator, badly struck the wireless operator, wounded Reid again and injured the flight engineer in the forearm. The Lancaster, meantime, had taken a beating; most of its guns had been knocked-out, as was the oxygen supply, the compass, the intercom and the hydraulic links on the port side.

 

Pressing on to the target, now still 200 miles away, Reid navigated by memory. Reaching the target, they dropped their bombs and made off. On the course home, by now weak from blood loss and the lack of oxygen, Reid lapsed into semi-consciousness. The shattered windshield, drawing in intense cold air, was another major hurdle.

The wounded flight engineer, Sergeant J.W. Norris, sought the help of the bombardier to keep Reid awake, and they managed to keep the Lancaster flying despite fierce anti-aircraft fire near the Dutch coast. Nearing Britain, a fresh problem arose. Fuel was running dangerously low, and worse, Reid, having lost a lot of blood was passing in and out of consciousness. Fortuitously, they spotted a bright cluster of searchlights on the horizon, and Reid immediately turned towards it. They ended up over a large unidentified aerodrome.

 

Flashing up his distress lights, Reid, with blood streaming down his face, landed the bomber hard. One undercarriage collapsed and the craft screeched for almost fifty meters before coming to a halt. To the crew’s immense relief they found that they had landed at Shipdam airfield in Norfolk, home of the American 44th Bomb Group. Most of the crew walked out of the mess, including the badly wounded wireless operator, who unfortunately died on the following day. When Reid’s commanding officer later asked him why he did not abort the mission, Reid replied that "it was safer to go on because we were still flying in this big box of planes 10 miles wide and 10 miles deep, and it would have meant flying back through these and probably pranging one. It was not a case of going on regardless. It was the safest thing to do."

 

Reid flew on active duty until 31 July 1944, when he was shot down and taken prisoner while attacking German V-1 rocket sites. He was one of two survivors from his crew. He died at the age of 79 on 28 November 2001.

No. 62 Squadron

Squadron Codes: FX, JO, PT

Motto: INSPERATO (Unexpectedly)

The squadron first formed on 8 August 1916 at Filton near Bristol, from elements supplied by 7 Training Squadron.

 

A few months before the Second World War broke out in September 1939, the squadron left for the Far East a few months before war broke out in Europe, the squadron spent the next two years in virtually idyllic circumstances, flying patrols of the South China Sea and training. Completely operational by when the Japanese attacked in December 1941, the unit experienced a rude awakening in the ways of modern war. Attacking Japanese shipping and invasion forces sailing from Thailand, the squadron lost heavily in attacks against Japanese-held airfields.

The survivors assembled and where thrown into more raids against enemy airfields, and when these last remnants were virtually wiped out, the squadron re-equipped with Lockheed Hudsons and beat a hasty retreat to Sumatra. When Japanese paratroopers landed near their airfield, the squadron broke up, losing all of its personnel and equipment to the RAAF’s 1 Squadron.

Effectively disbanded, the unit disappeared off the RAF’s book. Meantime, RAF light bomber elements retreating under similar circumstances from Burma gathered in India. Now assembled under the numberplate of a new 62 Squadron (on 30 April), the unit equipped with reinforcements and went into the fray again – attacking Japanese vessels and airfields. The unit also few recce flights over the Bay of Bengal to locate enemy shipping, and these sort of operations continued until May 1943, when the squadron withdrew to equip with Dakotas, becoming a transport squadron.

With the Dakotas, the unit began to drop supplies to ground forces on the Burmese front from 7 January 1944, flying operationally in all weather conditions until the end of the war. At the time of the Japanese surrender in August 1945, the unit was active, flying general transportation flights over India and Southeast Asia. The squadron disbanded on 24 March 1946.

​Aircraft

Blenheim Mk I – Feb 1938 to Jan 1942

Hudson Mk I – Feb 1942

Hudson Mk III – Apr 1942 to Oct 1943

Dakota – Jul 1943 to Mar 1946

Squadron Commanders

W/C D Halliday, DFC – Apr 1942 to Aug 1943

W/C EB Fielden – Aug 1943 to Feb 1944

W/C ML Wells, DFC – Feb to Oct 1944

W/C RW Davy, DFC – Oct 1944 to Sept 1945

S/L PG Bell, DFC – Sept to Dec 1945

Airfields

Left for the Far East (Grn ech) – 12 Aug 1939

                                  (Air ech) – 23 Aug 1939

Tengah, Singapore (Air ech) – 22 Sept 1939

                               (Grnd ech) – 25 Sept 1939

Alor Star, Malaya – 10 Feb 1941

Butterworth – 8 Dec 1941

Tengah, Singapore – 24 Dec 1941

Palembang, Java – 27 Jan 1942

Semplak – 16 to 18 Feb 1942 (Dispersed)

Dum Dum, India – 30 Apr 1942

Cuttack – 14 Jun 1942 (Dets at Asansol & Vizagapatnam)

Dhubalia – 20 Jan 1943

Jessore – 21 Feb 1943

Chaklala – 24 May 1943 (Det at Basal)

Comilla – 3 Jan 1944

Chandina – 30 Apr 1944

Agartala – 12 Jul 1944

Basal – 8 Aug 1944

Agartala – 3 Nov 1944

Comilla – 30 Dec 1944

Maunubyin, Burma – 21 Mar 1945

Mingaladon – 18 Sept 1945 to 24 Mar 1946

The Victoria Cross
Squadron Leader Arthur S.K. "Pongo" Scarf, England, Killed in Action, Age 28

On 9 December 1941 in Malaya, near the Siam border, all available aircraft at Butterworth in Malaya had been ordered to make a daylight raid on an advanced Japanese Air Force base at Singora in Siam (Thailand).

 

Squadron Leader Scarf, as the leader of the raid, had just taken off from his base at Butterworth when enemy aircraft swept down and destroyed or disabled the rest of the squadron’s aircraft. Although the mission had been planned as an attack in force, Scarf nevertheless decided to fly on alone to Singora. Despite attacks from roving fighters he completed his bombing run, but on his way back, he blundered upon enemy fighters and was shot up, being badly wounded.

By taking drastic evasive maneuvers he gave the fighters the slip and crossed into British Malaya, crash-landing the Blenheim at Alor Star without injury to his crew. Although rushed to a hospital, he died two hours later.

No. 63 Squadron

Squadron Codes: NE, ON, ME, UB

Motto: PONE NOS AD HOSTEM (Follow us to find the enemy)

The squadron originally formed on 31 August 1916 at Stirling in Scotland as a light bombing unit, destined for the western front. Instead, it went to the Middle East.

Years later in 1939, it became a training squadron on 17 March. It went to Abingdon at the outbreak of war in September, joining 6 Group. Just when combat flying seemed a promising dream, the unit was transferred to Benson airbase the following month, where, taking on the designation of 12 Operational Training Unit on 8 April 1940, it trained other Battle for crews for operational flying.

 

Effectively scrubbed off the RAF roster, the unit had wait for nearly two years before reforming again. On 15 June 1942, a detachment from 239 Squadron at Gatwick was designated as 63 Squadron. With the detachment came US-made Mustang fighters and with these, this new 63 Squadron flew army cooperation flights with the army, flying its first operations from Odiham in January 1943. By November, it was in the south with 123 Airfield (later Wing), conducting tactical-recce flights.

 

In May 1944, to took on Supermarine Spitfires and during the Normandy invasion cooperated with the Navy, spotting coastal guns and artillery. Thereafter, followed a short respite, but during the bloody campaign to take Walchern Island later in 1944, it worked with the navy again, pinpointing pockets of German resistance for the warships to destroy. Following the capture of Walchern, the squadron flew a few escort missions, but on 30 January 1945, with the war far from over, it disbanded, relinquishing all of its aircraft to 41 Operational Training Unit.

​Aircraft

Battle Mk I – Jun 1937 to Apr 1940

Anson Mk I – Mar 1939 to Apr 1940

Mustang Mk I – Jun 1942 to Nov 1943

Mustang Mk IA – Nov 1943 to May 1944

Hurricane Mk IIC – Mar to May 1944

Spitfire Mk Vb – May 1944 to Jan 1945

Hurricane Mk IIC – Sept to Dec 1944

Squadron Commanders

S/L R Gray – Jun to Jul 1942

W/C TK Lacey – Jul 1942 to Jul 1943

W/C W Cooper – Jul to Aug 1943

S/L RJ Hardiman, DFC – Sept to Oct 1943

S/L AS Mann – Oct to Nov 1943

S/L M Savage – Jan to Sept 1944

S/L RW Campbell – Sept to Oct 1944

S/L M Savage – Oct 1944 to Jan 1945

Airfields

Upwood, UK – 17 Feb 1939

Abingdon – 7 Sept 1939

Benson – 17 Sept 1939

Gatwick – Jun 1942

Catterick – Jul 1942

Macmerry – Dec 1942 (Dets at Odiham, Dundonald, Dalcross & Turnhouse)

Turnhouse – Jul 1943

Thruxton – Nov 1943

Sawbridgeworth – Nov 1943

North Weald – Jan 1944 (Dets at Peterhead, Tealing, Dundonald & Ballyhalbert)

Woodvale – Apr 1944 (Det at Dundonald)

Lee-on-Solent – May 1944

Woodvale – Jul 1944 (Det at Ballhalbert)

Lee-on-Solent – Aug 1944 (Det at Ballyhalbert)

North Weald – Sept 1944

Manston – 1 Nov 1944

North Weald – 4 Nov 1944 to 30 Jan 1945

No. 64 Squadron

Squadron Codes: GR, SH

Motto: TENAX PROPOSITI (Firm of purpose)

This squadron was first brought into the world at Sedgeford on 1 August 1916 as a training unit, but deploying to France a year later.

Disbanded after World War I, the unit was reformed on 1 March 1936 at Heliopolis in Egypt. However, this reformation escalated tensions with Italy in the region and the British diplomatically announced that the squadron had instead reformed at Henlow in Britain. Its rebirth in Egypt, however, marked the squadron and it took on the Egyptian hieroglyphic scarab as its emblem. Equipped with Hawker Demons, which had been sent out and flown by the ‘D’ Flights of 6 and 203 Squadrons, No 64 took possession of these craft in March, and during the Abyssinian crisis, was given plans to bomb Italian airfields while possibly covering RAF bombers refueling at the advanced landing grounds. In any case, when the crisis passed, the squadron returned to England to augment the fighter defense of London.

In Late 1938, Bristol Blenheim day fighters were received at Church Fenton, and on the outbreak of war, the squadron engaged in patrols off the East Coast, providing fighter defense for the Home Fleet in December 1939. In April 1940, they converted to Supermarine Spitfires. When the Dunkirk evacuations began a month later, the squadron was overhead to support the exit. Contrary to claims by the British Army that the RAF had badly let them down over Dunkirk, No 64's record alone proved otherwise.  On May 21, it met the enemy over the beachhead, but success proved elusive. However, eight days later, in a second encounter with German fighters, Flight Sgt. Flynn achieved the squadron’s first kill – a Messerschmitt Me109. However, the squadron had been badly bloodied in return, losing three pilots killed, including the squadron commander.

In the following Battle of Britain, especially during the chaotic months of July and August, the squadron continued to suffer, losing nearly two dozen planes in about a month-and-a-half of flying. However, by when it withdrew from the battle on 18 August, it had shot down 43 enemy planes. Returning to the hotzone of southern England in October, it stayed here, escorting Blenheims on raids against France and the Low Countries in 1941. In April, however, it went to Scotland. With little action to be found here, morale began to drop, but in November, the squadron moved to Hornchurch, now encountering potent new German Focke-Wulf Fw190 fighters while on escort missions.

Heavy losses again ensued. But in July 1942, the unit became the first squadron to equip with the new Supermarine Spitfire Mark IX, a variant that ended the reign of the Fw190 and escorting American B-17s on raids over western Europe, the unit saw some success. In March 1943, however, it returned to Scotland to equip with Spitfire Mark Vbs to practice carrier landings, using the old fleet carrier HMS Argus for its trials. The reason for these tests were made never clear and in any case, not pursued with and in August, No 64 was back in the south of England, flying long-range escort for heavy bombers. Equipped with US-made P-51 Mustangs in 1944, the unit’s reach extended to Germany, and it maintained these escort missions until 4 May 1945. Following the end of the war in 1945, the squadron flew for a time in the post-war period, disbanding on 16 June 1967.

​Aircraft

 

Blenheim Mk IF – Dec 1938 to Apr 1940

Spitfire Mk I – Apr 1940 to Jan 1941

Spitfire Mk IIA – Jan to Nov 1941

Spitfire Mk Vb – Nov 1941 to Sept 1942

Spitfire Mk IX – 6 Jul 1942 to Mar 1943

Spitfire Mk Vb – Mar to Sept 1943

Spitfire Mk LF.Vb – Sept 1943 to Jul 1944

Spitfire Mk IX – Jun to Nov 1944

Mustang Mk III – Nov 1944 to May 1946

Mustang Mk IV – 1945 to May 1946

Squadron Commanders

S/L J Heber-Percy – Jan 1939 to Jan 1940

S/L EG Rogers – Jan to 29 May 1940 (KIA)

S/L Odbert – 1 Jun to Jul 1940

S/L Aeness R.D. MacDonell, DFC – Jul 1940 to 31 Mar 1941 (POW)

S/L Wilfred E.G. Duncan-Smith, DFC – Mar to Aug 1942

S/L FAO Gaze, DFC (Aust) – Aug to Oct 1942

S/L CF Gray, DFC (NZ) – Oct to Dec 1942

S/L William V. Crawford-Compton, DFC*(NZ) – Dec 1942 to Mar 1943

S/L MGL Donnet, DFC, CDG – Mar to Nov 1943

S/L E Cassidy, DFC – Nov 1943 to Apr 1944

S/L JN Mackenzie, DFC (NZ) – Apr to Aug 1944

S/L CP Rudland, DFC – Aug 1944 to Mar 1945

S/L RE Green, DFC –Mar to Late-1945

Airfields

Church Fenton, UK – 18 May 1938

Evanton – 4 Dec 1939 to 8 Jan 1940 (Det)

Catterick – 18 Apr to 11 May 1940 (Det)

Usworth – 1 May 1940

Kenley – 16 May 1940

Leconfield and Ringway – 19 Aug 1940
Biggin Hill – 13 Oct 1940
Coltishall – 15 Oct 1940

Boscombe Down – 1 Sept 1940

Hornchurch – 11 Nov 1940

Rochford – 27 Jan 1941

Hornchurch – 31 Mar 1941

Turnhouse – 16 May 1941

Drem – 17 May 1941

Turnhouse – 6 Aug 1941

Drem – 4 Oct 1941

Hornchurch – 16 Nov 1941

Rochford – 31 Mar 1942

Hornchurch – 1 May 1942

Fairlop – 8 Sept 1942

Hornchurch – 14 Nov 1942

Predannack – 9 Dec 1942

Fairlop – 2 Jan 1943

Hornchurch – 15 Mar 1943

Ayr – 28 Mar 1943

Friston – 6 Aug 1943

Gravesend – 19 Aug 1943

West Malling – 6 Sept 1943

Coltishall – 25 Sept 1943

Ayr – 21 Jan 1944

Coltishall – 2 Feb 1944

Deanland – 29 Apr 1944

Harrowber – 26 Jun 1944

Bradwell Bay – 30 Aug 1944

Bentwaters – 28 Dec 1944

Horsham St. Faith – 18 Aug 1945 to 7 Aug 1946

World War II Aces

  1. F/O Arne Austeen – Norway (5 ½ Victories; ½ with this unit) Summer 1942 to Summer 1943 →611Sq

  2. S/L William V. ‘Billy’ Crawford-Compton, DFC* – NZ (20½ Victories; 2 with this unit) Dec 1942 to Mar 1943 →NCD, Hornchurch Wing (6 kills), 145Wing (4 kills). Later DSO«.

  3. Sub-Lt. Francis Dawson-Paul – RN (7¼ Victories†) May to 25 Jul 1940 (ShD, WIA, picked up by German E-Boat. Died 30 Jul)

  4. S/L Wilfred G.G. Duncan-Smith, DFC (18 Victories; 6 with this unit) 20 Mar to Jul 1942 →Luqa Wing (3 kills), 244Wing (2 kills), 324Wing (1 kill). Later DSO*

  5. F/L Donald E. Kingaby, DFM** (21.6 Victories; 2 with this unit) Apr to Aug 1942→122Sq

  6. S/L Aeness R.D. MacDonell, DFC (9½ Victories†) Jul 1940 to 31 Mar 1941 (POW)

  7. Sgt. Jack ‘Jackie’ Mann (5 Victories; 4 with this unit) Jul to Aug 1940 →91Sq

  8. F/L James J. ‘Orange’ O’Meara (11.7 Victories) Jan 1939 to 20 Sept 1940 (7.7 kills, P/O) →72Sq & Apr to Oct 1941 (1 kill) →NCD, 234Sq, CO 131Sq, HQ 10Go (DSO), Observer SW Pacific

  9. Sub Lt. F. Dawson Paul – Royal Navy (7 Victories with this unit) 1940 (KIA Jul)

  10. F/L John A. Plagis, DFC* – Rhod. (16 Victories, 2 with this unit) Apr 1943 to Jul 1944 →126Sq

  11. S/L James E. ‘Jamie’ Rankin (19 Victories; 0.3 with this unit) Jan to Feb 1941 (Supernumerary) →92Sq

  12. P/O Peter J. Simpson (5.3 Victories; 1½ with this unit) 10 to 16 Aug 1940 →111Sq

  13. F/O Herbert J. Woodward, DFC (5 Victories†) Jul 1938 to Oct 1940 →23Sq (KIA 30 Oct)

No. 65 (East India) Squadron

Squadron Codes: YT, FZ, 4M

Motto: ET ARMIS (By force of arms)

The squadron first formed at Wyton on 1 August 1916 with a flight from the Norwich training station.

 

But in September 1935, it lost much of its personnel to drafts being sent to the Middle East during the Abyssinian crisis and as a consequence, was reduced to a cadre. Brought slowly back up to strength in July 1936, the unit equipped with Gloster Gauntlets and then Gladiators (the RAF’s last biplane fighter). In March 1939, superior Supermarine Spitfire Mark Is arrived, and the squadron was operational by when war broke out in September.

Flying its first scramble on the 5th, the unit saw little action until 17 May 1940, when Flying Officer Welford shot down a German Ju88 over Flushing. When the Dunkirk evacuations began, the squadron flew over the beaches providing top cover for the retreating army. Operations over Dunkirk were disappointing with the RAF losing more planes than they shot down. In the later part of June, the squadron returned to 11 Group, and prepared for the Battle of Britain. The squadron received eight new Spitfires through the sponsorship of the East India Fund in July 1940. It subsequently took on the moniker of "East India" Squadron.

 

The battle was soon joined and the squadron in heavy combat. By when it was rotated out of the front at the end of August, the squadron shot down 34½ enemy planes for the loss of eleven Spitfires.

Moved to Scotland for rest, the squadron withered in the solitude of nothing. However in November, orders came for the unit to return to the south of England, to Tangmere. Soon, it was seeing enemy aircraft once again. In January, it switched to night patrols, a difficult endeavor on the Spitfire which had been designed as a day fighter. Despite this, Flight Lt Tommy Smart shot down a bandit over Portsmouth on the 10th. Daylight encounters with the enemy, meantime, were rare but persistent, and a few victories were scored. When Spitfire Mark IXs arrived in August 1942, the scoring rate being to rise, but the Spitfires soon made way for US-made North American P-51 Mustang Mark IIIs later in the year.

The Mustang was a long-range fighter and the long-range bomber escort missions began from May 1943. Slowly, bit-by-bit, the squadron's kill tally began to inch up. On 26 July 1944, Flight Sgt. Kelly shot down a Messerschmitt Me109 to score the squadron’s 100th kill of the war. Deployed to Normandy for armed reconnaissance work, the unit also escorted bombers – a task that squadron continued to be engaged in by when the war ended war ended in 1945. Active for a time in the post-war RAF, the squadron disbanded on 31 March 1961.

​Aircraft

 

Spitfire Mk I – Mar 1939 to Apr 1941

Spitfire Mk IIa – Jan to Sept 1941

Spitfire Mk IIb – Sept to Oct 1941

Spitfire Mk Vb – Oct 1941 to Aug 1943

Spitfire Mk IX – Aug 1943 to Jan 1944

Mustang III – Dec 1943 to 1945

Mustang Mk IV – Mar 1945 to May 1946

Squadron Commanders

S/L D Cooke – Oct 1937 to Jul 1940

S/L HC Sawyer – Jul to Aug 1940

S/L AL Holland – Aug to Oct 1940

S/L GAW Saunders – Oct 1940 to Sept 1941

S/L JW Villa, DFC – Sept to Dec 1941 (Illness)

S/L M Czernin – Dec 1941

S/L HT Gilbert – Dec 1941 to May 1942

S/L AC Bartley, DFC – May to Jul 1942

S/L DAP McMullen, DFC – Jul to Sept 1942

Cmdt. RGOJ Mouchotte, DFC – Sept 1942 to Jan 1943

S/L JE Storrar, DFC* – 23 Jan to Nov 1943

S/L JC Grant, DFC*, DFM (NZ) – Nov 1943 to Jan 1944

S/L GRA Mc. Johnston – Jan to Mar 1944

S/L DF Westenra, DFC – Mar to 9 Jul 1944

S/L DP Lamb, DFC – Jul to Sept 1944

S/L LAP Burra-Robinson, DFC – 10 Sept 1944 to Jan 1945

S/L IDS Strachan – Jan 1945

S/L IG Stewart – Feb to Mar 1945

S/L JW Foster – Mar to Late 1945

Airfields

Hornchurch, UK – 1 Aug 1934

Northolt – 2 Oct 1939

Hornchurch – 28 Mar 1940

Kirton-in-Lindsey – 28 May 1940

Hornchurch – 5 Jun 1940

Manston – 10 Jul 1940

Turnhouse – 28 Aug 1940

Tangmere – 29 Nov 1940

Kirton-in-Lindsey – 26 Feb 1941

Westhampnett – 7 Oct 1941

Debden – 22 Dec 1941

Great Stampford – 14 Apr 1942

Martlesham Heath – 9 Jun 1942

Great Stampford – 15 Jun 1942

Hawkinge – 30 Jun 1942

Great Stampford – 7 Jul 1942

Gravesend – 29 Jul 1942

Eastchurch – 14 Aug 1942

Gravesend – 20 Aug 1942

Drem – 26 Sept 1942

Lympne – 2 Oct 1942

Drem – 26 Sept 1942

Lympne – 2 Oct 1942

Drem – 11 Oct 1942

Macrihanish – 3 Jan 1943

Drem – 10 Jan 1943

Perranporth – 29 Mar 1943

Fairlop – 18 May 1943

Selsey – 31 May 1943

Kingsnorth – 1 Jul 1943

Ashford – 5 Oct 1943

Gatwick – 15 Oct 1943

Gravesend – 24 Oct 1943

Ford – 15 Apr 1944

Funtington – 14 May 1944

B.7 Martragny, France – 25 Jun 1944

B.12 Ellon – 15 Jul 1944

B.60 Grimbergen, Belgium – 8 Sept 1944

Matlaske, UK – 29 Sept 1944

Peterhead – 3 Oct 1944

Matlaske – 4 Oct 1944

Andres Field (Great Saling) – 14 Oct 1944

Peterhead – 16 Jan 1945

Andrews Field (Great Saling) – 28 Jan 1945

Peterhead – 1 Feb 1945

Andrews Field (Great Saling) – 6 May 1945

Bentwaters – 15 May

Hethel – 6 Sept 1945 to 11 Feb 1946

World War II Aces

  1. S/L Lance A.P. Burra-Robinson, DFC (5.25 Victories; 3 with this unit) 15 Jul 1944 to Jan 1945 →N/A

  2. S/L Basil G. Collyns – NZ (5.8 Victories; 4.8 with this unit) Jan to Jun 1944 →19Sq (KIA 20 Aug 1944. Later DFC)

  3. F/O Brendan E.F. ‘Paddy’ Finucane, DFC – Ire. (32 Victories; 5½ with this unit) 1939 to Apr 1941 →452Sq

  4. P/O William H. Franklin, DFM* (14.3 Victories†) 1939 to 12 Dec 1940 (KIA)

  5. F/L Stanley B. Grant (6 Victories; 1 with this unit) Early 1940 to Dec 1941 →249Sq

  6. P/O Kenneth G. Hart (6½ Victories; 3.6 with this unit) Mar 1940 to Late 1941 →250Sq

  7. F/L Peter J. Hearne (5 Victories; 2 with this unit) May 1942 to Jan 1944 & Oct to Dec 1944→19Sq

  8. F/O Thorsteinn E. Jonsson, DFM – Iceland (8 Victories; 4 with this unit) Jan to Dec 1944 →NCD, 187Sq

  9. S/L Deryck P. Lamb, DFC (6¾ Victories; 2½ with this unit) Jul to 9 Sept 1944 (WIA, Evaded, returned 19 Sept) →NCD

  10. F/L Charles G.C. Olive, DFC – Aust. (5 Victories†) 1937 to Jun 1941 →CO 465Sq, Australia, HQ Morotai

  11. F/L Thomas ‘Tommy’ Smart, DFC (7.3 Victories†) Early 1940 to Oct 1941 →CO 229Sq (KIA 12 Apr 1943)

  12. S/L James E. ‘Jas’ Storrar, DFC* (12½ Victories; 2 with this unit) 24 Jan to Nov 1943 →53OTU, NCD, CO 64, 164 & 234Sqs, Hunsdon Wing, DIgby Wing, Molesworth Wing, HQ 12Gp

  13. S/L Derek F. ‘Jerry’ Westenra, DFC – NZ (9.3 Victories; 2.3 with this unit) Mar to 9 Jul 1944 → * to DFC Sept 1943, NZ

No. 66 Squadron

Squadron Codes: LZ (1940 – No 421 Flight), RB, YT, HI

Motto: CAVETE PRAEMONUI (Beware, I have warned)

No 66 Squadron first formed at Filton on 30 June 1916 as a a training squadron, but deployed to France, amid the Great War in March 1917 as a fighter unit.

Disbanded like so many squadron after the war, the unit reformed on 20 July 1936 at Duxford from the ‘C’ Flight of 19 Squadron, and was equipped with Gloster Gauntlet biplane fighters. In November 1938, it replaced its Gauntlets with monoplane Supermarine Spitfires, with which it began defensive patrols, after Britain declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939. On 11 January 1940, its opened its account, when a routine patrol by ‘A’ Flight over the North Sea stumbled upon a solitary a German Henkel He111 medium bomber attacking a a trawler. Seeing the Spitfires the Heinkel's fled. The flight gave chase. Only as the hunters and the prey neared Denmark were the RAF pilot able to get the upper hand and destroy the Heinkel

In May 1940, the squadron covered the Dunkirk evacuation. Thereafter, it remained with Air Vice Marshal Keith Park's 11 Group, which fought the brunt of the Battle of the Britain which began in July. The squadron claimed the destruction of 50 planes during the battle. Its biggest day was15 September, saw it claimed eight kills, four probables and seven damaged. Unlike many other squadrons, the squadron remained in the south in the waning phase of the battle, staying on until February 1941. Re-equipped with Spitfire Mark IIAs later in the year, the unit flew its first low-level ‘Rhubarb’ mission on 20 December 1940, carrying out an attack on Le Touquet, France, which set the pace for similar operations until 1943.

In late 1943, the unit transferred to the newly formed 2nd Tactical Air Force and following the Normandy invasion in June 1944, deployed in France that August. From here, it flew a relentlessness stream of armed reconnaissance flights, shooting and bombing anything of the enemy it came upon beyond frontline. At the beckoning of the army, it was on-hand to attack local battlefield targets designated by RAF ground liaison officers. Operations of this nature, mixed with coastal attack and escort flights were maintained until April 1945, when the squadron without warning, was disbanded at Twente airfield in Holland on the 30th. It had ended the war with a total of 82 enemy aircraft destroyed to its credit.

​Aircraft

 

Spitfire Mk I – Oct 1938 to Nov 1940

Hurricane Mk I – 1940 (No. 421 Flight)

Spitfire Mk IIa – Oct 1940 to Apr 1942

Spitfire Mk I – Mar 1941

Spitfire Mk Va – Feb to Mar 1942

Spitfire Mk Vb & Vc – Mar 1942 to Nov 1943

Spitfire Mk VI – May to Jun 1943

Spitfire Mk LF.IX – Nov 1943 to Dec 1944

Spitfire Mk LF.XVIe – Nov 1944 to Apr 1945

Squadron Commanders

S/L EJ George – Aug 1939 to Apr 1940

S/L RHA Leigh – Apr to Oct 1940

S/L AS Forbes, DFC – Oct 1940 to Oct 1941

S/L HR Allen, DFC – Oct to Dec 1941

S/L BL Duckenfield, AFC – Dec 1941 to Mar 1942

S/L DE Cremin, DFC – Mar to May 1942

S/L LE Malfoy, DFC – May to Jun 1942

S/L RD Yule, DFC – Jun to Nov 1942

S/L HAC Bird-Wilson, DFC – Nov 1942 to May 1943

S/L KT Lofts, DFC – May 1943 to May 1944

S/L HAS Johnston, DFC* – May to Nov 1944

S/L R Easby – Oct 1944 to Mar 1945

S/L R Mathieson – Mar to Apr 1945

Airfields

Duxford, UK – 15 July 1938

Horsham St. Faith – 16 May 1940

Coltishall – 29 May 1940
Kenley – 3 Sept 1940
Gravesend – 11 Sept 1940
West Malling – 30 Oct 1940

Biggen Hill – 7 Nov 1940

Exeter – 24 Feb 1941

Perranporth – 27 Apr 1941

Portreath – 14 Dec 1941

Ibsley – 27 Apr 1942

Tangmere – 3 Jul 1942

Ibsley – 7 Jul 1942

Tangmere – 16 Aug 1942

Ibsley – 20 Aug 1942

Zeals – 24 Aug 1942

Ibsley – 23 Dec 1942

Skaebrae – 9 Feb 1943

Church Stanton – 28 Jun 1943

Redhill – 10 Aug 1943

Kenley – 13 Aug 1943

Perranporth – 17 Sept 1943

Hornchurch – 8 Nov 1943

Llanbedr – 22 Feb 1944

North Weald – 1 Mar 1944

Bognor Regis – 31 Mar 1944

Castletown – 8 May 1944

Bognor Regis – 14 May 1944

Tangmere – 22 Jun 1944

Funtington – 6 Aug 1944

Ford – 12 Aug 1944

B.16 Villonsles Buissons, France – 20 Aug 1944

B.33 Camp Neusville – 6 Sept 1944

B.57 Lille – 11 Sept 1944

B.60 Grimbergen, Holland – 6 Oct 1944

B.79 Woensdrecht – 22 Dec 1944

Fairwood Common, UK – 21 Feb 1945

B.85 Schijndel, Holland – 17 Mar 1945

B.105 Twente – 18 to 30 Apr 1945

World War II Aces

  1. S/L Hubert R. ‘Dizzy’ Allen, DFC (6.3 Victories†) 13 Apr 1940 to Dec 1941 →286Sq, NCD

  2. F/O Crelin A.W. ‘Bogle’ Bodie, DFC (6½ Victories†) May 1940 to Mar 1941 →310, 152Sqs (KIFA 24 Feb 1942)

  3. F/L George P. Christie, DFC* (6 Victories; 4 with this unit) Sept 1940 to Jan 1941→NCD Ferry Command (KIFA 6 Jul 1942, Lake St. Louis, Quebec)

  4. S/L Athol S. Forbes, DFC, VM (8 Victories; 1 with this unit) 17 Oct 1940 to Oct 1941 →HQ 10Gp, 165Wing. Later *to DFC.

  5. F/L Fredrick A.O. ‘Tony’ Gaze, DFC* – Aust. (12½ Victories; 1 with this unit) 1 to 4 Sept 1943 (WIA, Shot down, Evaded, Returned to UK 28 Oct, Healed Feb 1944) →610Sq

  6. F/L Kenneth M. Gillies (5.16 Victories†) Dec 1936 to Nov 1939 & Apr to 4 Oct 1940 (KIA)

  7. S/L Hugh A.S. ‘Tim/Johnny’ Johnston, DFC* (5¼ Victories; 1 with this unit) 23 May to Nov 1944 →NCD

  8. F/Sgt. Claude A. Parsons, DFM (6½ Victories; 4 with this unit) Sept 1940 to 8 Nov 1941 (KIA)

  9. F/O Peter Olver (5 Victories; ½ with this unit) Dec 1940 to 1941 →238Sq

  10. F/L Robert W. ‘Bobby/Oxo’ Oxspring, DFC (13.35 Victories; 8.3 with this unit) Dec 1938 to Apr 1941 →72Sq

  11. Sgt. Frederick N. ‘Fred’ Robertson (11.3 Victories; 1.3 with this unit) Oct 1939 to 18 Jul 1940 →261Sq

  12. F/L Arthur W. Varey, DFM (5.16 Victories; 0.16 with this unit) Apr 1943 to Jul 1944 →Kirton-in-Lindsey, India & Burma NCD

  13. S/L Robert Duncan Yule, DFC* – NZ (5.52 Victories, 1 with this unit) Jun to Nov 1942 →Detling Wing

No. 67 Squadron

Squadron Code: RD

Motto: NO ODDS TOO GREAT

This squadron was first formed on 18 January 1917 from 1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps. It operated in the Suez Canal zone during World War I and upon disbanding on 6 Feb 1918, it returned to the designation of 1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps.

Reformed on 12 March 1941 at Kallang in Singapore, the squadron moved to Burma, taking up station at Mingaladon with a complement of sixteen Brewster Buffaloes. Some detachments were posted to advanced airfields at Moulmein and along the Tenasserim peninsula. With these moves, the squadron worked up to operational status by the end of the year. When the Japanese attacked in December, the squadron went immediately into action. The first operation (on the 21st), involved strafing Japanese-held Girikham airfield in Thailand. Two days later, the Japanese retaliated by attacking Mingaladon, and the squadron scrambled into the fray. In the wheeling, turning dogfight that followed, the squadron claimed six kills – a remarkable achievement considering the lopsided odds posed by the ungainly Buffalos against agile Japanese Zero fighters. If this was the apex, the fall came in just a few days when the squadron found itself in heavy combat with Japanese bombers on December 23 and on Christmas Day, while trying to help defend Rangoon.

 

There was yet another air raid on January 24, which saw the unit virtually destroyed as a fighting force. Withdrawn to Magwe on February 20, but Japanese attacks proved relentless. Finally with only four Buffalos remaining and with eight pilots killed in action, an ebb which culminated in the battle for Pegu, the survivors retreated to India on 10 March.

Here, it re-equipped with Hurricanes Mark IICs at Alipore in June 1942, and in February 1943, went back in Burma, into the Arakan peninsula to support the army. Attacking targets on the ground on its own initiative, the unit rendered valuable, if ultimately futile aid to the army. By April, and now at Chittagong, the squadron scrambled against 30 plus Japanese raiders on the 4th. They damaged only one Oscar fighter. For May onward, the squadron began ‘Rhubarbs’ operations over Burma. A routine was quickly established. Dakotas and bombers were escorted by day and ‘Rhubarbs’ were flown at dusk or at night. By November, with the Japanese poised to invade India, the squadron moved to Calcutta to defend that city. They had not long to wait before the Japanese attacked.

 

On 5 December, 27 Japanese bombers, escorted by about 50 fighters arrived. In the ensuing dogfight which developed, the unit shot down only one fighter and damaged four others. It was the last hurrah of the Hurricane in squadron service. In February 1944, new Spitfire Mark VIIIs arrived. This mark was the tropicalised variant of the famous fighter aircraft. Deploying to Comilla with these, No 67 flew low-altitude attack strikes and escorted Dakotas in the area. Cox’s Bazaar, a sunken, swampy and quagmire town, had an airfield, which the squadron used as an advanced landing ground to strafe river boats in Burma. River boats were hit relentlessly during this period, but air combat proved elusive. Back in the Arakan Peninsula in 1945, the unit finally saw air combat when it came across six Japanese Oscar fighters bombing Akyab station on 9 January. Five Japanese fell from the sky.

Eventually, however, as the Japanese lost ground in Burma, action became more and more scarce. In July, No 67 escorted a transport aircraft flying Lord Louis Mountabatten in the theater, but disbanded afterwards on the 31st.

​Aircraft

 

Buffalo Mk II – Mar 1941 to 1942

Hurricane Mk IIB – Feb to Jun 1942

Hurricane Mk IIC – Jun 1942 to Feb 1944

Spitfire Mk VIII – Feb 1944 to Jul 1945

Squadron Commanders

S/L A Milward – Jul 1941 to February 1942

S/L JH Buchmann – Jun 1942 to Apr 1943

S/L JS Hart – May to Jul 1943

S/L TC Parker – Jul 1943 to Aug 1944

S/L CM Humphreys – Aug to Dec 1944

S/L RWR Day, DFC* – Dec 1944 to Feb 1945

S/L RR Helsby – Feb to Apr 1945

S/L R Mayes – Apr to Jul 1945

Airfields

Kallang, Singapore – 12 Mar 1941

Mingaladon, Burma – 13 Oct 1941 (Dets at Moulmein)

Rangoon – Dec 1941

Toungoo – Feb 1942

Magwe – 20 Mar 1942

Akyab – May 1942

Alipore, India – 30 Nov 1942 (Defense of Calcutta)

Chittagong – 24 Aug 1943 (C-47 escort)

Alipore – 30 Nov 1943

Armada Road – 7 Mar 1944

Alipore – 28 Mar 1944

Baigachi – 12 Apr 1944

Comilla – 5 Jul 1944

Double Moorings – 30 Nov 1944

Maunghnama, Burma – 1 Jan 1945

Dabaing 2 – 7 Feb 1945

Akyab Main – 14 May to 31 Jul 1945

World War II Aces

  1. S/L Robert W.R. ‘Bob’ Day, DFC – Canada (5½ Victories, 2 with this unit) Dec 1944 to Feb 1945 →NCD

  2. F/L Donald W.A. ‘Dimsie’ Stones, DFC* (9.16 Victories; ½ with this unit) 27 Jan to 15 May 1943 (WIA), Test Pilot Bombay, NCD Karachi, UK, Vickers-Armstrong Test Pilot

Supermarine Spitfire Mk VIII, Eastern India, Late-1944 This fighter is seen in standard SEAC colours of Foliage green and dark earth with Azure blue undersides. The White stripes painted on the fin and the wings were identification aids. The squadron badge was that of a Drongo in flight. Originally intended as the successor to the famous Mark V, production delays with the Mk VIII caused it to be succeeded by the Spitfire IX in this role. In any case, the Mark VIII went on to become one of the finest of the RAF’s wartime spitfires, and 1,658 were built.

No. 68 (Czech) Squadron

Squadron Codes: WM

Motto: VZDY PRIPRAVEN (Always ready)

The squadron first formed on 30 January 1917 at Harlaxton as a fighter squadron with Australians. Going to France eight months later, it abandoned fighter work and concentrated on ground-attack.

It disbanded after World War I in 1919, reforming years later on 7 January 1941 at Catterick as a nightfighter squadron. Equipped initial with Bristol Blenheim IFs (a light-bomber adapted as a fighter), the unit took on potent Bristol Beaufighters from May.

 

On June 17, the squadron's account opened when Flight Lt Derek Pain blasted a Heinkel He111 bomber out of the night sky near Bath. Night operations continued steadily, with October witnessing 48 patrols and the destruction of three enemy Junker Ju88s. In the following early months of 1942, it moved to Britain’s east coast, shooting down more night raiders. In April, 83 patrols were mounted and five enemy aircraft destroyed. At this point, the squadron was largely composed of Czechs, and the powers that be added a Czech motto to the squadron motif of a night owl. Czech members were so numerous that the ‘B’ Flight had become an all-Czech flight from 20 January 1942. This flight, a highly-successful formation accounted for 18½ confirmed aircraft kills and three V-1s shot down during the war, with another five probables and seven enemy aircraft damaged.

 

In 1943, the squadron switched to offensive operations, flying night ‘Ranger’, principally against German E-Boats. Lit by flares dropped by accompanying Fairy Albacores, squadron Beaufighters would bore in to hit the boats. With the arrival of Beaufighter Mark VIFs with radar, the squadron’s success in air combat improved radically. This shot up another notch when Mosquitos replaced the ‘Beaus’ in 1944, with the squadron now operating against V-1 Flying bombs. They also developed tactics to intercept V-1 launching He111’s operating over the North Sea. The first such He111 fell on 5 November but the squadron’s days were numbered. With German forces being pushed deeper into Germany and with little contacts, the squadron had little to justify its continued operation. It was disbanded on 20 April 1945.

During the war, the squadron shot down 54½ planes and four flying bombs, plus another twenty aircraft claimed as probable kills and 32 enemy aircraft damaged. It had flown 9,027 sorties during the war, with a total flying time of 15,673 hours. The squadron lost thirty-one airmen killed were killed and four captured.

​Aircraft

 

Blenheim Mk IF & IVF – Feb to May 1941

Beaufighter Mk IF – May 1941 to Feb 1943

Beaufighter Mk VIF – Jan 1943 to Jul 1944

Mosquito Mk XVII & XIX – Jul 1944 to Feb 1945

Mosquito NF Mk XXX – Feb to Apr 1945

Squadron Commanders

S/L DL Clarkson – 7 Jan to 3 Feb 1941

W/C JWM Aitken, DSO, DFC – 3 Feb 1941 to 24 Jan 1943

W/C AP Dottridge, DFC – 24 Jan to 21 Oct 1943

W/C D Hayley-Bell, DFC – 21 Oct 1943 to 14 Oct 1944

W/C G Howden, DFC – 14 Augsut 1944 to 4 Feb 1945

W/C WL Gill, DFC – 4 Feb 1945 to 20 Apr 1945

Airfields

Catterick, UK – 7 Jan 1941

High Ercall – 23 Apr 1941

Coltishall – 8 Mar 1942

Coleby Grange – 5 Feb 1944

Fairwood Common – 1 Mar 1944

Castle Camps – 23 Jun 1944

Coltishall – 28 Oct 1944

Wittering – 8 Feb 1945

Coltishall – 27 Feb 1945

Church Fenton – 16 Mar to 20 Apr 1945

World War II Aces

  1. W/C The Honorable John W. M. ‘Max’ Aitken, DSO, DFC – Canada/UK (14.2 Victories; 4 with this unit) Feb 1941 to Jan 1943 →Fighter Tactics Branch (see 46Sq)

  2. F/O Ladislav Bobek, DFC – Czech (5 Victories†) Feb 1942 to Aug 1943 & Feb to Jul 1944 →NCD

  3. F/O Percy F. Allen, DFC« – UK (9 Victories†) 1942 to Oct 1943 & Oct 1944 to VE-Day

  4. F/L Miroslav J.Mansfield, DSO, DFC – Czech. (8.8 Victories; 8½ aircraft and 2 V-1 kills with this unit) Jul 1941 to May 1943 (F/O) →51OTU, & Oct 1943 to Jun 1945 →Czechoslovakia

  5. F/L Derek S. Pain – UK (5 Victories; 1 with this unit) 1941 →89Sq

  6. Sgt. Mervyn C. Shipard – Aust. (13 Victories; 1 with this unit) Aug to Dec 1941 →89Sq

No. 69 Squadron

Squadron Codes: W1

Motto: WITH VIGILANCE WE SERVE

This squadron first formed at South Carlton on 28 December 1916 with Australians from Egypt. After World War I, it was disbanded in 1919.

Reformed on 10 January 1941 as a reconnaissance unit by expanding 431 Flight at Luqa in Malta, the squadron became an integral part of Malta's air defenses during the siege of the island (1940-1942). One of its pilots, Adrian Warburton, even became an ace with seven confirmed victories while flying Photo-reconnaissance Marylands, Hurricanes and Spitfires. Often flying reconnaissance over enemy ports and airfields, especially over Axis Sicily, the squadron took losses, not least of all its home base of Luqa to enemy bombers. Gradually, however, the squadron grew in strength, taking on a variety of types, including Hawker Hurricanes, Bristol Beauforts and Bristol Blenheims in addition to its Martin Marylands. In June 1941, it flew an astonishing 160 sorties, continuing this pace for the following months, losing on average, a single plane in combat per month.

In January 1942, the squadron added two Beaufighters and two DeHavilland Mosquitos to its roster, but found itself drawn more into air combat, as larger numbers of Italian and German units hell-bent on destroying Malta deployed on nearby Axis-held Sicily. Losses were heavy and the unit’s aircraft were virtually unserviceable. Using Spitfires from April (often acquired from other fighter squadrons on the island), the unit standardized with this aircraft by May. When summer came, more heavy aircraft arrived, and ‘A’ Flight employed Martin Baltimores to accompany anti-shipping Beauforts, ‘B’ Flight used Spitfire Mk IVs on high-altitude reconnaissance and ‘C’ Flight used Maryland and heavy Wellingtons for night anti-shipping sorties and special signaling work. Appropriately, with this enlargement, the rank of squadron commander moved from that of Squadron Leader to Wing Commander.

But the increase in size also brought about its own problems. With the increased establishment strength, losses mounted. Five were recorded in January 1943. The following month, the unit changed again. The Wellingtons left for 458 squadron and the Spitfires detached to form 683 Squadron. The Marylands had been largely destroyed. This left just the Baltimores for the whole squadron. By February 1944, with the Mediterranean largely in Allied hands, the squadron moved to mainland Italy, but ceased operations on 2 April and sailed for Britain.

Rebuilt at Northolt within 34 Wing, the squadron was soon flying night reconnaissance operations with Wellingtons. Using flares to illuminate the ground below, the squadron became busy operating over Normandy and beyond. Moving to France in September, it maintained an average of 70 operations per month. In the Luftwaffe’s surprise New Year’s attack on 1945, it lost eleven aircraft at Melsbroek, but this did not slacken the tempo of operations. In 1945, the squadron began carrying bombs on recce flights to destroy any targets that it came upon. It later went after submarines and motor boats, subsequently operating over Denmark and Norway. Following the end of the war, the squadron disbanded on 7 August 1945.

​Aircraft

 

Maryland Mk I & II – Jan 1941 to Sept 1942

Hurricane Mk II – Jan 1941

Hurricane Mk I – Apr 1941 to Aug 1941

Beaufort Mk I – Aug to Sept 1941

Blenheim Mk IV – Sept to Oct 1941

Mosquito Mk I – Jan 1942 to Mar 1943

Beaufighter Mk IC – Jan 1942 to 1943

Spitfire Mk IV – Mar 1942 to Feb 1943

Wellington Mk VIII – Aug 1942 to Feb 1943

Baltimore Mk I & II – Aug 1942 to May 1943

Baltimore Mk III & IV – Apr 1943 to Apr 1944

Baltimore Mk V – Jan to Apr 1944

Wellington Mk XIII – May 1944 to Aug 1945

Squadron Commanders

S/L EA Whiteley – Jan to Jun 1941

S/L RD Welland – Jun to Jul 1941

S/L E Tennant – Jul to Sept 1941

W/C JN Dowland, GC – Sept 1941 to Jan 1942

W/C Tennant – Jan to Jun 1942

P/O Foster – Jun to Aug 1942 (Acting)

W/C A Warburton, DSO, DFC** – Aug 1942 to 8 Feb 1943

W/C RC Mackay, DFC – Feb to May 1943

W/C TM Channon, DSO – May 1943 to Jul 1944

W/C FOS Dobell – Jul to Sept 1944

W/C MJA Shaw, DSO – Sept 1944 to Aug 1945

Airfields

Luqa, Malta – 10 Jan 1941

Takali – Oct 1941

Luqa – Nov 1941

Montecorvino, Sicily – 7 Feb 1944

Northolt, UK – 5 May 1944

A.12 Balleroy, France – 4 Sept 1944

B.48 Amiens-Glisy – 11 Sept 1944

B.58 Melsbroek, Belgium – 26 Sept 1944

B.78 Eindhoven, Holland – 15 Apr to 7Aug 1945

Aalborg West, Germany – 8 Jul to 9 Aug 1945 (Det)

Cambrai-Epinoy, France – 8 Aug 1945 to 31 Mar 1946

World War II Ace

  1. W/C Adrian Warburton, DSO, DFC** (7 Victories; 4 with this unit, 2 previously with 431Flt) 10 Jan to Sept 1941 (F/O) & Jan to Mar 1942 (F/L) & Aug 1942 to 8 Feb 1943 (W/C) →CO 683Sq (but temporarily flew with 1435Sq, where he scored his last kill on 10 Jul 1943), CO 336PR Wing, US 7th PR Gp (Attached, KIA 12 Apr 1944)

Hawker Hurricane PR Mk I, Luqa airfield, Malta, July 1941 This Hurricane was flown by the RAF’s top reconnaissance ace of the war, the-then Flying Officer Adrian Warburton. He went missing in action on 12 April 1944 while serving as a Wing Commander in Britain with 336 Photo-Reconaissance Wing. Attached to the American 7th PR Group as a liaison officer in 1944, Warburton had taken off in one of the unit’s F-5B Lightnings for a sortie over Southern Germany. Expected at Sardinia afterwards, he never arrived. Only recently in 2002, was the wreckage of a crashed USAAF F-5B Lightning found in Bavaria with his remains inside, under two meters of earth. As a result his official status changed from that of ‘Missing in Action’ to ‘Killed in Action’, thus ending one of the great aviation mysteries of last several decades. It is surmised that he was shot down by fighters. The squadron badge was of an anchor with a telescope in the fore. (Photo: IWM)

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