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No 61 - 65 Squadron Histories

No 61 Squadron

Click here to go to badgesFormed at Rochford on 24 July 1917 as a Home Defence unit, it was equipped with Sopwith Pups until January 1918, when SE5As arrived.  Its only action was fought on 12 August 1917 when the squadron intercepted a raid by Gotha bombers over the Thames estuary.  The Gothas failed to reach their targets and the Pups caught the enemy 40 miles out to sea, although no claims were made.  Camels replaced the SE5As in October 1918 but in June 1919 the squadron was disbanded, still being based at Rochford. 

When the squadron reformed on 8 March 1937, it was as a bomber squadron at Hemswell in Lincolnshire.  Its initial equipment was the Hawker Audax but it soon received Ansons in preparation for the arrival of more modern equipment in the form of Blenheims, which arrived in January 1938.  However, in February 1939 the Blenheims began to be replaced by Hampden's and the squadron was fully equipped by the following month.

The squadron began operations against German targets in early 1940 as well as carrying out 'Gardening' operations around the coasts of occupied Europe.  The squadron continued to take part in the night offensive throughout the war as part of Bomber Command's Main Force.  The Hampdens began to be replaced by Manchesters in Jul 1941 but re-equipment was not completed until October and the failure of the Manchester as a bomber led to their replacement by Lancasters in June 1942, which the squadron flew for the remainder of the war.

For two periods in 1942 the squadron was loaned to Coastal Command for anti-submarine operations over the Bay of Biscay and on 17 July 1942, one of its crews actually attacked and sunk an U-boat.  The squadron moved from Hemswell in July 1941 and re-located to a number of airfields, North Luffenham, Woolfax Lodge, Syeston, Skellingthorpe, Coningsby, back to Skellingthorpe and finishing the war at Waddington, where it remained until August 1953.  On 3 November 1943, one of its members, Flt Lt Bill Reid was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions during a raid on Dusseldorf.

Lincolns arrived in May 1946 and these were taken to Malaya in 1950 when the squadron was detached to take part in 'Operation Firedog'    In 1954 the squadron carried out similar operations in Kenya against the 'Mau Mau'.  In 1953 the squadron moved to Wittering and then in 1954 (August), the squadron received Canberras, taking these to Upwood in 1955, and these were used during the Suez crisis of 1956, when the squadron operated from Cyprus.  From 1 February 1949 until disbanding on 31 March 1958No 61 was linked to No 144 Squadron.

  Squadron Codes used: -  

61 Mar 1937 - Mar 1939
LS Mar 1939 - Sep 1939
 QR Sep 1939 - Apr 1951

Photo of a No 61 Sqn 'Sweethearts Pin' ©Stuart Farman

Photo of a No 61 Sqn 'Sweethearts Pin' ©Stuart Farman (click on image to enlarge)

[Aircraft & Markings | Personnel, aircraft and locations | Commanding Officers]

No 62 Squadron

Click here to go to badgesFormed on 8 August 1916 at Filton from a nucleus provided by No 7 Training Squadron, it spent the following year as a training unit before receiving Bristol F2Bs in May 1917.  However it was January 1918 before the squadron moved to France, where it carried out fighter-reconnaissance duties until the end war.  Following duty with the occupation forces, it disbanded at Spich in Germany on 31 July 1919.

The squadron reformed in the day bomber role on 3 May 1937 when 'B' Flight of No 40 Squadron at Abingdon was raised to squadron status.  Initially equipped with Hinds, it began to receive Blenheim Is in February 1938 and in August 1939 these where taken to Singapore.  here the squadron flew training missions interspersed with coastal patrols.  Having moved to Butterworth in Malaya in early December 1941, the squadron carried out attacks against Japanese shipping and airfields during the invasion.  However, having lost most of its aircraft in enemy attacks against its airfields, it re-equipped with Hudsons in January 1942 and moved to Sumatra.  As the Japanese advance continued the squadron withdrew to Burma, absorbing what remained of No 139 Squadron and continued to carry out attacks on enemy airfields and shipping.

In May 1943, the squadron was withdrawn to India, where it began converting to the transport role, equipped with Dakotas.  It was now mainly involved in supply dropping operations to the 14th Army in Burma and these continued until the end of the war.  After the war it changed over to general transport duties throughout South-East Asia Command until disbanding at Mingaladon on 15 March 1946.  Nearly six months later, No 76 Squadron at Mingaladon was re-numbered No 62 on 1 September, again equipped with Dakotas. 

It moved to India in March 1947 as a cadre, but having been brought back up to full strength, was disbanded on 10 August 1947.  A further spell as a Dakota equipped transport squadron began on 8 December 1947 when it reformed at Waterbeach.  It had been reformed to work on the Berlin Airlift and following its successful conclusion, the squadron disbanded again on 1 June 1949.  Its final incarnation was from 1 February 1960 to 31 January 1963 as a Bloodhound surface-to-air missile unit at Woolfax Lodge.

Squadron Codes used: -  

62 May 1937 - Nov 1938
JO Nov 1938 - Sep 1939
PT Sep 1939 - Feb 1942


B Flight 62 Squadron - 1939 Blenheims 62 Sqn over England early 1939 Flight Sergeant A.W. Clifton, 62 Sqn 1939-42
'B' Flight, No 62 Squadron - 1939 Blenheims of No 62 Squadron - 1939 Flight Sergeant A W Clifton, 62 Sqn 1939-42

All photos - courtesy Val Clifton

wpe5.jpg (32410 bytes)

Bloodhounds of No 62 Squadron at RAF Woolfax Lodge 1960 - 1963

(photo courtesy - Arthur Elsey)

[Aircraft & Markings | Personnel, aircraft and locations | Commanding Officers]

No 63 Squadron

Click here to go to badgesFormed on 31August 1916 at Stirling as a light bomber unit for operations on the Western Front.  However, following training, the squadron was transferred to Mesopotamia in June 1917, arriving in Basra in August.  Heat and disease resulted in the first two aircraft not being ready for flight until September, but the unit then undertook support to the forces advancing on Kirkuk and Mosul.  The squadron then moved to Mosul from where it operated detachments throughout the country, until these were all brought together at Baghdad in early February 1920, where the squadron disbanded on the 29th of the same month.

The squadron reformed in the light bomber role at Andover on 15 February 1937 from a nucleus provided by 'B' Flight of no 12 Squadron.  Initially equipped with Hinds, it soon re-equipped with the Audax and at the same time it moved to Upwood, where it became the first squadron to receive the Fairey Battle in May 1937.  However, just prior to the outbreak of war the squadron became the training unit for this type, also receiving some Ansons for this role.  Shortly after the outbreak of war, the squadron moved to Abingdon and joined No 6 Group, later re-locating to Benson, where on 8 April 1940, the squadron was re-designated No 12 Operational Training Unit.

A new No 63 Squadron formed on 15 June 1942 at Gatwick from a detachment of No 239 Squadron.  Until January 1943 it was involved in training for its tactical support role, equipped with Mustang Is, carrying out its first operation on 11 January.  the squadron moved south to join No 123 Airfield of the 2nd Tactical Air Force in November 1943.  However, this move was short-lived and in January 1944, it returned to Scotland, where it re-equipped with Hurricanes and began training for spotting for Royal Navy guns.  It was in this role that it took part in Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy on 6 June 1944, but with Spitfires, with which it had re-equipped in May 1944.  Until it was next needed to undertake its spotting role for the Walcheren landings, it carried out defensive duties and after the landings it conducted a few escort missions, but on30 January 1945, the squadron was disbanded and its aircraft handed over to No 41 OTU.

The squadron reformed in the fighter role on 1 September 1946 when No 164 Squadron at Middle Wallop was re-numbered.  It moved to Thorney Island in January 1948, where its Spitfires were replaced by Meteor F Mk 3s the following April.  Meteor F Mk 4 were received in June 1948 and F Mk 8s in December 1950, by which time the squadron was based at Waterbeach.  In 1956, the Meteors were replaced by Hunters, but on 31 October 1958, the squadron disbanded.

However, since disbanding as an operational squadron it has seen a number of periods of existence as either a 'Shadow' or Reserve squadron.  The first of these was as a 'Shadow' unit for the Day Fighter Combat Squadron of the Central Fighter Establishment from 30 Nov 1958 until 1 June 1963.  On the same day the number was transferred to No 229 OCU as the 'Shadow' designation for one of its constituent squadrons.  On 2 September 1970 No 229 OCU was re-designated as the Tactical Weapons Units and No 63 remained one of its 'Shadow' units.  No 63 was transferred to No 2 TWU on 1 August 1980 and when that unit was redesignated No 7 FTS (1 April 1992), No 63 remained a component part until 23 September 1992; when No 63's role was transferred to No 19 (Reserve) Squadron.  During all of this period, the squadron was equipped with various versions of the Hunter, but as part of No 2 TWU, it also began using the Hawk.

Squadron Codes used: -

63 Feb 1937 - Nov 1938
NE Nov 1938 - May 1939
ON May 1939 - Sep 1939
UB Sep 1946 - Apr 1951


Five Battles of No 63 Sqn in line abreast between 1937 and late 1938.
Five Battles of No 63 Sqn in line abreast between 1937 and late 1938.

Photo from the collection of Kenneth Trotman, courtesy of Lesley Dunlop.

[Aircraft & Markings | Personnel, aircraft and locations | Commanding Officers]

No 64 Squadron

Click here to go to badgesFormed as a training unit on 1 August 1916 at Sedgeford, it was equipped with FE2bs.  It received DH5 fighters in June 1917 and in October moved to France to began operations.  The DH5s were replaced by SE5As in March 1918 and conducted both fighter and ground-attack operations for the remainder of the war.  It returned to Narborough in February 1919, where it disbanded on 31 December of the same year.

The squadron was reformed at Heliopolis on 1 March 1936 as a Demon fighter squadron, its aircraft having already been sent out and operated as extra flights of No's 6 and 208 Squadrons.  It was immediately involved in the Abyssinian crisis carrying out attacks against enemy (Italian) airfields and providing fighter cover to refuelling bombers.

With the crisis over the squadron returned to the Martlesham Heath to become part of the UK air defences.  Turret Demons began arriving in February 1938 and Blenheim fighters in December, by which time the squadron was based at Church Fenton.  From here it carried out coastal patrols before moving up to Evanton for defence of the fleet.  The squadron converted to Spitfires in April 1940, just in time to assist with air cover for the Dunkirk evacuation and later took part in the Battle of Britain.

From early 1941 the squadron then began a series of moves between Scotland and the south, providing defensive cover whilst up north and carrying out offensive operations from southern bases, equipped with various marks of Spitfire.  However, in November 1944 the squadron converted to Mustangs and began long-range support duties to Bomber Command daylight raids.

With the war in Europe over, the squadron settled at Horsham St Faith, where it received the De Havilland Hornet long-range fighter in May 1946.  In August it moved to its new base of Linton-on-Ouse, where it remained until August 1951, when it took its Meteors, received in April, to Duxford.  Duxford remained its base for ten years, with the squadron converting to the night fighter role there in 1956.  In September 1958 the squadron adopted the all-weather fighter role when it received Javelins.  These were taken to Singapore in April 1965, where it provided all-weather cover until disbanding on 16 June 1967.

Since then the squadron has been the 'Shadow'/Reserve identity of No 228 OCU, first at Coningsby from 16 May 1968 and then Leuchars, to where the OCU moved on 22 Apr 1987.  When the OCU disbanded on 31Jan 1991, so did No 64 Squadron.

Standards Battle Honours*

Award of Standard originally announced on 29 Jul 1958, effective from 1 Apr 1958 but presented:-

6 July 1960

MRAF Sir William Dickson

Western Front, 1917-1918:  Cambrai, 1918:  Amiens:  Hindenburg Line:  Somme, 1918: Lys:  Channel & North Sea, 1940:  Dunkirk:  Battle of Britain:  Home Defence, 1940:  Fortress Europe, 1941-1944:  Normandy, 1944:  Arnhem:  Walcheren:  France & Germany, 1944-1945:

Squadron Codes used: -  

XQ Feb 1939 - Sep 1939
SH Sep 1939 - Apr 1951

[Aircraft & Markings | Personnel, aircraft and locations | Commanding Officers]


No 65 (East India) Squadron

Click here to go to badges Formed on1 August 1916 at Wyton from a nucleus provided by Norwich training station, the squadron was equipped with a variety of training types until October 1917, when it received Camels.  At the same time the squadron moved to France conducting defensive patrols until February 1918, when it started ground attack operations.  A move to the Belgium coast came in August 1918 with the squadron escorting day bombers.  It remained in Belgium until the end of war and returned to Yatesbury in February 1919, where it disbanded on 25 October 1919.

The squadron was reformed at Hornchurch on 1 August 1934 as a Demon fighter squadron.  The squadron was reduced to cadre in September 1935 as personnel were drafted to Egypt to boast the strength of units taking part in the Abyssinian crisis.  When the squadron began rebuilding to full strength in July 1936, it also received new equipment in the form of Gauntlets, thereby becoming a single seater fighter unit.  Gladiators replaced the Gauntlets in June 1937 and in their turn were replaced by Spitfires from March 1939.  Operations began with coverage of the Dunkirk evacuation after which it moved Kirton-in-Lindsay, returning to Hornchurch in June from where it took part in the Battle of Britain until the end of August.

Throughout 1941 and 1942, the squadron moved between bases in the south, the north of England and Scotland, carrying out defensive duties in the north and Scotland and offensive operations in the south and occasionally carrying out similar missions whilst based up north by operating from advanced bases in the south.  In early 1943 the squadron carried out deck-landing training aboard HMS Argus, but then moved to Cornwall for coastal patrols and bomber escort duties.  In May, the squadron joined 2nd Tactical Air Force and the following December converted to Mustangs, with which it operated in the fighter-bomber role up to the invasion.

The squadron moved to the continent at the end of June 1944 operating in the close support role until September, when it moved back to Matlask in Norfolk in the bomber-escort role.  Another move to Scotland came in January 1945 where it provided similar support to the Strike Wings of Coastal Command operating along the Scandinavian coasts.  A return to Norfolk in May 1945 brought conversion to Spitfires and then in July 1946 the squadron began to receive Hornet long-range fighters and the following month it moved to its peacetime base at Linton-on-Ouse.  Meteor F Mk 4s began to arrive in December 1950 and conversion was complete by April 1951 and the following August, it re-located to Duxford.  The squadron spent the next ten years at Duxford, re-equipping with Hunters in December 1956, disbanding on 31 March 1961.  The squadron reformed on 1 January 1964 as a surface-to-air missile unit at Seletar equipped with Bloodhound Mk 2s, disbanding on 30 March 1970.

Since then the squadron number has been allocated to No 226 OCU, equipped with Lightnings at Coltishall from 1 September 1970 until 17 Jun 1974 and then No 229 OCU flying Tornadoes at Coningsby from 31 December 1986 to 30 June 1992, when the OCU was re-numbered No 56 (Reserve) Squadron.

Standards Battle Honours*

Award of Standard originally announced on 15 Oct 1957, effective from 1 Apr 1957 but presented:-

16 October 1957

MRAF Sir William Dickson

Western Front, 1917-1918:  Cambrai, 1918:  Somme, 1918:  France & Low Countries:  Dunkirk:  Battle of Britain, 1940:  Home Defence, 1940-42:  Fortress Europe, 1941-1944:  Channel & North Sea, 1942-1945:  Dieppe:  Normandy, 1944:  Arnhem:  France & Germany, 1944-1945:  Baltic 1945:  

Squadron Codes used: -  

FZ Oct 1938 - Sep 1939
YT Sep 1939 - Apr 1951


The above photo are probably of No 65 Squadron as the code letters FZ seem to visible.
Harold Barham Snr is standing at the back on the right
Photos courtesy© Harold Barham Jnr

[Aircraft & Markings | Personnel, aircraft and locations | Commanding Officers]

*Honours in Black are those the squadron has a been granted the right to emblazon on the Squadron Standard, but does not do so.

Honours in Red  are those actually emblazoned on the Squadron Standard

Honours in Blue are those the squadron has not been granted the right to emblazon on the Squadron Standard

Squadron badge image on this page is courtesy of Steve Clements

© Crown Copyright is reproduced with the permission of the Directorate of Intellectual Property Rights

This page was last updated on 26/09/21©

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