Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation
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Originally formed as No 6 Squadron RNAS on 31 December 1916 from 'A' Squadron, No 4 Wing at Petite Synthe, however, its career as a fighter squadron was short-lived as it disbanded on 27 August 1917. No 6 Squadron RNAS reformed on 1 November 1917 in the day-bomber role, equipped initially with DH4s, these being replaced with DH9s in February and it was this type that the squadron took into action for the first time on 9 March 1918. Initially allocated to No 5 Wing RNAS, it was transferred to 11th (Army) Wing of the RFC on 31 March and the following day was renumbered No 206 Squadron on the formation of the RAF. It continued to operate in the Army role until the end of hostilities, when it moved in to Germany as part of the Army of Occupation, where it carried out an air mail service. In May 1919 the unit returned to France and the next month it moved to Egypt where on the 1 February 1920 it was disbanded by being re-numbered No 47 Squadron.
Its third incarnation saw it adopt yet another role, General Reconnaissance, when it was reformed from 'C' Flight of No 48 Squadron at Manston on 15 June 1936. Initially equipped with Ansons, it moved to Bircham Newton in July where it remained until July 1941. Hudsons began to arrive in March 1940 with the Ansons gone by June and these continued to be operated from St Eval (July 1941) Aldergrove (August 1941) and Benbecula ( July 1942). Whilst nominally stationed at these locations, the squadron operated detachments from a variety of other stations around the UK.
A big leap in capability came in July 1942, when the first Boeing Fortress IIA's arrived to replace the Hudsons, the first operational mission with these being flown on 19 September 1942 following 18 non-operational days. The squadron could now operate over a far greater area and carry a far greater war load. A number of U-boats were sighted and attacked and six were sunk by mid June 1943. In October 1943 the squadron moved to Lagens in the Azores to cover what had become known as 'The Atlantic Gap'. In March 1944 the squadron returned to the UK were it converted to the Liberator and operated these over the Channel and Bay of Biscay to prevent U-boats attacking the invasion forces. With the invasion over it moved to Scotland from where it operated over Norwegian waters.
With the end of the war the squadron was transferred to Transport Command in June 1945 undertaking training flights to and from India prior to beginning operations in October. Freight was taken out and POWs and troops brought back, a schedule which the squadron continued until disbanding on 25 April 1946. The squadron surfaced again as a transport unit on 17 November 1947 equipped with Yorks. It used these during the Berlin Airlift operating from Wunstorf until 1949 when it transferred to overseas scheduled flights. The squadron disbanded once again on 20 February 1950 at Lyneham.
No 206 returned to the maritime world once again on 27 September 1953 at St Eval, when it reformed to operate the Avro Shackleton. Initially equipped with the Mk 1A, these were replaced by Mk 2s in February 1953 and Mk 3s in January 1958, at which time it also moved to a new home at nearby St Mawgan. It remained in Cornwall until July 1965 when it moved to Kinloss in Scotland, where five years later in November 1970, it re-equipped with the Nimrod MR Mk 1. These began to be replaced by the Mk 2 in February 1980 and the squadron was fully equipped by February 1981. The squadron continued to operate Nimrods in the Maritime role at Kinloss until 1 April 2005, when the squadron was disbanded once again. However, in 2009 the unit was re-formed as No 206 (Reserve) Squadron by amalgamating and redesignating the the Heavy Lift Test Squadron and the Air Transport and Air-to-Air Refuelling Operational Evaluation Unit as part of the Air Warfare Centre. It is based at Boscombe Down and Lyneham and tests and evaluates a variety of aircraft and electronic equipment.
Squadron Codes used: -
No 206 Squadron Association: Secretary: Wg Cdr Derek P E Straw MRAeS MRIN RAF (Ret'd)
email: derek.strawATwhich.net (replace AT with @) Tel: 01285-869437
Originally formed at Eastchurch as 'B' Squadron of No 4 Wing RNAS in August 1915, it was renamed No 7 Squadron RNAS on 31 December 1916. Equipped with a variety aircraft of aircraft it had moved to France in April 1916. By 1 April 1918, it was based at Coudekerque equipped with Handley Page O/100s, and on that day it was transferred to the RAF as No 207 Squadron. Towards the end of April the squadron returned to Netheravon, where it re-equipped with O/400s, ten returned to France and continued its night raids against German targets. Remaining in Germany as part of the occupation forces, the squadron eventually returned to Britain in August 1919, disbanding at Uxbridge on 20 January 1920.
Less than a month later the squadron reformed at Bircham Newton on 1 February as a DH9A day bomber unit. The squadron was amongst those despatched to Turkey in September 1922 as a result of the Chanak Crisis, returning in October 1923. Fairey IIIFs replaced the DH9As in December 1927 and Gordons replaced these in September 1932. From October 1935 to August 1936, the squadron was detached to the Sudan as a result of the Abyssinian crisis. On return from Africa, the squadron converted to the Vickers Wellesley in September 1937 and then Battles in April 1938. In July 1939, the squadron received some Ansons and adopted a training role as a Group Pool squadron, training crews for the other Battle units, which went to France in September 1939. The squadron maintained this role until disbanding on being absorbed into No 12 Operational Training Unit on 8 April 1940.
The squadron was reformed on 1 November 1940 as the RAF's first Manchester unit, but problems with the aircrafts' Vulture engines met that operations did not start until 24/25 February 1941. The squadron continued operations but the engine problems were never completely cured and in March 1942, it began to replace them with Lancasters. The squadron continued to take part in operations against targets in Germany, Italy and Poland as part of Bomber Command's Main Force until the end of the war. Retained as part of the post-war RAF, the squadron continued to operate Lancasters until August 1949 when it received Lincolns, but on1 March 1950, the squadron was disbanded at Mildenhall.
Just over a year later, on 29 May 1951, the squadron reformed at Marham as a Washington unit. These were replaced by Canberra jet bombers in March 1954 but these were only operated for two years as the squadron disbanded again on 27 March 1956. However, four days late r the squadron was reformed, again at Marham, but as a Valiant V-bomber unit. These were taken into action against Egyptian targets in October 1956 operating from Malta, however, fatigue problems in the Valiants' wings led to the entire fleet being grounded in late 1964 and later scrapped. As a result No 207 was disbanded on 1 May 1965. On 3 February 1969, the Strike Command Communications Squadron was renumbered 207. Operating from Northolt it used Bassets (until May 1974), Pembrokes (to November 1975) and Devons until disbanding on 30 June 1984. The squadron was reborn in July 2002, when the number was allocated to one of the two training squadrons of No 1 Flying Training School at Linton-on-Ouse. However, it disbanded again on 13 January 2012.
Squadron Codes used: -
No 207 Squadron Association website: - http://freespace.virgin.net/frank.haslam/
Originally formed as No 8 Squadron RNAS on 25 October 1916 from flights of Nos 1, 4 and 5 Wings RNAS at St Pol, which had been sent to France to assist the RFC on the Western Front. Initially equipped with 1½ Strutters it re-equipped with Pups in November. In March 1917 it began to receive Sopwith Triplanes, but these were short lived as in August these were replaced by Camels. Towards the end of the year , the squadron was flying ground attack missions as well as air defence patrols. In March 1918, the squadron returned to the UK but following the German offensive of the 21th was rushed back to the Front. During this offensive, the RAF was formed on 1 April, at which point the squadron was renumber 208. It squadron continued to support the Allied offensive and advance once the German offensive had lost momentum until the end of the war, after which it joined the Army of Occupation until August 1919, when it returned to Netheravon, where it disbanded on 7 September.
The squadron reformed as a general purpose unit at Ismailia in Egypt on 1 February 1920, when No 113 Squadron was renumbered. Initially equipped with RE8s, these were soon replaced by Bristol F2Bs. In September 1922, the squadron was part of the force sent to Turkey as a result of the Chanak crisis, returning to Egypt in September 1923. The squadron then settled down to the routine of Army Co-operation duties in Egypt, re-equipping with the Atlas in May 1930, and Audaxes in August 1935. In September 1935 a 'D' Flight was formed with Demon fighters but in March 1936, these formed the basis of No 64 Squadron.
The squadron received Lysanders in January 1939 and was still equipped with these when the Italians declared war in June 1940. Operations began immediately but its aircraft were found to be vulnerable to enemy aircraft and needed a fighter escort. In November one flight was equipped with Hurricanes and these where able to undertake tactical reconnaissance and ground attack sorties but were also able to defend themselves when required. The squadron continued to provide support to the Army's advances in early 1941, but in February returned to Egypt to recover. In April the squadron was sent to reinforce British forces in Greece, but the squadron was decimated by the German fighters and with most of its aircraft destroyed, it was evacuated first to Crete and then back to Egypt.
In June 1941, the squadron was sent to Palestine, to re-equip, after which it took part in operations in Syria and provided a detachment in Iraq, until returning to the Western Desert in October. Retiring to Egypt in March 1942 the squadron rested and re-equipped with Tomahawks and Hurricanes, finally losing its Lysanders. Operations in the Western Desert were resumed in May but in November the squadron was withdrawn and sent to Iraq, where it concentrated on training and converted to Spitfires in December 1943.
In March 1944 the squadron rejoined the fighting in Italy carrying out tactical reconnaissance sorties and artillery spotting for the Allied advance towards Rome. These roles were continued through 1944 and into 1945 and when the war ended , the squadron returned to Palestine. Here it was immediately back in action in assisting in the quelling of the Jewish riots. With the formation of Israel, 208 left the country and re-located to Cyprus, whilst maintaining a detachment at Ramat David, from where it continued to carry out reconnaissance missions over its old home.
In November 1948 the squadron moved to Egypt and actually lost four aircraft to Israeli Spitfires during the war between Israel and Egypt. In January 1951, Meteor FR Mk 9s began to replace the Spitfire FR Mk 18s and by March this process was complete. When British force withdrew from Egypt, the squadron moved to Malta and also operated a detachment in Aden, however, it did not participate in the Suez operation of October 1956 as it was being run down prior to disbandment. However, formal disbandment did not occur as a new air echelon for the squadron was working up at Tangmere from a nucleus of 34 Squadron . Now equipped with Hunters the air echelon arrive din Cyprus in March and remained there until disbanding on 31 March 1959.
The squadron reformed when No 142 Squadron at Eastleigh in Kenya the following day. It was now equipped with Venoms in the fighter-bomber role, which were replaced in March 1961 with Hunter FGA Mk 9s. A move to Aden came in December 1961 with yet another move to Bahrain in June 1964. The squadron disbanded there on 10 September 1971.
The squadron reformed at Honington on 1 July 1974 as a Buccaneer strike unit, moving to Lossiemouth in July 1983. With the withdrawal of Buccaneers from service the squadron disbanded on 31 March 1994, but the next day No 234 (Reserve) Squadron at No 4 Flying Training School, Valley was renumbered No 208 (Reserve) Squadron and currently operates in the advanced/weapons training role.
Squadron Codes used: -
It formed originally as No 9 Squadron RNAS at St Pol on 1 February 1917, taking over No 8 (Naval)'s Pups and Nieuports. Initially providing defensive cover to prevent German bombers attacking Southern England and Northern France, it moved to the Western Front in June to assist the RFC. At the same time it received Sopwith Triplanes, but a month later these were replaced by Camels. It continued operations until February 1918, when the squadron returned to the UK but following the German offensive of the 21 March, was rushed back to the Front. During this offensive, the RAF was formed on 1 April, at which point the squadron was renumbered 209.
On the 21th of the month Captain Roy Brown of the squadron was involved in the fight, which ultimately led to the death of the highest scoring pilot of WW1, Baron Manfred von Richthofen, although there is still much debate as to whether he delivered the fatal shot or it was delivered by ground troops. However, whatever the case, the event is commemorated in the squadron's badge. After the war the squadron remained on the continent until February 1919, when it moved to Scopwick, where it disbanded on 24 June 1919.
The squadron reformed at Mount Batten on 15 March 1930 as a flying boat unit equipped with the only four Iris aircraft built. Due to the small number of aircraft available to it, the squadron needed to operate a number of other types.. This problem continued when Perths replaced the Iris' in January 1934, as there were only three of these available. However, in July 1936 the squadron at last became wholly equipped with a single type, the Singapore III. Having moved to Felixstowe in March 1935 the squadron was detached to Kalafrana in Malta in September 1937 for three months. Stranraers arrived in December 1938 and in September 1939, the squadron moved to Invergordon to cover the North Sea. It moved again in October, to Oban, where in December it began to re-equip with the Saro Lerwick, however, this aircraft proved to be something of a failure and in April 1941 they were replaced by Catalinas.
In March 1941, it moved to Lough Erne and then to Iceland in August before returning to the UK at Pembroke Dock. October saw the squadron heading for East Africa, from where it operated for the remainder of the war in Europe and during this period it utilised a number of advanced bases throughout the Indian Ocean. In February 1945 it received Sunderlands and in July moved to Ceylon with a detachment operating from Rangoon. Another detachment was sent to Hong Kong in September and the following month the rest of the squadron also moved there. September 1946 saw the squadron moving to Singapore, from where it was one of the few RAF units to take part in the Korean War, providing patrols along the Korean coast from advanced bases in Japan. However on 1 January 1955, the squadron disbanded, although its number was immediately linked to that of No 205 Squadron.
209 gained its 'independence' on 1 November 1958, when No 267 Squadron at Kuala Lumper was redesignated. It was now flying Pioneers and Twin Pioneers as a light transport squadron supporting the security forces in Malaya, a role it maintained for the next ten years, disbanding on 31 December 1968.
Squadron Codes used: -
Originally formed as No 10 (Naval) Squadron, RNAS at St Pol on 12 February 1917 as a scout unit tasked with escorting RNAS bomber and reconnaissance aircraft. In may its various Nieuports were replaced by Sopwith Triplanes and at the same time it was sent to the Western Front to assist the RFC. During this period ones of its pilots was Raymond Collishaw, who would become the third highest scoring Allied fighter pilot of the war.
In August 1917, the squadron received Camels and in October returned to its coastal defence duties. However, the German offensive of March 1918, resulted in the unit being sent back to the Western Front to help bolster the defences and during these action on 1 April 1918, it was absorbed into the newly formed RAF and renumbered as No 210 Squadron. In July 1918 it once again returned to the coast but rejoined the fighting on the Western Front for the last few weeks. It remained on the continent until February 1919, when it returned to Scopwick, disbanding there on 24 June 1919.
It reformed as a torpedo-bomber unit at Gosport on 1 February 1920, equipped with the Sopwith Cuckoo, but this was short lived, the squadron disbanding on 1 April 1923. It next reformed at Felixstowe on 1 March 1931 as a flying boat unit equipped with Southampton IIs. A move to a new permanent base came in June, when it arrived at Pembroke Dock, which was still under construction at the time. It re-equipped with Rangoons in August 1935, which it took to Gibraltar during the Abyssinian crisis returning to Wales in August 1936. On its return it re-equipped yet again, this time with Singapores. It also became involved in the Spanish Civil War, when it was detached to Algeria to protect neutral shipping from being attacked by submarines of the warring factions. Sunderlands arrived in June 1938.
On the outbreak of war the squadron was immediately involved in patrolling the Irish Sea and with detachments at Invergordon and Sullom Voe, the North Sea to the Norwegian coast. The squadron re-located its headquarters in July 1940, when it moved to Oban and began conversion to Catalinas. From October 1942, the squadron was back at Pembroke Dock with a detachment at Gibraltar covering the North African landings. The squadron moved to Hamworthy in April 1943, whilst the detachment at Gibraltar remained there , however, on 31 December the detachment was transferred to No 202 Squadron and the squadron HQ was disbanded.
The squadron was reformed on 1 January 1944 by renumbering No 190 Squadron at Sullom Voe in the Shetlands, where it continued to operate until the end of the war, disbanding on 4 June 1945. During this period one of its pilots, Flying Officer John Cruickshank carried out a daring attack on a German U-boat and despite severe injuries, managed to fly his aircraft home and waiting until daybreak was able to land it safely saving his crew, an achievement for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
The squadron was reformed once again on 1 June 1946, when No 179Y Squadron at St Eval was renumbered. It was now operating as a land based maritime reconnaissance unit equipped with Lancasters. From 15 February 1949 until 13 January 1952, the squadron had No 217 Squadron linked to it in October 1952 it moved to Topcliffe, where it re-equipped with Neptunes in February 1953, disbanding again on 31 January 1957. It was soon reforming again, when No 269 Squadron at Ballykelly was renumbered on 1 December 1958. Equipped with the Shackleton MR Mk 2, it moved to Sharjah in the Persian Gulf in November 1970 but a year later disbanded on 15 November 1971.
Squadron Codes used: -
*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
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This page was last updated on 10/02/17 using FrontPage 2003©
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