Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation
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RNAS Unit in the Aegean, were allocated RAF squadron numbers but it would seem that these numbers did not really begin to be used until September, by which time movement and amalgamation of the original units led to some confusion. The number 221 was originally allocated to 'D' Squadron of no 2 Wing RNAS at Stavros, which was composed of anti-submarine flights of seaplanes. However, by the time the number 221 was brought into use, the squadron was equipped with DH9 day bombers and at the same time was sub-divided into Nos 552, 553 and 554 Flights. In October it moved to Mudros and then in December was despatched to South Russia to assist the 'White' Russians in their fight against the 'Red' Bolsheviks. With the failure of this campaign, the squadron disbanded on 1 September 1919.
The squadron reformed on 21 November 1940 as a general reconnaissance unit at Bircham Newton equipped with Wellingtons. Operations in the form of convoy escorts began in February 1941 and anti-shipping operations began in March but in May the squadron it transferred to Limavady in Northern Ireland, where it began anti-submarine patrols. In September it moved once again ,this time to Iceland, returning to Docking at the end of the year.
At the beginning of 1942, it was in transit, again, this time to the Middle East. Until the squadron's ground echelon arrived the its aircraft and crews operated with No 47 Squadron. From March 1942 until March 1943 the squadron operated from bases in North Africa, conducting anti-submarine patrols, shipping reconnaissance missions and shipping strikes. During this period it began using Leigh Lights to carry out nights attacks against shipping and submarines and specialised in night torpedo attacks. However, from May 1943, the quantity of targets declined and it began to bomb enemy ports but by September 1943 even this had ended and the squadron was mainly involved in anti-submarine patrols. Moving to Italy in March 1944, it resumed its strike role against shipping in the Adriatic, which it continued on moving to Greece in October. With the end of the war in sight, the squadron returned to Egypt in April 1945, disbanding at Idku on 25 August.
Squadron Codes used: -
RNAS Unit in the Aegean, were allocated RAF squadron numbers but it would seem that these numbers did not really begin to be used until September, by which time movement and amalgamation of the original units led to some confusion. The number 222 was originally allocated to 'A' Squadron of No 2 Wing RNAS at Thasos, which was composed of DH4s and Camels. In June 1918 DH9 were added to its strength and when it adopted the number 222, it was sub-divided into Nos 478, 479 and 480 Flights. The squadron continued to carry out raids on Turkish targets in the Balkans until the end of the war, eventually disbanding on 27 February 1919.
The squadron reformed at Duxford on 5 October 1939 with Blenheims in the shipping protection role. However, this was soon changed and in March 1940, the squadron re-equipped with Spitfires. Two moths later it was covering the Dunkirk evacuation from Hornchurch before moving to Kirton-in-Lindsey in June. In August the squadron returned to Hornchurch to participate in the final stages of the Battle of Britain. It then followed the usual pattern for fighter squadrons, offensive sweeps from bases in the south interspersed with defensive duties in the North of England, East Anglia and Scotland.
In mid 1943, it was transferred to the 2nd Tactical Air Force, joining No 135 Airfield (later No 135 Wing). It now began carrying out offensive sweeps in preparation for the forthcoming invasion and during the invasion itself, provided air cover to the invasion convoys. The squadron moved onto the continent in late August to support the advancing armies through France and Belgium. However, in December 1944, the squadron was withdrawn from Belgium back to the UK, where it re-equipped with Tempests. These were then taken back to the continent in February 1945 with 222 continuing its moves eastwards until the end of the war.
The following month (June1945), the squadron returned to the UK again to re-equip, this time with Gloster Meteor jets fighters, which began to arrive in October. It moved around a number of bases including, Exeter, Weston Zoyland, Tangmere and Waterbeach until arriving at Leuchars in May 1950, where it remained until disbanding on 1 November 1957. Before disbanding it operated three versions of the Meteor, converted to the Hunter F Mk 1 in December 1954 and the Hunter F Mk 4 in August 1956. It had one final incarnation, which lasted from 1 May 1960 until 30 June 1964, as a Bloodhound Mk 1 surface-to-air missile unit at Woodhall Spa.
Squadron Codes used: -
RNAS Unit in the Aegean, were allocated RAF squadron numbers but it would seem that these numbers did not really begin to be used until September, by which time movement and amalgamation of the original units led to some confusion. The number 223 was originally allocated to 'B' Squadron of No 2 Wing RNAS at Mitylene, which was composed of a variety of types and when it adopted the number 223, it was sub-divided into Nos 559, 560 and 561 Flights. It continued to carry out bombing and reconnaissance operations until the end of the war, disbanding at Mudros on 16 May 1919.
On 25 September 1936, a detached flight of No 45 Squadron began operating at Nairobi in Kenya and on 15 December was raised to squadron status as No 223 Squadron . Initially it remained a single flight unit equipped with Gordons, which were replaced by Vincents in February 1937 but in June 1938, it began to re-equip with Wellesleys and at the same time was brought up to full strength. When Italy entered the war in June 1940, the squadron was in the Sudan and immediately began operations against Italian targets in neighbouring Italian territories.
In May 1941, the squadron moved to Shandur in Egypt, where it began to re-equip with Marylands, but having done it was retained as a training unit to train crews for the other Maryland units then forming, although a detachment began reconnaissance operations in October. The training role ended in January 1942, with the squadron, receiving Baltimores, with which it immediately resumed bombing operations. For the rest of the north African campaign the squadron supported the advancing 8th Army as it pushed westwards across the desert.
Having arrived in Tunisia in April 1943, the squadron aircraft began operating from Malta in July and carried out attacks against targets in Sicily. In August the squadron transferred to Sicily, where it was re-united with its ground personnel, moving once again in September, to Italy. Operations continued until 12 August 1944, when the squadron was disbanded by being renumbered No 30 Squadron SAAF.
Eleven days later, the squadron reformed in the Bomber Support role at Oulton as part of No 100 Group. Equipped with Liberators, it was involved in providing radio counter measures support to Bomber Command's Main Force until the end of the war. Just before the end of war the squadron received some Fortress aircraft, but on 29 July 1945, it was disbanded. The squadron's final incarnation lasted from 1 December 1959 to 23 August 1963 as a Thor Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile unit at Folkingham.
Squadron Codes used: -
On the formation of the RAF on 1 April 1918, various RNAS units were given RAF squadron identities, 224 being formed from part of No 6 Wing based Alimini in Italy. The squadron was equipped with DH4 and from June 1918, DH9 aircraft, which it used for bombing missions against targets in Albania and Montenegro. In September it was sub-divided into Nos 496, 497 and 498 Flights. December 1918, the squadron moved to Taranto where it disbanded in May 1919.
The squadron reformed on 1 February 1937 at Manston from a nucleus provided by No 48 Squadron. It moved to Boscombe Down the same month from where it operated in the General Reconnaissance role equipped with Ansons until August 1939, Hudsons having started to replace the Anson in May. In August 1938, the squadron moved to Leuchars and began North Sea patrols and later anti-shipping operations against German ships in Norwegian waters.
In April 1941, 224 moved to Limavady in Northern Ireland for anti-submarine operations and then in December it moved again, this time to St Eval in Cornwall. A return to Limavady came two months later and then in April the squadron moved to Tiree where it began conversion to Liberators in July. It returned to England in September 1942 to Beaulieu, St Eval in April 1943 and then moved to Scotland, Milltown, in September 1944 before finally returning to St Eval in July 1945. Lancaster GR IIIs replaced the Lend-Lease Liberators in October 1946, which it operated until disbanding on 10 November 1947.
The squadron reformed on 1 March 1948 at Aldergrove in Northern Ireland, equipped with Halifax Met Mk 6 aircraft for meteorological reconnaissance operations. During this period, 15 February 1949 to 1 January 1952, the squadron was linked to No 269 Squadron. From October 1948, it operated a detachment from Gibraltar, which became the squadron's new home from August 1951. Concurrently with its move to Gibraltar, the squadron began converting to the Shackleton MR Mk 1s, which it operated until October 1954. Shackleton MR Mk 2s arrived in September 1952 and after withdrawal of the last Mark 1, this type became the squadron's sole equipment until disbandment on 31 October 1966. At the time of writing (2002), the squadron has not reformed.
Squadron Codes used: -
On the formation of the RAF on 1 April 1918, various RNAS units were given RAF squadron identities, 225 being formed from part of No 6 Wing based Alimini in Italy. The squadron was equipped with Camels, which it used for escorting bombing missions against targets in Albania and Montenegro. In September it was sub-divided into Nos 481, 482 and 483 Flights, disbanding on 18 December 1918.
The squadron was reformed on 11 October 1939 from No 614A Squadron (which had been formed from 'B' Flight of 614 Squadron eight days earlier) at Odiham. Its Lysanders were mainly used in Army exercises except for some coastal patrols conducted from June 1940. Lysanders remained its equipment until January 1942, when Hurricanes began to arrive, although it was July before the last Lysander left. However, by that time, Mustangs had also started to be taken on strength and both types were operated on tactical reconnaissance operations.
In October 1942 the squadron joined the forces for Operation 'Torch', the Allied invasion of North Africa. It provided tactical reconnaissance support to 1st Army until the end of the Tunisia campaign, beginning conversion to Spitfires in January 1943, the Hurricanes leaving in April and the Mustangs in August. By the time the Mustangs left, the squadron was in Sicily and the following month moved to France. In August 1944, the squadron took part in the invasion of Southern France, returning to its Italian operations the following month, where it remained until the end of the war. Retained as part of the occupation forces, the squadron eventually disbanded on 7 January 1947 at Campoformido.
The squadron was reformed on 1 January 1960, when the Joint Experimental Helicopter Unit was raised to squadron status. It was equipped with Sycamores and Whirlwind and provided tactical support to Army units in the area. Initially based at Andover, it moved Odiham in May 1960 and then in November 1963 was sent to Malaya, to support assist in actions against the Indonesians, disbanding on 1 November 1965.
Squadron Codes used: -
Squadron badge image on this page is courtesy of Steve Clements
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