Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation
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Reformed at Sutton bridge on 30 October 1939, it was planned to be a Blenheim unit, but received Battles for training until Spitfires arrived in January 1940 as its operational equipment. Having moved to Wittering in April, it first saw action over the Dunkirk beaches in June and in August it briefly moved to Tangmere, Eastleigh and the Hornchurch before returning to Wittering, in whose sector it remained until January 1942.
In that month it moved to Duxford and began converting to the Typhoon, although Spitfires were retained until May. From September 1942 the squadron carried out low level interception duties and bomber escort duties from bases in the South-West. In March 1944, the squadron was transferred to the 2nd Tactical Air Force and was now mainly involved in ground attack operations in preparation for Operation Overlord, after which it moved to the continent in July. For the remainder of the war the squadron provided air support to the advancing armies through France, Belgium, Holland and into Germany. The squadron disbanded at Hildesheim on 31 July 1945.
The squadron was reformed on 1 September 1946 at Boxted, when No 234 Squadron was renumbered. Equipped with Meteor F Mk 3s, it moved to Wattisham in November 1946, back to Boxted in December and Wattisham in January 1947 before settling at Tangmere in April 1947. However, on 11 February 1949 the squadron was disbanded by being renumbered No 43 Squadron. On the same day the its squadron number was linked to No 245 Squadron, which lasted until 13 July 1952.
The following day a new No 266 Squadron was formed at Wunsdorf as a Vampire fighter-bomber unit. Venoms arrived in April 1953 and remained in use until the unit disbanded. However, from 15 October 1955 the squadron moved to Fassberg, returning to Wunsdorf a year later, where it disbanded on 15 November 1957. Two years later on 1 December 1959, the squadron reformed as a Bloodhound surface-to-air missile unit at Rattlesden until disbanding on 30 June 1964.
Squadron Codes used: -
Formed on 27 September from No's 360, 361, 362 and 363 Flights at Kalafrana in Malta, from where its Felixstowe F2As andF3 provided anti-submarine cover in the Mediterranean. unlike other units it did not disband in 1919 and continued to operate in the area after the war. In December 1920, Fairey IIICs were added to its strength, with the F3s leaving in May 1921. The squadron disbanded on 1 August 1923.
The squadron was reformed by redesignating the Communications Unit at Heliopolis on 19 August 1940. It initially utilised a wide variety of types, which it used for general transport and liaison duties around the Middle East. However, by August 1942, its main types were Dakotas and Hudsons and as British forces advanced westwards, its area of operations extended accordingly. It also added other tasks to its repertoire, such as casualty evacuation and supply dropping. The squadron moved to Italy in November 1943 and remained there until February 1945, when it was sent to the Burma front. Here it carried out supply dropping mission to the 14th Army and remained in the area on general transport duties after the war, disbanding on 30 June 1946, although some of its crews carried on operating until 21 July.
The squadron reformed at Kuala Lumper as a transport and communications unit on 15 February 1954. It operated Pioneers on communications duties, Pembrokes in the light transport role and Dakotas, equipped with loud speakers for 'sky-shouting'. The squadron was disbanded on 1 November 1958 by being renumbered No 209 Squadron. It reformed again on 1 November 1962 as a tactical transport unit at Benson, equipped with the Argosy C Mk 1 in No 38 Group, disbanding for the final time on 30 June 1970.
Squadron Codes used: -
No.268 Squadron Royal Air Force was originally formed at Kalafrana, Malta in August 1918 as an Anti Submarine Warfare patrol unit flying Sopwith Baby, Shorts 184 and 320 float planes and Felixstowe F.3 flying boats. The Squadron parented in October 1918, 433 and 434 (Seaplane) Flights, which were also based at Kalafrana and used Short 184 seaplanes. After a short period of service as independent entities, these two flights were absorbed back into No.268 Squadron in March 1919. The Squadron patrolled the Mediterranean surrounding Malta and had only one recorded combat action, an unsuccessful attack on a U-Boat on November 14, 1918. It was disbanded on 11 October 1919.
The Squadron number was reactivated in April 1939, but no action was taken to reform the Squadron until late in 1940. No.268 Squadron was reformed at Westley Aerodrome near Bury St Edmunds in England on 30 September 1940 as an Army Co-operation Command squadron, flying Westland Lysander Mk II, de Havilland Tiger Moth and Miles Magister aircraft. The Squadron was formed by merging ‘A’ Flight of No.II(AC) Squadron RAF with ‘B’ Flight of No.26 Squadron RAF. The first Commanding Officer of the reformed Squadron was Squadron Leader P. De G H Seymour, soon after promoted to the rank of Wing Commander. The initial task for the Squadron was the conduct of anti-invasion patrols along the southern England coastline and reconnaissance of potential invasion sites within the UK. The Squadron also had a secondary role in providing elementary pilot training for enlisted Army personnel who had been selected for training as glider pilots.
In May 1941, then under the command of Wing Commander A F Anderson DFC, the Squadron started to re-equip with Curtiss P-40 Tomahawk aircraft, although it did retain a number of Westland Lysander aircraft for some months after re-equipment commenced. After being declared operational on the new aircraft, the Squadron commenced support for Army training exercises and undertook shipping patrols in the English Channel and North Sea, primarily along the coast of northern France, Belgium and the Netherlands. This was combined with an ongoing training program for both aircrew and groundcrew of the Squadron. In November 1941 the Squadron was granted its Squadron badge and motto, the badge being a swallow soaring holding a tomahawk in its claws – the swallow representing reconnaissance at all levels and the tomahawk equating to the aircraft type in service with the Squadron at that time – the motto of Adjidaumo ‘Tail in Air’ – drawn from the Chippeway Indian language of North American and as in Wordsworth’s ‘Song of Hiawatha’.
In April 1942 the Squadron commenced re-equipment again, this time to the North American Mustang Mk I aircraft. The Squadron was declared operational in June 1942, and commenced a range of reconnaissance and intruder operations, again primarily along the coast of northern France, Belgium and the Netherlands. The Squadron suffered a number of operational casualties either as the result of direct enemy action or aircraft mechanical failure as they commenced to range more frequently into enemy controlled areas. The pace of Squadron operations grew in the later half of 1942, including close escort to bombing raids, conduct of ‘Popular’, ‘Ranger’, Lagoon’ and ‘Jim Crow’ operations. On October 21, 1942, on a mission to the Dortmund-Elms Canal and other objectives in Holland flown by aircraft of No.268 Squadron, the Mustang Mk I became the first single-engined fighter based in the UK to penetrate the German border. The mission was conducted by four aircraft and led by Wing Commander A F Anderson, DSO, DFC, with Flt Lt B P W Clapin, Plt Off O R Chapman RNZAF, and Flg Off W T Hawkins RNZAF. This mission caused a great deal of consternation to the German High Command, as the presence of single engined RAF fighters operating from the UK over Germany meant that a new level of threat had to be considered. On November 26, 1942, during an operation over Holland, Flg Off R A Bethell, spotted and shot down a Luftwaffe Messerchmitt Bf-109 and shortly after sighted a Junkers Ju.52 transport aircraft which he also promptly shot down in flames. These were the Squadron’s first recorded air to air combat victories. On December 13, 1942 two aircraft of 268 Squadron flew to Wittmund-Jade Canal, Christen Canal and Dortmund-Ems Canal and shot up targets of opportunity, including trucks, barges, tugs and a searchlight.
In early 1943 operations continued over enemy occupied territory, especially over the Netherlands, with resulting losses to Squadron personnel and aircraft, but not without exacting their own toll on the enemy. In May and June 1943 the Squadron was operating in southern England, conducting morning and evening patrols at low level to prevent low flying enemy ‘hit and run raiders’ and reconnaissance aircraft from crossing over the English coast. In July 1943 the Squadron, then under the command of Sqdn Ldr G Pallot, commenced re-equipment again, this time to the North American Mustang Mk IA aircraft. The primary differences between this version and the earlier Mk I was in armament with a change to four 20mm cannon and a later specification, more powerful, engine. Into the second half of 1943 the hectic pace of operations continued, and in November 1943 the Squadron pulled back from the main area of operations in southern England to conduct a period of rebuilding and training in preparation for the forthcoming invasion of occupied Europe in 1944. It was in this timeframe that the Squadron became a part of 35 (Reconnaissance) Wing of 2nd Tactical Air Force.
The training continued into early 1944 with an air to air gunnery course in Wales and a naval gunfire direction course in Scotland. The Squadron then commenced intensive reconnaissance operations in preparation for the invasion. Many sorties were conducted at extremely low level against a range of targets, including enemy coastal defence positions, lines of communication, major enemy supply centres, radar sites and enemy airfields. Again losses were incurred, but the Squadron was also scoring against the enemy. The Squadron was also tasked with reconnaissance against the German V1 flying bombs sites then starting to appear in France and was responsible for obtaining some of the first, clear, low level photography of V1 launching sites in France.
For D-Day, June 6, 1944, then under the command of Squadron Leader A S Mann DFC, the Squadron initially operated providing naval gunnery spotting and direction for units of the Home Fleet bombarding enemy defences, and then later in the day switched to tactical reconnaissance searching out enemy reinforcements and units in the area behind the beachhead. The Squadron suffered one recorded loss on D-Day, a pilot who was returning to base with aircraft engine problems went missing over the Channel. The tactical reconnaissance role in support of the invading Allied armies, and primarily the First Canadian Army, was to continue as the main role for the Squadron for the remainder of the war.
In July 1944 the Squadron started to re-equip with another aircraft type, this time the Hawker Typhoon Ib, a variant of the Hawker Typhoon fighter bomber and ground attack aircraft. The Typhoon was a different ‘beast’ to the Squadron’s beloved Mustangs, and met a mixed reception. The Typhoon eventually proved not to be suitable for the tactical reconnaissance role, and they were retired from the Squadron by the end of November 1944 to be replaced by more Mustangs, this time the North American Mustang Mk II.
In early August 1944 the Squadron moved to the continent and then commenced a period of high mobility moving behind the advancing Allied armies and sustained activity providing reconnaissance coverage of the ever changing frontline and enemy rear areas. The Squadron was heavily involved in reconnaissance sorties covering the German retreat from France, including the Falaise Gap, retreat over the Seine, and pursuit of the Germans through Belgium and the Netherlands. Again losses were suffered, but during this period, they tended to be more from flak rather than enemy fighter opposition. In this timeframe the Squadron was also tasked with a number of sorties to search for possible German V2 rocket launching sites in Belgium and the Netherlands.
From August 1944 the Squadron was based in turn at Beny-Sur-Mer - France, Plumetot - France, Boisney – France, Fresnoy-Folny – France, St. Omer/Fort Rouge – France, St. Denijs Westrem/Ghent – Belgium, Deurne/Antwerp – Belgium. In some instances the Squadron only remained at the airfield for a matter of days before moving on again to follow the Allied ground advances. At Deurne/Antwerp in October 1944 the Squadron was honoured, along with the other units in 35 (Recce) Wing, to be visited and inspected by His Majesty King George VI, accompanied by Field Marshal Montgomery, General Dempsey (C-in-C 2nd British Army), General Crerar (C-in-C First Canadian Army), Air Marshal Conningham (C-in-C 2TAF), Air Vice Marshal Brown (OC 84 Group, 2 TAF) and various Aide-de-Camps. Shortly afterwards the Squadron was also inspected by the Chief of the Air Staff of the Royal Air Force, Marshal of the RAF Sir Charles Portal.
By January 1 1945 the Squadron was located at Gilze Rijen in the Netherlands, and scored its last confirmed air to air combat victories against German aircraft taking part in the massed air raid on Allied airfields that day - Flt Lt J Lyke damaged and possibly shot down a Focke-Wulf FW-190, and Flt Lt A Mercer shot down a JU-88 which crashed near Utrecht, which was the last recorded air-to-air kill by an Allison engined Mustang in World War 2. February 1945 also saw the Squadron’s last recorded casualty for the War, being Flt Lt F R Normoyle RAAF, shot down by enemy anti aircraft fire near Borcholt.
In April 1945 the Squadron moved from Mill to Twenthe and commenced re-equipment with the Supermarine Spitfire FR XIVS, a dedicated reconnaissance version of the Roll-Royce Griffon engined variant of the Spitfire, which was used alongside the remaining Mustangs. The Squadron used these up to and after VE Day in May 1945. After VE-Day the Squadron continued on as a part of the occupying Allied forces and moved to Celle in late May 1945. In August 1945 the Squadron retired the last of its Allison engined North American Mustangs thus ending forty months relationship with the Mustang. In mid-September 1945 the Squadron took on an additional aircraft type, being the purpose built high-altitude reconnaissance Supermarine Spitfire PR XIX, these aircraft being largely acquired by the transfer of a flight from No.16 Squadron.
On September 19, 1945, as a part of the general restructuring of the post-war RAF and repatriation home of Commonwealth aircrew, the Squadron was disbanded at Celle in Germany and reformed/renumbered as No.16 Squadron RAF. The Squadron’s final commanding officer in the tactical reconnaissance role was Squadron Leader C T P Stephenson DFC & Bar.
On the same day, No.487 Squadron (RNZAF) under the command of Wing Commander W P Kemp DSO DFC was disbanded and reformed/ renumbered also as No.16 Squadron. However, the administrative error was soon corrected and on October 1, 1945 No.487 Squadron officially became No.268 Squadron, as a light bomber squadron operating the de Havilland Mosquito FB VI. In early 1946 a number of the Squadron’s aircrew and aircraft were detached to form part of the Nuremburg Courier Flight supporting the Nuremburg War Trials, as well as participated in a recreation of the attack on the Amiens Prison ‘Operation Jericho’ that occurred in 1944 for the filming of a documentary film on that event. The Squadron was finally disbanded on 30 March 1946, when based at A 75 Cambrai/Epinoy, with a detachment at B 56 Evere/Brussels (which had commenced in December 1945).
Squadron Codes used: -
The history of No 268 Squadron was prepared by Colin Ford and he has kindly given me permission to use it here
Formed 6 October 1918 from No's 431 and 432 Flts at Port Said in Egypt. It was equipped with Short 184 seaplanes and DH 9 and BE2c landplanes. All three types were used for anti-submarine patrols along the Egyptian coast. In March 1919 the landplane flight was disbanded, leaving just the seaplanes. On 15 September 1919 it moved to Alexandria and absorbed No 270 Squadron, but on 15 November it disbanded.
The squadron reformed from 'C' Flight of No 206Squadron at Bircham Newton on 7 December 1936, equipped with Anson in general reconnaissance role. Later the that month it moved to Abbotsinch until August 1939 when it moved south to Montrose. Moving again in August to Wick, it was there that the squadron converted to Hudsons in April 1940. The squadron remained at Wick until April 1941, when it was transferred to Iceland. In August 1941, Squadron Leader Thompson of the unit, made RAF history by becoming the only aircraft captain to have a U-boat (U-570) surrender to him.
In January 1944 the squadron returned to the UK and converted to the air-sea rescue role, using Hudsons, Spitfires, Martinets and Walruses. Following work up at Davidstowe Moor, the squadron moved to Lagens in the Azores and operated from there until the end of the war. Warwicks arrived in October 1944 and after the Martinets left in June 1945 and the Hudsons in July, the squadron continued to operate the remaining three types until disbanding on 10 March 1946.
From 15 February 1949 until 1 January 1952 its number was linked to No 224 Squadron, but on 10 March 1952, it was reformed in its own right as a Shackleton maritime reconnaissance unit at Ballykelly but on 1 December 1958 it was disbanded by being renumbered No 210 Squadron. The squadron's final incarnation began on 22July 1959 as a Thor Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile unit at Caistor, finally disbanding on 24 May 1963.
Squadron Codes used: -
No 269 Squadron Association: - e-mail: email@example.com
Formed at Alexandria on 6 October 1918 from 354, 355 and 356 Flights, it flew Short 184s and Felixstowe F3s on anti-submarine patrols along the Egyptian coast. It disbanded on 15 September 1919 when it was merged into No 269 Squadron.
The squadron reformed at Jui in Gambia on 12 November 1942 as a general reconnaissance unit equipped with Catalinas. These were used for anti-submarine patrols along the West African coast. It moved its base to Apapa in Nigeria in July 1943 and the following December began to convert to Sunderland, although it was May 1944 before the last Catalina left. The squadron finally disbanded on 30 June 1945.
No Badge Authorised
Squadron Codes used: -
Squadron badge images (except No 270) on this page are courtesy of Steve Clements
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This page was last updated on 10/02/17 using FrontPage 2003©
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