Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation
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Formed on 30 September 1917 at Andover, it was equipped with RE8s in the Corps reconnaissance role, but unlike most of its contemporaries, it was posted to Ireland in May 1918, remaining there until disbanding on 8 October 1919.
The squadron reformed in 1 June 1938 at Abingdon from a nucleus provided by No 15 Squadron. Initially equipped with Hinds, it began to receive Battles the following month but these actually left the squadron before the Hinds, in June 1939. This was due to the fact the it was to be a No 5 Group unit and this group was to be equipped with Hampdens, which began to arrive in May 1939 together with Ansons to assist in the conversion process.
At the start of the war, the squadron was acting as a training unit for the Group and this continued until September 1940, when it was relieved of its training commitment and beginning operations on the night of 9/10 September with a minelaying mission. It was March 1941 before the squadron carried out its first bombing mission which was against Cologne.
In February 1942, the squadron began converting to the Manchester, but the service career of this aircraft was short lived and in May these were being replaced by Lancasters, the squadron being fully equipped in June. The squadron continued as part of Bomber Command's Main Force for the remainder of the war, afterwards moving on to transport duties until disbanding on 18 February 1946. The squadron final period of service was as a Thor equipped Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile unit at Bardney from 22 July 1959 until 24 May 1963.
Motto: Pro libertate (For freedom)
Squadron Codes used: -
Formed at Lake Down as a day bomber unit on 15 May 1918, it was equipped with DH9s, which it took to the Western Front in June. Its main targets were enemy airfields, base areas and lines of communication, which it continued to attack until the Armistice. Returning to Hounslow in March 1919, it disbanded there on 30 June, the same year.
Reformed at Andover on 10 August 1936 as a Hind equipped light bomber squadron. These were replaced by Blenheim Is from August 1938 and by Blenheim IVs in May 1939. The day after war was declared, 4 September 1939, the squadron provided four aircraft to the RAF's first bombing raid of the war against enemy ships in Wilhelmshaven, of these four only one returned. Shortly after this the squadron received a new CO, Wing Commander Basil Embry, who would be shot down the following year, escape from custody, make it back to Britain via Gibraltar and by the end of the war be commanding No 2 Group. In April 1940 the squadron carried out attacks in Norway and following the Dunkirk evacuation attacked barge concentrations in the Channel ports.
In March 1941, the squadron was loaned to Coastal Command for anti-submarine patrols and when it returned to Bomber Command, it continued its low-level daylight raids until August, when the air echelon was sent to Malta. From here it carried out anti-shipping missions around the Italian coast, Sicily and along the North African coastline. However, as the air defence of the island began to take priority, the detachment was withdrawn and disbanded on 12 January 1942.
In the meantime the ground echelon had remained at Great Massingham in Norfolk and on 5 January 1942, it received a Boston trainer and as new aircrews arrived began converting them onto this American aircraft. The squadron recommenced daylight operations in March and these were continued until February 1944, when Mosquito VIs were received and with these it began night intruder operations. In November the squadron moved onto the continent continuing in this role to the end of war. Remaining in Germany after the war, it was disbanded on 4 October 1948 on being renumbered No 11 Squadron.
With the establishment of Thor Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile sites, the designated operating squadron originally controlled three sites. However, it was soon decided to allocate a separate squadron identity to each individual site and on 22 July 1959, 'C' Flight of No 77 Squadron at Tuddenham was redesignated as No 107 Squadron. It finally disbanded on 10 July 1963.
Motto: Nous y serons (We shall be there)
Squadron Codes used: -
Formed on 11 November 1917 at Stonehenge as a DH9 equipped day bomber unit, it moved to the Western Front in July 1918 and began operations against targets in Belgium the following month. In February 1919 it returned to Britain and disbanded at Lympne on 3 July of that year.
It reformed at Upper Heyford on 4 January 1937, when 'B' Flight of No 57 Squadron was raised to squadron status. Initially equipped with Hinds, these were replaced with Blenheims in June 1938. However, in September 1939, it was selected to a Group Pool squadron for No 2 Group and began carrying out the operational training for the group but on 8 April 1940, it was amalgamated with No 104 Squadron to form No 13 Operational Training Unit.
No 108 Squadron reformed on 1 August 1941 at Kabrit in Egypt as a night bomber unit, equipped Wellingtons. It began operations the following month, its main targets being in Libya and Greece. From November it began to convert to Liberators, but this was not completed and except for a couple being used to carry out a few bombing operations and some of the training aircraft being used for supply dropping the squadron basically remained a Wellington unit and by June 1942, the Liberators had gone. In November 1942, another flight of Liberators was added for special duties and at the same time the Wellingtons were retired, leaving the unit as a single flight squadron. This flight was disbanded on 25 December 1942, also bringing an end to squadron as a whole.
The squadron's final incarnation began on 1 March 1943 from a nucleus provided by No 89 Squadron at Shandur, again in Egypt. It was now a night fighter unit equipped with Beaufighters operating over Egypt and Libya. Between June 1943 and July 1944, the squadron operated in the night intruder role from Hal Far and Luqa in Malta, before returning to North Africa (Libya). In February 1944, it had received some Mosquito XIIs but these were left in Malta when it moved back to Libya. From here it continued its intruder role, but its targets were now in Greece and the Aegean area and following the German withdrawal from Greece, it moved there in October 1944. In Greece, it took part in operations against the Communist rebels trying to take control of the country but in March 1945, it moved to Italy, where it disbanded on 25 March.
Motto: Viribus contractic (With gathering strength)
Squadron Codes used: -
Formed at South Carlton on 1 November 1917 as a training squadron from a nucleus provided by No 61 Training Depot Station. By December 1917, it was at Lake Down with it being planned to deploy as DH 9 unit in August, but before this could happen the plans changed and it was then to become a DH9A unit and move to France in September, later changed to October. None of these plans reached fruition and the squadron disbanded on 19 August 1918.
Prior to and during the Battle of Britain it was discovered that the Germans were using radio beams to guide its bombers onto British targets. In order to identify the frequencies and directions of these beams a unit was set up in October 1940 at Boscombe called the Wireless Intelligence Development Unit and on 10 December it was redesignated No 109 Squadron.
Until 1943, the squadron was mainly a research, development and intelligence unit, carrying out trails and development of various radar aids and radio counter-measures as well as being responsible for locating and identifying German radar and radio resources. As the scope of this work expanded other units began to form and take some of the workload off 109 and in April 1943, it was allocated the sole task of carrying out the development of the blind bombing aid 'Oboe'.
In August 1943, having completed the development of 'Oboe', the squadron moved to Wyton as part of No 8 (Pathfinder Force) Group in order to introduce it into operational service. The squadron carried out its first (none-'Oboe') mission on 20 December 1943 and ten days later used the device to mark Dusseldorf for the rest of Bomber Command. The squadron remained part of No 8 Group's precision marking force for the rest of the war, disbanding on 30 September 1945 at Little Staughton.
The following day, No 627 Squadron at Woodhall Spa was redesignated 109. Although still equipped with Mosquitoes, it was now a normal light bomber unit and moved around a number of bases until settling at Coningsby in November 1946 and then Hemswell in March 1950. Here it converted to Canberras in August 1952 and moving finally in January 1956 to Binbrook. Later that year it took part in Operation 'Musketeer', the Suez campaign, but shortly after this disbanded on 1 February 1957. From 1 February 1949 until disbanding, the squadron was linked with No 105 Squadron
Motto: Primi hastati (The first of the legion)
Squadron Codes used: -
Formed at Rendcombe as a light bomber squadron on 1November 1917, it was initially used in the training role. DH9As were received in July 1918 and the next two months were spent working up, with the squadron arriving in France in September. Joining the Independent Force, it carried out daylight raids against targets in Germany remaining on the continent as a light transport (mail) unit until disbanding on 27 August 1919.
The squadron reformed at Waddington on 18 May 1937 as a Hind light bomber unit. Blenheims arrived in January 1938 and by the outbreak of war the early Mk Is had been replaced by Mk IVs. These were used in the first bombing raid of the war, together with No 107 Squadron. Prior to and during the Battle of Britain, it carried out attacks on coastal convoys, invasion barges and coastal targets and then after the battle added enemy airfields and industrial targets to its list.
In July 1941, it sent a detachment to Malta, which carried out attacks against Axis convoys and coastal targets in Italy, Sicily and North Africa. The remainder of the squadron continued to operate from the UK as normal. Inn March 1942, both elements rejoined and moved to India, flying out new Blenheims, but on arrival these were distributed to other units. In October the squadron received its own equipment, in the form of Vengence dive-bombers.
Operations with Vengences began in March 1943, in support of 14th Army in Burma. In May 1944, the squadron returned to India and began converting to Mosquitoes, although a flight of Vengence went to the Gold Coast to undertake insectocide-spraying activities in an attempt iradicate mosquitoes in the area. This flight never returned to the squadron and disbanded in December. The rest of the squadron recommenced operations at the end of March 1945 and continued in operation until the end of war. Various moved followed the ending of hostilities, in September it went to Singapore, October to Java, in December a detachment moved to Labuan with the rest of the squadron following in February 1946, where the unit disbanded on 15 April.
Two months later the squadron reformed when No 96 Squadron in Hong Kong was renumbered. It was now a Dakota equipped transport squadron and operated throughout the region. It was temporarily non-operational from July to September 1947, but otherwise continued to provide transport and supply dropping support to security forces in Malaya until disbanding on 31 December 1957, having converted from Dakotas to Valettas between October 1951 and April 1952. The squadron's final incarnation began on 3 June 1959 when Nos 155 and 194 Squadrons were amalgamated into a new No 110 Squadron at Kuala Lumper in Malaya. Initially flying Whirlwind HC Mk 4s in the support helicopter role, these were supplemented by Sycamores in April 1960, with the Whirlwinds being replaced by the much more capable Gnome engined Whirlwind HAR Mk 10s in July 1963, the Sycamores being finally retired in October 1964. From 1966 the squadron also operated in Brunei and Borneo until November 1967 during the Indonesian crisis. It then continued its normal duties in Malaya, until the Far East Air Force was run-down, disbanding on 15 February 1971.
Motto: Nec timeo mec sperno (I neither fear nor despise)
Squadron Codes used: -
All Squadron badges on this page are courtesy of Steve Clements
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Sqns 111 - 115
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