Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation


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No 121 - 125 Squadron Histories

No 121 (Eagle) Squadron

No 121 Squadron BadgeOriginally  formed in the light bomber role at Narborough on 1 January 1918, equipped with DH9s, it did not become operational and disbanded on 17 August 1918.  The squadron reformed at Bracebridge Heath near Lincoln on 14 October 1918 to operate the DH10, but the Armistice a month later brought plans for its deployment to an end and it disbanded again in November without having received any aircraft..

Following the success of the first 'Eagle' squadron, No 71, and the increasing numbers of Americans coming forward to join the RAF, it was decided to form a second such unit.  As a result No 121 was formed at Kirton-in-Lindsey on 14 My 1941, equipped with Hurricanes.  These were flown on defensive patrols in the North of England until October, when Spitfires arrived.  These were taken south to North Weald in December 1941, from where the squadron took part in the full range of offensive operations and defensive duties being carried out by Fighter Command at that time, but on 29 September 1942 the squadron, together with the other two (71 and 133) 'Eagle' squadrons were transferred to the US Army Air Force to become the 4th Fighter Group, with No 121 becoming the 335th Fighter Squadron.

Motto:     For Liberty

Squadron Codes used: -  

JY Allocated Apr 1939 - Sep 1939
AV May 1941 - Sep 1942

Aircraft & Markings


No 122 (Bombay) Squadron

No 122 Squadron BadgeFormed at Sedgefield on 1 January 1918 as a training squadron, it was planned that it would mobilise as a day bomber unit for deployment to France in September, but was disbanded on 17 August, the day before it was due to move to Upper Heyford to convert to DH9s.  It was then planned that the squadron would form at Upper Heyford with DH9s again on 29 October but by the time it started equipment had been changed to the DH10.  However, no aircraft had been received by the Armistice, so the formation was suspended and then cancelled.

The squadron reformed at Turnhouse on 1 May 1941 as a Spitfire equipped fighter unit.  Operations began in June from Turnhouse, but in June it moved to Northern England and then in April 1942 to Hornchurch.  It remained in the South of England from then, joining 2nd Tactical Air Force in June 1943 by which time its main duties were ground attack and bomber escort missions.

Its ability to conduct the latter was improved in February 1944, when the squadron re-equipped with Mustangs and even further improved when it was able to move to bases in France from late June.  However, it returned to the UK in September to provide long range escort to home bases bombers, a role it fulfilled until the end of war.  Just before the end of the war the squadron returned to Scotland, where it received Spitfires in August  1945 and was disbanded by being renumbered No 41 Squadron on 1 April 1946.

Motto:      Victuri volamus (We fly to conquer)

Squadron Codes used: -  

WM Allocated Apr 1939 - Sep 1939
MT May 1941 - Apr 1946

Aircraft & Markings


No 123 (East India) Squadron

No 123 Squadron BadgeThis squadron's early career is very confusing, it was initially formed at Waddington on 1 March 1918 as a training squadron, but it  was planned that it would mobilise as a day bomber unit, equipped with DH9s for deployment to France in October.  This plan was cancelled and the squadron was disbanded on 17 August.  Formation was planned again to start on 3 November at Bicester with a draft of Canadian personnel.  It appears to have been planned ass a DH9 equipped bomber squadron for deployment with the Independent Force, but in early 1918, these plans seem to have been amended.  It was now to be a Dolphin equipped fighter squadron manned by the Canadian and was also known as No 2 Squadron Canadian Air Force.  In March 1919 it moved to Shoreham, where it received Snipes and disbanded on 5 February 1920.

The squadron reformed in the fighter role at Turnhouse on 10 May 1941.  Equipped with Spitfires, it remained on defensive duties in Scotland until being despatched to the Middle East in April 1942.  On arrival in Egypt, it found a lack of aircraft and it was therefore sent Iraq to act as a Maintenance Unit.  It eventually received its own equipment in the form of Gladiators in October 1942, which were flown on Army Co-operation duties from Abadan.  Hurricanes replaced the Gladiators in November and it conducted air defence of Iran  until it moved to the Western Desert in May 1943. 

In October, its ground echelon moved to India, with the air echelon following in November but it was December before he two were reunited at Feni, from where the squadron began carrying out escort duties.  In May 1944, the squadron was withdrawn from operations and in September converted to the Thunderbolt, which it took into operations in December as a fighter-bomber role, which it maintained until 20 June 1945, when it was disbanded by being renumbered No 81 Squadron.

Motto:      Swift to strike

Squadron Codes used: -

ZE Allocated Apr 1939 - Sep 1939
XE May 1941 - Apr 1942, 1945 - Jun 1945

Aircraft & Markings


No 124 (Baroda) Squadron

No 124 Squadron BadgeFormed at Old Sarum on 1 March 1918 as a training squadron, it was planned that it would mobilise as a day bomber unit for deployment to France in September, but was disbanded on 17 August.  It was planned that it form in November as a Camel equipped night fighter unit, but the Armistice put pay to these plans.

The squadron reformed at Castletown on 10 May 1941 as a Spitfire equipped fighter unit for the defence of Scapa Flow. In November the squadron moved south to Biggin Hill, from where it began bomber escort missions as well as taking part in the 'Channel Dash'.  In April 1942, it received new equipment in the form of the high altitude Spitfire VI, which it  took to Drem for a month in December.

On its return from Scotland, it absorbed the SS Flight at Northolt and in March received the Spitfire VII, another high altitude version of the aircraft.  These were operated on a number of detachments in the South West to combat high altitude reconnaissance aircraft in the area.   As the number of high altitude incursions diminished the squadron was transferred to No 141 Airfield of the 2nd Tactical Air Force, then at Church Fenton, in March 1944.  In July Spitfire IXs replaced the VIIs and then in August the squadron was transferred back to ADGB (the new name for Fighter Command.

It was now mainly involved in flying bomber escort missions but in February 1945 it began attacking V-2 launching sites and conducting shipping reconnaissance sorties.  Its last operations were carried out on 25 April and in July the squadron began converting to Meteors, being declared operational in October at its new base of Bentwaters.  Here it was disbanded by being renumbered No 56 Squadron on 1 April 1946.

Motto:      Danger is our opportunity

Squadron Codes used: -  

PK Allocated Apr 1939 - Sep 1939
ON May 1941 - Apr 1946

Aircraft & Markings


No 125 (Newfoundland) Squadron

No 125 Squadron BadgeFormed at Old Sarum on 1 February 1918 as a training squadron, it was planned that it would mobilise as a day bomber unit for deployment to France in September, but was disbanded on 17 August.

Reforming as a night fighter squadron at Colerne on 16 June 1941, it was equipped with Defiants, which it used to cover the South West of England and Wales.  Beaufighters began to replace the Defiants in  February 1942 and the process of conversion was complete by April.  It remained based in this area until March 1944, having moved around between Colerne, Fairwood Common and eventually Valley from November 1943.  It also provided a detachment to Sumburgh from October to December 1942.  Whilst at Valley it operated a detachment at Ballyhalbert in Northern Ireland.

Before leaving Valley, the squadron converted to Mosquitoes, which were then taken to Hurn, from where the squadron could provide cover to the invasion forces assembling along the South Coast.  With the invasion over the squadron moved to Middle Wallop from where it undertook night interceptions of V-1  flying bombs.  When the threat from ground launched bombs subsided as the site were over-run by ground forces, the squadron moved to Coltishall in October.  Here it was able to carry on combating the V-1 but this time air-launched versions launched from He111s over the north Sea.  It was also tasked with the interception of night intruders attempting to attack returning bombers.  The squadron disbanded at Church Fenton on 20 November 1945.

The squadron briefly reformed once more from 31 March 1955 as a night fighter unit at Stradishall, equipped with Meteor NF 11s.  These were replaced by Venom NF Mk 3s in November but the squadron disbanded on 10 May 1957.

Motto:      Nunquam domandi (Never to be tamed)

Squadron Codes used: -  

FN Allocated Apr 1939 - Sep 1939
VA Jun 1941 - Nov 1945

Aircraft & Markings    

All Squadron badges on this page are courtesy of Steve Clements

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

This page was last updated on 12/09/14 using FrontPage XP

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