Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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No 261 - 265 Squadron Histories

No 261 Squadron

Click here to go to badgesAuthorised to form on 20 August 1918 from No's 339, 340 and 341 Flights at Felixstowe, flying Felixstowe F2As, it is doubtful as to whether its formation actually took place, although some sources state that it formally disbanded on 13 September 1919.

At the start of the Axis onslaught against the island of Malta, there were few fighters available for its defence, but some crated Sea Gladiators were found, which were assembled and formed into the Malta Defence Flight.  This raised to squadron status as No 261 Squadron on 1 August 1940, by which time it had also received some Hurricanes.  By January the squadron was wholly equipped with Hurricanes, but in May 1941 the squadron was disbanded.

The squadron was reformed on 12 July 1941 at Habbaniya when No 127 Squadron was renumbered and the following month it was a part of the force involved in occupying Iran.  After this it moved to Palestine for air defence duties but in February 1942 it was sent to Singapore, but the Japanese advance  forestalled this and it found itself in Ceylon.  Here it was able to assist in the repelling of Japanese carrier borne attacks against the island.

In January 1943, it was transferred to Northern India, from where it began ground attack operations against targets in Burma.  In March 1944 the squadron was withdrawn from operations and began conversion to Thunderbolts.  Operations began again in September  but in June 1945, it was again withdrawn, this time to prepare for the invasion of Malaya.  The dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan negated this and the squadron disbanded on 26 September 1945.

Squadron Codes used: -  

WY Allocated Apr 1939 - Sep 1939
FJ Jun 1944 - Sep 1945

[Aircraft & Markings | Commanding Officers]


No 262 Squadron

This squadron was never formed or planned to be formed during World War One and came into being for the first time on 29 September 1942 composed of personnel en-route to South Africa.  Arriving in Durban in November it set up its HQ at Congella, but it was February 1943 before its equipment in the form of Catalinas arrived.

These were used to patrol the Indian Ocean and detachments were also operated from Sierra Leone and Langebaan, extending its patrol area into the South Atlantic and around the Cape of Good Hope.  At the end of 1943, the squadron was transferred to the control of SAAF Coastal Area and it began to receive increasing numbers of South African personnel.   By the end of 1944, the squadron was totally manned by South African personnel and on 15 February 1945 was disbanded by being renumbered No 35 Squadron SAAF.

No Badge Authorised

Squadron Codes used: -  

QY Allocated Apr 1939 - Sep 1939
TR 1944

[Aircraft & Markings | Commanding Officers]


No 263 (Fellowship of the Bellows) Squadron  

Click here to go to badgesFormed 27 September 1918 from No's 359, 435, 436 and 441 Flts at Otranto, flying Short 184/320 and Sopwith Baby seaplanes and Felixstowe F3 flying boats, which it used to provided anti-submarine patrols over the Adriatic.  It disbanded on 16 May 1919.

The squadron reformed in the fighter role at Filton on 2 October 1939 equipped with Gladiators.  Those were allocated to the British Expeditionary Force, which went to Norway in April 1940, from where the squadron operated from a frozen lake.  Many aircraft were lost due to attacks on their base and at the end of the month it returned to the UK.  Re-equipped it returned to Norway in May, but the situation was now untenable and the squadron was evacuated aboard HMS Glorious on 6 June but two days later the carrier was sunk, with the loss of all the aircraft and most of the air-crew.

The squadron began to reform at Drem on 12 June 1940 as the first unit to be equipped with the Westland Whirlwind twin engined fighter.  Initially Hurricanes were used, with the first Whirlwind arriving in July.  Based in Scotland throughout the Battle of Britain, the squadron moved south in November and began convoy patrols and from June 1941, offensive operations over France and the Channel.  The squadron's aircraft were converted to the fighter-bomber role in June 1942 with attacks concentrating on coastal shipping and enemy airfields.

Conversion to Typhoons began in December 1943 and as part of 2nd Tactical Air Force, it resumed operations in February 1944.  After the invasion the squadron converted to the use of rocket projectiles as its main armament remaining as such until the end of the war.  The squadron moved to France in August 1944 and continued to support the advancing armies through France, Belgium, Holland and into Germany, disbanding at Hildesheim on 28 August 1945.

The following day the squadron was reformed by renumbering No 616 Squadron at Acklington.  It was now equipped with Meteor jet fighters, which in its various models remained its main equipment until February 1955 when it converted to Hunters.  Various moves occurred until the squadron arrived at Wattisham in October 1950, remaining there until August 1957 when it transferred to Stradishall, where it disbanded on 1 July 1958.  The  squadron reformed once more on 1 June 1959 as a Bloodhound surface-to-air missile at Watton, finally disbanding on 10 June 1959.

Squadron Codes used: -

SK Allocated Apr 1939 - Sep 1939
HE Oct 1939 - May 1950

[Aircraft & Markings | Commanding Officers]


No 264 (Madras Presidency) Squadron

Click here to go to badgesFormed on 27 September 1918 from No's 439 and 440 Flts at Suda Bay and Syra, its Short 184s provided anti-submarine cover over the Aegean.  It disbanded on 1 March 1919.

Reformed on 30 October 1939 as a fighter unit, it was the first squadron to be equipped with the Defiant turret fighter.  Lacking any forward firing armament, the squadron soon worked out suitable tactics, which initially proved successful, but losses soon mounted and in August it was transferred to night fighter duties.

The Defiant proved much more suitable in this role and the squadron continued in this role until April 1942, when it was withdrawn from operations .  In May it began conversion to the Mosquito II night fighter and from January 1943 it began intruder operations.  Re-equipping with various marks of Mosquito, the squadron alternated between offensive intruder operations from bases in the south and defensive operations from bases along the East Coast until the end of the war.  From January 1945, the squadron moved onto the continent as part of 2nd Tactical Air Force and disbanded at Twente on 25 August 1945.

The squadron was reformed on 20 November 1945 at Church Fenton, when No 125 Squadron was renumbered.  It continued as a Mosquito night fighter unit moving to various bases until December 1951, when Meteor night fighters began to arrive.  From 11 February 1949, No 79 Squadron was linked to 264, but this ended on 14 November 1951.  The squadron operated all of the Meteor night fighter models, except the Mk 13 which was a tropicalised version for use in the Middle East, until being disbanded by being renumbered No 33 Squadron on 1 October 1957 at Leeming, having been based at Middleton St George between February and September 1957.  The squadron experienced one final incarnation, when it was reformed as a Bloodhound surface-to-air- missile unit on 1 December 1958 at North Coates, disbanding there on 30 November 1962.

Squadron Codes used: -


WA Allocated Apr 1939 - Sep 1939
KV Allocated, but not used
PS Mar 1940 - Aug 1945, May 1947 - Feb 1952
VA Nov 1945 - May 1947 (Codes taken over from No 125 Sqn)

[Aircraft & Markings | Squadron Association | Commanding Officers]


No 265 Squadron

This unit was intended to form in August 1918 from No's 364, 365 and 366 Flights at Gibraltar, flying Felixstowe F2As and Short 184s, however, it formation was cancelled.

The squadron reformed at Mombasa from a draft of personnel that had arrived aboard the troopship Lancashire.  However, it did not receive any aircraft until April, so its personnel were detached to other units pending their arrival.  The first Catalina arrived on 25 April at Diego Suarez in Madagascar, to where the squadron HQ had moved in March.  Patrols covered the Indian Ocean for the rest of the war, with the maintenance base being moved to Kipevu in May 1943 and various advanced bases being used for detachments.  The squadron disbanded on 30 April 1945.

No Badge Authorised

Squadron Codes used: -  

KU Allocated Apr 1939 - Sep 1939
TR 1944

[Aircraft & Markings | Commanding Officers]

Squadron badge image on this page is courtesy of Steve Clements

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

This page was last updated on 08/06/17 using FrontPage 2003

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