No. 601 Squadron RAF

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No. 601 (County of London) Squadron
No 601 Squadron RAF.png
Active 14 October 1925 – May 1945
June 1946 – 10 March 1957
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Part of Royal Auxiliary Air Force
Nickname The Millionaires' Squadron[1]
The Millionaires' Mob[2]
The Legion[3]
Motto None[1][4][5]
Post 1951 Squadron insignia RAF 601 sqn.png
Battle honours France & Low Countries, 1940*
Dunkirk*
Battle of Britain, 1940*
Home Defence, 1940–42
Fortress Europe, 1941–42
Malta, 1942
Egypt & Libya, 1942*
El Alamein*
El Hamma
North Africa, 1943*
Sicily, 1943*
Italy, 1943–45*
Anzio & Nettuno
Gustav Line
Gothic Line
Honours marked with an asterisk* are those that are emblazoned on the Squadron Standard
Insignia
Squadron Badge heraldry A winged sword[1][4][5]
Squadron Codes YN (Jan 1939 – Sep 1939)[6]
UF (Sep 1939 – Apr 1942, Apr 1942 – Aug 1945)[7]
1 & 2 (Apr 1942)
RAH (May 1946 – 1949)[8]
HT (1949 – Apr 1951)[9]

No. 601 (County of London) Squadron was a squadron of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, based in London. The squadron battle honours most notably include the Battle of Britain and the first Americans to fly in World War II were members of this squadron.

History[edit]

601 Squadron was formed at RAF Northolt on 14 October 1925 when a group of wealthy aristocratic young men, all of whom were amateur aviators, decided to form themselves into a Reserve Squadron of the RAF after a meeting in White's Club, London.[10] The original officers were picked by the first commanding officer, Lord Edward Grosvenor, youngest son of Hugh Grosvenor, 1st Duke of Westminster. Grosvenor tested potential recruits by plying them with alcohol to see if they would behave inappropriately. Grosvenor wanted officers "of sufficient presence not to be overawed by him and of sufficient means not to be excluded from his favourite pastimes, eating, drinking and Whites".[11] The Squadron was initially known as "the millionaires squadron", a nametag gained because of a reputation for filling their ranks with the very 'well-heeled'. Most of these affluent young pilots had little regard for the rigid discipline of the regular service; they lined their uniform tunics with bright red silk and wore blue ties rather than the regulation black. They played polo on brand-new Brough Superior motor cycles, drove fast sports cars (the squadron car park was said to resemble a Concours d'Elegance) and most of the pilots owned their own private aircraft.

World War Two[edit]

The Squadron became a day fighter unit in 1940 and operated both the Hawker Hurricane and the Supermarine Spitfire. Aircrew attrition and transfers to other units war quickly took its toll on the pre-war personnel and as replacements were drafted in from all walks of life and all parts of the Commonwealth to cover casualties and promotions, the Squadron became as cosmopolitan as any other.[12]

Postwar operations[edit]

The unit reformed in 1946 as a fighter squadron within the Royal Auxiliary Air Force (RAuxAF), initially equipped with the Spitfire, followed by the jet powered De Havilland Vampire and the Gloster Meteor twin-jet. The squadron disbanded along with all other RAuxAF units during the defence cuts of early 1957.

Aircraft operated[edit]

Two 601 Sqn Spitfire Vb over Djerba Island in early 1943, led by W/Cdr. I.R. Gleed in his personal Spitfire marked IR-G.
De Havilland Vampire F.3 wearing the unit markings of No. 601 Squadron
Aircraft operated by no. 601 Squadron, data from[13][14][15]
From To Aircraft Version
May 1926 June 1926 Avro 504 K, N
June 1926 October 1930 Airco DH.9 A
November 1929 June 1933 Westland Wapiti Mks.IIa, VI
February 1933 August 1937 Hawker Hart
August 1937 November 1938 Hawker Demon
November 1938 March 1939 Gloster Gauntlet Mk.II
January 1939 March 1940 Bristol Blenheim Mk.If
March 1940 March 1941 Hawker Hurricane Mk.I
March 1941 January 1942 Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIb
August 1941 March 1942 Bell Airacobra Mk.I
March 1942 April 1942 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vb
May 1942 January 1944 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vc
June 1943 August 1943 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX
July 1943 June 1944 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.VIII
June 1944 May 1945 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IXb
December 1946 December 1949 Supermarine Spitfire LF.16e
November 1949 September 1952 de Havilland Vampire F.3
August 1952 March 1957 Gloster Meteor F.8

Squadron bases[edit]

Bases and airfields used by no. 601 Squadron, data from[15][16][17][18]
From To Base
14 October 1925 18 January 1927 RAF Northolt, Middlesex
18 January 1927 2 September 1939 RAF Hendon, Middlesex
2 September 1939 30 December 1939 RAF Biggin Hill, Kent
30 December 1939 1 June 1940 RAF Tangmere, Sussex (Dets. at Merville and Saint-Valery-en-Caux, France)
1 June 1940 17 June 1940 RAF Middle Wallop, Hampshire
17 June 1940 19 August 1940 RAF Tangmere, Sussex
19 August 1940 2 September 1940 RAF Debden, Essex
2 September 1940 7 September 1940 RAF Tangmere, Sussex
7 September 1940 17 December 1940 RAF Exeter, Devon
17 December 1940 1 May 1941 RAF Northolt, Middlesex
1 May 1941 30 June 1941 RAF Manston, Kent
30 June 1941 16 August 1941 RAF Matlaske, Norfolk
16 August 1941 2 January 1942 RAF Duxford, Cambridgeshire
2 January 1942 25 March 1942 RAF Acaster Malbis, York
25 March 1942 10 April 1942 RAF Digby, Lincolnshire
10 April 1942 20 April 1942 en route to Egypt
20 April 1942 23 June 1942 RAF Luqa, Malta (aircrew)
23 June 1942 25 June 1942 Maryut, Egypt (ground- and aircrew reunited)
25 June 1942 29 June 1942 LG.13/Sidi Haneish South, Egypt
29 June 1942 24 July 1942 LG.154, Egypt
24 July 1942 29 July 1942 LG.173, Egypt
29 July 1942 5 August 1942 LG.85, Egypt
5 August 1942 11 August 1942 LG.219 Kilo 8/Matariyah/Payne Field, Egypt
11 August 1942 22 August 1942 Helwan, Egypt
22 August 1942 26 September 1942 LG.154, Egypt
26 September 1942 7 November 1942 LG.92, Egypt
7 November 1942 9 November 1942 LG.21/Qotafiyah III, Egypt
9 November 1942 12 November 1942 LG.13/Sidi Haneish South, Egypt
12 November 1942 14 November 1942 LG.155, Egypt
14 November 1942 25 November 1942 LG.143/RAF Gambut West, Libya
25 November 1942 4 December 1942 Msus, Libya
4 December 1942 8 December 1942 El Hassiet, Libya
8 December 1942 21 December 1942 El Nogra, Libya
21 December 1942 31 December 1942 El Merduma, Libya
31 December 1942 9 January 1943 Alem El Chel, Libya
9 January 1943 20 January 1943 Hamraiet Airfield, Libya
20 January 1943 17 February 1943 Darragh North, Libya
17 February 1943 26 February 1943 RAF Castel Benito, Libya
26 February 1943 1 March 1943 Hazbub Main, Tunisia
1 March 1943 9 March 1943 Ben Gardane South, Tunisia
9 March 1943 11 March 1943 Hazbub North, Tunisia
11 March 1943 4 April 1943 Bu Grara, Tunisia (Det. at El Hamma, Tunisia)
4 April 1943 12 April 1943 Gabes Main, Tunisia
12 April 1943 16 April 1943 La Fauconnerie, Tunisia
16 April 1943 7 May 1943 Goubrine North, Tunisia
7 May 1943 21 May 1943 Hergla North, Tunisia
21 May 1943 15 June 1943 Ben Gardane North, Tunisia
15 June 1943 13 July 1943 RAF Luqa, Malta
13 July 1943 17 July 1943 Pachino, Sicily, Italy
17 July 1943 25 July 1943 Cassibile, Sicily, Italy
25 July 1943 5 October 1943 Lentini West
5 October 1943 18 October 1943 Tortorella
18 October 1943 26 November 1943 Triolo
26 November 1943 18 January 1944 Canne
18 January 1944 23 April 1944 Marcianise, Italy (Det. at Madna)
23 April 1944 12 June 1944 Venafro, Italy
12 June 1944 17 June 1944 Littorio, Italy
17 June 1944 3 July 1944 Fabrica, Italy
3 July 1944 24 August 1944 Perugia, Italy
24 August 1944 4 September 1944 Loreto, Italy
4 September 1944 4 December 1944 Fano, Italy
4 December 1944 3 May 1945 Bellaria, Italy
3 May 1945 14 August 1945 Treviso, Italy
10 May 1946 28 March 1949 RAF Hendon, Middlesex
28 March 1949 10 March 1957 RAF North Weald, Essex

Notable pilots[edit]

Memorial to 601 Squadron at RAF Museum Hendon

For more pilots who flew with the Sqn during the Battle of Britain, see List of RAF aircrew in the Battle of Britain.

Commanding officers[edit]

Officers commanding No. 601 Squadron RAF, data from[21]
From To Name
October 1925 Sqn Ldr Lord E. Grosvenor
1931 Sqn Ldr Sir Philip Sassoon, MP
1931 1934 Sqn Ldr Nigel Norman
July 1934 March 1936 Sqn Ldr R Shaw, DFC
March 1936 December 1939 Sqn Ldr B S Thynne
December 1939 June 1940 Sqn Ldr Loel Guinness
June 1940 July 1940 Sqn Ldr Sir Max Aitken, DFC
July 1940 August 1940 Sqn Ldr W F C Hobson
August 1940 August 1940 Sqn Ldr E F Ward
August 1940 December 1940 Sqn Ldr Sir Archibald Hope, OBE, DFC[22]
December 1940 April 1941 Sqn Ldr J A O'Neill, DFC
April 1941 December 1941 Sqn Ldr E J Gracie, DFC
December 1941 March 1942 Sqn Ldr E J Jones
March 1942 April 1942 Sqn Ldr J D Bisdee, DFC
April 1942 July 1942 Sqn Ldr R G A Barclay, DFC
July 1942 August 1942 Sqn Ldr J D Bisdee, DFC
August 1942 March 1943 Sqn Ldr A V Clowes, DFC, DFM
March 1943 March 1943 Sqn Ldr G H F Plinston, DFC
March 1943 June 1943 Sqn Ldr J S Taylor, DFC
June 1943 September 1943 Sqn Ldr Stanisław Skalski, VM, KW, DSO, DFC and two Bar[23]
September 1943 March 1944 Maj M S Osler, DFC
March 1944 July 1944 Sqn Ldr J H Nicholls, DFC
July 1944 January 1945 Sqn Ldr Robert Wilkinson Turkington, DFC
January 1945 May 1945 Sqn Ldr C T Stimpson
June 1946 June 1948 Sqn Ldr The Hon. Max Aitken, DSO, DFC
June 1948 1950 Sqn Ldr Hugh Dundas, DSO & Bar, DFC
1950 1952 Sqn Ldr P H M Richey, DFC
1952 January 1957 Sqn Ldr C C MacCarthy-Jones[24]
January 1957 March 1957 Sqn Ldr Peter Edelston, DFC, AFC[25][26]

Note: Sir Philip Sassoon was Member of Parliament during his Squadron Leadership of 601 Squadron.

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Moyes 1976, p. 272.
  2. ^ Hunt 1972, p. 67.
  3. ^ Moulson 1964
  4. ^ a b Rawlings 1978, p. 472.
  5. ^ a b Halley 1988, p. 417.
  6. ^ Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 14.
  7. ^ Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, pp. 100–101.
  8. ^ Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 138.
  9. ^ Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 53.
  10. ^ Royal Air Force (2004). "Battle of Britain history of No. 601 Squadron". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 16 March 2011. 
  11. ^ "601 Squadron: Millionaire flying aces of World War II". BBC News. 14 December 2010. 
  12. ^ http://www.bbmf.co.uk/fighters.html
  13. ^ Rawlings 978, pp. 475–476.
  14. ^ Halley 1988, p. 418.
  15. ^ a b Jefford 2001, p. 99.
  16. ^ Rawlings 1978, pp. 474–475.
  17. ^ Halley 1988, pp. 417–418.
  18. ^ Jefford 2001, pp. 230–249.
  19. ^ http://www.bbm.org.uk/Legge.htm
  20. ^ http://www.bbm.org.uk/Mayers.htm
  21. ^ Rawlings 1978, p. 477.
  22. ^ "Flight Global Archive". 1959 - 0315.PDF. p. 148. Retrieved 6 October 2013. 
  23. ^ pl:Stanisław Skalski (lotnik)
  24. ^ Moulson 1964, pp. 172–177.
  25. ^ Moulson 1964, p. 176.
  26. ^ "Edelston". The Daily Telegraph (London). 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Bowyer, Michael J.F. and John D.R. Rawlings. Squadron Codes, 1937–56. Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-85059-364-6.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth, 1918–1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.`
  • Hunt, Leslie. Twenty-one Squadrons: History of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, 1925–57. London: Garnstone Press, 1972. ISBN 0-85511-110-0. (New edition in 1992 by Crécy Publishing, ISBN 0-947554-26-2.)
  • Jefford, Wing Commander C.G., MBE, BA, RAF (Retd). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Moulson, Tom. The Flying Sword: The Story of 601 Squadron. London: Macdonald & Co. (Publishers) Ltd., 1964.
  • Moyes, Philip J.R. Bomber Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 2nd edition 1976. ISBN 0-354-01027-1.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Coastal, Support and Special Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Jane's Publishing Company Ltd., 1982. ISBN 0-7106-0187-5.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1978. ISBN 0-354-01028-X.
  • Robinson, Anthony. RAF Squadrons in the Battle of Britain. London: Arms and Armour Press Ltd., 1987 (republished 1999 by Brockhampton Press, ISBN 1-86019-907-0.).

External links[edit]