No. 611 Squadron RAF

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No. 611 (West Lancashire) Squadron RAF
611SqnRAFemblem.jpg
611 Squadron emblem
Active 10 February 1936 – 15 August 1945
10 May 1946 – 10 March 1957
Currently reforming
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Auxiliary Air Force
Part of Royal Auxiliary Air Force
Base RAF Woodvale
Motto Beware Beware[1][2]
Commanders
Honorary Air Commodore G.L. Pilkington
Notable
commanders
Roland "Bee" Beamont
Insignia
Squadron Badge In front of a trident, a rose[2]
The rose points to the County of Lancaster and the trident to Liverpool[1]
Squadron Codes

GZ (May 1939 – Sep 1939)[3]
FY (Sep 1939 – Aug 1945
and 1949 – Apr 1951)[4]

RAR (May 1946 – 1949)[5]

No. 611 (West Lancashire) Squadron was a British Auxiliary Air Force later Royal Auxiliary Air Force squadron first formed in 1936 and lastly disbanded in 1957.

History[edit]

Early years[edit]

The squadron was formed at RAF Hendon, Middlesex on 10 February 1936[1][2] as a day bomber unit. The squadron set up its permanent base at RAF Speke (now Liverpool John Lennon Airport) on 6 May and began recruiting personnel from Liverpool and the surrounding area. Its first Hawker Hart light bombers arrived in June, being replaced by Hawker Hinds from April 1938.

Wartime operations[edit]

Flight Lieutenant Barrie Heath of 611 Squadron, photographed in 1940 on the wing of Spitfire IIa P7883 "Grahame Heath".
Two Spitfire Mk.IX of 611 Sqn. over Biggin Hill in 1943.

On 1 January 1939, the unit became a fighter squadron, receiving its first Supermarine Spitfire Mk.I's in May. The squadron left for RAF Duxford on 13 August. After a period of defensive duties on the east coast, No. 611 became fully operational from its RAF Digby base in Lincolnshire in May 1940, firstly over Dunkirk and then taking part in the Battle of Britain campaign. The squadron commenced offensive sweeps over occupied northern France in January 1941, based at RAF Hornchurch, moving to RAF Drem in Scotland for recuperation in November 1941. The unit moved south again in June 1942 to RAF Kenley for deployment on shipping reconnaissance, escort and defensive missions. No. 611 provided covering patrols for the invasion of Normandy in June 1944 from its RAF Deanland, Sussex base. The squadron then moved to south-west England for a short period.

Long-range escort missions began to be flown from RAF Bradwell Bay, Essex, from late August 1944, until No. 611 moved to RAF Skeabrae in Orkney on 3 October. After converting to Merlin powered North American Mustang Mk.IV's the squadron again moved south, this time to RAF Hawkinge in Kent and resumed escort duties for the rest of the war. The squadron disbanded as an RAF squadron on 15 August 1945 at RAF Peterhead.[2]

Postwar operations[edit]

No. 611 Squadron Meteor F.8 WH505 'A' outside the Belfast Truss hangars at RAF Hooton Park in September 1952

The squadron reformed again at Liverpool's Speke airport on 10 May 1946 as a fighter squadron within the Royal Auxiliary Air Force. Because of growing airliner movements at Speke, the unit moved to RAF Woodvale near Southport on 22 July 1946 equipped with Spitfire F.14's and from June 1948 with the higher performance Spitfire F.22. Gloster Meteor F.4 jet fighters were received in May 1951, these requiring a move to the longer runways at RAF Hooton Park on the Wirral on 9 July. Re-equipment with updated Meteor F.8's came in December 1951 and these were flown from Hooton Park until the squadron disbanded on 10 March 1957, together with all other RAuxAF flying units.[2]

611 Squadron is reforming at RAF Woodvale in line with the expansion of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force recommended by the Future Reserves 2020 (FR20) Commission and endorsed by the Air Force Board Standing Committee. The Commission was set up by the Prime Minister in 2010 to examine the shape and role of the Reserve Forces as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review.

Notable Pilots[edit]

Barrie Heath with a piece of a Dornier Do 215.
  • Eric Lock. July – November 1941 Top scoring British born pilot during the Battle of Britain and 26 confirmed victories during just six months of flying time.
  • Barrie Heath. Heath shot down four German aircraft between 1940 and 1941. After the war he went on to become the chairman of the engineering giant GKN.
  • Roland "Bee" Beamont. Famous test pilot.

Aircraft operated[edit]

Aircraft operated by no. 611 Squadron RAF, data from[2][6][7]
From To Aircraft Version
June 1936 April 1938 Hawker Hart
April 1938 June 1939 Hawker Hind
May 1939 September 1940 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.I
Aug 1940 October 1940 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IIa
October 1940 March 1941 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.I
February 1941 May 1941 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IIa
May 1941 July 1941 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Va
June 1941 November 1941 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vb
November 1941 February 1942 Supermarine Spitfire Mks.IIa, IIb
January 1942 July 1942 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vb
July 1942 July 1943 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX
July 1943 July 1944 Supermarine Spitfire LF.Mk.Vb
July 1944 March 1945 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX
December 1944 December 1944 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.VII
March 1945 August 1945 North American Mustang Mk.IV
November 1946 August 1949 Supermarine Spitfire FR.14
February 1949 November 1951 Supermarine Spitfire F.22
May 1951 April 1952 Gloster Meteor F.4
March 1952 February 1957 Gloster Meteor F.8

Squadron bases[edit]

Bases and airfields used by no. 611 Squadron RAF, data from[2][6][8]
From To Base
10 February 1936 6 May 1936 RAF Hendon, Middlesex
6 May 1936 13 August 1936 RAF Speke, Lancashire
13 August 1936 10 October 1939 RAF Duxford, Cambridgeshire
10 October 1939 14 December 1940 RAF Digby, Lincolnshire
14 December 1940 27 January 1941 RAF Rochford, Essex
27 January 1941 20 May 1941 RAF Hornchurch, Essex
20 May 1941 16 June 1941 RAF Rochford, Essex
16 June 1941 13 November 1941 RAF Hornchurch, Essex
13 November 1941 3 June 1942 RAF Drem, East Lothian, Scotland
3 June 1942 13 July 1942 RAF Kenley, Surrey
13 July 1942 20 July 1942 RAF Martlesham Heath, Suffolk
20 July 1942 27 July 1942 RAF Redhill, Surrey
27 July 1942 1 August 1942 RAF Ipswich, Suffolk
1 August 1942 23 September 1942 RAF Redhill, Surrey
23 September 1942 1 July 1943 RAF Biggin Hill, Kent
1 July 1943 31 July 1943 RAF Matlaske, Norfolk
31 July 1943 4 August 1943 RAF Ludham, Norfolk
4 August 1943 6 September 1943 RAF Coltishall, Norfolk
6 September 1943 13 September 1943 RAF Southend, Essex
13 September 1943 8 February 1944 RAF Coltishall, Norfolk
8 February 1944 19 February 1944 RAF Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland
19 February 1944 29 February 1944 RAF Coltishall, Norfolk
29 February 1944 23 June 1944 RAF Deanland, Sussex
23 June 1944 3 July 1944 RAF Harrowbeer, Devon
3 July 1944 17 July 1944 RAF Predannack, Cornwall
17 July 1944 30 August 1944 RAF Bolt Head, Devon
30 August 1944 3 October 1944 RAF Bradwell Bay, Essex
3 October 1944 31 December 1944 RAF Skeabrae, Orkney, Scotland
31 December 1944 3 May 1945 RAF Hawkinge, Kent
3 May 1945 7 May 1945 RAF Hunsdon, Hertfordshire
7 May 1945 15 August 1945 RAF Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
10 May 1946 26 June 1946 RAF Speke, Lancashire
26 June 1946 22 July 1946 RAF Hooton Park, Cheshire
22 July 1946 9 July 1951 RAF Woodvale, Lancashire
9 July 1951 10 March 1957 RAF Hooton Park, Cheshire
RAF Woodvale, Lancashire

Commanding officers[edit]

Officers commanding no. 611 Squadron RAF, data from[9][10]
From To Name
8 February 1939 4 September 1939 S/Ldr. G.L. Pilkington
4 September 1939 19 October 1940 S/Ldr. J.E. McComb, DFC
19 October 1940 18 May 1941 S/Ldr. E.R. Bitmead, DFC
18 May 1941 28 June 1941 S/Ldr. F.S. Stapleton, DFC
28 June 1941 17 November 1941 S/Ldr. E.H. Thomas, DFC
17 November 1941 12 September 1942 S/Ldr. D.H. Watkins, DFC
12 September 1942 17 February 1943 S/Ldr. H.T. Armstrong, DFC
17 February 1943 22 April 1943 S/Ldr. C.'Wag'Haw, DFM, Order of Lenin
22 April 1943 26 August 1943 S/Ldr. E.F.J. Chorley, DFC
26 August 1943 26 August 1944 S/Ldr. W.A. Douglas, DFC
26 August 1944 17 January 1945 S/Ldr. P.R. McGregor, CdG
17 January 1945 13 July 1945 S/Ldr. D.H. Seaton, DFC
13 July 1945 15 August 1945 S/Ldr. P.C.P. Farnes, DFM
10 May 1946 31 August 1948 S/Ldr. W.J. Leather, DFC
31 August 1948 6 November 1951 S/Ldr. R.P. Beamont, DSO, DFC
6 November 1951 May 1952 S/Ldr. H.R.P. Pertwee, DFC
May 1952 May 1952 S/Ldr. D.P. Sampson, DFC
May 1952 15 January 1954 S/Ldr. S.G. Nunn, DFC
15 January 1954 1 June 1956 S/Ldr. S. Kirtley
1 June 1956 10 March 1957 S.Ldr. S. Walker

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

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.
  • Brown, Squadron Leader Peter, AFC. Honour Restored: The Battle of Britain, Dowding and the Fight for Freedom. Spellmount, 2005.
  • Ferguson, Aldon P. and John Hamlin. Beware! Beware! The History of 611(West Lancashire)Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force. Reading, Berkshire, UK: Airfield Publications, 2004.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald & Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1969 (2nd edition 1976, reprinted 1978). ISBN 0-354-01028-X.
  • Smith, Richard C. Hornchurch Eagles: The Life Stories of Eight of the Airfield's Distinguished WW2 Fighter Pilots. London: Grub Street Publishing, 2002. ISBN 1-904010-00-8.
  • Smith, Richard C. Hornchurch Offensive: The Definitive Account of the RAF Fighter Airfield, its Pilots, Groundcrew and Staff. Volume Two: 1941 to the Airfield's Final Closure. London: Grub Street Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-902304-79-9.
  • Smith, Richard C. Hornchurch Scramble: The Definitive Account of the RAF Fighter Airfield, Its Pilots, Groundcrew and Staff. Volume One: 1915 to the End of the Battle of Britain. London: Grub Street Publishing, 2000. ISBN 1-902304-62-4.
  • Smith, Richard C. Second To None: A Pictorial History of Hornchuch Aerodrome through Two World Wars and Beyond, 1915–1962. London: Grub Street Publishing, 2004. ISBN 1-904010-78-4.
  • The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft, (Part Work 1982–1985), Orbis Publishing, pp 4238/9

External links[edit]