No. 616 Squadron RAF

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No. 616 (South Yorkshire) Squadron RAF
Active 1 November 1938 – 29 August 1945
10 May 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
Motto Latin: Nulla Rosa Sine Spina
(Translation: "No rose without a thorn")[1][2]
post 1951 aircraft insignia RAF 616 sqn.svg
Commanders
Honorary Air Commodore The Duke of Portland[3]
Notable
commanders
Colin Falkland Gray, Percy "Laddy" Lucas
Insignia
Squadron Badge heraldry A white Yorkshire rose, superimposed on an arrow[2]
The badge commemorates the squadron's association with Yorkshire as the South Yorkshire Auxiliary Squadron[1]
Squadron Codes QJ (Apr 1939 – Jul 1941)[4]
YQ (Jul 1941 – Aug 1945,
1949 – Apr 1951)[5]
RAW (Jul 1946 – 1949)[6]

No. 616 (South Yorkshire) Squadron was a unit of the British Auxiliary Air Force and later the Royal Auxiliary Air Force between 1938 and 1957.

History and Operations[edit]

Formation[edit]

No. 616 Squadron was formed on 1 November 1938 at RAF Doncaster[7] and was at first allotted the role of bomber squadron, receiving Hawker Hinds for that role.[1] The role soon changed however and the squadrons first operational fighter aircraft were Gloster Gauntlet biplane fighters received in January 1939. Fairey Battle monoplane light bombers were delivered in May 1939 for training duties to assist the squadron in preparing for re-equipment with Supermarine Spitfire Mk.I's in October 1939. During that month No. 616 moved to RAF Leconfield and by the end of November conversion to the modern fighter was complete.

The squadron's first operational sorties were over the Dunkirk withdrawal in late May 1940. During the first phase of the Battle of Britain No. 616 was based at Leconfield, moving south to RAF Kenley on 19 August to be nearer the front line. The improved Spitfire Mk.II was received in February 1941 and was used from April on sweeps over occupied France from RAF Tangmere, continuing until October.[8] Further periodic updating with Spitfire Mks.V, VI and VII continued through the mid-war years. From March 1943 onwards, No. 616 was stationed in southwest England.

First on Meteors[edit]

616 Squadron Meteor F Mark III takes off from B58/Melsbroek, Belgium, 1945

On 12 July 1944 the unit became the first RAF squadron to receive jet equipment in the form of Gloster Meteor Mk.I fighters, testing them at RAF Culmhead.[9] The first Meteor operational sortie was on 27 July from RAF Manston when it intercepted V-1 flying bombs launched against southern England. The first victories came on 4 August when one V1 was tipped over after a pilot's cannon jammed and another was shot down. The loss rate of the still unproven Meteor Mk.I was high, with three being written off in non-combat incidents between 15 and 29 August. Re-equipment with improved Meteor Mk.III's began in January 1945 and in February a detachment was deployed to Melsbroek near Brussels in Belgium. It was intended as a defence against Me 262's but in the event they did not ever face them. In early April the complete squadron moved to Gilze-Rijen in the Netherlands, commencing ground attack sorties on 16 April. The squadron was disbanded at Lübeck, Germany on 29 August 1945 by being renumbered to No. 263 Squadron RAF.[7][10][11]

Post-war[edit]

No. 616 squadron was officially reformed at RAF Finningley as the South Yorkshire Squadron on 10 May 1946,[7] with volunteers being recruited over the following few months till embodied on 11 July 1946.[7] It was allocated the night fighter role within Reserve Command and the first Mosquito T.3 trainers were received in October, but it was not until January 1948 that the operational Mosquito NF.30s were delivered to Finningley. At the end of 1948 No. 616 was redesignated as a day fighter squadron and began to receive Meteor F.3's in January 1949. Conversion to the updated Meteor F.8 took place in December 1951. The squadron moved base to RAF Worksop on 23 May 1955, where it disbanded on 10 March 1957 (per Halley and Jefford or Pitchfork), together with all RAuxAF flying units. Research has shown that Rawlings in 'Fighter Squadrons of the Royal Air Force' incorrectly lists the squadron as disbanding at RAF Finningley on 15 February 1957.[12]

Aircraft operated[edit]

Aircraft operated by no. 616 Squadron RAF, data from[7][13][14][15]
From To Aircraft Version Remarks
Nov 1938 Jan 1939 Hawker Hind Used for training
Jan 1939 Dec 1939 Gloster Gauntlet Mk.II
May 1939 Nov 1939 Fairey Battle Used for training
Oct 1939 Feb 1941 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.I
Feb 1941 Jul 1941 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IIa
Jul 1941 Jun 1942 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vb
Oct 1941 Nov 1941 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IIb
Apr 1942 Nov 1943 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.VI
Sep 1943 Aug 1944 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.VII
Jul 1944 Jan 1945 Gloster Meteor Mk.I
Jan 1945 Aug 1945 Gloster Meteor Mk.III
Sep 1947 May 1949 de Havilland Mosquito NF.30
Jan 1949 May 1957 Gloster Meteor F.3
Apr 1951 Dec 1951 Gloster Meteor F.4
Dec 1951 Feb 1957 Gloster Meteor F.8

Squadron bases[edit]

Bases and airfields used by no. 616 Squadron RAF, data from[2][7][12][16]
From To Base Remark
1 November 1938 23 October 1939 RAF Doncaster Formed here
23 October 1939 23 February 1940 RAF Leconfield
23 February 1940 9 March 1940 RAF Catfoss Detached due to thaw at Leconfield[17]
9 March 1940 27 May 1940 RAF Leconfield
27 May 1940 6 June 1940 RAF Rochford Detached for air cover during Dunkirk evacuation[18]
6 June 1940 19 August 1940 RAF Leconfield
19 August 1940 3 September 1940 RAF Kenley
3 September 1940 9 September 1940 RAF Coltishall
9 September 1940 26 February 1941 RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey
26 February 1941 9 May 1941 RAF Tangmere
9 May 1941 6 October 1941 RAF Westhampnett
6 October 1941 30 January 1942 RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey
30 January 1942 3 July 1942 RAF Kings Cliffe
3 July 1942 8 July 1942 RAF West Malling
8 July 1942 29 July 1942 RAF Kenley
29 July 1942 14 August 1942 RAF Great Sampford
14 August 1942 20 August 1942 RAF Hawkinge Detached for Dieppe Raid[19]
20 August 1942 1 September 1942 RAF Great Sampford
1 September 1942 7 September 1942 RAF Ipswich Det.
7 September 1942 23 September 1942 RAF Great Sampford
23 September 1942 29 October 1942 RAF Tangmere
29 October 1942 2 January 1943 RAF Westhampnett
2 January 1943 15 March 1943 RAF Ibsley
15 March 1943 18 March 1943 RAF Harrowbeer Det.
18 March 1943 17 September 1943 RAF Ibsley
17 September 1943 16 November 1943 RAF Exeter
16 November 1943 1 December 1943 RAF Fairwood Common Detached for arnament practice camp[20]
1 December 1943 18 March 1944 RAF Exeter
18 March 1944 24 April 1944 RAF West Malling
24 April 1944 16 May 1944 RAF Fairwood Common
16 May 1944 21 July 1944 RAF Culmhead
21 July 1944 17 January 1945 RAF Manston
17 January 19745 28 February 1945 RAF Colerne
4 February 1945 26 March 1945 B.58 Melsbroek, Belgium Detachment flying all-white Meteors[21]
28 February 1945 1 April 1945 RAF Andrews Field
1 April 1945 13 April 1945 B.77/Gilze-Rijen, Netherlands
13 April 1945 20 April 1945 B.91/Nijmegen, Netherlands
20 April 1945 26 April 1945 B.109/Quakenbrück, Germany
26 April 1945 3 May 1945 B.152/Fassberg, Germany
3 May 1945 7 May 1945 B.156/Luneberg, Germany
7 May 1945 29 August 1945 B.158/Lübeck, Germany Disbanded here
10 May 1946 15 June 1951 RAF Finningley Reformed here
15 June 1951 11 July 1951 RAF Church Fenton Call-up training during Korean crisis[22]
11 July 1951 23 May 1955 RAF Finningley
23 May 1955 10 March 1957 RAF Worksop Disbanded here

Commanding officers[edit]

Officers commanding no. 616 Squadron RAF, data from[23][24]
From To Name
November 1938 September 1939 S/Ldr. the Earl of Lincoln
September 1939 May 1940 S/Ldr. W.K. Beisiegel
May 1940 September 1940 S/Ldr. M. Robinson
September 1940 September 1941 S/Ldr. H.F. Burton, DFC
September 1941 February 1942 S/Ldr. C.F. Gray, DFC & Bar
February 1942 January 1943 S/Ldr. H.L.I. Brown, DFC
January 1943 April 1943 S/Ldr. G.S.K. Haywood
April 1943 April 1943 S/Ldr. P.W. Lefevre, DFC
April 1943 July 1943 S/Ldr. P.B. Lucas, DFC
July 1943 July 1944 S/Ldr. L.W. Watts, DFC
July 1944 May 1945 W/Cdr. A. McDowall, DFM & Bar
May 1945 August 1945 W/Cdr. E.E. Schrader, DFC
July 1946 December 1950 S/Ldr. K. Holden, DFC
December 1950 November 1954 S/Ldr. L.H. Casson, DFC
November 1954 March 1957 S/Ldr. W.G. Abel

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Rawlings 1978, p. 509.
  2. ^ a b c Halley 1988, p. 434.
  3. ^ Pitchfork 2009, pp. 124–125.
  4. ^ Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 14.
  5. ^ Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 117.
  6. ^ Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 138.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Jefford 2001, p. 101.
  8. ^ Sarkar 2011, p. 43.
  9. ^ Berryman 2006, pp. 50–86.
  10. ^ Halley 1988, p. 329.
  11. ^ Pitchfork 2009, p. 109.
  12. ^ a b Rawlings 1978, p. 510.
  13. ^ Hunt 1972, p. 413.
  14. ^ Rawlings 1978, pp. 510–511.
  15. ^ Halley 1988, p. 435.
  16. ^ Pitchfork 2009, p. 151.
  17. ^ Pitchfork 2009, p. 17.
  18. ^ Pitchfork 2009, p. 19.
  19. ^ Hunt 1972, p. 407.
  20. ^ Pitchfork 2009, p. 86.
  21. ^ Pitchfork 2009, pp. 102–103.
  22. ^ Pitchfork 2009, p. 117.
  23. ^ Pitchfork 2009, p. 150.
  24. ^ Rawlings 1978, p. 511.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Berryman, David. Somerset airfields in the Second World War. Newbury, UK: Countryside Books, 2006. ISBN 1-85306-864-0.
  • Bowyer, Michael J.F. and John D.R. Rawlings. Squadron Codes, 1937–56. Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-85059-364-6.
  • Delve, Ken and Graham Pitchfork South Yorkshire's Own: 616 Squadron RAF. Doncaster Books, 1990.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth, 1981–1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Hunt, Leslie. Twenty-One Squadrons: The History of the Royal Auxiliairy Air Force, 1925–1957. London: Garnstone Press, 1972. ISBN 0-85511-110-0.
  • 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.
  • Pitchfork, Graham. The RAF's first jet squadron: 616 (South Yorkshire) History 1938–57. The Mill, Brimscombe Port, Stroud, Gloucestershire: The History Press Ltd., 2009. ISBN 0-7524-4914-1.
  • 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.).
  • Sarkar, Dilip. 'Spitfire Ace of Aces: The True Wartime Story of Johnnie Johnson. Amberley Publishing, 2011. ISBN 978-1-4456-0475-6.

External links[edit]