No. 644 Squadron RAF

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No. 644 Squadron RAF
Active 23 Feb 1944 – 1 Sep 1946
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Type Inactive
Role Airborne Assault
SOE Supply
Transport
Part of No. 38 Group RAF[1]
Motto Latin: Dentes draconis serimus
(Translation: "We sow the dragon's teeth")
Insignia
Squadron Badge heraldry In front of an increscent, a Pegasus rampant[2]
The Pegasus signifies the Squadron's association with the Parachute Brigade[3]
Squadron Codes 2P (Feb 1944 – Sep 1946)[4][5]
9U (Feb 1944 – Sep 1946)[6][7]
Aircraft flown
Transport Handley Page Halifax
Converted four-engined heavy bomber

No. 644 Squadron RAF was a unit in 38 Group of the Royal Air Force during World War II which undertook glider-towing and supply dropping missions as well being employed in the paratroop role.

History[edit]

Formation and World War II[edit]

Operation Varsity. General Aircraft Hamilcars and Airspeed Horsas, flanked by Handley Page Halifax A Mark VII glider tugs of Nos. 298 and 644 Squadrons RAF, lined up and ready for take-off at RAF Woodbridge, Suffolk, March 1945

When the build up for Operation Overlord got under way, an increasing need for transport and airborne assault squadrons became apparent. Therefore personnel and aircraft from No. 298 Squadron RAF at RAF Tarrant Rushton were formed into No. 644 Squadron on 23 February 1944 as part of No. 38 Group RAF. Operations also included supply dropping to SOE forces and glider towing during the operations Overlord, Market Garden and Varsity. They also carried out supply drops over Norway and even some tactical night-bombing missions towards the end of the war.

Post war[edit]

Following the end of hostilities in Europe, 644 Squadron helped to transport the 1st Parachute Brigade to Copenhagen on the 8th May, where they were to oversee the surrender and disarmament of the German forces in Denmark. On the following day they carried the remainder of the 1st Airborne Division to Norway for similar duties. Ever since the Normandy invasion, No. 46 Group RAF had been involved in a "shuttle service" of ferrying freight to the front line and removing either wounded or freed prisoners of war to Britain. Although most of the armies were more or less static now that the War was over, RAF Transport Command's responsibilities increased, and so No. 38 Group RAF received orders to assist in this capacity. In addition to the transport of freight and prisoners of war, No. 644 Squadron also flew service personnel to Greece, North Africa and Italy. In July, the Squadron lost a Halifax over the Pyrenees. In November 1945, the 6th Airborne Division was despatched to Palestine to help police the worsening political crisis that was developing in the region, and 644 Squadron were ordered to lend them their support and so accompanied them to RAF Qastina in Palestine (now Hatzor Airbase). On 1 September 1946 No. 644 squadron disbanded by being re-numbered to No. 47 Squadron RAF.[8]

Present[edit]

The squadron today is represented by No. 644 Volunteer Gliding Squadron, which has the same squadron crest though with a different motto.

Aircraft operated[edit]

Aircraft operated by no. 644 Squadron, data from[2][9][10]
From To Aircraft Version
February 1944 November 1944 Handley Page Halifax Mk.V
August 1944 March 1945 Handley Page Halifax Mk.IIIa
March 1945 September 1946 Handley Page Halifax Mk.VII
August 1946 September 1946 Handley Page Halifax Mk.IX

Squadron bases[edit]

Bases and airfields used by no. 644 Squadron RAF, data from[2][9][10]
From To Base
23 February 1944 1 December 1945 RAF Tarrant Rushton, Dorset
1 December 1945 1 September 1946 RAF Qastina, Palestine

Commanding officers[edit]

Officers commanding no. 644 Squadron, data from[9][11][12]
From To Name
23 February 1944 16 March 1944 S/Ldr. A.G. Norman, DFC
16 March 1944 10 November 1944 W/Cdr. V.A. Pope
10 November 1944 25 June 1945 W/Cdr. E.L. Archer, AFC
25 June 1945 1 September 1946 W/Cdr. W.H. Ingle AFC

References[edit]

Notes[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.
  • Delve, Ken. The Source Book of the RAF. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1994. ISBN 1-85310-451-5.
  • Flintham, Vic and Andrew Thomas. Combat Codes: A full explanation and listing of British, Commonwealth and Allied air force unit codes since 1938. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing Ltd., 2003. ISBN 1-84037-281-8.
  • 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. Coastal, Support and Special Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Jane's Publishing Company Ltd., 1982. ISBN 0-7106-0187-5.

External links[edit]