No. 64 Squadron RAF

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No. 64 Squadron
64Sqn RAF emblem.png
Active 1 August 1916 - 31 December 1919
1 March 1936 - 16 June 1967
16 May 1968 - 31 January 1991
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Motto Tenax propositi - Firm of purpose
Battle honours Western Front, 1917-1918
Cambrai, 1918
Amiens, Hindenburg Line, Somme, 1918
Lys, Channel & North Sea, 1940
Dunkirk, Battle of Britain, Home Defence, 1940
Fortress Europe, 1941-1944
Normandy, 1944
Arnhem, Walcheren, France & Germany, 1944-1945
Insignia
Squadron badge heraldry A scarab
Squadron codes XQ (February to September 1939)
SH (September 1939 to April 1951)

No. 64 Squadron was a squadron of the Royal Air Force. It was first formed on 1 August 1916 as a squadron of the Royal Flying Corps. It was disbanded on 31 January 1991 at RAF Leuchars.

History[edit]

1916 to 1919[edit]

No. 64 Squadron Royal Flying Corps was formed at Sedgeford in Norfolk on 1 August 1916. Initially, it was equipped with a variety of types for training purposes, including Henry Farmans, Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2bs, Avro 504s and Sopwith Pups. In June 1917, the squadron re-equipped with its intended operational equipment, the Airco DH.5 fighter, and began to work up ready for operations.[1] The DH.5 had poor altitude performance,[2] and so the squadron extensively practiced low-level flying both prior to and following its move to France in 14 October 1917.[3] On 20 November, the British launched the Battle of Cambrai, an offensive supported by the use of large number of tanks and No. 64 Squadron supported the British troops, flying many low-level ground attack missions, both during the British attack,[4] and during the German counter attack that followed.[5]

The DH.5s were replaced by SE.5As in March 1918 and conducted both fighter and ground-attack operations for the remainder of the First World War. It returned to Narborough in February 1919, where it was disbanded on 31 December 1919. During the World War I era, the squadron claimed in excess of 130 victories, and produced eleven aces, among whom were James Anderson Slater, Edmund Tempest, Philip Scott Burge, Thomas Rose, Charles Cudemore, William H. Farrow, Dudley Lloyd-Evans, Edward Dawson Atkinson, and Ronald McClintock.

1936 to 1939[edit]

On 1 March 1936, 64 Squadron reformed at Heliopolis, Egypt, from two flights detached from 6 and 208 Squadrons, both equipped with the Hawker Demon two-seat biplane fighters although it was officially announced that it was based at Henlow, Bedfordshire in order to not give the impression that British air strength in Egypt was being built up.[6] Italy had invaded Ethiopia in October 1935, and Britain feared that the war could escalate into a conflict between Britain and Italy. As a result, the squadron moved to Ismailia in North-East Egypt on 9 April 1936. If hostilities broke out, its orders were to move west to Mersa Matruh, with duties of attacking Italian airfields and providing fighter cover to refuelling bombers at advance airfields.[7] By the beginning of June 1936, Italy had conquered Ethiopia, ending the risk of war between Britain and Italy. The squadron left Egypt for the United Kingdom in August 1936 to become part of the UK air defences.[8]

64 Squadron Demon I in June 1938

On return to Britain, the squadron was based at RAF Martlesham Heath, Suffolk, initially as part of 11 Group and transferring to 12 Group in October 1937.[8] From May 1938 64 squadron's two-seat Demons were based at RAF Church Fenton, North Yorkshire and the unit was reequipped with Bristol Blenheim Mk I(F) fighters starting in December 1938. After the outbreak of the Second World War, the squadron was engaged in patrols off the British East Coast and in December 1939 provided fighter defence for the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow from Evanton, Scotland, for a month.

1940 to 1967[edit]

A Meteor NF.14 from 64 Sqn. at the Midland Air Museum.

In April 1940 the squadron converted to the Supermarine Spitfire Mk I. It was immediately engaged in the covering of the Dunkirk evacuation and later took part in the Battle of Britain. In short order 64 squadron operated from Kenley starting 16 May 1940, from Leconfield starting 19 August, from Biggin Hill starting 13 October, from Coltishall starting 15 October, and from Boscombe Down starting 1 September 1940.

In May 1941, No. 64 Squadron moved up to Scotland for air defence duties but moved back south in November to take part in sweeps over northern France, until March 1943 when it moved back up to Scotland again. Then in August 1943 it moved back south again to resume offensive operations and in June 1944, moved to Cornwall for 2 months before beginning long-range escort missions from East Anglia. During that time the squadron was equipped with various marks of the Spitfire: Mk IIA January to November 1941, Mk VB November 1941 to July 1942, and March to September 1943, Mk VC September 1943 to July 1944, and finally Mk IX June 1942 to March 1943, and June to November 1944. In 1944 64 Squadron took part in the operations of the Normandy Landings, Operation Market Garden, and the Battle of the Scheldt.

Personnel of 64 Squadron in front of their Gloster Javelin FAW.7 at RAF Duxford in 1959.

In November 1944 the squadron received the North American Mustang III and flew these for the rest of the war covering daylight raids of the RAF Bomber Command on Germany. After the end of hostilities the squadron moved to RAF Horsham St Faith and received the Mustang IV in August 1945.

In March 1946 No. 64 Squadron received De Havilland Hornet F.1 twin-engined fighters and moved to RAF Linton-on-Ouse in August of the same year. The F.1 was replaced by the Hornet F.3 in April 1948. In March 1951 the squadron converted to the Gloster Meteor F.4/F.8 jet fighter. The squadron was also relocated to RAF Duxford. In September 1956 the F.8s were replaced by the radar-equipped, two seat Meteor NF.12/NF.14.

In September 1958 64 squadron then converted to the Gloster Javelin FAW.7/FAW.9. In 1964 the squadron moved to RAF Tengah, partnering No. 60 Squadron RAF. The squadron was disbanded on 16 June 1967.

1968 to 1991[edit]

Since then the squadron had been the 'Shadow'/Reserve identity of No. 228 OCU, flying the McDonnell Douglas Phantom FG.1/FGR.2, first from RAF Coningsby since 16 May 1968 and then from RAF Leuchars, to where the OCU moved on 22 April 1987. When No. 228 OCU was disbanded on 31 January 1991, so was No. 64 Squadron.

Notable members[edit]

No. 64 Squadron in fiction[edit]

At the start of episode 2 of the miniseries Piece of Cake the Adjutant, Flight Lieutenant 'Uncle' Kellaway reveals, during his recap of the events of episode 1, that it was one of the Bristol Blenheims of No 64 Squadron that was accidentally shot down by Hornet Squadron.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Halley 1980, pp. 101–102.
  2. ^ Bruce 1965, p. 131.
  3. ^ Jones 1934, p. 235.
  4. ^ Jones 1934, pp. 235–240, 243–247.
  5. ^ Jones 1934, pp. 253–254.
  6. ^ Dunnell 2015, p. 34.
  7. ^ Dunnell 2015, pp. 32–35.
  8. ^ a b Dunnell 2015, p. 36.

External links[edit]