No. 205 Squadron RAF

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No. 205 Squadron RAF
205 Sqn crest.
ActiveRoyal Naval Air Service
2 August 1915 – October 1915
31 December 1916 – 1 April 1918
Royal Air Force
1 April 1918 – 22 January 1920
15 April 1920 – 1 April 1923
8 January 1929 – 31 March 1942
23 July 1942 – 31 October 1971
CountryUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Royal Air Force
TypeFlying squadron
RoleMaritime Reconnaissance
Motto(s)Malay: Pertama di Malaya
("First in Malaya")[1][2][3]
H M Cave-Browne-Cave
Squadron Badge heraldryA kris and a trident in saltire[3]
The badge points to two aspects of the squadron's history, the trident referring to its RNAS origins and the kris to its association with Malaya[1][2]
Squadron CodesKM (Apr 1939 – Sep 1939
Allocated, no confirmation of use)[4]
FV (Sep 1939 – Mar 1942)[5][6]

No. 205 Squadron was a Royal Air Force unit formed on 1 April 1918. Prior to this it had existed as No. 5 Squadron of the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). In 1929, it became the first RAF squadron to be permanently based in Singapore, taking as its motto Pertama di Malaya ("First in Malaya"). No. 205 Squadron operated during the Second World War and the Cold War before disbanding on 31 October 1971.


Formation and World War I[edit]

No. 5 Squadron of the Royal Naval Air Service was formed at Dover on 2 August 1915 from elements of No. 4 Squadron RNAS, which had relocated to Eastchurch. However, in October 1915, No. 5 Squadron ceased to exist as it was absorbed into RNAS Dover.

On 31 December 1916, 'B' Squadron of No. 5 (Naval) Wing was redesignated No. 5 (Naval) Squadron. It operated Sopwith 1½ Strutters, making bombing raids on Belgian ports and German airfields. In August 1917, the squadron was equipped with DH.4s. No. 5 (Naval) Squadron was attached to 5th Brigade of the Royal Flying Corps in February 1918. On 1 April 1918, at Bois de Roche, France (some sources say Petite-Synthe[1][7]), it transferred to the Royal Air Force and was redesignated No. 205 Squadron RAF. No. 205 Squadron's operations continued with raids against ports and attacks on German airfields until the end of the war. In September 1918, it was re-equipped with DH.9As.

It produced at least three notable aces, in Euan Dickson[8] Charles Bartlett, and Walter Naylor.

Between the wars[edit]

Short Singapore Mark III flying boat of No. 205 Squadron in flight below three 'vic' formations of Vickers Vildebeest torpedo bombers of No. 100 Squadron, both units based at RAF Seletar.

The squadron relocated to La Louveterie in Belgium following the end of hostilities before moving to Hucknall Airfield in March 1919, where it was first reduced to cadre status and disbanded on 22 January 1920.

Reformed at RAF Leuchars on 15 April 1920, the squadron operated as a fighter-reconnaissance unit with Parnall Panthers. It was disbanded on 1 April 1923, after being redesignated to No. 441 Flight. The squadron was reformed when the RAF's Far East Flight was redesignated No. 205 Squadron on 8 January 1929, becoming the Air Force's first squadron to be permanently based at Singapore. It carried out survey flights with Supermarine Southamptons, re-equipping with Short Singapores in April 1935. From 1929 to 1930, the squadron commander was Group Captain H M Cave-Browne-Cave. Cave-Browne-Cave had previously been Officer Commanding the Far East Flight.

World War II[edit]

Consolidated Catalina Mark Is of No. 205 Squadron RAF undergoing servicing in their hangar at RAF Seletar, Singapore. One of the Squadron's Short Singapore Mark IIIs biplane flying boats can be seen in the right background.

At the outbreak of World War II, No. 205 Squadron flew patrols over the approaches to Singapore and the Indian Ocean, employing bases in Ceylon and the Nicobar Islands as outstations. It was re-equipped with PBY Catalinas in 1941 before being withdrawn from Singapore and relocated to Java, leaving three aircraft at Selatar Air Base. One of 205 Squadron's Catalinas became the first Allied casualties of the war with Japan. According to Japanese reports found after the war Flying Officer Edwin Beddell's Catalina had spotted the Japanese invasion fleet approaching Northern Malaya when he was attacked by a catapult-launched float plane which must have damaged his radio. A short time later Beddell's plane was attacked by five Ki-27 which shot him down. The Japanese report states the Catalina exploded 400 feet above the sea. When Japanese forces invaded Java the squadron retired to the south of the island and then to Australia, where it disbanded on 31 March 1942. Reformed in Ceylon on 23 July 1942, the squadron's Catalinas flew anti-submarine and air-sea rescue patrols out of Koggala for the remainder of the war.

Cold War[edit]

A No. 205 Squadron RAF Short Sunderland at the ramp of RAF Seletar, prior to being replaced by the Avro Shackleton.

No. 205 Squadron continued Catalina operations from its base at Koggala until 1949, when it was re-equipped with Sunderland Vs and returned to Seletar, Singapore. During 1950 and 1951, a detachment was based at Iwakuni in Japan, carrying out patrols along the Korean coast. Detachments were also based at RAF Trincomalee, RAF Kai Tak and RAF Changi. Squadron Headquarters was moved to Changi in March 1959, leaving a detachment of Sunderlands at Seletar. The unit then began converting to land-based maritime patrol operations, equipped with Avro Shackletons. On 15 May 1959 the squadron flew the RAF's last Sunderland operation out of RAF Seletar, Singapore. No. 205 Squadron continued Shackleton patrols until it disbanded on 31 October 1971.

Aircraft operated[edit]

From To Aircraft Variant
Dec 1916 Jul 1917 Sopwith 1½ Strutter
Apr 1917 Sep 1918 Airco DH.4
Aug 1918 Mar 1919 Airco DH.9A
Apr 1920 Apr 1923 Parnall Panther
Jan 1929 Feb 1936 Supermarine Southampton Mks.II
Apr 1935 Oct 1941 Short Singapore Mk.III
Apr 1941 Mar 1942 Consolidated Catalina MK.I
Jul 1942 Mar 1945 Consolidated Catalina I Mk.Ib
May 1944 Sep 1945 Consolidated Catalina Mk.IVb
Jun 1945 May 1959 Short Sunderland GR.5
May 1958 Nov 1962 Avro Shackleton MR.1A
Apr 1962 Oct 1971 Avro Shackleton MR.2C


See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d Moyes 1976, pp. 192–193.
  2. ^ a b c Rawlings 1982, pp. 134–136.
  3. ^ a b c Halley 1988, pp. 265–266.
  4. ^ Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 13.
  5. ^ Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 42.
  6. ^ Flintham and Thomas 2003, p. 73.
  7. ^ a b Jefford 2001, p. 71.
  8. ^ Shores et al. 1990 p. 140.


  • Bowyer, Michael J.F. and John D.R. Rawlings. Squadron Codes, 1937–56. Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-85059-364-6.
  • 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, C.G. RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1988 (second edition 2001). ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
  • 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.
  • Shores, Christopher F., et al. Above the Trenches: A Complete Record of the Fighter Aces and Units of the British Empire Air Forces 1915–1920. Grub Street, 1990. ISBN 0-948817-19-4, ISBN 978-0-948817-19-9.
  • Smith, Colin. Singapore Burning. Penguin Books, 2005. ISBN 0-14-101036-3.

External links[edit]