No. 615 Squadron RAF
|No. 615 (County of Surrey) Squadron RAF|
1 Jun 1937 – 10 Jun 1945|
10 Jun 1945 – 25 Sep 1945
10 May 1946 – 10 Mar 1957
|Branch||Royal Air Force|
|Part of||Royal Auxiliary Air Force|
Latin: Conjunctis viribus|
(Translation: "By our united force")
Battle of France|
Battle of Britain
|Honorary Air Commodore||Winston Churchill|
|Squadron Badge heraldry||On a star of six points, an oak sprig fructed.|
RR (Nov 1938 – Sep 1939)|
KW (Sep 1939 – Sep 1945)
RAV (Jul 1946 – 1949)
V6 (1949 – Apr 1951)
Formation and early years
No. 615 squadron was formed at RAF Kenley as part of the Auxiliary Air Force on 1 June 1937 and was initially equipped with the Hawker Audax in the army-cooperation role. By the end of the year it had received Hawker Hectors which it flew until November 1938, when it received Gloster Gauntlets and became a fighter squadron at the same time.
Second World War
Conversion to Hawker Hurricanes took place just prior to the German invasion of France, but by 20 May 1940 the squadron was back at Kenley. "B" Flight were based at Saint Inglevert during the early part of 1940.
615 squadron took part in the early actions of the Battle of Britain, but then moved to Scotland to rest. It later took part in offensive sweeps over Europe and defence duties in Wales.
In April 1942 the squadron was transferred to the South East Asian theatre, initially to India, before moving closer to the front lines in Burma, during December 1942. but returned to India to re-equip in May 1943, receiving Supermarine Spitfires in October. It returned to operations on the Burma front in November but was recalled to India again, for defensive duties in August 1944, before returning to Burma in February 1945.
On 10 June 1945, the 615 Squadron was officially disbanded – although No. 135 Squadron RAF was renamed 615 Squadron that same day, at RAF Cuttack, Orissa. The new 615 Squadron was equipped with Republic Thunderbolts and began training for proposed landings in Malaya. Air support was not required, however, following the surrender of Japan and the squadron disbanded on 25 September at RAF Vizagapatam, Andhra Pradesh.
With the reactivation of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, No. 615 Squadron was reformed on 10 May 1946 at RAF Biggin Hill as a day fighter squadron equipped with Spitfire F.14s. Spitfire F.21s were received in 1947 and these were replaced by F.22s in 1948, both marks being flown until 1950.
600 and 615 squadron were great rivals. No 600 had the Queen Mother as Honorary Air Commodore and 615 had Sir Winston Churchill. When the Queen Mother first flew in the pilot's seat of a Comet she caused a telegram to be sent saying: "Today I have flown higher and faster than any of the pilots at Biggin Hill." On another occasion when Sir Winston Churchill was at Biggin he called over the CO of the enemy squadron and asked him to send a telegram to the Queen Mother saying:"I have today presented to my squadron the Esher Trophy." It was a great joy to me to be made an honorary member of 615. They were equally good at work or play. I remember visiting them at summer camp at Horsham St Faith. After the day's flying the squadron funds were raided and launches hired on the Norfolk Broads. At one or two selected stopping-places the adjutant went into the nearest hostelry and to the consternation of the locals ordered 86 pints and four lemonades.
The squadron re-equipped with Gloster Meteor F.4 jet fighters starting in September 1950. Meteor F.8s were received in September 1951 and these were flown in the annual UK air defence exercises and at annual summer training camps. Along with all other flying units of the RAuxAF, No. 615 was disbanded on 10 March 1957.
Notable Squadron members
- Winston Churchill, appointed Honorary Air Commodore of the Squadron in 1939.
- Neville Duke, famous test pilot.
- Hedley Fowler, achieved the squadron's first kill; became a PoW and later escaped from Colditz.
- Arthur Vere Harvey, squadron commander; a Conservative Member of Parliament post-war.
- Joseph Kayll, commander during Battle of France, then Battle of Britain Ace.
- Ronald Gustave Kellett, Second World War ace and post-war commander of the squadron
- Henry Lafont, Famous Free French pilot of the Second World War, who died on 2 December 2011, the last surviving French vetaren of the Battle of Britain. With René Mouchotte (below), escaped from Algeria in 1940 and flew to Gibraltar to join the Free French forces.
- René Mouchotte, Famous Free French pilot of the Second World War who died on 27 August 1943, first Free-French officer to hold the position of flight commander in the RAF. His memoirs were published in 1946 under the title Les carnets de René Mouchotte.
- Petrus Hugo, South African ace and Commanding Officer
- Paul Gerald Louis, planned to be a banker, but due to war became a pilot, very good friends with Churchill during the war, even had him over for dinner one night, flew in over 800 missions with the squadron and was leader of the squadron throughout world warII
- John Yoxall, appointed honorary member, Editor Flight International Magazine
|June 1937||March 1938||Hawker Audax|
|December 1937||November 1938||Hawker Hector||Mk.I|
|November 1938||September 1939||Gloster Gauntlet||Mk.II|
|June 1939||October 1939||Gloster Gladiator||Mk.I|
|October 1939||May 1940||Gloster Gladiator||Mk.II|
|April 1940||February 1941||Hawker Hurricane||Mk.I|
|February 1941||April 1941||Hawker Hurricane||Mk.IIa|
|April 1941||July 1941||Hawker Hurricane||Mk.I|
|July 1941||March 1942||Hawker Hurricane||Mk.IIb|
|September 1941||October 1943||Hawker Hurricane||Mk.IIc|
|October 1943||August 1944||Supermarine Spitfire||Mk.Vc|
|June 1944||June 1945||Supermarine Spitfire||Mk.VIII|
|June 1945||September 1945||Republic Thunderbolt||Mk.II|
|October 1946||January 1949||Supermarine Spitfire||F.14|
|January 1947||June 1950||Supermarine Spitfire||F.21|
|July 1948||September 1950||Supermarine Spitfire||F.22|
|September 1950||September 1951||Gloster Meteor||F.4|
|September 1951||March 1957||Gloster Meteor||F.8|
|1 June 1937||29 August 1938||RAF Kenley, Surrey|
|29 August 1938||4 September 1938||RAF Old Sarum, Wiltshire|
|4 September 1938||2 September 1939||RAF Kenley, Surrey|
|2 September 1939||15 November 1939||RAF Croydon, Surrey|
|15 November 1939||13 December 1939||Merville, France|
|13 December 1939||12 April 1940||Vitry-en-Artois, France|
|12 April 1940||27 April 1940||Poix, France|
|27 April 1940||16 May 1940||Abbeville, France|
|16 May 1940||20 May 1940||Morsele, Belgium|
|20 May 1940||29 August 1940||RAF Kenley, Surrey|
|29 August 1940||10 October 1940||RAF Prestwick, Ayrshire, Scotland|
|10 October 1940||17 December 1940||RAF Northolt, Middlesex|
|17 December 1940||21 April 1941||RAF Kenley, Surrey|
|21 April 1941||11 September 1941||RAF Valley, Anglesey, Wales|
|11 September 1941||27 November 1941||RAF Manston, Kent|
|27 November 1941||24 January 1942||RAF Angle, Pembrokeshire, Wales|
|24 January 1942||17 March 1942||RAF Fairwood Common, Swansea, Wales|
|17 March 194||17 June 1942||en route to British India|
|17 June 1942||5 December 1942||RAF Jessore, Bengal|
|5 December 1942||6 May 1943||RAF Feni, Bengal|
|6 May 1943||1 November 1943||RAF Alipore, Bengal|
|1 November 1943||13 December 1943||RAF Chittagong, Bengal|
|13 December 1943||25 February 1944||RAF Dohazari, Bengal|
|25 February 1944||19 March 1944||RAF Nazir|
|19 March 1944||5 May 1944||RAF Silchar West, Assam|
|5 May 1944||23 May 1944||RAF Dergaon, Assam|
|23 May 1944||10 August 1944||RAF Palel, Manipur|
|10 August 1944||23 February 1945||RAF Baigachi|
|23 February 1945||15 April 1945||RAF Nidania|
|15 April 1945||22 May 1945||RAF Chharra, United Province|
|22 May 1945||29 May 1945||RAF Chakulia, Bihar|
|29 May 1945||10 June 1945||RAF Cuttack, Orissa|
|10 June 1945||8 July 1945||RAF Akyab, Burma|
|8 July 1945||25 September 1945||RAF Vizagapatam, Andhra Pradesh|
|10 May 1946||10 March 1957||RAF Biggin Hill, Kent|
|June 1937||March 1940||S/Ldr. A.V. Harvey|
|March 1940||December 1940||S/Ldr. J.R. Kyall, DSO, DFC|
|December 1940||February 1941||S/Ldr. Holmwood|
|February 1941||April 1941||S/Ldr. Anthony Eyre DFC |
|April 1941||July 1941||S/Ldr. G.F. Powell-Shedden|
|July 1941||February 1942||S/Ldr. D.E. Gillam, DSO, DFC & Bar, AFC|
|February 1942||December 1942||S/Ldr. B.L. Duckenfield, DFC|
|January 1943||March 1943||S/Ldr. W.D. Williams, DFC|
|March 1943||January 1944||S/Ldr. R.H. Holland, DFC|
|January 1944||August 1944||S/Ldr. D.W. McCormack, DFC & Bar|
|August 1944||September 1944||F/Lt. K.F. Gannon|
|September 1944||June 1945||S/Ldr. T.H. Meyer|
|June 1945||September 1945||S/Ldr. P.J. Anson|
|July 1946||1949||S/Ldr. R.G. Kellett, DSO, DFC|
|1949||1950||S/Ldr. P.K. Devitt|
|1950||1951||S/Ldr. N.F. Duke, DSO, DFC & Two Bars, AFC|
|1951||January 1954||S/Ldr. F.B Sowrey, AFC|
|January 1954||March 1957||S/Ldr. R.A. Eeles|
- Hunt 1972, pp. 5 and 357.
- Rawlings 1978, p. 503.
- Halley 1988, p. 432.
- Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 14.
- Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 63.
- Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 138.
- Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 107.
- Jefford 2001, p. 101.
- Belcher, Keith A. "Correspondence — A "Vintage Aircraft" memory of 1940". Flight. No. 19 October 1956. pp. 654–44. (p654, p655)
- John Yoxall, Flight Magazine, May 17 1962
- Rawlings 1978, pp. 506–508.
- Halley 1988, p. 433.
- Rawlings 1978, pp. 505–506.
- Rawlings 1978, p. 508.
- Rawlings 1982, p. 240.
- "Anthony Eyre DFC". Archived from the original on 30 March 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2011.
- Bowyer, Michael J.F. and John D.R. Rawlings. Squadron Codes, 1937–56. Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-85059-364-6.
- 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 Auxiliary 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.
- 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.
- 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.).
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