No. 615 Squadron RAF

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No. 615 (County of Surrey) Squadron RAF
Active 1 Jun 1937 – 10 Jun 1945
10 Jun 1945 – 25 Sep 1945
10 May 1946 – 10 Mar 1957
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Part of Royal Auxiliary Air Force
Nickname(s) 'Churchill's Own'[1]
Motto Latin: Conjunctis viribus
(Translation: "By our united force")[2][3]
Engagements Battle of France
Battle of Britain
Commanders
Honorary Air Commodore Winston Churchill
Notable
commanders
N.F. Duke
Insignia
Squadron Badge heraldry On a star of six points, an oak sprig fructed.[2][3]
Squadron Codes RR (Nov 1938 – Sep 1939)[4]
KW (Sep 1939 – Sep 1945)[5]
RAV (Jul 1946 – 1949)[6]
V6 (1949 – Apr 1951)[7]

No. 615 (County of Surrey) Squadron was a unit of the British Auxiliary Air Force and later the Royal Auxiliary Air Force between 1937 and 1957.

History[edit]

Formation and early years[edit]

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.[2]

In World War II[edit]

The squadron went to France as part of the Air Component of the BEF in November 1939, having re-equipped with Gloster Gladiators in May. 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.[3][8] "B" Flight were based at Saint Inglevert during the early part of 1940.[9] 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, before moving to India in April 1942. It moved to Burma in 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, disbanding there on 10 June at RAF Cuttack, Orissa.[3][8] It was a very short interruption of existence as No. 135 Squadron RAF, equipped with Republic Thunderbolts was renumbered to no. 615 squadron on that same day and began training for the invasion of Malaya. The Japanese surrender ended these plans however and the squadron disbanded on 25 September 1945 at RAF Vizagapatam, Andhra Pradesh.[3][8]

Post-war[edit]

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.

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.[3][8]

Notable Squadron members[edit]

  • 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

Aircraft operated[edit]

Aircraft operated by no. 615 Squadron RAF, data from[8][10][11]
From To Aircraft Version
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

Squadron bases[edit]

Bases and airfields used by no. 615 Squadron RAF, data from[3][8][12]
From To Base
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

Commanding officers[edit]

Officers commanding no. 615 Squadron RAF, data from[13][14]
From To Name
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 [15]
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, OBE, DFC & Two Bars, AFC
1951 January 1954 S/Ldr. F.B Sowrey, AFC
January 1954 March 1957 S/Ldr. R.A. Eeles

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Hunt 1972, pp. 5 and 357.
  2. ^ a b c Rawlings 1978, p. 503.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Halley 1988, p. 432.
  4. ^ Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 14.
  5. ^ Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 63.
  6. ^ Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 138.
  7. ^ Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 107.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Jefford 2001, p. 101.
  9. ^ Belcher, Keith A. "Correspondence — A "Vintage Aircraft" memory of 1940". Flight (19 October 1956): pp654–44.  (p654, p655)
  10. ^ Rawlings 1978, pp. 506–508.
  11. ^ Halley 1988, p. 433.
  12. ^ Rawlings 1978, pp. 505–506.
  13. ^ Rawlings 1978, p. 508.
  14. ^ Rawlings 1982, p. 240.
  15. ^ "Anthony Eyre DFC". Retrieved 2011-08-14. 

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.
  • 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.).

External links[edit]