No. 616 Squadron RAF
|No. 616 (South Yorkshire) Squadron RAF|
|Active||1 November 1938 – 29 August 1945|
10 May 1946 – 10 March 1957
1 April 2019 -
|Branch||Royal Air Force|
|Part of||Royal Auxiliary Air Force|
|Motto(s)||Latin: Nulla Rosa Sine Spina|
(Translation: "No rose without a thorn")
|post 1951 aircraft insignia|
|Honorary Air Commodore||The Duke of Portland|
|Colin Falkland Gray, Percy "Laddy" Lucas|
|Squadron Badge heraldry||A white Yorkshire rose, superimposed on an arrow|
The badge commemorates the squadron's association with Yorkshire as the South Yorkshire Auxiliary Squadron
|Squadron Codes||QJ (Apr 1939 – Jul 1941)|
YQ (Jul 1941 – Aug 1945,
1949 – Apr 1951)
RAW (Jul 1946 – 1949)
No. 616 (South Yorkshire) Squadron is an active Reserve unit of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force (RAuxAF) assigned to the RAF ISTAR Force at RAF Waddington. It was originally formed as a unit of the British Auxiliary Air Force in 1938, active throughout World War 2 as a fighter unit, becoming the 1st operational RAF unit to fly jets and disbanded in 1957. The unit reformed in its current guise in April 2019 as 616 (South Yorkshire) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force.
History and Operations
No. 616 Squadron was formed on 1 November 1938 at RAF Doncaster and was at first allotted the bomber role, receiving Hawker Hinds for that role. The role soon changed however and the squadron's first operational fighter aircraft were Gloster Gauntlet biplane fighters received in January 1939. Fairey Battle monoplane light bombers were delivered in May 1939 for training duties to assist the squadron in preparing for re-equipment with Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Is in October 1939. During that month No. 616 moved to RAF Leconfield and by the end of November conversion to the modern fighter was complete.
The squadron's first operational sorties were over the Dunkirk withdrawal in late May 1940. During the first phase of the Battle of Britain No. 616 was based at Leconfield, moving south to RAF Kenley on 19 August to be nearer the front line. The improved Spitfire Mk.II was received in February 1941 and was used from April on sweeps over occupied France from RAF Tangmere, continuing until October. Further periodic updating with Spitfire Mks.V, VI and VII continued through the mid-war years. From March 1943 onwards, No. 616 was stationed in southwest England.
First on Meteors
On 12 July 1944 the unit became the first RAF squadron to receive jet equipment in the form of Gloster Meteor Mk.I fighters, testing them at RAF Culmhead. The first Meteor operational sortie was on 27 July from RAF Manston when it intercepted V-1 flying bombs launched against southern England. The first victories came on 4 August when one V1 was tipped over after a pilot's cannon jammed and another was shot down. The loss rate of the still unproven Meteor Mk.I was high, with three being written off in non-combat incidents between 15 and 29 August. Re-equipment with improved Meteor Mk.IIIs began in January 1945 and in February a detachment was deployed to Melsbroek near Brussels in Belgium. It was intended as a defence against Me 262s but in the event they did not ever face them. In early April the complete squadron moved to Gilze-Rijen in the Netherlands, commencing ground attack sorties on 16 April. The squadron was disbanded at Lübeck, Germany on 29 August 1945 by being renumbered to No. 263 Squadron RAF.
No. 616 squadron was officially reformed at RAF Finningley as the South Yorkshire Squadron on 10 May 1946, with volunteers being recruited over the following few months till embodied on 11 July 1946. It was allocated the night fighter role within Reserve Command and the first Mosquito T.3 trainers were received in October, but it was not until January 1948 that the operational Mosquito NF.30s were delivered to Finningley.
At the end of 1948 No. 616 was redesignated as a day fighter squadron and began to receive Meteor F.3s in January 1949. Conversion to the updated Meteor F.8 took place in December 1951, which wore the distinctive Green and Gold Diamond markings of 616 Sqn on the rear fuselage. The squadron moved base to RAF Worksop on 23 May 1955, where it either disbanded on 10 March 1957 (per Halley and Jefford or Pitchfork), together with all RAuxAF flying units, or disbanded on 15 January 1957 according to Rawlings in Fighter Squadrons of the Royal Air Force, at RAF Finningley.
Re-Activation & Current Role
In April 2019, the unit reformed as 616 (South Yorkshire) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force (RAuxAF) at RAF Waddington to augment the RAF’s Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) Force and delivering a Combat Air capability. Personnel assigned to 616 Sqn are former Regular RAF specialists, providing expertise, experience and mentoring to augment the RAF's Front Line ISTAR Squadrons.
|Nov 1938||Jan 1939||Hawker Hind||Used for training|
|Jan 1939||Dec 1939||Gloster Gauntlet||Mk.II|
|May 1939||Nov 1939||Fairey Battle||Used for training|
|Oct 1939||Feb 1941||Supermarine Spitfire||Mk.I|
|Feb 1941||Jul 1941||Supermarine Spitfire||Mk.IIa|
|Jul 1941||Jun 1942||Supermarine Spitfire||Mk.Vb|
|Oct 1941||Nov 1941||Supermarine Spitfire||Mk.IIb|
|Apr 1942||Nov 1943||Supermarine Spitfire||Mk.VI|
|Sep 1943||Aug 1944||Supermarine Spitfire||Mk.VII|
|Jul 1944||Jan 1945||Gloster Meteor||Mk.I|
|Jan 1945||Aug 1945||Gloster Meteor||Mk.III|
|Sep 1947||May 1949||de Havilland Mosquito||NF.30|
|Jan 1949||May 1957||Gloster Meteor||F.3|
|Apr 1951||Dec 1951||Gloster Meteor||F.4|
|Dec 1951||Feb 1957||Gloster Meteor||F.8|
|Apr 2019||Date||MQ-9A Reaper|
|1 November 1938||23 October 1939||RAF Doncaster||Formed here|
|23 October 1939||23 February 1940||RAF Leconfield|
|23 February 1940||9 March 1940||RAF Catfoss||Detached due to thaw at Leconfield|
|9 March 1940||27 May 1940||RAF Leconfield|
|27 May 1940||6 June 1940||RAF Rochford||Detached for air cover during Dunkirk evacuation|
|6 June 1940||19 August 1940||RAF Leconfield|
|19 August 1940||3 September 1940||RAF Kenley|
|3 September 1940||9 September 1940||RAF Coltishall|
|9 September 1940||26 February 1941||RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey|
|26 February 1941||9 May 1941||RAF Tangmere|
|9 May 1941||6 October 1941||RAF Westhampnett|
|6 October 1941||30 January 1942||RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey|
|30 January 1942||3 July 1942||RAF Kings Cliffe|
|3 July 1942||8 July 1942||RAF West Malling|
|8 July 1942||29 July 1942||RAF Kenley|
|29 July 1942||14 August 1942||RAF Great Sampford|
|14 August 1942||20 August 1942||RAF Hawkinge||Detached for Dieppe Raid|
|20 August 1942||1 September 1942||RAF Great Sampford|
|1 September 1942||7 September 1942||RAF Ipswich||Det.|
|7 September 1942||23 September 1942||RAF Great Sampford|
|23 September 1942||29 October 1942||RAF Tangmere|
|29 October 1942||2 January 1943||RAF Westhampnett|
|2 January 1943||15 March 1943||RAF Ibsley|
|15 March 1943||18 March 1943||RAF Harrowbeer||Det.|
|18 March 1943||17 September 1943||RAF Ibsley|
|17 September 1943||16 November 1943||RAF Exeter|
|16 November 1943||1 December 1943||RAF Fairwood Common||Detached for arnament practice camp|
|1 December 1943||18 March 1944||RAF Exeter|
|18 March 1944||24 April 1944||RAF West Malling|
|24 April 1944||16 May 1944||RAF Fairwood Common|
|16 May 1944||21 July 1944||RAF Culmhead|
|21 July 1944||17 January 1945||RAF Manston|
|17 January 19745||28 February 1945||RAF Colerne|
|4 February 1945||26 March 1945||B.58 Melsbroek, Belgium||Detachment flying all-white Meteors|
|28 February 1945||1 April 1945||RAF Andrews Field|
|1 April 1945||13 April 1945||B.77/Gilze-Rijen, Netherlands|
|13 April 1945||20 April 1945||B.91/Nijmegen, Netherlands|
|20 April 1945||26 April 1945||B.109/Quakenbrück, Germany|
|26 April 1945||3 May 1945||B.152/Fassberg, Germany|
|3 May 1945||7 May 1945||B.156/Luneberg, Germany|
|7 May 1945||29 August 1945||B.158/Lübeck, Germany||Disbanded here|
|10 May 1946||15 June 1951||RAF Finningley||Reformed here|
|15 June 1951||11 July 1951||RAF Church Fenton||Call-up training during Korean crisis|
|11 July 1951||23 May 1955||RAF Finningley|
|23 May 1955||10 March 1957||RAF Worksop||Disbanded here|
|1 April 2019||Present||RAF Waddington||Reformed here|
|November 1938||September 1939||S/Ldr the Earl of Lincoln|
|September 1939||May 1940||S/Ldr W.K. Beisiegel|
|May 1940||September 1940||S/Ldr M. Robinson|
|September 1940||September 1941||S/Ldr H.F. Burton, DFC|
|September 1941||February 1942||S/Ldr C.F. Gray, DFC & Bar|
|February 1942||January 1943||S/Ldr H.L.I. Brown DFC|
|January 1943||April 1943||S/Ldr G.S.K. Haywood|
|April 1943||April 1943||S/Ldr P.W. Lefevre DFC|
|April 1943||July 1943||S/Ldr P.B. Lucas DFC|
|July 1943||July 1944||S/Ldr L.W. Watts DFC|
|July 1944||May 1945||W/Cdr A. McDowall DFM & Bar|
|May 1945||August 1945||W/Cdr E.E. Schrader DFC|
|July 1946||December 1950||S/Ldr K. Holden DFC|
|December 1950||November 1954||S/Ldr L.H. Casson DFC|
|November 1954||March 1957||S/Ldr W.G. Abel|
|April 2019||Present||Sqn Ldr|
Notable Members of 616 Squadron
- Air Vice Marshal James Edgar 'Johnnie' Johnson CB CBE DSO & Two Bars DFC & Bar
- Group Captain Sir Hugh Dundas CBE DSO & Bar DFC
- Group Captain Denys Gillam DSO & Two Bars DFC & Bar AFC
- Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader CBE DSO & Bar DFC & Bar DL FRAeS
- Rawlings 1978, p. 509.
- Halley 1988, p. 434.
- Pitchfork 2009, pp. 124–125.
- Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 14.
- Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 117.
- Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 138.
- Jefford 2001, p. 101.
- Sarkar 2011, p. 43.
- Berryman 2006, pp. 50–86.
- Halley 1988, p. 329.
- Pitchfork 2009, p. 109.
- Rawlings 1978, p. 510.
- "616 (South Yorkshire) Squadron Reformation at RAF Waddington". RAF Waddington News. RAF Waddington. 1 April 2019. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
- Hunt 1972, p. 413.
- Rawlings 1978, pp. 510–511.
- Halley 1988, p. 435.
- Pitchfork 2009, p. 151.
- Pitchfork 2009, p. 17.
- Pitchfork 2009, p. 19.
- Hunt 1972, p. 407.
- Pitchfork 2009, p. 86.
- Pitchfork 2009, pp. 102–103.
- Pitchfork 2009, p. 117.
- Pitchfork 2009, p. 150.
- Rawlings 1978, p. 511.
- Berryman, David. Somerset airfields in the Second World War. Newbury, UK: Countryside Books, 2006. ISBN 1-85306-864-0.
- 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 and Graham Pitchfork South Yorkshire's Own: 616 Squadron RAF. Doncaster Books, 1990.
- 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, 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, 2001. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
- Pitchfork, Graham. The RAF's first jet squadron: 616 (South Yorkshire) History 1938–57. The Mill, Brimscombe Port, Stroud, Gloucestershire: The History Press Ltd., 2009. ISBN 0-7524-4914-1.
- 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.).
- Sarkar, Dilip. Spitfire Ace of Aces: The True Wartime Story of Johnnie Johnson. Amberley Publishing, 2011. ISBN 978-1-4456-0475-6.
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