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No. 209 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

No. 209 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No. 209 Squadron (RAF) during the Second World War

Aircraft - Locations - Group and Duty - Books

No.209 Squadron was a flying boat squadron that flew maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine patrols from British bases from 1939 until 1942, and then operated over the India Ocean for most of the rest of the war, before taking part in the final stages of the offensive in Burma in 1945.

The squadron was formed in March 1930 at Mount Batten to fly the Blackburn Iris flying boat, but only four of these aircraft were ever built, making it difficult for the squadron to remain effective. Things got worse in January 1934 when the squadron converted to the Perth, of which only three were built! A more numerous aircraft was finally adopted in July 1936, when the squadron was fully equipped with the Short Singapore. These were flown for the next year and a half, before being replaced with the Supermarine Stranraer in December 1938 (a Kestrel powered version of the Southampton).

At the start of the Second World War the squadron moved to Invergorden and flew patrols between Scotland and Norway. In October it moved again, to Oban, and began to fly patrols over the Atlantic. In December 1939 the squadron converted to the disastrously poor Saro Lerwick. Six of these aircraft were lost in various incidents over the next year, and they were finally replaced with the Catalina in April 1941. These aircraft were used for anti-submarine patrols from Loch Erne until August 1941.

In May 1941 the squadron played a major part in the hunt for the Bismarck, helping to relocate the German battleship on 26 May, after she had slipped away from the British fleet.

The squadron sank one U-boat during the war, U-452 which was sunk to the south of Iceland on 25 August 1941.

On 27 August 1941 the squadron played a part in one of the most remarkable incidents of the struggle against the U-boats, the surrender of U-570. The U-boat was forced to surrender by Hudsons from No.269 Squadron, but these aircraft didn't have the endurance to guard their price until surface ships arrived, and so a Catalina of No.209 took over the role.

At the end of August the squadron moved to Iceland for two months, before returning to Britain.

In March 1942 the squadron moved to East Africa, from where it flew patrols over the Indian Ocean, using bases in South Africa, Oman and on Madagascar and the Seychelles to extend its range. Towards the end of 1943 the squadron moved north, to protect the Gulf of Oman against an expected increase in U-boat activity after the Mediterranean had been secured by the Allies. An administrative quirk meant that for much of this period the squadron actually came under the command of RAF Middle East, but by the summer of 1944 control had passed to Air Command, South East Asia.

In July 1945 the squadron changed aircraft and role. The Catalinas were replaced by Sunderlands, and the squadron moved to Ceylon, while a detachment moved to Rangoon, from where it attacked the remaining Japanese shipping on the coasts of Burma and Malaya. In September 1945 a detachment from the squadron moved to Hong Kong, and was followed by the rest of the squadron in October. No.209 Squadron remained in the Far East until it was merged into No.205 Squadron in 1955.

December 1938-April 1940: Supermarine Stranraer I
December 1939-April 1941: Saro Lerwick I:
April 1941-April 1945: Consolidated Catalina Ib and II
February 1945-December 1954: Short Sunderland Ib and II

August-October 1939: Invergordon
October 1939-July 1940: Oban
July-December 1940: Pembroke Dock
December 1940-March 1941: Stranraer
March-August 1941: Castle Archdale
August-October 1941: Reykjavik
October 1941-March 1942: Pembroke Dock

June 1942-July 1945: Kipevu

Squadron Codes: sss

1939-1942: Maritime Reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare from British bases apart from two months in Iceland
March 1942-July 1945: Patrols over Indian Ocean

Part of
September 1939: No.18 GR Group; Coastal Command
27 October 1942: No.207 Group; RAF Middle East
10 July 1943: No.246 Wing; AHQ East Africa; RAF Middle East, Mediterranean Air Command
1 July 1944: No.222 Group; Air Command, South East Asia


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No. 209 Squadron (RAF): Second World War - History

Number 209 Squadron of the British Royal Air Force was originally formed from a nucleus of "Naval Eight" on 1 February 1917 at Saint-Pol-sur-Mer, France, as No. 9 Squadron Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) Rawlings 1978, p. 324. and saw active service in both World Wars, the Korean War and in Malaya. The use of the squadron number ceased in 1968 and it has not been reused since by an RAF squadron. However the number, badge and motto is in current service within the RAF Air Cadets at 209 (West Bridgford) Squadron ATC in Nottinghamshire.

Formation and World War I

The Squadron was formed as a Royal Air Force Squadron on 1 April 1918, from No. 9 Squadron, Royal Naval Air Service at Clairmarais aerodrome. (All former RNAS squadrons were renumbered by the addition of 200 to their RNAS number.) During the remainder of World War I, 209 Squadron flew Sopwith Camels over the Western Front on fighter and ground support missions. The Squadron badge, the falling red eagle, symbolizes the destruction of Baron Manfred von Richthofen (commonly known as The Red Baron) who, in the 1914–1918 War, was credited to the guns of a pilot, Roy Brown from No. 209 Squadron. On 21 January 1919, the squadron was reduced to a skeleton organization and disbanded in the UK on 24 June 1919 at RAF Scopwick, Lincolnshire.

No. 209 reformed at the flying boat base at RAF Mount Batten, Plymouth on 15 January 1930. Jefford 2001, p. 72. It was first equipped with Blackburn Iris flying boats and then from January 1934 by Blackburn Perth but neither of these types were built in sufficient quantities to equip the squadron fully. In July 1936, however, the squadron was fully equipped with Short Singapore Mk.IIIs and it was transferred to RAF Kalafrana, Malta in September 1937 for three months. In December 1938, No 209 began to convert to yet another flying boat type, the Supermarine Stranraer.

When the Second World War broke out, No.209 moved to Invergordon to patrol the North Sea between Scotland and Norway. From October 1939 it patrolled the Atlantic from Oban. Two further re-equipments occurred, in December 1939 (Saro Lerwicks) and then in April 1941 (Consolidated Catalinas). Familiarisation with the U.S. supplied Catalinas was aided by the secondment of U.S. military personnel who also flew on active service patrols, despite the U.S. being a neutral power at the time. Anti-submarine patrols were flown over the Atlantic from RAF Castle Archdale on Lough Erne, in Northern Ireland, using the Donegal Corridor over neutral Eire. During this time, in May 1941, a patrol by No.209 (with an American crewman) located the German battleship ''Bismarck''. In August 1941, the squadron moved to Iceland for two months. From March 1942 until July 1945, No.209 was stationed in East Africa. It flew patrols over the Indian Ocean with detached bases in South Africa, Madagascar, Oman and the Seychelles to extend its cover. In July 1945 the squadron moved to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), with recently acquired Short Sunderland MkVs, with a detachment at Rangoon (now Yangon), to harass Japanese shipping along the coast from Burma (now Myanmar) to Malaya.

After the Japanese surrender in August 1945, a detachment was sent to Hong Kong in September, followed by the rest of the squadron in October. In April 1946 the squadron moved to Singapore. A detachment remained at RAF Kai Tak and became No.1430 flight and then No.88 Squadron. The squadron headquarters was established at RAF Seletar (sometimes referred to as "Seltar"), on Singapore Island on 18 May 1946 and No.209 and was named "City of Hong Kong" Squadron on 23 January 1947.

Operation Firedog missions during the Malayan Emergency began on 7 July 1948. In September 1950, during the Korean War, the aircraft were moved to Iwakuni, Yamaguchi, Japan to patrol off the Korean coast from 15 September. On 1 January 1955 the squadron merged with No. 205 Squadron.

With Pioneers in the transport role

On 1 November 1958 No. 267 Squadron at RAF Kuala Lumpur was renumbered 209 Squadron and flew Scottish Aviation Pioneers and Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneers on liaison and transport duties in Malaysia. No.209 Squadron was finally disbanded on 31 December 1968 at RAF Seletar.

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