RAF No 18 Squadron emblem

RAF No 215 Squadron

Motto: Surgite nox adest (Arise, night is at hand)

Formed at Couderkerque on 1 April 1918 by renumbering No 15 Squadron RNAS, which had only been in existence since 10 March 1918, it was equipped with O/100s in the night bombing role. However, three weeks later it returned to Netheravon where it re-equipped with the improved O/400. When it returned to operations in France in July, it was assigned to the Independent Force, with whom it carried out strategic bombing attacks against targets in Germany. It remained in France following the end of the war, but returned to the UK in February 1919, disbanding at Ford on 18 October of that year.

The squadron reformed on 1 October 1935 from a nucleus provided by 'A' Flight of No 58 Squadron. Based at Worthy Down it was equipped with Virginias. In February 1937, the squadron also received some Ansons, which it used for conversion training onto monoplanes, this was in readiness for the arrival of Harrows in August. The squadron was fully equipped by November 1937 and the Ansons left, together with the last of the Virginias. Further re-equipment began in July 1939 when Wellingtons arrived, the last Harrows leaving in December. However, when war was declared in September, instead of starting operations, No 215 became a training unit, being absorbed into No 11 OTU on 8 April 1940.

215 briefly resurfaced on the same day when a new unit began to form at Honington, but this was short-lived as it was absorbed by No 11 OTU again on 22 May. It was over a year before a new 215 formed, on 9 December 1941, and this time it was destined for overseas. The ground element left in February 1942 for India, whilst the air element formed at Waterbeach, beginning 21 February. Equipped with Wellingtons, it flew out to India in late March, arriving in April. It immediately began supply dropping following the retreat from Burma, it also undertook coastal patrols and from October, airborne forces training.

Eventually in March 1943 it began to carry out its primary role, bombing, which it continued to fulfil until being withdrawn from operations on 23 June 1944. It now converted to Liberators, resuming both day and night bombing operations on 1 October, but in April 1945, the squadron had its Liberators replaced by Dakotas and now assumed the transport role. Supply dropping now became the main activity in support of the 14th Army, until October when the squadron re-located to Malaya. Its area of operations now covered Malaya, Java and Hong Kong and it operated in the transport role until disbanded by being re-numbered No 48 Squadron on 15 February 1946.

Eighteen months later, 1 August 1947, the squadron reformed at Kabrit in Egypt, still in the transport role and still equipped with Dakotas. However, on 1 May 1948, the squadron was re-numbered No 70 and it was another eight years before it was revived, this time at Dishforth, equipped with Pioneer CC Mk 1 aircraft on 30 April 1956. It operated in the communications and army support role until 1 September 1958 when it was disbanded by being re-numbered No 230. So far its final period of service began 1 May 1963 when it was reformed as medium range transport unit equipped with the Argosy at Benson. In the following August it moved to Singapore, where it supported the Army in Malaya until finally disbanding at Changi on 31December 1968.


Battle Honours:

Squadron Codes used: -

BH Apr 1939 - Sep 1939
LG Sep 1939 - Apr 1940

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This webpage was updated 30th June 2023