RAF No 243 Squadron

Motto: Swift in pursuit

Formed on 20 August 1918 from No's 414 and 415 Flights at Cherbourg, from wher eits Short 184s carried out anti-submarine patrols along the French coastline out to and including the Channel Islands. It disbanded on 15 March 1919.

The squadron reformed at Kallang on 12 March 1941 as a fighter unit for the defence of Singapore. It was equipped with Buffaloes, which were considered unsuitable for service in Europe, but as soon as the Japanese attacked it became obvious that they were just as unsuitable in the Far East. The superiority of the Japanese fighters soon led to heavy losses being suffered by all of the Buffalo squadrons requiring them to pool their resources, but by the end of January1942, individual squadron identities had disappeared as units were evacuated to Sumatra and then Java and finally Australia or India. As a result No 243 ceased to exist sometime around February 1942.

The squadron reformed again on 1 June 1942 at Ouston as a Spitfire unit, being declared operational on the 12th. It remained on defensive duties in the North of England until moving to Turnhouse in September, where it transferred its aircraft to No 232 Squadron and began preparations for a move to North Africa. Leaving at the end of November, it arrived in early December and after receiving some replacement Spitfires it began operations in January 1943 flying escort missions and fighter sweeps over Tunisia. With the end of the North African campaign the squadron moved to Malta in June, from where it supported the invasion of Sicily, to where it moved in July to support the invasion of Italy. Following the invasion of Italy the squadron moved to bases on the Italian mainland, remaining there until December , when it was withdrawn to the Levant, where it completed its conversion to Spitfire IXs. These were taken to Corsica in April 1944, from where it covered the Allied landings in southern France but on 30 September 1944 the squadron was disbanded.

When the squadron reformed on 15 December 1944, it was at No 2 Personnel Despatch Centre at Morecombe. The selected personnel were then shipped across the Atlantic to Canada, where the squadron began training as a Dakota transport unit. Following completion of the training, the squadron flew its aircraft across the Pacific to Australia, many of its personnel being Australian. From Australia it began scheduled services to various bases of the British Pacific Fleet and later Hong Kong. The squadron finally disbanded on 15 April 1946.

RAF 243 Squadron 15 Buffalo's at Kallang, Singapore

15 Buffalo's at Kallang, Singapore; 2 at Kota Bharu, Northern Malaya. On 12 Dec, 4 Buffs were flown up to Ipoh and attached to 21 Sq. On 25 Dec the squadron had 15 Buffs on strength. After a long convoy escort flight over water on 2 Jan, Sgt Weber wrote in his diary: "My word, when one is so far away from land it is gratifying to recall the reliability record of the Buff's engine." The squadron lost 7 Buffs to accidents in the first week of January. Only 2 Buffs remaining on 23 Jan. Squadron disbanded 27 Jan, with planes and pilots going to 453 Sq.

Sqn Ldr Frank Howell RAF, DFC (claimed a Ki-27 16 Jan)
Flt Lt Mowbray Garden RAF (claimed a Ki-43 13 Jan; shared a Zero 16 Jan)
Flt Lt Ron Bows RAF, flight leader
Flg Off M H Holder RAF
Plt Off E A Pevreal RAAF
Plt Off Gordon Bonham RNZAF (crashed on patrol 2 Jan; wounded 18 Jan)
Plt Off T B Marra RNZAF (claimed a Ki-27 16 Jan)
Plt Off J M Cranstone RNZAF
Plt Off R S Shield RNZAF (killed in takeoff collision 5 Jan)
Sgt Rex Weber RNZAF (shared a Zero 16 Jan; crashed 4 Feb from battle damage)
Sgt Bert Wipiti RNZAF (shared claim on a Ki-46 10 Jan; claimed a Ki-43 21 Jan; claimed a bomber 22 Jan)
Sgt Max Greenslade RNZAF (shot down 23 Jan)
Sgt Charlie Kronk RNZAF (shared claim on a Ki-46 10 Jan; claimed a Ki-48 20 Jan; crashed 1 Feb after damage by a Hurricane)
Sgt Reg Newman RNZAF (shot down 12 Jan; killed)
Sgt Russell Reynolds RNZAF (shot down 13 Jan)
Sgt C F Powell RAAF (crashed on patrol 2 Jan; injured)
Sgt Geoffry Fisken RNZAF (claimed a Ki-27 Nate, two G3M Nells, and three Zeros, Jan-Feb; leading Commonwealth fighter pilot against the Japanese)
Sgt Vic Arthur RNZAF (shot down 22 Jan; killed)
Sgt Noel Rankin RNZAF (shot down 12 Jan; killed)
Sgt P L Elliott RNZAF (killed in landing collision 5 Jan)
Sgt John Oliver RNZAF (missing in action 15 Jan)
Sgt Ginger Baldwin RAF (shot down 22 Jan; killed)

Squadron Codes used: -

NX Allocated Apr 1939 - Sep 1939
SN Jun 1942 - Oct 1944

 

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This webpage was updated 25th January 2019