RAF No 249 (Gold Coast) Squadron

Motto:  Pugnis et Calcibus (With fists and heels)

Formed on 18 August 1918 from No's 400, 401, 419 and 450 Flights at Dundee, its Short 184 and Sopwith Baby seaplanes provided anti-submarine patrols along the East Coast of Scotland. It disbanded on 8 October 1919.

The squadron reformed as a fighter unit on 16 May 1940 at Church Fenton. It was equipped with Spitfires for the first month but these were changed to Hurricanes in June. In August it moved south to Boscombe Down and on the 16th of the month Flight Lieutenant J B Nicholson, one of the flight commanders, became the only Fighter Command pilot to be awarded the Victoria Cross during World War Two, when he continued to attack and destroy a Bf110 despite his aircraft being on fire from which he suffered severe burns.

With the Battle of Britain over, it began offensive operations over France in December from North Weald, to where it had moved in September, and continued these until May 1941, when it moved to Malta. It remained a part of Malta's air defences throughout the Axis onslaught against the island, re-equipping with Spitfires in February 1942. From November of that year it moved over to the offensive, when it began attacks against targets in Sicily. The squadron left Malta for Italy in October 1943 and began operations over the Balkans. Mustangs replaced the Spitfires in September 1944 and in April 1945 it moved to Yugoslavia and then back to northern Italy in May, disbanding at Brindisi on 16 August 1945.

Just over two months later on 23 October 1945, the squadron was reformed when No 500 Squadron at Eastleigh in Kenya was renumbered. Initially equipped with Baltimores, these were replaced by Mosquitoes in March 1946, which it used to conduct survey flights of the region. Once completed the squadron moved Habbaniya in Iraq in June, where it re-equipped with Tempest Vs and VIs in December, at the same becoming a fighter unit. In April 1949, it moved to Egypt receiving Vampires in the following February, remaining there until June 1954, when it moved to Jordan. It operated from Amman for the next two and a half years before moving to Akrotiri in Cyprus in January 1957. In September it re-equipped with Canberras, operating various marks of this aircraft until being disbanded on 24 February 1969.

Standards Battle Honours*
Award of Standard originally announced on 5 Oct 1965, effective from 1 Apr 1965 but presented:-?
Home Waters, 1918: Battle of Britain, 1940: Home Defence: Fortress Europe, 1941: Malta, 1941-42: Mediterranean, 1942-43: North Africa, 1942: Sicily: Italy, 1943-45: South-East Europe, 1943-45:

Squadron Codes used: -
VY Allocated Apr 1939 - Sep 1939
GN May 1940 - May 1941, Jun 1943 - Sep 1944, Oct 1945 - Mar 1950
T Mar 1942 - Jun 1943

Aircraft operated

From To Aircraft Version
Aug 1918 Mar 1919 Short 184  
Aug 1918 Nov 1918 Sopwith Baby, Fairey Hamble Baby[4]  
Aug 1918 Mar 1919 Curtiss H.12B  
Aug 1918 Mar 1919 Felixstowe F.2a, Felixstowe F.3, Felixstowe F.5  
May 1940 Jun 1940 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.I
Jun 1940 Feb 1941 Hawker Hurricane Mk.I
Feb 1941 Mar 1942 Hawker Hurricane Mks.IIa, IIb
May 1941 Aug 1941 Hawker Hurricane Mk.I
Feb 1942 Sep 1944 Supermarine Spitfire Mks.Vb, Vc
Jun 1943 Nov 1943 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX
Sep 1944 Apr 1945 North American Mustang Mk.III
Apr 1945 Jun 1945 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX
May 1945 Jun 1945 North American Mustang Mk.III
Jun 1945 Aug 1945 North American Mustang Mk.IV
Oct 1945 Apr 1946 Martin Baltimore Mks.IV, V
Mar 1946 Aug 1946 De Havilland Mosquito FB.26
Dec 1946 Mar 1950 Hawker Tempest F.6
Feb 1950 May 1952 De Havilland Vampire FB.5
Jan 1952 Apr 1955 De Havilland Vampire FB.9
Oct 1954 Dec 1955 De Havilland Venom FB.1
Jul 1955 Oct 1957 De Havilland Venom FB.4
Oct 1957 Jan 1960 English Electric Canberra B.2
Nov 1959 Oct 1961 English Electric Canberra B.6
Oct 1961 Feb 1969 English Electric Canberra B.16

RAF Ensign

AHQ Malta
(Air Headquarters Malta or Air H.Q. Malta)

AHQ Malta (Air Headquarters Malta or Air H.Q. Malta) was an overseas command of the Royal Air Force (RAF) established on December 28, 1941 by renaming RAF Mediterranean under Air Vice Marshal Hugh Lloyd.

Initially blockaded by the Axis, Malta was not much of an offensive threat early in the North African Campaign, but was considered an essential Allied stronghold as exemplified by Operation Pedestal and the eventual assignment of Keith Park to defend the island.

On April 20, 1942, the USS Wasp delivered 47 Spitfires to Malta and the German Luftwaffe promptly destroyed 30 of them on the same day. Nonetheless, as these and other aircraft reached the island during the summer of 1942, the defensive and offensive capabilities of AHQ Malta were significantly fortified. On July 1, 1942, AHQ Malta had approximately 200 aircraft, about half of which were Spitfires. Air Vice Marshal Sir Keith Park took over command of AHQ Malta On July 15, 1942.

At this time, the island provided critical operational air bases for the Allies with proximity to Axis shipping lanes and the battlefields of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Pantelleria, Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, and mainland Italy during World War II. There were three main airfields on Malta known as RAF Hal Far, RAF Luqa, and RAF Ta' Kali with an intermediate landing area known as the Safi Dispersal Strip.

During the month of October, 1942 when the Second Battle of El Alamein was being waged, Allied forces were credited with the destruction of 59% of the German tonnage and 45% of the Italian tonnage shipped to Rommel's Axis forces in North Africa. In large part the result of AHQ Malta and the British and American heavy bombers of No. 205 Group, this attrition was a significant aspect of Rommel's defeat.

In February of 1943, AHQ Malta became a major sub-command of the Mediterranean Air Command (MAC) established at the Casablanca Conference in January. The Northwest African Air Forces and Middle East Command were the other major sub-commands of MAC.

Order of battle

When the Allies invaded Sicily (Operation Husky) on July 10, 1943, AHQ Malta consisted of the units indicated below.

No. 248 Wing RAF Spitfire units Other units
No. 69 Squadron RAF Martin Baltimore No. 40 Squadron SAAF No. 23 Squadron RAF, de Havilland Mosquito
No. 108 Squadron RAF, Bristol Beaufighter No. 126 Squadron RAF No. 73 Squadron RAF Det., Hurricane
No. 221 Squadron RAF, Vickers Wellington No. 185 Squadron RAF No. 256 Squadron RAF Det., Mosquito
No. 272 Squadron RAF, Beaufighter No. 229 Squadron RAF No. 600 Squadron RAF, Beaufighter
No. 683 Squadron RAF, Spitfire No. 249 Squadron RAF 815 Naval Air Squadron Det. (FAA), Fairey Albacore
  No. 1435 Flight RAF  

Notes: SAAF=South African Air Force; Det.=Detachment.
Some famous Aces stationed on Malta were Rhodesian Johnny Plagis and the Canadian fighter pilots George 'Screwball' Beurling and Wally McLeod.

Air Vice Marshal R. M. Foster took over command of AHQ Malta on March 26, 1944 and Air Vice Marshal K. B. Lloyd took over on October 19, 1944, commanding through the remainder of World War II and into June of 1947. AHQ Malta had ten other commanders until it was disbanded on June 30, 1968 and its units were absorbed by Air Commander Malta.

 

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This webpage was updated 25th January 2019