RAF No 46 (Uganda) Squadron

Motto: We Rise to Conquer

Formed at Wyton on 19 April 1916 as reconnaissance unit from a nucleus supplied by No 2 Reserve Squadron. Equipped with Nieuport two-seaters, it moved over to the Western Front in October undertaking the usual run of artillery spotting and photographic reconnaissance sorties.

However, in April 1917 it began a new role when it re-equipped with Sopwith Pups scouts (fighters). A short return to the UK for air defence duties in July was prompted by a heavy air raid on London, but the lack of further similar raids led to its return to France in August. In November 1917 Camels replaced the Pups and ground attack was added to its duties and gradually these became more numerous, especially during the German offensive of March 1918 and through to the end of the war. Following the end of the war, the squadron returned to Rendcombe in February 1919 as a cadre, where it disbanded on 31December 1919.

The squadron was reformed on 3 September 1936 by raising 'B' Flight of No 17 Squadron to squadron status. Equipped with Gauntlets, it was based at Kenley, but in November 1937 it moved to Digby in Lincolnshire, where in February 1939 it re-equipped with Hurricanes. Following coastal patrols along the East Coast for the first few months of the war, it was despatched to Norway aboard HMS Glorious on 14 May 1940. When the landing ground was found unsuitable it returned by was sent back on the 26 May, eventually settling at Bardufoss. When it was decided to evacuate the forces in Norway, 46 were instructed to destroy its aircraft and return by sea, but the OC, Sqn Ldr K B B Cross, decided to attempt to save his aircraft by landing them on HMS Glorious. He made the first landing on the carrier, followed by the rest of the squadron, but as the carrier returned to the UK it was attacked and sunk by the Scharnhorst. From the entire ship's complement and No 46 Squadron, only 46 survived and the only two pilots were Sqn Ldr Cross and his flight commander, Flt Lt 'Pat' Jameson.

However, the squadron quickly reformed at Digby and in September it moved south to join the Battle of Britain, remaining there until December 1940 when it returned to Digby. Early 1941 saw it moved into Church Fenton but in May the squadron was sent to the Middle East. The ground crews arrived in Egypt to find no aircraft and the pilots in Malta, so they acted as a Maintenance Unit until May 1942. The pilots in the meantime were absorbed by No 261 Squadron on Malta so for almost a year the squadron existed but in a non-operational role.

In May 1942, the squadron arrived at Edku where it took over the Beaufighters of No 89 Squadron and began operating in the night fighter role. From August 1943 intruder missions against targets on Greek islands began and it operated detachments in Libya, Palestine and Cyprus as well as its main base in Egypt. Mosquitoes replaced the Beaufighters in July 1944 but in December the squadron returned to Stoney Cross in the UK, where in January 1945 it reformed with Stirlings in the Transport role.

Trooping flights to and from India now became the order of the day and continued after the war, with Dakotas replacing the Stirlings in February 1946. From Stoney Cross it moved to Manston in October 1946, Abingdon in December 1946 and finally Oakington in November 1947, where it remained until disbandment. During the Berlin Airlift of 1948-1949, it operated from Wunstorf, Lubeck and Fassberg, but not long after the lifting of the blockade, the squadron disbanded on 20 February 1950.

It reformed in the night fighter role on 15 August 1954 at Odiham, equipped with Meteor NF Mk 12s. These were replaced by Javelin FAW Mk 1s in March 1956, which in their turn were replaced by FAW Mk 2 in Aug 1957 and these were supplemented by FAW Mk 6s in May 1958, both type being operated until the squadron disbanded at Waterbeach on 30 Jun 1961.

Its final incarnation, so far, began on 1 December 1966 when the squadron reformed at Abingdon with Andovers in the tactical transport role. The author well remembers a 2 hour night flight in one of these from Summer Camp at RAF Machrihanish in the summer of 1972 during an ATC Summer Camp at the station. Having moved to Thorney Island in September 1970, the squadron disbanded there on 31 Aug 1975.

Standards

Award of Standard originally announced on 11 Jun 1968, effective from 1 Apr 1968 but presented:-

Battle Honours

Western Front, 1916-18: Messines, 1917: Cambrai, 1917: Home Defence, 1917: Somme, 1918: Hindenburg Line: Norway, 1940: Battle of Britain, 1940: Home Defence, 1940-41: Fortress Europe, 1941:Malta, 1941-42: El Alamein: Egypt & Libya, 1942-43: Mediterranean 1942-43: South-East Europe, 1944:

Squadron Codes used: -
RJ Apr 1939 - Sep 1939
PO Sep 1939 - Jun 1941
XK Jan 1945 - Feb 1950

 

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This webpage was updated 25th January 2019