No 601 (County of London) Squadron

Motto: None - The reason for this as quoted by Flt Lt Robin van Geene is: -

"600 and 601 Sqns had a great pre war rivalry, being both formed on the same day, and both based in adjacent hangers at RAF Hendon (Now the main building of the RAF Museum) When it came to choosing a crest and motto 601 chose the Latin for "One more than 600" i.e. 601 However this was considered by the College of Heralds, who never it seems had a sense of humour, to be a slight on the worthy name of 600 Sqn. The CO of 601 then decided if he couldn't have the motto he wanted, he wouldn't have a motto at all."

Formed at Northolt on 14 October 1925 as a light bomber squadron in the Auxiliary Air Force. As one of the first two Auxiliary squadrons, it was May 1926 before flying could begin and this was initially carried out on the Avro 504K. Operational aircraft arrived the following year in the form of DH9As. Wapiti's began arriving in November 1929, but the DH9As continued in use for another year. Conversion to Harts began in February 1933 and was completed by June. It continued in this role until 1 July 1934 when it was redesignated a fighter squadron, however, it was not re-equipped with Demons until August 1937.

Gauntlets arrived in November 1938 but in the following January it began converting to the twin engined Blenheim, which it took to war on patrol in September 1939. Single seat fighters returned in March 1940 with the arrival of Hurricanes. It operated from the UK except for a small detachment sent to France, taking part in the Battle of Britain and later conducting fighter sweeps and escort duties over the continent.

In August 1941, the squadron was chosen to introduce a new type into RAF service, the American Bell P39 Airacobra. However, this type was found totally unsuited to operations in the European environment and in March 1942, 601 reverted to Spitfires. The following month saw the squadron embark for the Middle East, flying off the carrier USS Wasp to join the air battles over Malta. In June the squadron moved to Egypt where it joined the Desert Air Force, continuing to fly operations in North Africa until June 1943 when it moved back to Malta in order to support the invasion of Sicily. It moved into Sicily after the landings and later supported the Eighth Army through Italy until disbanding on 7 May 1945.

With the reactivation of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, 601 was reformed on 10 May 1946 at Hendon as a day fighter squadron. It was initially equipped with Spitfire LF 16s until December 1949 when Vampire F 3s replaced them fully. These were replaced by Meteor F 8s beginning in August 1952 but along with all the flying units of the RAuxAF, it was disbanded on 10 March 1957.

Standards:

Standard originally awarded on 15 Jan 1952 but presented

Battle Honours:

France & Low Countries, 1940; Dunkirk: Battle of Britain, 1940: Home Defence, 1940-42: Fortress Europe, 1941-42: Malta, 1942: Egypt & Libya, 1942: El Alamein: El Hamma: North Africa, 1943: Sicily, 1943: Italy, 1943-45: Anzio & Nettuno: Gustav Line: Gothic Line:

Squadron Codes used: -

YN Jan 1939 - Sep 1939
UF Sep 1939 - Apr 1942, Apr 1942 - Aug 1945
1 & 2 Apr 1942
RAH May 1946 - 1949
HT 1949 - Apr 1951

Aircraft operated by no. 601 Squadron

From To Aircraft Version
May 1926 June 1926 Avro 504 K, N
June 1926 October 1930 Airco DH.9 A
November 1929 June 1933 Westland Wapiti Mks.IIa, VI
February 1933 August 1937 Hawker Hart  
August 1937 November 1938 Hawker Demon  
November 1938 March 1939 Gloster Gauntlet Mk.II
January 1939 March 1940 Bristol Blenheim Mk.If
March 1940 March 1941 Hawker Hurricane Mk.I
March 1941 January 1942 Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIb
August 1941 March 1942 Bell Airacobra Mk.I
March 1942 April 1942 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vb
May 1942 January 1944 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vc
June 1943 August 1943 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX
July 1943 June 1944 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.VIII
June 1944 May 1945 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IXb
December 1946 December 1949 Supermarine Spitfire LF.16e
November 1949 September 1952 de Havilland Vampire F.3
August 1952 March 1957 Gloster Meteor F.8

Bases and airfields used by no. 601 Squadron

From To Base
14 October 1925 18 January 1927 RAF Northolt, Middlesex
18 January 1927 2 September 1939 RAF Hendon, Middlesex
2 September 1939 30 December 1939 RAF Biggin Hill, Kent
30 December 1939 1 June 1940 RAF Tangmere, Sussex (Dets. at Merville and Saint-Valery-en-Caux, France)
1 June 1940 17 June 1940 RAF Middle Wallop, Hampshire
17 June 1940 19 August 1940 RAF Tangmere, Sussex
19 August 1940 2 September 1940 RAF Debden, Essex
2 September 1940 7 September 1940 RAF Tangmere, Sussex
7 September 1940 17 December 1940 RAF Exeter, Devon
17 December 1940 1 May 1941 RAF Northolt, Middlesex
1 May 1941 30 June 1941 RAF Manston, Kent
30 June 1941 16 August 1941 RAF Matlaske, Norfolk
16 August 1941 2 January 1942 RAF Duxford, Cambridgeshire
2 January 1942 25 March 1942 RAF Acaster Malbis, York
25 March 1942 10 April 1942 RAF Digby, Lincolnshire
10 April 1942 20 April 1942 en route to Egypt
20 April 1942 23 June 1942 RAF Luqa, Malta (aircrew)
23 June 1942 25 June 1942 Maryut, Egypt (ground- and aircrew reunited)
25 June 1942 29 June 1942 LG.13/Sidi Haneish South, Egypt
29 June 1942 24 July 1942 LG.154, Egypt
24 July 1942 29 July 1942 LG.173, Egypt
29 July 1942 5 August 1942 LG.85, Egypt
5 August 1942 11 August 1942 LG.219 Kilo 8/Matariyah/Payne Field, Egypt
11 August 1942 22 August 1942 Helwan, Egypt
22 August 1942 26 September 1942 LG.154, Egypt
26 September 1942 7 November 1942 LG.92, Egypt
7 November 1942 9 November 1942 LG.21/Qotafiyah III, Egypt
9 November 1942 12 November 1942 LG.13/Sidi Haneish South, Egypt
12 November 1942 14 November 1942 LG.155, Egypt
14 November 1942 25 November 1942 Gambut West, Libya
25 November 1942 4 December 1942 Msus, Libya
4 December 1942 8 December 1942 El Hassiet, Libya
8 December 1942 21 December 1942 El Nogra, Libya
21 December 1942 31 December 1942 El Merduma, Libya
31 December 1942 9 January 1943 Alalm El Chel, Libya
9 January 1943 20 January 1943 Hamraiet, Libya
20 January 1943 17 February 1943 Darragh North, Libya
17 February 1943 26 February 1943 Castel Benito, Libya
26 February 1943 1 March 1943 Hazbub Main, Tunesia
1 March 1943 9 March 1943 Ben Gardane South, Tunesia
9 March 1943 11 March 1943 Hazbub North, Tunesia
11 March 1943 4 April 1943 Bu Grara, Tunesia (Det. at El Hamma, Tunesia)
4 April 1943 12 April 1943 Gabes Main, Tunesia
12 April 1943 16 April 1943 La Fauconnerie, Tunesia
16 April 1943 7 May 1943 Goubrine North, Tunesia
7 May 1943 21 May 1943 Hergla North, Tunesia
21 May 1943 15 June 1943 Ben Gardane North, Tunesia
15 June 1943 13 July 1943 RAF Luqa, Malta
13 July 1943 17 July 1943 Pachino, Sicily, Italy
17 July 1943 25 July 1943 Cassibile, Sicily, Italy
25 July 1943 5 October 1943 Lentini West
5 October 1943 18 October 1943 Tortorella
18 October 1943 26 November 1943 Triolo
26 November 1943 18 January 1944 Canne
18 January 1944 23 April 1944 Marcianise, Italy (Det. at Madna)
23 April 1944 12 June 1944 Venafro, Italy
12 June 1944 17 June 1944 Littorio, Italy
17 June 1944 3 July 1944 Fabrica, Italy
3 July 1944 24 August 1944 Perugia, Italy
24 August 1944 4 September 1944 Loreto, Italy
4 September 1944 4 December 1944 Fano, Italy
4 December 1944 3 May 1945 Bellaria, Italy
3 May 1945 14 August 1945 Treviso, Italy
10 May 1946 10 March 1957 RAF Hendon, Middlesex

 

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This webpage was updated 25th January 2019